- Size: About 1.2 to 2 cm long
- Color: Dark brown to black
- Distinctive Feature: Pincers at the end of the body
- Habitat: Wet areas, under stones, tree bark
Appearance of Earwigs
Earwigs, recognizable by their elongated and flat body, generally measure between 12 and 20 millimeters in length. Their color varies from reddish-brown to dark brown, sometimes making them hard to spot in their natural environment. Their most distinctive feature is their pincers or cerci at the end of their abdomen, which are more curved in males than in females. Although earwigs have two pairs of wings, it is rare to see them flying. Their long and slender antennae allow them to detect their surroundings with great sensitivity.
Habitat of Earwigs in Quebec
In Quebec, earwigs prefer moist and shaded habitats. They are often found in gardens, under stones, in stacked firewood, or in other sheltered places like tree bark. They are attracted to lights at night, which explains why they can be observed near dwellings. During winter, they seek warm and dry places to survive the cold, sometimes entering houses.
Behavior of Earwigs
Earwigs are primarily nocturnal insects, meaning they are active during the night. During the day, they hide in dark and damp places. They are omnivores, feeding on plant materials and other small insects. Contrary to popular belief, earwigs are not dangerous to humans and do not burrow into ears. Their pincers are mainly used for defense and reproduction. This defensive behavior can be observed when threatened, where they will deploy their cerci aggressively.
Distinguishing Earwigs from Other Insects
Carpenter ants, distinctly different from earwigs, are characterized by their segmented body with a marked waist and elbowed antennae. They are usually black or dark brown. Unlike earwigs, carpenter ants can cause structural damage to buildings by burrowing into wood to establish their nests. They are also more social and live in colonies, while earwigs are often observed alone or in small groups.
The boxelder bug, often mistaken for an earwig, is differentiated by its flat shield-shaped body and coloration ranging from red to brown. These insects are known for their habit of sheltering in houses during winter, but unlike earwigs, they do not cause damage to structures or plants. Boxelder bugs do not have cerci and have shorter antennae relative to their body length, unlike earwigs which have long antennae and distinctive cerci.
The earwig is easily distinguishable from the German cockroach by several characteristics. German cockroaches are generally lighter in color, ranging from light brown to yellowish-brown, and have an oval and flattened body. Unlike earwigs, German cockroaches are very fast and good climbers, able to move quickly on various surfaces. They are also known for their aversion to light, leading them to hide quickly when exposed. The cerci, pincer-like appendages at the end of the abdomen, are absent in cockroaches.
The silverfish is a wingless insect, known for its elongated shape and silvery or metallic color. It differs from the earwig by its rapid and jerky movement, resembling the swimming of a fish. Silverfish prefer damp and dark environments, such as bathrooms, and feed on materials containing starch, such as paper or glue. They do not have cerci at the end of their body, clearly distinguishing them from earwigs.