Pest Identification: Earwigs
Most Common Types
European earwigs are the most common insects of the Dermaptera order which contains around 2,000 different species. There are 20 species of earwigs in the United States.
What They Look Like
Adult earwigs are reddish-brown and around ¾ inch long. They are very slender insects with two pairs of wings. The earwig’s main distinguishing feature is its large pincer-like protrusion, which is called cerci, located the end of the abdomen. They use these pincers for defense against rival earwigs.
Where They Live
Earwigs are found in the Americas, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The European earwig was first introduced to the United States in the early 1900s and is now commonly found in Wisconsin, the South, and the Southwest.
Where They Nest
Earwigs hibernate several inches under the soil in winter and emerge around late May. They prefer moist, shady areas filled with decaying plant material, rotting boards, organic debris, and mulch. Earwigs are active at night and often hide under outdoor furniture, hoses, and garbage cans.
Steps to Prevent
Earwigs do not like sunny dry areas. Create a clean, dry boarder around your home by pruning low-growing bushes and removing moss, mulch, and firewood near the foundation. Apply insecticide to the earwigs’ hiding places in the daytime or simply trap the insects in a tin can baited with fish oil or vegetable oil.
Are They Harmful?
Earwigs do not harm humans and they are beneficial predators that feed on mites, fleas, aphids, and insect eggs. However, they can be garden pests when they eat marigolds, dahlias, lettuce, and potatoes.