Earwigs are dark brown insects, with pincers at the rear end and are about 1.5cm long. They are scarey looking especially if you see them in your house.
Male Euopean Earwig (left), Insect Photos.net, Female Earwig (right)-University of Minnesota Extension Service
Usually they are not found in the house since they like moist dark areas during the day. Males have curved pincers while females are usually straight and shorter.
Eggs and Nymphs-John B Free
They overwinter in the soil and in spring females lay eggs in chamber deep in organic materials. They are one bug that actually has maternal properties. She tends the eggs and after hatching she forages for food for the young nymphs. The process from egg to adult is approximately 70 days.
Earwig Eating Caterpillar-Discoverlife.org
They can be found in the daytime in dark places. Usually they climb up fences or other objects above the ground and hide between board or in crevices. They are nocturnal and do most of their damage at night. Sometimes they also hide between leaves of the plants that they attact. They don’t fly and don’t travel long distances, however they ‘hitchhike’ on various objects like a laundry basket, discarded newspaper, bikes or anything else that has places where they can hide. The compost pile is also a place they hide. These bugs are also beneficial as they will eat other bugs, so if they are not harming your plants do nothing.
Damage on Cosmos-Royal Horticultural Society (left)-Earwig on Daisy (right)-Calvin St Andrews
Diet and Damage
They feed on young seedlings and many different flowers, especial dahlias. They make small holes in the leaves and they will literally consume blossoms in an evening if you have an overpopulation. They are attracted to light so use outdoor lights that are bug resistant (usually yellow colour). They also eat other insects dead or alive so they can also be beneficial. I don’t recommend killing them unless you have a very serious problem.
1) Hand Pick
At night use a flashlight to find them and drop them in soapy water.
2) Soap Spray
Spray areas where they may be hiding in the day with insecticidal soap.
Dampen some newspaper, roll it up and leave in places at night near the plants they are attacking. In the morning you can discard the newspaper rolls with them in it. Drop in a fire pit, that’ll work.
4) Sticky Traps
Use sticky traps around affected plants……they will stick and die.
*They do NOT crawl in your ear while you are sleeping LOL