Pest Away Tips

10 Fascinating Facts About Earwigs You Need to Know

Earwigs are small insects that are commonly found in damp and humid areas all over the world. These tiny creatures have a fascinating anatomy, which we will explore as we go through this article.

Often misunderstood and feared due to their pincers, it is time to debunk some myths and appreciate these little creatures for what they are.

Description of Earwigs

Earwigs are small insects that are typically about half an inch to an inch long. They have a brownish-black color and a slender, elongated body.

One of their most distinguishing features is a pair of pincers, called cerci, which protrude from the back of their abdomen. These pincers are used for defense and to catch prey.

Despite their name, earwigs do not crawl into human ears. While it is true that they may occasionally crawl into tight spaces, such as ears, they quickly retreat if they realize that the space is not suitable for their lifetime.

Earwigs are not aggressive towards humans and do not pose any significant danger. So, rest assured, earwigs are not going to take up residence in your ears!

Earwigs in Gardens

Earwigs are known for causing plant damage in gardens. These insects feed on a wide range of plants, including flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

They prefer plants that are soft and succulent, and they tend to hide during the day and come out at night to feed. This can make it difficult to spot them and take proper measures to control their population.

One way to control earwigs in the garden is to remove any debris or dead plant matter. Earwigs tend to hide in dark, damp areas such as rotting wood, piles of leaves, and under rocks.

By cleaning up your garden, you will remove their hiding places.

Earwig Anatomy

Now that we have covered the basics, lets dive into the fascinating anatomy of earwigs. Earwigs have three distinct body parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen.

The head contains the mouthparts, eyes, and antennae. Earwigs have relatively large eyes and can see in low light conditions.

The thorax contains the three pairs of legs that earwigs use for walking. These legs are relatively long and skinny and are adapted for moving quickly across surfaces.

Earwigs are known for their ability to move quickly, even when they are trying to avoid predators. The abdomen contains the pincers or cerci that earwigs are known for.

The cerci are used for protection, hunting, and social interactions. They are relatively strong and can exert quite a bit of force when necessary.

Earwig Pincers

Earwig pincers, otherwise known as cerci, are sometimes confused with stingers or bite marks. The cerci are used by earwigs for defense, prey capture, and social interactions.

When threatened, an earwig may curl its body and use its pincers to try and scare off a predator.

The pincers themselves are relatively small, with the largest being less than half the length of the earwig’s body.

While they may look intimidating, they are not capable of inflicting any significant damage to humans, even if they do pinch.

Earwig Size

Earwigs vary in size depending on the species. The smallest earwigs are just a few millimeters long, while the largest can be over an inch long.

One of the most common earwig species in North America is the European earwig, which typically grows to be between half an inch and one inch long.


Earwigs are fascinating creatures with a unique anatomy that serves them well in their natural habitats. Despite their reputation as pests, they are not aggressive towards humans and do not pose any significant danger.

By understanding their anatomy and behavior, we can learn to coexist with these small insects and appreciate them for the role they play in the ecosystem.

Earwig Reproduction and Lifecycle

Earwigs reproduce in both the fall and springtime. Depending on the species, mating can occur either once per year or multiple times throughout the year.

When earwigs mate, the male transfers his sperm to the female using a specialized structure called a sperm packet.

After mating, the female earwig will lay her eggs in a protected area, such as crevices, cracks, or underneath objects.

She will then protect the eggs and defend them against any predators that may try to harm them. It typically takes around two weeks for the eggs to hatch, and the nymphs will molt four to six times before reaching adulthood.

Earwig Life Cycle Stages

Earwig life cycle stages consist of eggs, nymphs, molts, and adults. Earwig eggs are small and white and are usually laid in small groups.

Once the eggs hatch, the nymphs emerge. Nymphs are relatively small and look like miniature versions of the adult earwig.

As the nymph grows, it will molt several times, shedding its exoskeleton each time. After each molt, the nymph will look slightly different until it reaches adulthood.

