Insect identification > Dermaptera > Earwigs


Earwigs are not generally of great importance as pests in North America, though in the South and on the Pacific Coast, as they generally feed on fruits, blossoms and other vegetable matter, they may occasionally cause some injury. This appears to be more frequently the case in Europe than in this country.

They hide in crevices, among leaves and in the ground in the daytime, coming out at night to feed. In the Northern states the most common species is the little earwig (Labia minor L.), brownish in color and only about a quarter of an inch long. It is sometimes attracted to lights at night. A much larger, dark-brown, wingless species (Anisolabis maritima Bon.), a native of Europe, has now reached this country and is found on the sea beaches of the Eastern United States, under seaweed near high-water mark, probably feeding chiefly on decomposing vegetable matter.

In 1911 the common European earwig (Forficula auricularia L.), which is about three-quarters of an inch in length when adult, was found to have established itself at Newport, R. L, and another colony of this species was discovered at Seattle, Wash., in 1915. They are now found in British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon, California, western New York and probably in other sections also.

The adults lay their eggs in the ground in the fall and the adult females winter there also. The nymphs feed on green plant shoots, injuring garden plants and flowers during the spring, and later in the season turn their attention to blossoms, eating the stamens and bases of the petals.

The adults too, feed on these and also on fruits and vegetables, dead flies, larvae and even dead or dying individuals of their own kind. Their actual injuries, however, are far less serious than the annoyance caused by their presence in residences, where they crawl over everything at night and hide under chair cushions, dishes, in folds of clothing and in all crevices in and about the houses during the day.