How to Identify Different Types of Earwigs

Jul 23, 2022 | Earwigs

How To Identify Different Types Of Earwigs

Are you terrified that you have an earwig infestation in your house? Stay calm, take a few deep breaths, and let go of your anxiety. If you are dealing with an earwig infestation, we are here to help.

Earwigs are tiny, unappealing insects that may occasionally find their way into your house. It is said that earwigs crawl inside people’s ears while they sleep. But don’t worry, this isn’t true. People can’t get earwigs in their ears because they don’t climb in there or do any harm.

In contrast, an earwig infestation is not something you want to deal with because these insects are disgusting to look at and release a foul-smelling liquid. Who would want to live in a stench-inducing, bug-infested house? Nobody!

Key takeaways

  • Earwigs are small insects that may enter your house and release a foul-smelling liquid.
  • They are harmless to humans, but they can be a nuisance.
  • Earwigs have two antennae, six limbs, and a pair of powerful pincers at the apex of their abdomen. They prefer running rather than flying.
  • Earwigs like damp and humid environments, and they feed on plants, dead insects, and decaying wood.
  • There are over 2,000 different species of earwigs worldwide, and some common types include the European earwig, the ring-legged earwig, and the striped earwig.
    Earwigs can be found outside, in crawl spaces, restrooms, and wet or humid cellars.

Why should you be worried about earwigs?

It’s not uncommon to deal with an invasion of insects. Even if an insect isn’t harmful, it’s still an annoyance. The sight of insects scurrying about on the walls and floors is revolting, unpleasant, and utterly unsanitary.

Additionally, earwigs feed on plants, and can also eat dead insects, including spiders. Knowing what kind of infestation you have can help you ensure you can get rid of the problem. The U.S. is home to more than 22 species of earwigs, though there are over 2,000 different species of earwigs existing throughout the world.

What is an earwig?

Earwigs have two antennae, six limbs, and a pair of powerful pincers at the apex of their abdomen. The species’ size might range from 5 millimeters to 25 millimeters. If you find an earwig in your ears, it doesn’t mean they lay eggs in your ears or feed on your brains, as some myths claim.

Earwigs, for the most part, are considered safe for humans. In gardens and flower beds, though, they can be a nuisance.


At the apex of its abdomen is a large pincer-like appendage (cerci) that is dark crimson. It’s roughly 16 mm long, has pale yellow wings and legs, and twelve segments make up the antennae’s length.

Earwigs have been spotted preparing for flight by climbing as high as possible. However, they prefer running from one area to another rather than flying.


Two things are true about earwigs: they enjoy dampness and humidity. These critters can be found outside, but you’ll have to dig for them a little. You might also spot them on lawn chairs, particularly if it has just rained. If they manage to break into your house, they will proceed to infiltrate the entire building.

Crawl spaces under your house and restrooms are two places where earwigs are most likely to congregate. If you have a wet or humid cellar, earwigs may also be found there.


Other bugs and plants can also be found on the menu for most earwigs, known as omnivores. Earwigs enjoy eating everything from leaves and blossoms to fruits, vegetables, flowers, and insects. Any areas of your home with decaying wood due to excessive moisture are prime breeding grounds for earwigs.

Different types of earwigs

Forficula auricularia and Labidura riparia are the two most prevalent types of earwigs in Southern California. There are dozens of earwigs in and around your house and the great outdoors. They include:

1. European earwigs (forficula auricularia)

The European earwig, sometimes known as the regular earwig, is the most common in the U.S. The European earwig is a nighttime scavenger bug that prefers chilly, wet environments, such as those found in and around homes.

2. Ring-legged earwigs (euborellia annulipes)

The ring-legged earwig is the common type of earwig without pincers in the American South. In contrast to their European counterparts, these are known for the dark circles that appear around their legs’ yellowish hue.

3. Striped earwigs (labidura riparia)

Some of the more common names for this species are “riparian,” “shore,” and “tawny,” among others. Two distinct stripes on this insect’s back distinguish it from other striped earwigs within its genus.

4. Saint Helena earwigs (labidura herculeana)

In the Atlantic Ocean, the Saint Helena earwig, also called the enormous earwig, was one of many earwig species. Compared to other earwigs of its species, this one was about 3 inches long.

5. Seashore earwigs (anisolabis littorea)

For those who live in Australia and New Zealand, you’ll likely see this creature lurking among the sand and behind rocks on beaches. Like most other earwigs, the seashore earwig is a pest-predator, feeding on ants and fleas.

6. Maritime earwigs (anisolabis maritima)

Earwigs, known as “seaside earwigs” or “marine earwigs,” are a common sight along the coast. Earwigs are known for their voracious appetite for other insects on the damp sands of the beach, even though they can’t swim.

They are nocturnal insects, like other earwig species, and spend the daytime in their burrows, which are cool and damp.

7. Ectoparasite earwigs

To put it another way, these earwigs are parasitic on their hosts. Earwigs like this are extremely rare and strange.

Viviparous Arixenia is a diminutive species. It gives birth to a life that is long and healthy. Ectoparasites of Indian bats include this one.

Earwig Hemimerus is a viviparous, tiny earworm native to the West. It’s a huge rat ectoparasite that’s blind to its surroundings.

Why are earwigs called earwigs?

According to folklore, this sort of insect crawls into your ears as you sleep, and the name “earwigs” was coined from the Old English words “ear wicga,” which literally translates to “ear wiggler” or “ear monster.”

Much more frightening is the notion that these insects, after they’ve made their way inside your ear canal, could crawl into your brain and lay their eggs there. This is also untrue. Moreover, they’re not even interested in getting into a human ear.

Get help with earwig extermination

Despite their reputation as nocturnal scavengers, earwigs are incredibly beneficial to the environment. Earwigs also referred to as environmental janitors, feed on rotting plants and insects. This is a terrific way to keep a garden tidy while also preserving its natural aesthetic appeal.

Request an appointment to get rid of an Earwig infestation. We offer free estimates and can make your home pest free sooner than you know it!

Adam Judnich

Adam Judnich

Owner @ Arrest A Pest

Serving the entire Coachella Valley

Arrest A Pest is your top-rated pest and bug control solution in the Coachella Valley! As a family-owned and operated business, our technicians grew up in the Coachella Valley and have a deep understanding of the pests in our area.

We understand that every pest infestation is an emergency, and we offer quick, safe, and thorough pest solutions and preventions for your home or business. No matter what pests are invading your space, our technicians are armed with state-of-the-art technology designed to rid your home or business of pests and help you stay pest-free long into the future.

Contact us today to schedule your FREE evaluation and let our team send the pests packing!

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