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European Earwig—Forficula auriculari

Generally, earwigs are not destructive. They are harmless to humans and animals, although if handled carelessly, they can give a slight pinch with the forceps. They prefer moist, dark areas and are commonly found in mulch, organic debris, cracks and crevices, under flowerpots and boards. They frequently enter the house and are often found in the basement or crawlspace. They are most active at night and seek shelter during day. Earwigs can be responsible for serious feeding damage on flowers, vegetables, fruits and other plants, giving the leaves a ragged appearance with numerous, small, irregular holes.

adult earwig adult earwig adult earwig
Earwigs are dark, reddish-brown insects which are easily identified by the pincer-like projections on the tip of the abdomen, called forceps. Both males and females have forceps. The most common species, the European earwig, is 5/8 of an inch long. Earwigs sometimes emit a foul-smelling, yellowish-brown liquid from their scent glands.

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[Photos, left to right: Joseph Berger,; Gary Alpert, Harvard University,; Joseph Berger,]

It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.