Earwig identification can be difficult since this particular pest is fast, nocturnal and adept at hiding during the day. But if you know these key marks to look out for, you’ll easily be able to spot them in your garden and around your home, even if you only see them for a few seconds.

Earwigs are one of the most readily identifiable insects due to their cerci. Cerci are the two appendages that stick out from the rear of the earwig, resembling forceps or pincers. This has led to nicknames such as ‟pincer bugs” or ‟pincher bugs.” Though they can pinch, earwigs rarely do so to humans, unless they are sat on or trapped. Instead, the cerci are used to fight-off predators, grasp prey and dominate other earwigs. Males have curved cerci while females have straight pincers. Most species are reddish-brown in color and measure about three-quarters of an inch in length, or smaller.

Most species of adult earwigs have fully-formed wings that are covered by another set of shorter, harder, protective wings (similar to most beetles). Even though they have these wings, earwigs rarely fly. They are quite speedy on the ground, however. Immature earwigs resemble adults, but are wingless and much smaller.

There’s actually not much more that you need to know in order to identify an earwig, unless you want to study it. Entomologists study the segments of an earwig’s abdomen and antennae. This can help with species identification as well as distinguishing males from females. For example, males have 10 abdomen segments while females only have eight. Some species of earwigs let off a foul-smelling odor when crushed. This is where the trained eye of a service technician comes in handy – if you know the species will defend itself with odors, earwig control might not include physically crushing them.

For most people, simple earwig identification is enough – you don’t have to get into European earwigs versus striped earwigs. Once you see one, no matter the species, you want it gone. Don’t do more than you have to. Call Terminix® right away for your free pest estimate.