Earwigs are comparatively small insects of the Dermaptera order. Despite the popular believe that the insects could crawl into the ears of a sleeping person and then bore into the brain, the insects are essentially harmless to human beings. The name Earwig is derived from Greek words derma and ptera, which may be translated into skin and wings respectively. The name refers to the protective forewings covering the insects. Although they are harmless, the insects can nip the human skin in protection, if disturbed. By feeding on the destructive insects, earwigs can aid in the elimination of such insects.

Identification/ Appearance

Currently, there are several known earwig species, with the popular one being the European earwig species. The European earwig is scientifically referred to as Forficula auricularia and was first discovered in Europe. This species is currently predominant in North America. The North America is about 16 mm in length and has about 12 segments along its body. The body of the insect is dark-red in color and has appendage that look like pincer at the end of their abdomen. To move from one location to the other, the insects prefer running, rather than flying. Before flying, the insects will climb to the highest possible position.

Life Cycle

The insects go through an incomplete metamorphosis. The adult females lay about 20 to 60 eggs inside burrows. The eggs hatch in about a week, provided that the conditions are suitable. The nymphs that hatch from the eggs are similar to the adult earwigs, but smaller in size. Before maturing, the nymphs have to go through four instars (stages). From the first to the second instar, the nymphs remain in the nest and start foraging after that. In most cases, the Nymphs transit to adults in summer and sometimes early fall.


Earwigs are found in the dark and moist places and forage at night. As such, the insects are easy to find in narrow cracks, beneath floorboards as well as other tight spaces in the home. Their natural habitat includes under stones and tree barks. The insects are known to smear a pheromone on their faces, in a bid to attract other earwigs to where they are.


Earwigs are omnivorous in nature, feeding on dead and decaying matter like vegetables, insects and small invertebrates. They also feed on aphids, caterpillar pupae and spiders by trapping them with their cerci. The insects are also known to feed on plants, hence causing injury on the plants.

Signs of Earwig Infestation and Problems Associated With Infestation

Rarely do earwigs occur in large numbers. As such, spotting the insects physically is the surest way to tell whether they have infested your home. Once an earwig infests your home, it will release pheromones to attract other earwigs to the home. Once they infest your home, earwigs can lead to multiple problems in your home or business premises. For instance, the insects can damage vegetables, flowers, shrubs and ornamental plants in your home. If the insects feel threatened, they will cause pinches on human beings and pets. Alternatively, the insects will release a foul-smelling liquid. To avert such problems, you should hire specialists like AMG Extermination to remove these insects and prevent them from infesting the house in the future