- Earwigs -



Forficula auricularia L.


What are earwigs?

The European earwig is an immigrated from Europe to the eastern United States around 1907. After a few decades, they made their way west.
The European earwig, the most common and abundant of earwig species, is about 5/8″ long, brown, and has a reddish head. Young earwigs are similar in appearance to adults except that they are smaller in size. A distinctive feature of the insect is the pair of prominent forceps at the rear of the body.


Can you tell me a bit about their biology?

Earwigs are elongated flattened insects, with long slender antennae, short leathery wings (which are not noticeable) and strong mobile, moveable forceps at the end of the abdomen. They have the ability to fly and most frequently do so in the spring. Males have large forceps with a pronounced curve, while females have somewhat smaller and more parallel ones. The forceps are used defensively and during courtship. Despite the commonly held perception that earwigs inflict a pinch or a bite with their forceps, they do not.
Female earwigs lay eggs in small underground chambers, and when they hatch, she tends the young. One or two broods are raised per year.


What’s their behavior like?

Earwigs are found both inside and outside. They are nocturnal insects and prefer dark, moist areas. During the day, earwigs will hide in any dark and confined space. Indoors, they are known to hide under potted plants, in newspaper stacks, stinky shoes, and under rugs. Outdoors, they will hide under logs, rocks, stacked wood, and other kinds of debris.


What do they like to eat?

Earwigs generally feed at night on decaying or living vegetable matter, and can attack many kinds of healthy plants. Earwigs can be serious garden pests, particularly in coastal areas and damp suburban habitats. They are known to feed on new growth on many types of plants including fruits and vegetables.
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