Earwigs typically live for about one year, but this can vary depending on the species and environmental factors.

Earwig Lifespan

As mentioned, earwigs typically live for about one year. However, if they are in an environment with favorable conditions, such as plenty of food and minimal predators, they may live longer.

Conversely, if the environment is harsh, earwigs may not survive for their full lifespan.

Earwig Habitats and Behaviors

Earwigs are nocturnal and are usually seen out and about at night, although they may occasionally be seen during the day. They are also social insects, and sometimes, they can be found in large groups.

Earwigs prefer to live in moist, humid environments and are commonly found in gardens, under rocks, and in other areas that provide shelter. They also thrive in warmer climates.

Contrary to popular belief, earwigs do not just crawl into people’s homes during the fall to stay warm, although they may occasionally make their way indoors during the winter months. When earwigs are inside the house, they tend to prefer areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

They are attracted to moisture and may be found in sinks, bathtubs, and other areas that provide a humid environment. Earwigs may also hide in cracks and crevices, making it difficult to spot and remove them from the home.


Learning about earwig reproduction, the earwig lifecycle, and their behaviors can help us understand how to control their population. We now know that earwigs prefer moist and humid environments and are attracted to warm temperatures.

By disposing of moisture in the home, such as fixing leaks and increasing ventilation, you can make the space less attractive to earwigs. Additionally, sealing cracks and crevices can help prevent earwigs from entering your home.

Understanding the behavior of earwigs can also help ease any concerns you have about them. Earwigs are not dangerous to humans and are more interested in hiding from predators and finding food than causing harm.

With proper knowledge and preventative measures, you can enjoy a pest-free home.

Earwig Diet

Earwigs are omnivores, meaning they eat both animal and plant matter. For their prey, earwigs will feast on insects, spiders, and other invertebrates.

They also feed on decaying plant matter and sometimes live plant matter as well.

Earwigs may also occasionally scavenge on dead insects which they come across in their environment.

They are not picky eaters and will take advantage of any food source that is available to them. This can include crumbs or other food items found in the pantry.

Earwig Food Sources

Earwigs can be found feasting on a variety of food items. Live prey, such as insects and spiders, are a major source of food for earwigs.

They will also feed on dead insects and other organic matter.

In addition to prey, earwigs will consume live plant material as well as decaying plant matter.

This can include fallen leaves and other organic matter that has accumulated on the ground. Earwigs have also been known to find their way into pantries and food storage areas, where they may feed on grains, cereals, and other stored food items.

Common Types of Earwigs

There are several common types of earwigs worldwide. Here is a brief description of some of the most notable ones:

European Earwigs These earwigs are known for their unstriated wings and burrowing behavior.

They are commonly found throughout Europe and North America, and have become naturalized in other parts of the world. Ring-Legged Earwigs These earwigs are primarily found in gardens, where they feed on plant material and other insects.

They get their name from the dark ring-like markings on their legs. Striped Earwigs These earwigs are characterized by their yellow and black striped markings.

They are similar in size and appearance to the European Earwig and are found throughout North America. Maritime Earwigs and Seashore Earwigs These earwigs primarily inhabit coastal regions and feed on algae and other marine vegetation.

They are adapted to their environment and have elongated bodies that help them crawl through rocks and crevices. Saint Helena Earwigs This is a species of earwig that is now believed to be extinct.

It was endemic to Saint Helena Island in the South Atlantic Ocean.


Earwigs are fascinating creatures with a diverse diet, from prey to plant matter, and pantry items. Understanding the food sources of earwigs can help homeowners take precautionary measures to prevent earwig infestations from happening.

It is essential to be aware that there are multiple types of earwigs, each with its unique characteristics. Whether you are dealing with European Earwigs or Seashore Earwigs, understanding the nuances of each species can help homeowners eliminate infestations more effectively.

Earwig Wings

Unlike many other insects, earwigs have a relatively unique wing morphology. While earwigs do have wings, they are typically hidden away under their hardened forewings.

