Earwigs in My Worm Bin?

Here is a question from Gail:

I have things like earwigs in my worm bin.
Will they eat my worms?

Hi Gail,
I am glad you brought this up since I’m sure there are a LOT of people wondering the same thing! I’ll start by saying that, yes, actual earwigs can reside in a worm bin – but this generally only happens with outdoor systems. The fact that you’ve said “things like earwigs” makes me think that you are keeping an open mind about it, which is great because there ARE other critters that can look quite a bit like earwigs – namely, the “Rove Beetles”.

Rove Beetles are almost certainly the most common group of beetles to be found in composting systems (including worm bins). They come in a variety of sizes and colors, but all tend to be elongated with a tail that often bends upwards – and they always seem to move quite quickly (occasionally even flying). The most common ones in my systems seem to be small and shiny black, but there are definitely some brownish ones (such as the big one in the second picture down) as well. I have not yet found any that are difficult to distinguish from earwigs (see the fuzzy third image), BUT there definitely seem to be some varieties that look quite a bit like them (follow these links to see images):
http://bugguide.net/node/view/54020
http://www.photographersdirect.com/buyers/stockphoto.asp?imageid=1725193


These two Rove Beetles were quite a bit larger than the ones I typically find, and thankfully they held still long enough for me to snap some pictures!



Rove beetles are definitely predators, but I would tend to view them more as a “friend” than a “foe” since they likely consume lots of excess mites, springtails, and small fly larvae, rather than doing any serious damage to your worm population.

Rove Beetle larvae can also be voracious predators in a composting system. You can find an image (second one down) of one in this post: Parasitic Worm Bin Mites?

Anyway – hope this helps!
8)

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Comments

    • Frank
    • December 15, 2010

    Hi Bentley,

    Thanks for the PICs, each truly worth 1,000 words. The earwig “pinchers” on their back end clearly and quickly, for me, high light the difference in the critters.

    Regards,

    +Frank

    PS

    Am thoroughly enjoying the mini course. Thank you. Also, bought da Book and am looking forward to reading it.

    • Larry D.
    • December 15, 2010

    Man,i hope earwigs aren’t bad.I have the largest i have ever seen in all my outside systems.They are burrowed in.But if you look closely,you can see them moving underneath the VC.They actually have a strong pinch for their size.
    I have some specie of long beetle larvae that does not look like those.There is even one,that resembles an earwig,but looks like it has VC armor as its exoskeleton.
    You can find some neat creatures when you start looking closely at the composted bin matter.I still can’t spot a speudo scorpion! Trust me,i tried! Can i borrow someones microscope? 🙂

    • Kator
    • December 16, 2010

    European earwigs are common in everywhere in Canada. Despite best efforts they can manage to find their way into any home, especially when the cold weather sets in. They thrive in damp areas and tend to avoid dry environments. We rarely find them, even in our basement which is kept quite dry, however I did discover two adults (a male and a female) under the lid of my indoor wooden flow-through stack in early November – probably looking for a place to lay eggs. None in or around that or the other bins despite a thorough search. Earwigs will feed on arthropods, living plants and rotting greens. So they would be attracted to worm bins. I’ve never heard of them feeding on worms. I have a raw peat supply bin in the rear yard and I noted during the summer and fall that, for some reason, they avoid that area.

  1. Just place a small shallow dish or plastic tray/cap etc of ‘Raw’ linseed oil in your problem areas. Earwigs get drunk on it and never wake up! (Assuming you can get raw linseed oil).

    • Robert
    • November 11, 2011

    Umm, so are they (Earwigs) bad to have in my bin?

    • Scott
    • November 30, 2012

    Awesome! Thanks! I found a couple of these beetles in one of my indoor systems. I couldn’t find it in the “composting creatures” section and I wasn’t sure what it was or if it was a predator. I captured it and googled “earwig like composting bug” and luckily I found this. I don’t like that it’ll eat the worms, but since it eats small fly larvae I think I’ll keep the 2 I have in there. I had a fruit/nat fly problem in the summer and would rather avoid that if possible. But If I see anymore then the 2 I have I’ll start picking them out. Thanks again!

    • Sherry
    • April 12, 2013

    I decided to try this for a couple of reasons. I’m very into the earth and natural things and think its great science for my son who is 7. I don’t mind worms but the earwig like bugs I cant handle. I have some serious phobias with it that I cant get past. I found on crawling on the outside of the bin and get the skin crawls thinking about it. Please help me get rid of them. I want them out or Ill just have to bag the whole thing. Yikes. Any suggestions?

    • Barb
    • March 28, 2015

    I looked at the pictures posted above and definitely have earwigs throughout my worm inn. My worm inn has always been kept inside the house; I have tried to get rid of them, by placing brown wrap paper (the kind sent in packages) and then picking them out.

    I’ve had a WI for 2+ years and have had this earwig problem for over 4 months.

    I have a huge garden, containers, raised beds, and ground (sand based) and have never seen them outside or inside (other than the worm inn).

    What can I do to get rid of them?

    I’m ready to dump the worm inn, pick out the worms and start over.

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