Do earwigs eat wood? It might seem like an odd question, as many people believe that these small brown bugs only eat plants.
While it’s true that most of their diet consists of decaying plant matter, they also have a taste for wood – specifically sapwood.
Unfortunately, this makes them more of a pest when they infest homes and other structures made from untreated wood.
Read on to find out more about the dietary habits of earwigs and what leads them to feast on the wooden beams beneath your home.
What Do Earwigs Eat?
Earwigs are omnivores, meaning that they eat plants and animals alike. They are known to feed on succulent fruits, aphids, slugs, snails, and even the occasional insect larvae.
It’s even been observed that they’ll eat their own molted exoskeletons. Unlike some other wood-eating pests, earwigs won’t ingest wood for its nutrients.
Instead, they feed on wood due to its high concentration of sap, a sticky substance that is used by trees to transport nutrients throughout their bodies. If you’re wondering what sapwood is and if it’s dangerous, don’t worry.
You’ve probably seen it being used in homes and other wooden structures. Sapwood is the outermost wood layer and is responsible for transporting moisture to the rest of the tree.
Read also: Where Do Earwigs Come From?
Why Do Earwigs Eat Wood?
As previously mentioned, earwigs feed on the sapwood of structures made from untreated woods, such as cedar and hemlock.
Earwigs are attracted to the high concentration of sugar found in sapwood and will ingest it for energy. The fact that sapwood is high in sugar makes it a poor choice for supporting the growth of mold and termites – two potential hazards to wooden structures.
As soon as the earwigs digest the sapwood, it’s excreted in their feces. If the infestation is left untreated, the excrement and other waste materials carry the risk of rotting the wood.
The Dangers of Earwig Infestation?
While the sapwood is not a nutritious food source, it’s still important to deal with an earwig infestation quickly. Since the pests are feeding on the sticky substance, they’ll secrete a substance of their own – one that’s putrid and attracts other pests like flies and cockroaches.
If left untreated, a sapwood-feeding earwig infestation can spread to other wooden structures, making it a costly problem to remedy.
In addition to stinking up the place, earwigs can also cause structural damage. As previously mentioned, when the pests feed on sapwood, their waste is rich in sugar.
In high enough concentrations, sugar can cause wood to rot. This is especially dangerous when it comes to homes with wooden beams and joists.
How to Get Rid of Earwigs in Wood
The best way to get rid of earwigs that are chewing on wood is to treat the infestation early. You should check the wood in your home for signs of damage at least twice a year.
If you notice that any of the beams, joists or other wooden structures of your property is chewed up, there are a few things you can do to get rid of the pests.
- First, you’ll want to vacuum the insects and their excrement from the surface of the wood.
- Next, you’ll want to apply a high-quality wood insecticide.
- Be sure to follow the directions on the label and don’t skip a step.
- In the beds between your plants, place one-foot sections of bamboo or garden hose.
- Each morning, check these traps and dump the earwigs into a bucket of soapy water.
- Wrap petroleum jelly around your plant’s stems. Earwigs will avoid crawling over it.
- If they are infesting your woodpile, try sprinkling borax around it, but keep pets and children away afterward.
- Earwigs respond well to oil pit traps. Put equal parts soy sauce and olive or vegetable oil in a small plastic container with a lid.
- Make holes near the lid at the top of the container. Make the holes large enough to allow the earwigs to enter.
- Bury the container just up to the holes in the soil.
- The earwigs will be drawn in by the soy sauce, and the oil will keep them from escaping. As required, adjust the trap.
Earwigs are small insects that can be found in temperate climates across the globe. While some earwigs are herbivores, others are omnivores that eat insects, fruits, and other plants.
Earwigs have historically been a pest in homes due to their taste for sapwood and their ability to spread diseases.
There are ways to get rid of earwigs in wood by treating the infestation early, vacuuming the insects, and applying a wood insecticide.
Despite their reputation, earwigs do have some benefits. They help to control insect populations and are used as a food source by many animals.