Unlike other insects, they only have one pair of wings. These wings are typically only used for rare flight occurrences and not for extended periods of time.

Earwig Wing Function

Earwig wings are not particularly well-developed and are not primarily used for flight. Instead, they are more of an appendage that is rarely used, if ever.

Earwigs prefer to walk or crawl rather than fly.

When earwigs do fly, it is rarely for extended periods of time.

They typically only use their wings for short bursts of flight, such as when trying to escape predators or during mating behavior.

Earwig Pincers

Earwigs are known for their distinctive pincers, which are called cerci. Cerci are an extension of the earwig’s abdomen and are composed of two branches.

They are relatively small and are capable of pinching, but they are not dangerous to humans.

Earwig Pincer Function

Earwig pincers serve several functions. For one, they are used to capture prey, whether that be another insect or plant material.

Additionally, they are used for self-defense against predators such as birds or other insects.

Male and female earwigs have different pincer shapes and uses.

Male earwigs have larger, more curved pincers, which they use during territorial fights and mating behavior. Female earwigs have smaller, straighter pincers that are used for gathering food and caring for their young.

Earwig Name Origin

The name “earwig” comes from the old English word “earewicga,” which translates to “ear wiggler.” The name is believed to have originated from a folk belief that earwigs would crawl into the ears of sleeping people and burrow into their brains. While this is entirely false, the myth managed to stick around for quite some time.


Earwigs are unique insects with distinctive features, such as their pincers and hidden wings. Their pincers are useful for capturing prey and self-defense, while their wings are primarily used for short bursts of flight.

Understanding the function and morphology of earwig pincers and wings can help in identifying them, control their populations, and alleviate any fears about earwigs. While earwigs may have a reputation as pests, they play an important role in the ecosystem and are generally harmless to humans.

Earwig Harmfulness

Earwigs are generally not harmful to humans or pets. While they do possess pincers, these pincers are relatively weak and rarely capable of causing any significant harm.

It is essential to note, however, that in some cases, earwigs may pinch humans accidentally and cause skin breakage, which can lead to infection and the transmission of disease. Earwigs do not produce venom and are not poisonous.

While they may look intimidating with their pincers, they are generally more interested in finding food and shelter than harming humans or pets.

Earwig Biting

Earwigs do not typically bite humans or pets. While they may accidentally pinch, it is rare for them to cause any significant damage.

It is essential to note that most species of earwig have relatively weak pincers that are not capable of causing any severe harm.

If an earwig does accidentally pinch, it is important to clean the area thoroughly to prevent infection and to seek medical attention if necessary.

Earwig Attraction to Homes

Earwigs are attracted to homes for several reasons. They are commonly drawn to light and may try to enter homes at night when lights are on.

Earwigs are also attracted to moisture, which can sometimes be present inside homes due to plumbing leaks or other issues.

During periods of heavy rain or other inclement weather, earwigs may also try to seek shelter indoors.

Earwigs can enter homes through small cracks or entry points, which can be challenging to seal fully.

Earwig Prevention Tips

There are several steps homeowners can take to prevent earwigs from entering their home. One of the most important steps is to seal any cracks or entry points to keep earwigs out.

Additionally, maintaining the yard or garden can help prevent earwig infestations.

Ensuring that gutters are clean and in good repair can also help prevent earwigs from entering the home.

Keeping indoor humidity levels under control can also help reduce earwig infestations. This can be done through the use of a dehumidifier or fan.

Earwig Infestation

Earwigs can cause damage to gardens by feeding on plants and plant material. They are particularly fond of soft, succulent plant material and can cause significant plant destruction if left unchecked.

If earwigs are infesting a home, there are several ways to remove them. Vacuuming can be an effective way to remove earwigs and their eggs from inside the home.

In some cases, professional pest control assistance may be necessary to eliminate an earwig infestation comprehensively.

Terminix Earwig Control Services

Terminix offers comprehensive earwig control services to help eliminate earwig infestations. Their services include

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