Updated: March 30, 2023

Earwigs are a common sight in many parts of the world. These small, brown or black insects have long, slender bodies, and can be found in gardens, fields, and even in homes. One of the most distinctive features of earwigs is their pincers, which are located at the end of their abdomen. But what exactly are these pincers used for? In this article, we’ll explore the purpose of earwig pincers and why they’re important.

Anatomy of Earwig Pincers

Earwig pincers are actually a pair of forceps-like appendages that are located at the end of the insect’s abdomen. They are made up of several segments, and can be moved independently of each other. The pincers are typically curved or hooked, and can be up to half the length of the earwig’s body.

What Are Earwig Pincers Used For?

Earwig pincers serve several purposes. First and foremost, they are used for self-defense. When threatened, an earwig will use its pincers to grasp onto its attacker and hold on tight. This can be a useful defense mechanism against predators such as birds or other insects.

In addition to self-defense, earwig pincers also play a role in mating. During courtship, male earwigs use their pincers to grasp onto the female’s body. This helps them to hold on during copulation, which can last for several hours.

Finally, earwig pincers are also used for grooming. Earwigs are fastidious creatures that spend a great deal of time cleaning themselves. They use their pincers to pick debris from their bodies and to rearrange their wings.

Why Are Earwig Pincers Important?

Earwig pincers are an important part of the insect’s anatomy. They are used for self-defense, mating, and grooming, and are essential to the earwig’s survival. Without their pincers, earwigs would be much more vulnerable to predators, and would have a harder time finding mates and keeping themselves clean.

Myths About Earwig Pincers

There are many myths about earwig pincers, some of which are completely untrue. Here are a few common misconceptions:

  • Earwigs use their pincers to crawl into people’s ears. This is a widely-held belief, but it’s not true. Earwigs have no interest in crawling into people’s ears, and their pincers are not strong enough to cause any harm.

  • Earwigs can pinch with their pincers. While earwig pincers can look intimidating, they are not capable of pinching or biting humans or animals. They are only used for defense against other insects and predators.

  • Earwig pincers are poisonous. There is no truth to this myth. Earwig pincers are not venomous or poisonous, and pose no threat to humans or animals.


Earwig pincers may look intimidating, but they serve an important purpose in the life of these small insects. From self-defense to mating to grooming, earwig pincers play a vital role in the survival of these creatures. By understanding more about the purpose of earwig pincers, we can appreciate these fascinating insects and the unique features that make them so interesting.


Q: Can earwigs fly?

A: No, earwigs do not have the ability to fly.

Q: Are earwigs harmful to humans?

A: No, earwigs pose no significant threat to humans. While they can give a mild pinch with their pincers, this is not harmful.

Q: Do earwigs only come out at night?

A: Earwigs are active during the day and night, but they are primarily nocturnal creatures.

Q: What do earwigs eat?

A: Earwigs are omnivores and will eat a variety of food, including plants, insects, and other small creatures.