Earwigs are one of the least attractive insects that live around, and sometimes inside, homes. The most common species is about 3/4 inch long, appears reddish-brown in color, and has prominent pincers, called cerci, which protrude from the abdomen. They also have long antennae on their head. The cerci are used for defense, to capture prey, and as sensory organs to identify what is going on in their environment. Male earwigs have curved cerci, while the pincers on female earwigs are straight.

All About Earwigs

This insect gets its name from folklore; the earwig was thought to crawl into the ears of sleeping people, burrow into the brain, and lay eggs. This isn’t true, although it’s possible that a wayward earwig could wander into an ear canal accidentally.

Earwigs can pinch but only if captured and handled. The cerci are not likely to break the skin. If crushed, the earwig emits a foul odor.

Life Cycle

A female earwig can lay 25 to 30 eggs underground before the first frost and hibernate with a male until spring. The male earwig leaves the nest first and congregates with other earwigs as they forage on insects and plants. The female stays underground, turning and repositioning the eggs. When the nymphs hatch, the female earwigs bring food to the youngsters for up to two months.


Earwigs feed on plants and insects that are both destructive and beneficial to humans. Their diet includes aphids, fleas, mites, and other insect eggs. They eat garden plants, including lettuce and potatoes, and ornamental plants such as hostas and marigolds. Earwigs eat mosses, algae, and lichen, so they are found in large populations under mulch and decaying plant matter like fallen leaves, and within stacks of firewood.


Earwigs like a dark, damp environment and are more active at night. This insect is not usually found inside a home unless the weather is very dry for a long period. If an earwig population takes up residence inside, however, it’s because the bugs crawled in through cracks along windows and doors. They can hide out under baseboards and in kitchen cabinets.

How to Control Earwigs

Control earwigs by eliminating moisture around a home’s foundation. Channel rainwater away from the house, and caulk or weather strip around air-conditioning pipes, outside faucets, windows, and doors. Remove mulch close to the house.

Plus Yard Spray

kills earwig populations in the landscape. If earwigs are in the home, use a vacuum to remove any visible insects. A flea and tick fogger will kill earwigs that are hidden in crevices, under carpeting, or beneath moist areas inside the home.The AdamsTM Flea & Tick Home Spray also kills earwigs inside the home.

Types of Insect Pests - Insect Facts | Adams™