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black pinchers (description only) termite scare

Hi everybody,

I'm newbie on this site and I'm afraid I don't have a picture. I saw an insect in my house (michigan, we've been having humid days) and I'm afraid all I remember definitely is the prominant and formidable black pinchers it had on it's head. I've never seen a termite but I do have a wood house. I've been trying to find out as much as I can via your site, the web in general, and I even drove to the bookstore and tried the three field guides they had.

I'm stumped (and scared because if it was a termite...). I sprayed it because it was moving fast and I had to stop it from disappearing into the closet. It managed to die somewhere where I can't find it. It curled up but scuttled away. I THINK it was all black but cannot remember for sure. Unfortunately I didn't notice whether it had constrictions in it's body (ant-like) or not. If it's was an ant, it was the most impressive one I've ever seen. I know it wasn't pale like the pictures I'm seeing of termites. And it didn't have giant long wings like I see on some termite instars either. It might have had wings but I didn't notice them. It happened very fast. It would have been a forgettable event if not for those pinchers and my fear it was a termite. It was fairly long and narrow.

Any ideas or pointers? I have looked thru the Clickable guide but haven't found exactly what I'm looking for.

Thanks in advance!

---"hoping it's some kind of beetle" in Michigan

Rove beetle.
If it was that speedy, I'm bettng it was some type of rove beetle, family Staphylinidae. They would EAT termites if they encountered them:-) Rove beetles (and some ground beetles, family Carabidae) will sometimes wander into houses, attracted by lights, or simply searching for prey. Check out some of the images in our guide.

I wish I could get another look at the one I saw
Thanks Eric for the suggestion and link. I am not sure but am leaning toward thinking it was an earwig. Unfortunately, because I'm not accustomed to identifying insects other than the most common ones, I cannot remember what I saw in detail. I remember the conformation of the pincers (pinchers?), however. And maybe it just seemed to move fast because I was trying to find something to stop it with. Maybe I'll see another one in the flesh (er, exoskeleton) and get a better look at it. I will be looking this time rather than killing. I've noticed with plant identification, after I get used to seeing particular plants and looking them up, I now know what to look for and can spot/differentiate them easily.


An earwig?

Thanks! I'm praying it was an earwig :-)
Thanks Troy,
I wish I had gotten a better look at it before I zapped it with hair spray (I don't have too many bugs so didn't have any insect killer). So I shellacked him and he balled up or contracted and scrurried into the closet. I have an old, old house but it's had lots of remodeling and no one's found any termites before. I'm sorry if it's not cool for me to talk about killing an insect here; I usually live and let live but if it was a termite, I wasn't going to adopt it.

I had thought the pinchers were on the anterior end but I guess I was mistaken if it's an earwig.

This is a very interesting site :-)


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