Updated: March 30, 2023

Earwigs are small insects that belong to the order Dermaptera. These insects are characterized by their elongated bodies, forceps-like cerci or pincers at the end of their abdomen, and membranous wings folded underneath short forewings. Despite their intimidating appearance, earwigs are relatively harmless to humans and are actually beneficial in controlling other insect populations. Earwigs are found worldwide with over 2,000 species identified. This article will focus on earwig geographical distribution in North America.

Earwig Species in North America

There are only about 30 species of earwigs found in North America, which is a fraction of the total number worldwide. The most common species found in North America is the European earwig (Forficula auricularia), which was introduced from Europe and is now widespread throughout the continent.

Other earwig species found in North America include:

  • The ringlegged earwig (Euborellia annulipes)
  • The tawny earwig (Anisolabis maritima)
  • The spine-tailed earwig (Doru aculeatus)
  • The striped earwig (Labidura riparia)

Earwig Geographical Distribution in North America

Earwigs are found throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico. However, their distribution is not uniform and varies depending on the species.

The European earwig is the most widely distributed species and can be found throughout most of the United States and Canada. It is particularly abundant in areas with moist soil, such as gardens and agricultural fields.

The ringlegged earwig is found primarily in the western United States, from California to Montana. It prefers arid habitats such as deserts and grasslands.

The tawny earwig is found along the coast of California and Oregon, where it inhabits coastal dunes and sandy beaches.

The spine-tailed earwig is found in the southeastern United States, from Florida to Texas. It prefers warm, humid habitats such as forests and wetlands.

The striped earwig is found primarily in the southwestern United States, from Arizona to Texas. It inhabits rocky areas and canyons.

Habitat and Behavior

Earwigs are nocturnal insects that hide in dark, damp places during the day and come out at night to feed. They are omnivorous and feed on a variety of plant and animal material, including other insects.

Earwigs prefer moist habitats and are often found in gardens, agricultural fields, and other areas with moist soil. They are also commonly found in leaf litter, under rocks and logs, and in crevices in buildings.

Earwigs are known for their unusual behavior of caring for their young. Female earwigs lay their eggs in underground burrows or other protected areas and guard them until they hatch. The female then continues to care for the young nymphs by feeding them regurgitated food until they are able to fend for themselves.


Are earwigs harmful to humans?

Despite their intimidating appearance, earwigs are relatively harmless to humans. They do not sting or bite and are not known to transmit any diseases.

Do earwigs really crawl into people’s ears?

Contrary to popular belief, earwigs do not crawl into people’s ears. This myth likely originated from the insect’s name, which comes from the Old English word “earwicga,” which means “ear creature.”

How can I control earwig populations in my garden?

There are several methods for controlling earwig populations in gardens, including removing hiding places such as rocks and logs, using insecticides or natural predators such as birds and frogs, and trapping them with baited traps.