Is The Pincher Bug Harmful?
The pincher bug, commonly known as the earwig, is a creature we would rather not have in our homes. It slinks and scurries about, often where you least expect it. The pincer-like appendages look quite threatening, especially on the male, where they curve inward towards one another at the tips. The very term earwig makes one wonder if it's true that this little insect has a certain fondness for the human ear.
We usually don't see the pincher bug walking around much during the day, which is one of the reasons its appearance can sometimes be a surprise. The insect is for the most part nocturnal, doing its traveling at night. During the day, it prefers to hide in dark places, preferably places where there's also moisture, but it will hide in dry places as well. It hides under things, and its rather flattened shape makes it easy for it to squeeze into narrow places. That's why if you pick up a newspaper, suddenly there's a pincher bug. It's been hiding there in the dark among the pages.
Both Pest And Benefactor - Unlike some insects, when you suddenly uncover a pincher bug, it's not going to threaten you, despite its appearance. It's going to try to run away, to another dark place if it can find one. It's not aggressive, at least not towards humans. It will sometimes attack other bugs, and in this respect performs a beneficial service, as one of its favorite foods is the aphid. For the most part though it's a scavenger. You will find it in ears, ears of corn that is. The pincher bug, or earwig, can be a pest in the garden, eating both flowering plants and vegetables, and seems to have a special fondness for getting into the interior of corn husks. As far as your garden plants are concerned, it seldom does too much damage. Unless there is an uncommonly large amount of them, larger plants generally are not seriously affected, though young seedlings can be damaged or killed by the bug. In the garden, it's both a pest and a benefactor, and having a few of them around isn't going to hurt anything. If one really has an infestation, it may be necessary to get rid of them, especially to keep them from coming into the house.
They Don't Need To Come In But They Do - Unless a home is very untidy, there's little reason for a pincher bug to come inside. They don't breed inside, and in a spotlessly clean house there's little for them in the way of food. One really has to have a dark, moist, and perhaps somewhat dirty place for the home to be very inviting. Still they appear indoors, and often in places you don't like them to be, like under a pillow. They won't bite you, unless you happen to sit on one or try to pick one up in your fingers. If they do bite it's out of self defense, and the bite is seldom painful and definitely not toxic. As far as the pincers are concerned, while they can be used to some degree as a weapon, against something more the size of the bug itself, they are primarily used to hold on to objects or grasp prey.
She Cares For Her Young - The female pincher bug is the one with the straight pincers. She will lay her eggs in underground burrows, 30 to 40 at a time. The little bugs, upon hatching look very much like miniature versions of mature bugs. They don't go through any bothersome stage of metamorphosis, but are born more or less ready to get on with life. The female is unusual in the insect world in one respect. Instead of just laying her eggs and moving on, she sticks around and watches over the eggs, and cares for the newly born bugs, defending them if necessary against intruders.
Maybe we wouldn't feel the revulsion we sometimes do for this insect if it wasn't for its habit of hiding, and surprising us at inopportune times. It certainly isn't a “dirty” bug, in that it doesn't carry any diseases. It's just that the pincher bug has a certain look about it, one that makes you wish it were somewhere else.