Updated: June 10, 2023

Earwigs: What are they?

Earwigs are small insects that belong to the order Dermaptera. They are known for their distinctive appearance, which includes a pair of pincers or forceps on their abdomen. These forceps, which are used for defense and catching prey, give earwigs their scientific name, Forficula auricularia, which means “little ear forger.” Despite their name, earwigs do not crawl into people’s ears and are not dangerous to humans.

Earwigs are found all over the world and can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, gardens, and homes. They are nocturnal insects, meaning they are active at night and spend the day hiding in dark, moist places. They are attracted to light and are commonly found near porch lights or streetlights.

Earwigs are omnivorous and will feed on a variety of plants and insects. They are known to eat flowers, leaves, and fruit, and can be a pest in gardens. They are also scavengers and will eat dead insects and plants. In addition to their pincers, earwigs also have mandibles, which they use to chew their food.

Earwigs undergo a process called incomplete metamorphosis, which means they do not have a pupal stage. Instead, they hatch from eggs as nymphs, which look like small adults. As they grow, they molt their exoskeleton and eventually reach adulthood. Earwigs typically live for one to two years.

Earwigs are not aggressive and will only use their pincers in self-defense. They do not sting or bite and are not known to transmit diseases to humans. However, they can be a nuisance in homes and gardens and can cause damage to plants. If you want to get rid of earwigs, there are several methods you can use, including removing their hiding places, such as piles of wood or debris, and using insecticides or traps. It is also helpful to seal any cracks or openings in your home to prevent them from getting inside.

Overall, earwigs are interesting insects that have a bad reputation due to their appearance and their tendency to invade homes and gardens. However, they are not dangerous and play an important role in the ecosystem as predators and scavengers.