European Earwigs


  • Scientific name: Forficula auricularia
  • Size: 1/4th to ½ and inch
  • Color: Light legs with a darker brown body
  • Shape: Llattened, elongated bodies with short pinchers
  • Found in: The entire United States

What are they?
The European earwig is a specific earwig that is a pest to humans. Unlike the general family of earwigs, the European earwig is known specifically to be more invasive of human surroundings. They are also the most damaging of all earwig species to crops. They are considered to be the most populous earwig species in the western states and are also considered household pests more than any other species. This earwig species is considered an invasive species, having originated in Europe. It was brought to the United States around the turn of the 1900s and has adapted thoroughly to  cohabitation with humans.
How can you tell you have them?
The European earwig has adapted well to humans, and can easily travel through different means from trains to luggage to even stowing away in cut flowers. Like all earwigs, they like to hide in moist, dark crevasses, but unlike other species of earwig, this species are not as shy and easily scared off as the others. If your house has been infested with a large population of this type of earwig, it will be evident as they will hide just about anywhere they can find a dark corner. They are not as big of an issue as they were when first introduced, but their population can explode in a short amount of time. They are nocturnal, so it helps to inspect your house without the main, overhead lights on. This type of earwig, when disturbed, emits a considerably foul odor that most people find offensive.
What kind of environment do they like?
The European earwig is a very adaptable species, able to survive just about anywhere there is a food source. They, like most earwigs, are omnivorous and will eat everything from living plants to decaying animal matter. As their habits are very effected by temperature, the European earwig is drawn to the type of environment that provides them with consistent temperatures.
Eating habits
The European earwig is considered the worst of the earwig species where crop damage is concerned. While even this species cannot inflict the kind of damage that other species of pest insects can, they do damage different types of vegetation such as beans, beets, celery, strawberries, plums, cucumbers, potatoes and more. They will eat ornamental flower species as well such as dahlia, carnations and sweet-william. They have been known to eat a wide variety of other insect species such as aphids, spiders, caterpillars and other species. They are especially well known for eating aphids. They also eat fungus as well. In the human home, they are pest species because of the wide variety of things they consider food.
What to do?
The European earwig can be easily spotted in the home, but you can set “sample traps” to see just how many are in your home. It will be very difficult to get rid of all of your earwig infestation with traps alone, though, but it will give you an idea of how many earwigs you may have in your home. If your earwig problem is severe, you might need to resort to professional assistance as earwigs can hide in nearly every place that has a small space for the earwig to hide.

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