Earwigs

Earwigs are beetle-like, short-winged, fast moving insects about 1/2″ in length. They are usually dark brown and have a pair of pincer-like appendages at the tip of the abdomen. Their mouthparts are adapted for chewing. They have a very slow development.

Earwigs in Appling County, Wayne County, Jeff Davis County, Bacon County, Tatnall County, and Pierce County are active at night. They usually hide in cracks and crevices, under bark, etc., during the day. They are typically scavengers, but may occasionally feed on plants. The name earwig comes from an old superstition that these insects enter peoples’ ears. However, earwigs are harmless to man. Some earwigs have scent glands that excrete a foul-smelling liquid. This is probably used for protection. It makes them very unpleasant when handled or mashed.

The striped earwig adults are dark brown with light tan markings. The males are large and robust with stout pincers. The females are somewhat smaller and lighter in color than the males. Earwigs are commonly found in areas having sandy or clay soils. They live in burrows under the ground or under debris. They usually remain outdoors unless populations are large or other adverse conditions exist. They enter structures in search of food or a more suitable environment or just by accidental meanderings.

Because they are active at night, they remain in the soil or under debris during the day. At night they collect in large numbers around lights to search for food, such as other insects. The female lays about 50 eggs in a subterranean burrow. Young nymphs are about 1/8″ long and resemble termites. Females care for this first nymphal stage. After the nymphs begin to molt, they are on their own and must hide from the cannibalistic behavior of the female and other nymphs. After 6 molts, the earwig is an adult with the life cycle taking about 56 days. Adults typically over-winter outdoors and may live up to 7 months.