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European earwigs; OCG earwig control; Comprehensive Guide to Earwigs

Introduction to Earwigs

Earwigs are fascinating insects that have intrigued humans for centuries. At OCG Pest Control, we believe in understanding pests to manage them effectively. This comprehensive guide delves deep into the world of earwigs, shedding light on their behaviour, ecology, and relationship with humans.

What is an earwig insect?

Earwigs are small, elongated insects known for their distinctive pincers. While often misunderstood, these creatures play a vital role in our ecosystem, contributing to the balance of nature.

Earwig etymology and the origin of its name

The name "earwig" is derived from the Old English word "ńďare," which means "ear," and "wicga," meaning "insect." This peculiar name stems from age-old myths suggesting these insects crawl into human ears. But rest assured, this is more fiction than fact!

Distinguishing characteristics of earwigs

Earwigs are easily identifiable by their forceps-like pincers, which they use for defence and capturing prey. They have a slender body, two pairs of wings, and are usually brownish.

Understanding European earwig

The European earwig is one of the most common species encountered by humans. Originating from Europe, it has now spread to various parts of the world, adapting to diverse environments.

Distinguishing characteristics of earwigs

Earwigs are easily identifiable by their forceps-like pincers, which they use for defence and capturing prey. They have a slender body, two pairs of wings, and are usually brownish.

Understanding European earwig

The European earwig is one of the most common species encountered by humans. Originating from Europe, it has now spread to various parts of the world, adapting to diverse environments.

Morphology: External and internal structure

Externally, earwigs have a segmented body with a tough exoskeleton. Internally, they possess a simple circulatory and well-developed nervous system, making them quite agile.

Distribution: Where do earwigs live?

Earwigs are versatile and can be found in various habitats, from gardens to homes. They prefer dark, damp environments, often hiding under rocks, logs, or crevices.

Earwig lifecycle and reproduction

Female earwigs deposit a clutch of twenty to forty eggs in wood cavities, behind leaves, or in the uppermost layer of soil. After around seven days, the eggs hatch. Although they are lighter in colour, nymphs, or baby earwigs, have the same overall morphology as adults when they are born.

Before being regarded as an adult, they would moult four or five times. Check out the illustration in the article for a visual representation of the earwig's life cycle. Here's the link to the article for more detailed information and the illustration.

How many types of earwigs are there?

There are over 2,000 species of earwigs globally, each with unique characteristics and habitat preferences. In Australia, there are approximately 60 species of earwigs. This is based on a paper titled "The Dermaptera (earwigs) of Australia: a taxonomic treatment of all named species, with an annotated checklist" by David Rentz, published in 2019. This paper provides a comprehensive taxonomic treatment of all named earwig species in Australia.

Do males and females look different?

While both male and female earwigs have pincers, males typically have more curved pincers, whereas females have straighter ones.

Earwig Behavior and Ecology

Earwigs are nocturnal creatures, coming out at night to feed and returning to their hiding spots during the day. They play a crucial role in the ecosystem, aiding in decomposition and serving as food for various predators.

Behaviour: How do earwigs act?

Earwigs are solitary insects but can be found in groups, especially in favourable conditions. They're known to be scavengers, feeding on decaying organic matter and occasionally preying on smaller insects.

Ecology: Role in the environment

Earwigs contribute to the environment by breaking down organic matter and enriching the soil. They also serve as a food source for many predators, maintaining ecological balance.

What do earwigs eat?

Primarily omnivorous, earwigs feed on a mix of plant material, decaying organic matter, and other insects. Their diet varies based on availability and species.

Natural predators and parasites of earwigs

Earwigs have several natural enemies, including birds, amphibians, and larger insects. Some parasitic species also target earwigs, laying their eggs inside them.

How are earwigs adapted to their environment?

Earwigs have evolved to thrive in various environments. Their nocturnal nature, ability to hide in crevices, and varied diet make them resilient creatures.

Earwigs and Humans

The relationship between earwigs and humans is complex. While they are beneficial to the environment, their presence in homes can be unsettling for many.

Relationship with humans: Are they friends or pests?

While earwigs can benefit gardens, their presence indoors is often seen as a nuisance. However, they're not inherently harmful to humans.

Are earwigs dangerous?

Contrary to popular belief, earwigs are not venomous and pose no direct threat to humans. Their pincers can give a slight pinch but are generally harmless.

Myth-busting: Do earwigs go into ears?

One of the most enduring myths about earwigs is that they crawl into human ears. This is a misconception; earwigs are no more likely to enter our ears than any other tiny insect.

Earwigs in literature and folklore

Throughout history, earwigs have found their way into various cultural tales and folklore, often portrayed as mysterious or ominous creatures.

Earwigs in the Garden

Earwigs can be both beneficial and problematic in gardens. Understanding their role can help gardeners make informed decisions.

Benefits of earwigs in the garden

Earwigs aid in breaking down organic matter, helping enrich the soil. They also feed on specific pests, providing natural pest control.

What plants are impacted by earwigs?

While earwigs are beneficial, they can sometimes feed on plants, especially seedlings, flowers, and soft fruits.

