Updated: June 10, 2023

Earwigs have long been feared and reviled by many people. These small insects are often found in gardens and occasionally make their way indoors. They are known for their distinctive pincers at the end of their abdomens, which they use for defense and to capture prey. But are earwigs actually harmful to humans or plants? Let’s take a closer look.

What are Earwigs?

Earwigs belong to the insect order Dermaptera, which means “skin wings.” There are over 2,000 species of earwigs worldwide, with about 20 species found in North America. They are typically dark brown or black in color and range in size from 5 to 25 mm in length. Earwigs are nocturnal insects that feed on both plant and animal material.

Do Earwigs Bite?

Earwigs do have pincers at the end of their abdomens, but they are not dangerous to humans. In fact, earwigs rarely bite humans and when they do, it is usually because they feel threatened. The pinch from an earwig may be mildly uncomfortable, but it is not venomous and will not cause any serious harm.

Can Earwigs Damage Plants?

Earwigs can be both beneficial and harmful to plants. While they may feed on plant material, they also consume other insects that can damage plants. However, if their population becomes too large, earwigs can cause significant damage to plants by feeding on leaves, flowers, and fruit. They may also burrow into the soil around plant roots, causing damage to the root system.

How to Control Earwig Populations

If you are concerned about earwig damage to your plants or want to prevent them from entering your home, there are several methods you can use to control their populations:

  • Remove debris and decaying plant material from your garden, as these are attractive habitats for earwigs.
  • Use sticky traps or bait traps to capture earwigs.
  • Apply insecticides specifically designed for earwigs to areas where they are present.
  • Seal up cracks and crevices in your home to prevent earwigs from entering.


In conclusion, while earwigs may be a nuisance to some, they are not harmful to humans and can actually be beneficial in controlling other insect populations. However, if their population becomes too large, they can cause damage to plants. If you are concerned about earwig populations in your garden or home, there are several methods you can use to control their numbers.


Q: Are earwigs nocturnal?

A: Yes, earwigs are primarily active at night and hide during the day.

Q: Do earwigs fly?

A: No, earwigs do not have wings and cannot fly.

Q: Can earwigs climb walls?

A: Yes, earwigs are capable of climbing walls and other vertical surfaces.

Q: Are earwigs attracted to light?

A: Some species of earwigs are attracted to light, while others are not.

Q: How long do earwigs live?

A: Earwigs typically live for about one year.