About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Are Earwigs Dangerous?

I was cleaning out a birdhouse and there were some earwigs inside. Are they dangerous to the birds or me? Lorraine~ Lansing, MI

A common earwig with large cerci in the backgr...Image via Wikipedia

Their scary name and appearance makes you think earwigs are ferocious. According to The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the common term, earwig, is derived from the Old English Δ“are, which means "ear", and wicga, which means "insect". The name may be related to the old wives' tale that earwigs burrowed into the brains of humans through the ear to lay eggs. But Common Earwigs are not parasitic. They do not attack humans and prefer to be left alone.
The earwig is a scavenger and likes to eat a variety of things like algae, fungi, insects, and plants. Native to Europe, western Asia and probably North Africa, the Common earwig was introduced to North America in the early twentieth century and is currently spread throughout much of the continent. Earwigs make great hitch hikers and have spread throughout the country by hiding in lumber, dirt, plants, and produce.
When winter comes to Michigan earwigs will dig deep to escape cold temperatures. In other areas with a warmer climate, earwigs will remain active year-round. They prefer to hide in dark, moist places and come out only at night.

Earwig life cycle: 5 instars in svg going side...Image via Wikipedia

Earwigs start from eggs. The female will lay up to 50 eggs underground and then care for her hatchlings until their first molt. As soon as the young become old enough to leave the nest they will begin to fend for themselves.

Bluebirds, chickadees, wrens and other birds that use nestboxes are not at any risk from earwigs. In fact it’s the other way around; bug eating birds will devour the insects like candy if they are uncovered. And if an earwig is found in your home, it probably wants to get outside as much as you want it outside.

Read more about earwigs at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earwig

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information! I had one of these cross my desk this morning. They scurry so fast!