Updated: March 30, 2023

The European earwig, scientifically known as Forficula auricularia, is a common household pest found throughout the United States and Europe. These insects are notorious for their pincers and their ability to crawl into tight spaces, but little is known about their life cycle. In this article, we will explore the different stages of the European earwig’s life cycle and provide insights into their behavior.

Egg Stage

The European earwig’s life cycle begins with the egg stage. Female earwigs lay their eggs in soil or other damp places. The eggs are small, round, and white and take about 2 weeks to hatch. The female earwig remains with her eggs until they hatch, providing protection and nourishment.

Nymph Stage

Once hatched, the earwig enters the nymph stage. Nymphs look like miniature versions of adult earwigs but lack wings and are lighter in color. During this stage, the nymph molts several times as it grows larger. Molting is a process where the earwig sheds its exoskeleton to make room for its growing body.

Adult Stage

After several molts, the European earwig reaches adulthood. Adult earwigs have dark brown or black bodies with reddish-brown heads and pincers at the end of their abdomen. They also have two pairs of wings, although they are not always used for flight. Adult earwigs typically live for about a year.


European earwigs are nocturnal insects and are most active at night. They are omnivores, feeding on both plants and other insects. Earwigs are also social insects and often live in large groups.

One of the most notable behaviors of European earwigs is their tendency to congregate in tight spaces. This behavior is called “earwigging” and is thought to be a way for the insects to conserve moisture and protect themselves from predators.


If you are dealing with a European earwig infestation, there are several steps you can take to control their population. The first step is to eliminate any damp areas around your home, as earwigs prefer moist environments. You can also use insecticides or traps to kill adult earwigs and prevent them from reproducing.

It’s important to note that earwigs are not dangerous to humans and do not pose a significant threat to crops or gardens. However, their presence can be unsightly and annoying, so taking steps to control their population may be necessary.


Q: Are European earwigs harmful to humans?

A: No, European earwigs are not harmful to humans. While they have pincers, they are not strong enough to cause significant harm.

Q: How can I prevent European earwigs from entering my home?

A: To prevent European earwigs from entering your home, seal any cracks or openings around doors and windows. You should also eliminate any damp areas around your home, as earwigs prefer moist environments.

Q: What should I do if I find a European earwig in my home?

A: If you find a European earwig in your home, you can either remove it manually or use an insecticide or trap to kill it. It’s also a good idea to seal any cracks or openings around doors and windows to prevent more earwigs from entering your home.