Do you know the difference between an earwig and a silverfish? You should, because silverfish in your home can wreak havoc on stored pictures, important documents, and even money. This paper-and fabric-chewing insect can be a real pain. Here is a quick contrast between these two pests, and a quick checklist to keep them out.
You might be tempted to think earwigs are the scariest of these two insects--if you've heard the folk tales. It is a common belief that this little creature crawls into the ears of sleeping humans, burrows into the brain, and lays its eggs. This is not the case. In A Practical System of Surgery by James Latta (1795) he writes, "The creature called forficula or earwig is said to make its way into the ear, and to occasion not only deafness, but violent pain by its biting; and there is an instance on record of a woman, in whose ear a nest of these insects were lodged, and reduced her to the greatest distress." There are many documented cases of earwigs climbing into the ear and causing pain, but these cases are quite rare now.
Here are the differences between these two insects.
Earwigs and silverfish are both in the class insecta, but earwigs are in the order Dermaptera while Silverfish are of the order Thysanura. What does this mean? A silverfish has a soft body of scales with three soft hairlike appendages protruding from its abdomen. An earwig has a hard body of chitin and two hard appendages on its abdomen that are called forceps. These are capable of causing a painful pinch--but these bugs aren't prone to pinch. Some earwigs have wings and are able to fly. Silverfish do not fly. Earwigs feed on live or decaying vegetation, while silverfish feed on a variety of carbohydrates and proteins.
Quick prevention guide.
Check your foundation or basement walls for cracks, gaps, or holes. Use liquid cement to fill them in.
Use a caulking gun to fill in rotted holes or areas where insects and rodents have been chewing on your exterior walls and door frame corners. These holes give easy access to earwigs and silverfish.
Replace mulch near your foundation walls with gravel or something that does not retain moisture. If you like your mulch, consider having a pest control company put a chemical barrier between your mulch and the basement walls of your home.
Inspect the door sweeps on all your doors and make sure weather stripping is properly seated. It doesn't take much of a gap for these tiny insects to get in.
If you continue to have earwigs or silverfish in your home, have a professional pest management company do an inspection. They can show you exclusion methods to keep a large variety of pests out of your house, and they offer options to keep them out. You would be surprised at how easy and inexpensive it is to live without invasive pests in your home.