european earwig

Photo by Whitney Cranshaw,

Colorado State University; from


European earwigs generally feed as scavengers on dead insects and rotting plant material, but they are also reported as feeding on flower blossoms, lettuce, and other succulent garden plants, especially when populations are numerous. A few cases of earwigs feeding on aphids or other insects have been reported. In addition to their feeding activities, earwigs often occur in close proximity to people, even getting into houses and garages, especially during periods of warm wet weather. Once indoors they seek out moist areas and thus may be found in basements, kitchens, and occasionally in bathrooms. Inside they are nuisance pests, and they may feed on stored paper or fiber products especially if they are stored in moist situations. The earwigs are nocturnal and during the day they rest in dark, moist places.


The most distinctive feature of earwigs is the pair of forceps on the tip of the abdomen. On the male the forceps are strongly curved, in the female they are nearly straight. The adult is about 18 mm (5/8") long, a somewhat flattened elongated insect, dark red-brown in color, with short wing covers. It seldom flies. The young (nymphs) are similar to the adults, gray-brown in color and lacking wings.

Life History

The female earwig deposits 20 to 60 white, nearly spherical eggs in a cell in the soil at a depth of 15 mm. Depending on temperature, incubation lasts from 12 to 85 days, eggs produced early in the spring requiring the longest to hatch. The female guards the eggs and newly hatched young, sometimes for a year or longer. A year





Cornell University, Dept. of Entomology, 2144 Comstock Hall, Ithaca NY 14853-2601


Prepared 1973 by Carolyn Klass & Prof. Edgar M. Raffensperger, Dept. of Entomology, Cornell University

Updated 2012