European Earwigs

Earwigs European earwigs are often considered to be general household pests because of the large numbers that can accumulate when they seek shelter in homes and buildings. They are scavengers, and normally feed on decaying plant and animal matter. Earwigs will feed on living plant matter, as well, but they rarely cause serious damage to plants.

Adult European earwigs have a long, dark red, flattened body about five-eighths of an inch long, with pale, yellow-brown legs. Earwig adults have forcep-like cerci (appendages at the end of the abdomen) that differ in form between sexes. Adult male cerci are curved, whereas, female cerci are straight.

The European earwig undergoes a gradual metamorphosis, and normally has four or five instar stages. Eggs are deposited in an underground chamber, and are guarded by the female until they hatch. The female continues to watch over her young until the nymphs reach the third or fourth instar stage, when they begin to forage without returning to their nest.

European earwigs over winter as adults. Earwigs feed nocturnally, and can cause slug-like damage to plant leaves, flowers, fruits and vegetables. However, this damage can be differentiated from slug damage by the absence of the slimy trails slugs leave behind