Extreme Earwig Infestation

Monday, July 29, 2013

“It was reminiscent of a horror flick where the walls were crawling with creatures.”

That was the reaction of entomologist Kevin Hathorne when he first saw the earwig* infestation at a retired couple’s vacation home in the mountains of North Carolina.

The couple first noticed a swarm of insects above their house and heard them falling onto the home’s metal roof. Over the next few days, the insects, which they recognized as earwigs, came pouring into the cabin through the natural cracks in the wood logs. Eventually, the bugs made their way into cabinets and closets and covered the floors of the home.

Earwig Infestation 

Pictures from left to right: Outside view of the house; earwigs by glass doors in master bedroom; earwigs on floor in guest bedroom; earwigs by vent; earwigs around door frame; earwigs swept into a pile.

More patient than most people, the couple vacuumed up the earwigs every few days, but the bugs just kept coming. There wasn’t a place the couple could go in their home where they didn’t see, feel or step on earwigs. No one they called in could come up with an explanation for this highly unusual earwig behavior, and the only extended relief came in the winter when the bugs finally died off.

Following advice from Hathorne, the couple re-stained their home, hoping it was something in the original wood stain that was attracting the earwigs. They also took on the task of caulking as many cracks as possible, which is no easy feat in a log home.

Thankfully, the change in wood stain and caulking efforts paid off as only a handful of earwigs appeared the following spring.

The story should end there with a happy ending, but the couple only had relief for a short while. A tornado damaged their home and the surrounding area, and even after clean-up and tree removal, the earwigs returned. Local pest control professionals continued to work with the couple to minimize the infestation each season.

*Earwigs get their name from the myth that they crawl into sleeping people's ears and tunnel into their brains. The long cerci, or clippers, on their backsides easily identify an earwig.

Thank you to Terminix Service, Inc. for sharing this Extreme Infestation story.

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