5 Facts About Earwigs – Florence’s Student Essay

Earwigs (Forficula Auricularia Linnaeus), also known as pincer bugs due to their forceps appendages, are most commonly found in the United States but are native to Europe. These nocturnal omnivores live in warm, damp areas such as under rocks, flower pots, or logs and are most active during Autumn. Mature earwigs are typically three-quarters of an inch long and females can lay as many as fifty eggs. Their pincers play an important part in mate selection.

Pincers can vary in size and symmetry. Male earwigs have curved pincers while female earwigs have straight ones. Females have been observed to prefer males with smaller, asymmetrical pincers.

According to a study by Dr. Andrew Zink, an Associate Professor of Biology at San Francisco University, males use their pincers to fight other males, driving them from the territory. Fighting typically occurs during mating season which is usually in the fall.

Jeff Schalau of the University of Arizona noted that females burrow, spend their time providing maternal care, and frequently clean their eggs to make sure they are safe from fungi and any pathogens. Males are usually pushed out of the burrow while the females care for their eggs until they hatch. When the nymphs emerge after 70 days to find their own food, they look like adult earwigs.

Earwigs feed on small insects such as aphids, maggots, and armyworms but can resort to eating seedlings or fruits when insects are not available. Although they don’t consume the whole plant, earwigs can contaminate them with excrement or leave behind damaged leaves.

Earwigs are not harmful to humans but they can startle people who are afraid of insects. Occasionally, they can crawl indoors through gaps in weather stripping or cracks in the foundation. Some gardeners believe that they are beneficial as long as their population is not out of control. When in doubt, call your pest control company.

Author: Florence Kriner

Arizona State University


  • Antosen, A. (2018, May 18). [Photograph]. Entomology Today.Org. Retrieved October 16, 2021, from https://entomologytoday.org/2018/05/11/research-confirms-insect-moms-are-the-best/
  • Cassidy, J. (2018, June 26). What Do Earwigs Do With Their Pincers Anyway? Www.Kqed.Org. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.kqed.org/science/1925887/what-do-earwigs-do-with-those-pincers-anyway European earwig. (2020, July 20). [Photograph]. Management of European Earwig. https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/pome-fruit/management-european-earwig?page=0
  • Featured Creatures. (n.d.). Https://Entnemdept.Ufl.Edu/Creatures/Veg/European_earwig.Htm. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/european_earwig.htm Schalau, J. (2016, September 21). Backyard Gardener. Cals.Arizona.Edu. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://cals.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/archive/earwig.html

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