Landscape pests-Earwig

Primarily European earwig (Forficula auricularia)

Pest description and damage This introduced, nocturnal insect can devastate seedlings, flowers, leaves and fruit. Easily recognized by the hind pinchers, called cerci, they are reviled by gardeners. However, earwigs also can be beneficial by feeding on aphids and other small insects. They also scavenge dead bugs and plant debris, or feed on live plant tissue. Earwigs chew irregular, variable-sized holes in leaves. Earwigs are often worse in dry eastern climates or in dry years.

Biology and life cycle Females carefully tend clusters of up to 30 eggs, in small nests under rocks in the soil in winter. They clean fungi from the eggs and guard and protect eggs and young. In spring, the earwig "family" moves out to gardens to feed together; as the young mature, they tend go their separate ways. There is one generation a year. Earwigs are nocturnal and seek moist, dark places, under stones, debris and even flowers and damaged fruit.

Pest monitoring Search with flashlight at night. Earwigs are omnivorous and easily attracted to fish oils and cat food in traps. Vigorously shake flowers over a box lid to knock earwigs off plants.

Management-cultural control

Remove debris and hiding places in gardens. Commercial earwig traps are available.

Management-biological control

Frogs, toads, predator beetles and duff-scratching birds are listed among predators. Fungi may attack eggs in winter nests.

Management-chemical control:

See Table 2 in:

For more information

Flint, M.L and B. Ohlendorf. 2002. Earwigs. UC ANR Publication 74102 (