Updated: March 30, 2023

Earwigs are a common insect that can be found all over the world. They are known for their pincers on their tail, which can look menacing but are harmless to humans. But how long have these creatures been around, and where did they come from? In this article, we will explore the history and evolution of earwigs.

Earwig Origins

Earwigs belong to the order Dermaptera, which contains about 2,000 species. They have been around for a very long time, with fossil evidence showing that they existed during the Jurassic period, around 200 million years ago. The earliest known earwig fossil was found in England and dates back to the Middle Jurassic period.

Earwigs are believed to have evolved from an ancient group of insects called the Protelytroptera, which existed during the Permian period, around 290 million years ago. These insects had wings that were folded flat over their bodies, similar to cockroaches.

Earwig Evolution

Earwigs have evolved over time to adapt to their environment and survive. Their pincers are one of their most distinctive features and are used for a variety of purposes, including defense, capturing prey, and grooming themselves.

One interesting adaptation that earwigs have developed is their ability to fold their wings under their short elytra (wing covers). This allows them to move through tight spaces and protect their wings from damage.

Earwig Behavior

Earwigs are often found in dark, damp places such as under rocks or in rotting logs. They are nocturnal insects and are most active at night.

Earwigs are omnivores and will eat a variety of things such as plants, insects, and even small animals like snails or worms. They also play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to break down organic matter.

Earwig Mythology

Earwigs have been the subject of many myths and legends over the years. One popular myth is that they crawl into people’s ears while they sleep and lay eggs. This is not true, as earwigs prefer dark, damp places and are unlikely to crawl into a person’s ear.

In some cultures, earwigs are considered to be a sign of good luck. In Japan, for example, the earwig is known as the “mamushi” and is believed to bring good fortune to those who see it.


Are earwigs dangerous to humans?

No, earwigs are not dangerous to humans. While they have pincers on their tail, these are used for defense and are too small to cause harm to humans.

Do earwigs fly?

Yes, some species of earwigs have wings and are capable of flight. However, most species are flightless.

How do I get rid of earwigs in my home?

To get rid of earwigs in your home, you can try using natural repellents such as cedar oil or diatomaceous earth. You can also try sealing up any cracks or crevices where they may be getting in.

What is the lifespan of an earwig?

The lifespan of an earwig varies depending on the species, but most live for about one year.

In conclusion, earwigs have been around for millions of years and have evolved to adapt to their environment. While they may look intimidating with their pincers, they are harmless to humans and play an important role in the ecosystem.