Earwigs and Silverfish: What’s True?

Earwigs and silverfish are common household pests with flat-bodies that like to feed when you are sleeping. Earwigs are a medium-sized insect, brown or black in color–some with stripes or reddish coloring on their head and limbs–and have pincher-looking forceps used as defense mechanism. Silverfish are also a medium-sized insect, gray or silver in color, and shed their skin throughout their adult life.

# 1 – Earwigs got their name from crawling into human ears. 

This is FALSE. Although earwigs like to hide in warm, humid places, they’re not likely to make your ear canal their home. Even if one did, it wouldn’t get far; there is a thick bone in your ear canal that prevents an earwig from burrowing and laying eggs.

# 2 – Earwigs are poisonous.
This is also FALSE. Stories have been told that the pinchers on an earwig are poisonous. Although they could deliver a pinch when threatened, they don’t have the strength to even break the skin.

Earwigs feast on cellulose. This includes dining on other insects. They like decaying material like a pile of leaves and also feed on old boxes laying around your home or papers on a desk.

# 3 – Silverfish are harmful.
This is FALSE. Because of how they look, people sometimes think a silverfish is dangerous. Silverfish are not known to bite and there’s no evidence showing they’re poisonous. They can, however, damage your belongings. 

# 4 – Silverfish can swim.
This is also FALSE. Just because their name includes “fish,” it doesn’t mean they can swim. They get their name from their swift movements like a fish.

Silverfish love to feed on sugar and carbohydrates. They’ll eat anything from cereal to insulation and your clothing. Silverfish have also been known to eat newspaper and even a human hair that has fallen to the ground!

There are ways to make your home less attractive for an earwig or silverfish.

  • Don’t lay mulch down in layers that are more than 2 inches deep
  • Lay down a plastic barrier in dirt floor areas of your home (crawlspace)
  • Avoid decorating your yard with rocks or stones earwigs can hide under
  • Clean out rain gutters and position them to carry water away from the home
  • Use dehumidifiers in damp areas (including basements) to help remove moisture
  • Have leaky faucets or plumbing fixed by a professional
  • Wipe up spills from counters and stovetops
  • Remove piles of branches or leaves from your yard
  • Store foods, including pet food, in airtight containers
  • Vacuum regularly to clean up food crumbs
  • Have ridge vents properly installed in roofs to help let humidity escape
  • Make sure the crevices and cracks on the outside and inside of your home are sealed

If you have an earwig or silverfish problem, or want to make sure it doesn’t happen to you, Hilton Head Exterminators can help! Call our office today to defend your home against pests: Hilton Head (843) 632-5049, Bluffton (843) 632-5049.

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