Earwigs – What type of bug are they really?

Earwigs sound like an insect that would harm a persons ear, actually earwigs are pretty harmless to people. Unlike some other insects they do not feed on human flesh or blood. The most harmful thing an earwig can do is bite a person with its pinchers. Although, this do not occur frequently, and thankfully the earwig has no venom if a person does get bit. There is a myth that the earwig actually crawls into people’s ears at night and burrows, but that is completely false. Again earwigs are harmless to people.

Earwigs are not as bad as their name sounds. Earwigs can be good for things and they can be bad for things. Earwigs are good for eating smaller insects. Soil pests are a favorite treat of earwigs, and this is helpful because soil pests can be bad for gardens and crops. Although sometimes the earwigs will eat at a farmer’s crops or vegetation they usually do not ruin the vegetation completely. Other than insects earwigs will also eat all types of fruits, vegetables, and plants.

Even though earwigs seem like such an outdoors insect they often can be found inside homes too. The earwig is nocturnal so it needs a hiding place during the day. Sometimes a person may see an earwig in the day as some species are attracted to light. An earwig has many places it likes to hide; the most important thing is that it is a dark, small and moist or damp area. This also can apply to places inside or outside that an earwig would hide. Earwigs crawl around to get from place to place; sometimes earwigs use walls, ceilings, tables, counter tops, or wires to get from place to place. Within a home an earwig can be found in or near sinks, drains, bath tubs, showers, cracks in walls, magazines, trash cans, and or furniture will do as a hiding spot. Pretty much anywhere they can crawl into or under is a good place to hide. Outside earwigs can be found on the foundation of the house, piles of debris, trash cans, compost, wood piles, under rocks, and or lawn furniture.


Here's an earwig crawling along some cable cords.

The earwig is good at hiding in tiny places because it can fit into small crevices. The earwig can range from less than an inch long to up to three inches long, depending on the species. The body is narrow and flat; and is light brown to black in color. Sometimes it is mistaken for a cockroach as the earwig has antennae in the front of the body, wings, and their colors can be similar. Even though they both have wings earwigs rarely fly. One thing that makes the earwig and the cockroach obviously different is that the earwig has pinchers on the back end of its body. The pinchers are the distinct mark of the earwig, and help determine if the earwig is male or female.

Earwigs can have lots of babies. They usually reproduce during the fall and spring. When the earwigs gets fertile and lays eggs, the batch of eggs can be anywhere from 20-80 eggs per batch. The babies, or nymphs, will hatch after about two weeks. During the two week period the eggs are buried a couple inches underground, and the mother is very protective. Once the eggs hatch the mother will take care of the nymphs for about week, after that time she will leave them to survive on their own. As the nymph earwigs mature they will grow wings, change colors, and their pinchers will grow. As the pinchers grow they will change shape depending on the sex of the earwig. Female earwig’s pinchers will stay straight forward; while male pinchers will become curved. After the earwig’s pinchers have taken their shape they have become full adults.

Picture from www.creativecommons.org

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5 Responses to “Earwigs – What type of bug are they really?”

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