Do earwigs bite people? What do their bites look like?
Earwigs are one of the most misunderstood insects. Many fear that they bite people. Some even look at mosquito bites and think that they are earwig bites.Their name, earwig, derives from several possible origins. One suggests that the name originated in European language which called the insect “ear worm” or “ear wiggler.” The horror film type of folklore about this insect leads people to historically believe that this bug is very dangerous.
Even medieval science and medical journals of the day implied that earwigs can burrow into the brain or at least into the ears and cause serious harm. This fear has caused this cryptic insect to maintain a reputation as an insect which should be kept far away. The casual observer, though, will notice that the earwig has pincers or forceps protruding from the abdomen. These pincers are used to capture prey for predaceous species, help in reproduction, and for defense.
Many people wonder if earwigs will bite people. The pincers are used for defense and if picked up and agitated, the earwig will exercise the use of the forceps. These are not stings or bites, though, which are terms used for insects with stingers or biting mouthparts. Even in extreme cases of large forceps of adult males, the pinch can be painful but there is no venom and the pinch rarely breaks the skin.
In the event that the pinch does break the skin, it is best to utilize the same first aid as one would use for any type of scratch. Keep in mind that earwigs do live in the soil typically, so there is the possibility of germs getting into the cut from the forceps. So, if there is a cut or open sore, or if the earwig pinch breaks skin, use a proper antibiotic lotion or cream. There is no telltale “bite mark” unique to an earwig as they do not hurt people. If there are medical concerns, speak to a medical professional.
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