Parts of the plant impacted by earwigs

Earwigs primarily target the softer parts of plants, such as leaves, petals, and fruits. They can leave behind jagged edges or small holes.

Are earwigs excellent or bad for the garden?

The answer is nuanced. While earwigs can be beneficial, an overpopulation can lead to damage. It's essential to maintain a balance.

The answer is nuanced. While earwigs can be beneficial, an overpopulation can lead to damage. It's essential to maintain a balance.

Managing Earwig Infestations

With their unmistakable pincers and nocturnal habits, earwigs can cause concern when they appear in large numbers in our homes and gardens. While they play a role in the ecosystem, an unchecked population can lead to unwanted damage, especially to young plants and seedlings.

At OCG Pest Control, we don't just treat the symptoms; we address the root cause. Our holistic approach to managing earwig infestations is grounded in a deep understanding of their behaviour, lifecycle, and habits. Here's how we ensure your space remains earwig-free:

  1. In-depth Assessment: Before implementing any solution, our team thoroughly inspects the affected areas. This helps us understand the extent of the infestation and identify potential breeding grounds.
  2. Customized Treatment Plans: Recognizing that every infestation is unique, we tailor our treatment plans to suit the specific needs of each situation. Whether it's a garden overrun by earwigs or a home invasion, we have the expertise to handle it.
  3. Eco-friendly Solutions: We prioritize the safety of your family, pets, and the environment. Our treatments are designed to be effective against earwigs while minimizing harm to beneficial insects and the surrounding ecosystem.
  4. Preventative Measures: Beyond treating the current infestation, we guide preventive measures. Simple steps, like reducing moisture in certain areas or sealing gaps in your home's foundation, can significantly prevent future infestations.
  5. Education and Awareness: We believe that knowledge is power. Our team takes the time to educate clients on earwig behaviour, the signs of an infestation, and best practices to keep them at bay.
  6. Follow-up and Maintenance: Our commitment doesn't end with a single treatment. We offer follow-up services to ensure the infestation is eradicated and provide maintenance tips to keep your space earwig-free.

At OCG Pest Control, we combine scientific knowledge with practical solutions, ensuring a balanced and effective approach to pest management. With our expertise, you can rest assured that your earwig concerns will be addressed promptly and professionally.

Symptoms of earwig damage in homes and gardens

Signs of earwig damage include jagged edges on leaves, small holes in fruits, and their noticeable presence in large numbers.

How to get rid of earwigs in your home and garden

Effective earwig control involves a combination of preventive measures, natural deterrents, and targeted treatments. OCG Pest Control offers comprehensive solutions tailored to your needs.

Preventative measures: How to prevent an earwig infestation

Preventing an infestation involves reducing damp, dark hiding spots, sealing home entry points, and regular garden maintenance.

Recommended products to control earwigs

OCG Pest Control recommends a range of products, from natural repellents to targeted treatments, ensuring effective earwig control.

Biological, cultural, and chemical management options

From introducing natural predators to cultural practices and chemical treatments, there are various ways to manage earwig populations effectively.

Fun Facts and Takeaways

Earwigs are more than just garden pests. They're fascinating creatures with unique behaviours and adaptations.

  1. Maternal Instincts: Unlike many insects, female earwigs are known to care for their eggs and young nymphs. They will guard the eggs against predators and clean them to prevent fungal infections.
  2. Wing Wonders: Despite having wings, most species of earwigs rarely fly. Their wings are unique, folding complexly like origami to fit beneath their short wing covers.
  3. Name Origins: The name "earwig" comes from the Old English word "ńďare," which means "ear," and "wicga," which means "insect." It's a myth that they crawl into people's ears, but that's how they got their name!
  4. Ancient Creatures: Earwigs have been around for a long time. Fossil records show that earwigs have been on Earth for at least 208 million years!
  5. Diverse Diet: Earwigs are omnivores. They can eat various things, from plants and ripe fruits to other insects.
  6. Pincer Power: The pincers (or cerci) on an earwig's abdomen are used for defence, capturing prey, and mating. Male earwigs usually have more curved pincers, while females have straighter ones.
  7. Worldwide Wanderers: There are over 2,000 species of earwigs, and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
  8. Night Owls: Earwigs are nocturnal, which means they're most active at night. During the day, they hide in damp, dark places.
  9. Not All Pests: While they can be pests in gardens by feeding on plants, earwigs also eat other pests like aphids, making them beneficial in some cases.
  10. Communication Skills: Earwigs communicate with each other using pheromones, especially during mating.


  • Earwigs are more than just garden pests. Their unique behaviours, especially maternal instincts, set them apart from many other insects.
  • The myths surrounding earwigs, especially those about them crawling into ears, are just myths. They're generally harmless to humans.
  • Understanding earwigs can help manage them better, whether you want to protect your plants or appreciate their role in the ecosystem.

Whether you find them intriguing or a bit creepy, there's no denying that earwigs are remarkable creatures with much to offer regarding understanding insect behaviour and ecology.

Earwigs as the hero single mothers of the insect world

Female earwigs are known to guard their eggs, showcasing a rare maternal instinct in the insect world.

