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Despite its name and threatening appearance, the common earwig is a harmless and interesting creature. Earwigs can be found in damp crevices in houses, gardens and woodland where they feed on decaying plant and animal matter and other insects. Their pincers can give a small nip to a human but they are normally used to scare away predators and to help them tuck their wings away. 

Where they are in relatively dry conditions, lightly dust the infested area with non-toxic Oa2ki Powder or Residex P if a chemical approach is preferred. Where in damp conditions spray with Rentokil Insectrol or Protector C Spray Spraying with soapy water also works, if possible remove the earwig gently back into the garden.


The earwig is a fascinating species, and is one of the few non-social insects to

  • Earwigs are 8-18mm long.
  • They have a long body, brown in colour.
  • A pair of pincer like appendages at the end of its abdomen.
  • Wings that fold away behind the thorax.
  • Pincers are more curved in the male than the female.

  • Lifecycle

  • between November and February, the female lays 50-90 white eggs in an underground nest or within rotting wood
  • she defends the eggs against predators and keeps them free from mould by licking them
  • eggs take about 10-90 days to hatch, depending on the temperature
  • after they hatch the female continues to care for the nymphs
  • when strong enough the nymphs leave the nest and fend for themselves
  • they resemble the adult but are paler and lack wings
  • Habitats

  • Earwigs are typically at their most active at night, when they emerge from under refuges such as log piles, stones and crevices in fences to feed on other insects, detritus, fruit and plant matter.
  • They are garden and woodland dwellers where they feed on live and dead insects and plant materials.
  • Earwigs like to have a narrow crevice to hide in during the day, preferring to have contact with both the upper and lower parts of their bodies.

  • It was once commonly believed that earwigs would burrow into people's ears at night and lay eggs in their brains. In fact the story still circulates as an urban myth. Earwigs are not parasitic and would rather lay their eggs under a stone.

    The best method of avoiding a plague of earwigs is to deny them suitable living conditions close to the house. Heavy plant growth and compost heaps near to the house provide excellent habitats for them

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