The European earwig is the most common to Illinois and is a dark, reddish-brown insect. You can easily identify an earwig by the pincer-like protrusions at the end of their abdomen. These protrusions are called forceps.
Earwigs got this common name due to the myth that these insects will crawl into the ears of sleeping humans and tunnel into their brain. False! The long pinchers on the abdomen of their dark bodies makes them easy to identify. As with most insects, earwigs are beneficial. They live together in large numbers beneath mulch, lawn debris and in tree holes. Their primary diet consists of decaying leaves, flowers, fruits, mold and other insects. When weather conditions change earwigs often move inside. Heavy rain, or long periods without rain, may cause them to move in search of better living conditions.
Color – Dark, reddish-brown
Length – 5/8 to an 1” long.
Diet – Their diet consists of fruit, mold, leaves, flowers as well as other insects.
Habitat – Since earwig likes dark areas, they are most active at night. They also prefer their habitat to be an area with moisture. If you turn over an old log, you are bound find an earwig under it. If they have made it into your home it will usually be from some crack that is allowing them in from the outside.
Impact – They are not poisonous and don’t spread disease. While they don’t necessarily bite, they can pinch the skin with their forceps. In greater numbers, they can impact your garden, as they will feed on various fruits, leaves or flowers.
Control – In addition to chemical control, removing heavy mulch and other organic debris outside can greatly reduce population numbers. Mechanical controls including sealing cracks and crevices as well as adding weather-stripping will make your home less accessible to these insects.