Some Salmon Arm residents have seen an influx this summer of these odd insects with pincers protruding from their abdomens. (Pixabay photo)

‘Tis the summer of the earwig, say some Salmon Arm residents

Your ears are safe, but the six-legged critters do like dark, moist places with food nearby

As my family was sitting down to dinner in our backyard recently, one family member let out a yelp.

As they pulled up one of the lawn chairs, they noticed a couple of earwigs crawling out of the seam between the back and bottom cushion. “Yuck, there’s an earwig nest in here!”

Someone else then found a couple of the pesky pincer bugs in the same place on another chair. No nests, but the chairs were quickly replaced with cushion-less seating.

I also received a recent earwig surprise. When I picked up a dish of catfood that had been left on the back porch overnight, a well-fed gang of the creepy critters erupted from the middle of the kibbles.

‘Creepy’ mainly because of their six slender legs, two antenna and two sturdy pincers, I guess. Although they apparently don’t bite people or badly damage plants. Or inhabit ears, despite the name.

When a friend who had been staying on Shuswap Lake came into town to visit the other day, she also had an earwig tale.

Every year she puts up her tent under a tree near her relatives’ cabin. Not this year. Someone else had stayed there a couple of nights earlier, and awoke to find a group of six-legged roommates inside their tent.

And these weren’t the only instances this year of an abundance of earwigs.

At Nico’s Nurseryland, manager Maaike Johnson says it’s been an earwig year.

“They’ve definitely increased. A lot of people are asking how to get rid of them.”

She recommends Diatomaceous earth, which she says is a good natural product.

“It seems like every year there’s something. Last year it would have been ants, this year it’s been earwigs,” she says.

Read more: Dancing birds caught on camera

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Looking for more observations, I called city hall. Although public works hasn’t noticed an increase, a quick chat with Stephanie Gibb at reception revealed she’s definitely seen an influx. Her outside plants in pots with holes in the bottom will sometimes have 50 earwigs under them, she says.

“I’m just blown away.”

No bug specialists were available to explain why so many. But the all-knowing Internet shed a little light.

Earwigs like dark, moist environments with access to a food source. They need to stay someplace moist so they don’t dry out. It’s likely then that all of the rain earlier this summer provided them with just what they need.

If the Internet sources are right, and it’s the additional rain that has attracted so many, I think I’ll gladly share the earth with them. When it comes to forest fires versus earwigs, the little creepies are the clear winner.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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