Earwig

Forficula auricularia

About

Common Earwigs are nocturnal, scavenging on dead plant and animal matter at night and retreating to hide in crevices and under logs or stones during the daytime. Female Common Earwigs are excellent mothers: laying their eggs in damp crevices, they guard the nest and gently clean the eggs until the young hatch. They will then guard the young until they are ready to fend for themselves. The pincers of the Common Earwig can give a human a small nip, but they are generally used to scare off predators. And despite popular belief and its name (derived from the Old English for 'ear beetle'), the Common Earwig does not crawl into sleeping people's ears and not lay its eggs in their brains - it much prefers a nice stone!

How to identify

Seven species of earwig have been recorded in Britain, although only three are common or widespread. The Common Earwig is the largest of these three, and is the only species which is common, widespread and likely to be found. A familiar insect, it has a dark brown, elongated body with pincers at the end. The pincers are more curved in males than in females.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • Novermber
  • December
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

Common Earwigs and other minibeasts are common garden inhabitants, but they are not pests; they mostly feed on dead and decaying plant and animal material, thus helping to recycle nutrients. Minibeasts can be encouraged by the provision of logs, stones and compost heaps for them to hide, feed and breed in. In turn, other species will be attracted to the garden, as minibeasts are a food source for many animals, including mammals, birds and amphibians, providing a vital link in the food chain. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Earwig
Latin name
Forficula auricularia
Category
Invertebrates
Bugs
Statistics
Length: 1.3-1.8cm
Conservation status
Common.