The most distinguishing physical feature of the earwig is the claw-like four steps located on the end of the abdomen. These forceps are straight-sided on most females, but are more pincer-like on males. Earwigs use their forceps mainly as protective weapons, but they also use them to capture prey. Earwigs are active at night and hide during the day in cracks and crevices. They are mainly scavengers and occasionally feed on plants. Earwigs are 5/8 of an inch long and are dark reddish brown in color.
Adult earwigs mate in late summer and early fall before establishing subterranean nests. The female earwig invests high maternal care for eggs in early nymphal stages. After the eggs are laid, the female gathers the eggs together in a pile and stores them in a shallow hall, over which she stands guard. In the first batch, females lay from 30 to 55 eggs. Fewer eggs are laid in the second batch. Eggs of the first brood hatch in 70 days after being laid because of the cool-spring temperatures, and eggs laid in the late spring or summer take only about 20 days to hatch.
The earwig feeds on a wide variety of foodstuffs. It will eat almost any plant material, as well as pollen, other arthropods, and most household pantry items (flour, bread, cookies, etc.). The damage it causes to garden and agricultural plants is usually minimal.
Earwigs are attracted to moisture. They are typically found around foundations, in landscaped yards, in mulch, under baseboards etc. Be sure to eliminate damp, moist conditions in crawlspaces under houses, around faucets, around air conditioned units, and along house foundations. Rain spouts should carry the water away. The solution is simple for earwigs; treat the outside perimeter to gain control. Interior treatments should be limited since they do not breed indoors. Liquid treatments, dusts, and granular insecticide are some of the best tools to use in combating the earwig on the outside of the structure.