Home      Earwigs And Sowbugs Identification Page
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Below are some of the most commonly reported soil insect species requiring professional pest elimination. This list is not exhaustive and Markleys Pest Elimination Inc. encourages you to save a specimen for our technicians to identify to ensure your structure receives the correct treatment.
Earwigs -  Earwigs are slender, flat insects easily known by the prominent pincer-like appendages extending from the end of the abdomen (rear). Although these appedages appear capable of pinching or stinging, they are actually external sense organs that aid in reproduction. The name "Earwig" is derived from an old wives tale that claims Earwigs burrow themselves into the brain via the ear so they may lay their eggs within.
Earwigs prefer dark, damp and cool environments. They are largely nocturnal and feed on dead plant matter and garden greens including lettuce, celery, roses, potatoes, beans and cornsilk. In this way they can be a nuisance pest though they present no real threat to humans as they transmit no disease.
Earwigs in the home may be a symptom of excessive moisture. A sump pump and dehumidifier might be enough to drive them back outside. Dry summer weather following a wet spring will also send them seeking shelter in your home. They tend to respond almost immediately to chemical pest treatment and are an insect that is quite easily managed.
Centipedes & Millipedes -  Centipedes and Millipedes (millipedes pictured) are names given to two large, distinct kinds of insects with different behaviors and dietary requirements. However both are usually found living in very damp, dark and cooler environments.
Centipedes are characterized by a pair of modified limbs that inject venom into their prey. All centipedes are predatory and some species will sting though only rarely is their sting capable of breaking human skin. They tend to be fast moving nocturnal creatures and their appearance in the home may be a symptom of some other insect infestation.
Millipedes are slow-moving and smaller creatures that feed on dead plant matter. Millipede heads are typicaly rounded and they use their short legs to burrow head-first into the soils where they reside. When threatened the Millipede will curl into a tight coil and release a small amount of toxin that is largely harmless to humans but may cause some eye and skin irritation. These effects can be relieved with a water rinse. Homes built near "no-till" farms are more likely to encounter millipedes indoors.
Sowbug -  Sowbugs, also known as Woodlice, Pill Bugs, and Roly Polies are land-dwelling crustaceans with a short, wide segmented body and seven pairs of limbs. Some species can curl their bodies into spheres as a defense mechanism. All species breath through a set of gills on the body.
Sowbugs are commonly seen in gardens, under rocks, in crawlspaces and in greenhouses. While they tend to feed on dead plant matter, they do occasionally eat cultivated plants such as berry leaves and very soft seedlings.
Sowbugs do not spread disease or damage property. If they are present in the home it is indicative of excessive moisture. Because Sowbugs require significant amounts of water to live, a simple sump pump and dehumidifyer can drive them back outdoors. Their appetite for young vegetation may make them a nuisance in the garden though. 
Springtails -  Springtails are extremely small wingless insects that densely populate the soil. Up to 50,000 Springtails can be found in one square foot of earth. Some Springtrails have two appendages that grow from the end of the abdomen (rear) and are used to propel the insect forward using a quick, spring-like motion.
Springtails feed on decaying organic matter & fungus. Thus they are found in sinks, basins, drains, pipes, crawlspaces and moldy fabrics. They are often brought into the home through potted plants and over-watering of these plants will encourage their greater numbers. They are attracted to light.
Good sanitation and drying out wet surfaces are the best ways to prevent Springtail infestation.
Firebrats -  Firebrats are small, flat insects with a rounded head and tapered end concluding in three very long appendages, two of which sweep forward from the sides. Their coloration is a mottled grey. Firebrats thrive in moist, warm environments and are commonly seen in homes near ovens, hot water heaters and boilers. Adult Firebrats measure about 1/2 inch in length.
Firebrats live on flours, meals, and paper products. They will also eat glues. They move through the home using piping and plumbing fixtures. Because they require a lot of humidity to survive, purchasing a dehumidifier for your basement can do much to drvie them from your home. Good kitchen santitation is also essential to controlling these pests.
Unlike other insects on this page, Firebrats cannot survive outside in temperate climates. They require the hot and humid environments of the tropics to flourish out-of-doors. Distribution of Firebrats in northern regions is a result of food shipping and travel.
Silverfish -  Silverfish (A.K.A. "Bristletails) are small, flat insects covered silvery scales. Their bodies are round and wide at the head and taper down to a point at the rear. They are wingless and thus cannot fly. Adults attain about 1/2 an inch of length.
Silverfish will forage freely looking for food but tend to remain near food sources when they are found. In the home they will be found in basements, bedrooms, bathrooms and attics. Outdoors they reside in mulch, under paving units, and siding and wood roof shingles.  They feed on paper, cloth, dried meat and the glues found in wallpaper, cupboard liners & food labels.
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