Earwigs range from ¼ to 1 inch in length.
They are brownish to black in color and have a pair of defensive “forceps” at the tail. Forceps are used to defend the nest, capture prey, probe narrow crevices and fold or unfold wings.
Earwigs are typically found in areas where they remain sheltered and can easily find food. They usually live together in large numbers and can be found in tree holes, under landscape mulch and other objects on the ground as well as in exterior building cracks. When indoors, they move rapidly around baseboards at the ground level, and can emit a foul-smelling, yellowish-brown liquid from their scent glands. They are most active at night.
Earwigs eat a wide variety of plant and animal matter, as well as other insects. Indoors they eat sweet, oily or greasy foods and plants.
Females lay 20 to 50 smooth, oval, white eggs in a below-ground chamber in the soil. Eggs go through four or five stages before becoming adults. The female moves, cleans, and protects the eggs until the young leave the nest to fend for themselves. Earwigs have a simple life cycle, requiring three to five months to go from egg to adult, depending on temperatures. Adults generally live only about one year.
Earwigs rarely fly and are unable to crawl long distances. They often hitch a ride in laundry baskets, luggage, newspapers, lumber and baskets of fruits and vegetables. They prefer moisture and may migrate indoors to find water. Earwigs are often found in damp crawl spaces, mulch, compost piles, trash, under boards and in wood piles. They are attracted to lights.
Establishing a strong barrier around the exterior of you home, with much of the focus at the foundation of the house is key to eliminating earwigs. Additionally, any decaying organic matter, such as dead plants or grass, or dog droppings will need to be removed to obtain total control.