Physical characteristics: The European earwig is reddish brown to nearly black with yellowish brown wing covers, legs, and antennae. The pinchers are reddish brown. Adults are fully winged and measure 0.47 to 0.59 inches (12 to 15 millimeters) in length, without the pinchers. The male's pinchers are broad with tiny notches at the bases and are sometimes as long as the abdomen and curved. They vary in size from 0.16 to 0.31 inches (4 to 8 millimeters) long. The pinchers of the female are thinner and crossed, measuring 0.12 inches (3 millimeters). The larvae look just like the adults but are smaller and lack wings.
Geographic range: The European earwig was originally known from Europe, western Asia, and North Africa. It now lives in East Africa, North America, the East Indies, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina.
European earwigs hide among petals or leaves of garden plants or inside damaged fruit, shrubs, along fences, in woodpiles, around bases of trees, and behind loose boards on buildings. (Arthur V. Evans. Reproduced by permission.)
Habitat: The European earwig hides among petals or leaves of garden plants or inside damaged fruit, shrubs, along fences, in woodpiles, around bases of trees, and behind loose boards on buildings.
Diet: They feed on plants, ripe fruit, lichens, fungi, and other insects.
Behavior and reproduction: Adults are fully winged but seldom fly. They remain hidden during the day and forage at night for food and water.
In North America females lay batches of fifty to ninety eggs in chambers dug in moist soil from November to January. Another clutch with fewer eggs is laid in March or April. Depending on temperature the eggs will hatch in forty to fifty days. Females guard the eggs until they hatch. The larvae take about forty to fifty days to reach adulthood. They molt four times during this period. There is only one generation produced each year. Both larvae and adults are found throughout most the year, but adults are usually found in fall.
European earwigs and people: This species is not considered to be much of a pest in Europe, but in the United States they will attack flower crops, butterfly bushes, hollyhocks, lettuce, strawberries, celery, potatoes, sweet corn, roses, seedling beans and beets, and grasses. They are considered helpful when they eat aphids and other plant pests.
Conservation status: This species is not endangered or threatened.
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