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
Earwigs are dark, reddish-brown insects which are easily identified by the pincer-like projections on the tip of the abdomen, called forceps.

adult earwig
Both males and females have forceps. The most common species, the European earwig, is 5/8 of an inch long.

adult earwig
Earwigs sometimes emit a foul-smelling, yellowish-brown liquid from their scent glands.

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Identification and Control Information

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