Clever wings of earwigs: Not just for show

While not known for flying, earwigs have intricately folded wings, showcasing nature's engineering marvel. Many species of earwigs have wings and are capable of flying, but they rarely do so. Earwigs have two pairs of wings. The front wings, known as tegmina, are short and leathery and serve as protective covers for the hind wings. The hind wings are membranous, much larger, and folded beneath the tegmina when not used.

While earwigs have the physical capability to fly, they often prefer to remain on the ground and are more commonly seen crawling rather than flying. The reasons for their infrequent flying can vary, but it's believed that their ground-based lifestyle and habitats don't often necessitate flight.

A bizarre name leading to a misunderstood group of insects

The name "earwig" has led to many misconceptions, but these insects are far more intriguing than the myths suggest. Their unique behaviours, adaptations, and roles in the ecosystem make them a captivating subject of study.

Dealing with earwigs at home and in the garden

While earwigs can be beneficial, managing their populations is essential to prevent potential damage. Regular inspections, preventive measures, and timely interventions can ensure a harmonious coexistence with these intriguing insects.

References and further reading

A list of scholarly articles, research papers, and books is available for those keen on understanding earwigs in-depth. These resources provide comprehensive insights into earwig behaviour, ecology, and management:

University of California's Integrated Pest Management on Earwigs

  • Description: This guide offers a comprehensive overview of earwig identification, life cycle, and management techniques. It provides expert advice on controlling earwig infestations in various settings.
  • Link to the article

Get Rid Of Earwigs - DIY Pest Control

  • Description: This resource offers DIY methods for earwig prevention and control. It emphasizes the importance of eliminating high moisture areas attractive to earwigs.
  • Link to the article

How To Get Rid Of Earwigs - Pest Control

  • Source: Forbes
  • Description: Forbes provides a guide on managing earwig infestations, including DIY methods like using soapy water and light to trap earwigs.
  • Link to the article

Get Rid of Earwigs - Earwig Control, Treatment & Info

  • Source:¬†
  • Description:¬†¬†provides a comprehensive guide on earwig identification, behaviour, and control measures. It emphasizes the importance of professional intervention when dealing with earwig infestations.
  • Link to the article


Q: What is the European earwig?
A: The European earwig, or Forficula auricularia, is a common insect pest that can invade homes and gardens.

Q: How can I identify a European earwig?
A: European earwigs have a distinct appearance with forceps-like appendages at the end of their abdomen. They are typically dark brown in colour.

Q: What do European earwigs eat?
A: European earwigs are omnivorous insects, feeding on both plant and animal materials. They eat aphids, spiders, lizards, and other small invertebrates.

Q: Do European earwigs provide any benefits?
A: Yes, earwigs are essential in controlling populations of other pests, such as aphids. They can also aid in the decomposition of decaying plant and animal matter.

Q: Where are European earwigs found?
A: European earwigs can be found in various regions worldwide, including Western Australia. They are an introduced species in many areas.

Q: How do European earwigs reproduce?
A: European earwigs engage in copulation, with females providing maternal care for their eggs. They will clean and protect the eggs until they hatch.

Q: Are earwigs active during the day or night?
A: Earwigs are most active at night and prefer to hide in cracks and crevices during the day.

Q: How do European earwigs defend themselves?
A: European earwigs have forceps-like appendages called cerci, which they can use for defence against predators. They may also release a foul odour when threatened.

Q: Can I control earwig populations in my garden?
A: There are several methods for controlling earwigs in horticultural settings. Removing leaf litter and providing alternative food sources can help reduce their numbers.

Q: Do earwigs have wings?
A: Yes, earwigs have wings. However, their hindwings are usually folded underneath their forewings and are only used for short flights.

What Do They Look Like?

Forceps Earwigs are odd looking insects which have pincers or forceps protruding from the abdomen. These are somewhat intimidating looking but they are not poisonous, and they do not spread disease.

Size Depending on the species, adults range in size from 5-25 mm.

Wings They are slender insects with two pair of wings. Dermaptera means ‚Äúskin wing‚ÄĚ due to the leathery appearance of the wings. The hind wings typically fold under the front wings. Do earwigs fly?

How did Get Earwigs?

Earwigs move into homes to find food or because of a change in weather.They usually wind up indoors while seeking shelter or just happen to wander inside through open doors. Earwigs prefer cool, damp areas and may enter homes during extended dry periods.
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Earwigs Signs
Prevention Tips

Earwigs Signs

Homeowners often find them in areas where there is water ‚Äď kitchens, bathrooms, and laundries. Earwigs can also find their way into bedrooms and family rooms. They turn up in almost every part of the house, but infestations are rare.

Prevention Tips

The most important part of controlling earwigs is eliminating their hiding places. If the earwig harborages are not addressed, insecticide application will probably not control earwigs very well. There are a variety of things that can be done.

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  • They won't go near your ears. While their name may suggest otherwise, earwigs will not attempt to enter your ears and feed on your brain. .
  • They don't use their wings.
  • There are a variety of earwig species
  • They're omnivores.
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