Photographer:Gary Alpert Affiliation: Harvard University Source:www.bugwood.org Copyright:CC BY-NC 3.0
Adult Description: The European Earwig (Forficula auricularia) is 12-15 mm in length, has a rich red brown body, yellow wing covers, and fully developed wings. Male European Earwigs are easily distinguished from other North American Earwigs by their forceps. The male forceps are about 4-8 mm in length and can be longer than the abdomen. Female forceps are shorter, measuring 3 mm. The shape of forceps differ by sex with the male forceps shaped as traditional pincers and female forceps pointed straight out from the posterior abdomen.
Larva Description: Larval European Earwigs are similar to the adult stage in color, but lack developed forceps and antennae. After each molt the wings develop on the outside of the body, antennae increase in length segment-wise, and forceps develop from thin rod-like structures.
Host Plant: Not specific
Forficula auricularia eat a variety of foods including garden plants and household materials such as flour and sugar. Typically minimal damage is done to garden plants, but the European Earwig is considered more of an indoor pest. It prefers to be hidden during the day and comes out at night to feed on household goods of the unsuspecting homeowner including beds, clothing, and food.
The European Earwigs mate in late summer or early fall followed by the establishment of a nest under ground or hidden in a crevice. The female has one brood per year, but two are possible. A typical clutch size is 30 to 50 eggs. However, fewer eggs are produced if a 2nd brood is reared in the same year. After laying eggs the female grooms the eggs regularly to keep them safe and clean. After the larvae emerge, the female continues to protect the immature European Earwigs for the first few molting stages to increase survival.
Forficula auricularia is believed to have become established in the United States in 1910 after being transported from Europe. One of the first reports occurred in Washington State in 1907. The European Earwig rarely flies and thus relies on human transport via bundles of newspaper, luggage, cut flowers, and automobiles.
U.S. Habitat: The European Earwig can be found nesting underground or in crevices and dark places in a home. Places that are moist and dark are ideal. The habitat can be versatile due to the European Earwig's willingness to eat any available food source.
U.S. Present: All states
The European Earwig is similar to other Earwig species within the genus, Foricula, but can be distinguished by the male European Earwig pincers.
Management of the European Earwig can occur through three methods: modification of habitat area, traps, and exterior perimeter sprays.
Modification of Habitat
- Eliminate areas for nesting and breeding
- Repair broken downspouts or floor boards
- Remove decaying vegetable matter or grass clippings from around the outside of the home
- Check regularly for dark and moist areas that may be accessed by the European Earwig or other pests
- Place grooved board traps in shrubs, hedges, and around trees
- Check and maintain traps daily
- Remove European Earwigs by shaking into a can with a small amount of oil
Exterior Perimeter Sprays
- Spraying should be done in Early Spring
- The majority of spraying should occur outside the home establishing a perimeter
- Special attention should be given to building foundations, bases of poles, fences, rocks, and wood piles
- Pay close attention to directions listed on product label
- Effective chemical components of sprays: deltamethrin, cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, sumithrin or tralomethrin
Carroll, Devin, and Stanley Hoyt.1984. Augmentation of European Earwigs (Dermaptera: Forficulidae) for Biological Control of Apple Aphid (Homoptera: Aphididae) in an Apple Orchard. Journal of Economic Entomology. 77(3): 738-740.
Jones, S. C., & Bryant, J. L. (2012). Contact Toxicity and Residual Efficacy of Indoxacarb against the European Earwig (Dermaptera: Forficulidae). Insects, 3(3), 593-600.
Lamb, Robert, and W. G. Wellington. 1975. Life History and Population Characteristics of the European Earwig, Forficula auricularia (Dermaptera: Forficulidae), at Vancourver, British Columbia. Canadian Entomologist. 107(8): 819-824.
McLeod, J. H., and D. A. Chant. 1952. Notes on the Parasitism and Food Habits of the European Earwig, Forficula auricularia L. (Dermaptera: Forficulidae). Canadian Entomologist. 84(11): 343-345.