From the yearly archives: "2002"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dear What’s That Bug,
I have densely planted the "earth" in front of my apartment building. Along with broken glass and mammalian excreta, one of the chief components, by volume, of this earth is earwigs. These can be readily observed with a flashlight after dark, teeming about. Many plants are unaffected. However, some will be set upon at a young age and razed entirely – a four inch high clump of poppies will easily be eliminated in two nights. I don’t know why some small plants are attacked and not others of similar size and age. Just as frustrating is the earwigs’ appetite for flower petals which are quickly riddled with holes and finally eaten to shreds soon after they unfold to the sun. Diatomaceous earth doesn’t slow them down (in any quantity). I don’t want to spray "poison" – What can I do?

Dear m r k n
According to Hogue, no one is sure of the origin of the name earwig (Order Dermaptera) but "one guess is that the early Anglo-Saxons, who named them earwicga (ear beetle or worm) and who lived in sod huts, where these insects also lived, occasionally found them in their ears upon waking from a sound sleep on a straw mattress. The warm and tight ear opening of a slumbering person might well have been a snug hiding place for these crevice-loving creatures." Earwigs are omniverous, and are considered beneficial because they actually devour many insect pests, but like any flesh eater, they
occasionally crave some vegetable matter, and what better than tender young sprouts and flower petals? If you have an aversion to pesticides, we strongly suggest that you clean up the dog shit outside your apartment
.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Help! I have crabs! Well, at least it looks like crabs… Actually, I’m kidding. I found a tiny little crawler in my shower today and I’ve never seen one before. I’m hoping you might tell me what the heck it is. It appeared to be crab-like, more like a scorpion without a tail but it was only about a millimeter long with two longer "pincer" type arms in the front. Am I being invaded? I live in western Alberta, Canada, if that helps at all…
D

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi,
I was restiching a pair of pants yesterday when out crawled a strange looking bug. It startled me and frightened me because I hadn’t ever seen anything like it before. It was no longer than say 4-6 mm. It was basically yellow, but with other colors on it. It had 2 "thingies" trailing behind it. It was rather flat and narrow and moved fairly fast considering it’s size. I killed it so I’m going by a 5-10 second memory recall. The pants are made of 100% polyester, from Guatemala. I realize that I haven’t given you much to work with , but if you can identify it I’d be appreciative.
Thanks for your time,
Mrs. Irish

It sounds like the dreaded silverfish, a household pest which will devour any and everything in the house. Sadly, and much to our embarassment here at What’s That Bug?, the silverfish is our one big failure story. As much as we tried, it seems we could never figure out a way for Miss Swanlund, former Homebody of the Month, to eradicate the pestilence from her tiny and cozy Hollywood starlet apartment, forcing her to buy a home and leave many of her prized books and possessions behind.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I live in New Hampshire and am having a problem with stink bugs. It is winter and we keep finding them in the house, on the windows, in the bathroom, etc. We seem to find one a week, where are they coming from?
Jane H.

Dear Jane H.
Stink bugs are notorious plant eaters, and they use their sucking mouthparts like a syringe to withdraw the vital fluids from their host plants. The most common species are either green or harlequin (red and black) and the green varieties are sometimes attracted to lights. These are the true stinkers in the insect world as well as being true bugs with incomplete metamorphosis. Without more information regarding the actual species I cannot conclude anything more than that perhaps the warm fall weather increased their survival rate outdoors and they entered the house for warmth, or else a houseplant, especially one that was outside this summer, has become their indoor host. Check your plants.

—Daniel Marlos

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination