Monday, February 21, 2022

That Earwig in Your House

There are 10 native species of earwigs in the United States, and they’re benign or even helpful creatures. They eat vegetation as well as other insects. But it’s a non-native earwig, the European earwig (Forficula auricularia), that most of us in North America will encounter.

The European earwig is the one you often find scurrying around your basement or in your garden. This species was first documented in Seattle in 1907, and since then has thrived and spread across the continent.

It is considered a household and garden pest, although as invasive species go, the impacts are fairly mild given the abundance of the species. I know in our backyard garden many leaves are pockmarked from their feeding, and they can really hammer the raspberries. But they don’t have a major economic or ecological impact.

In fact, a Washington State University study found that European earwigs can even be beneficial. Researchers found that they prey on aphids, significantly reducing damage in commercial apple orchards.

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