Can Earwigs Bite You?

The term earwig is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word earwigca, meaning “ear creature.” For at least a hundred years, the legend has passed that earwigs have a preference for slithering their sleek brown bodies into the ear canals of resting humans. This legend was eventually proven to be untrue, however, that did not stop people from fearing the slender, sharp-looking pincers at the rear of an earwig’s body. They have left more than one person asking, “Do earwigs bite?”

The pincher bug bite

Earwigs belong to the order Dermaptera, which is Latin for “skin-like.” The most prominent group of earwigs belongs to the suborder Forficulina, which is Latin for “little scissors.” The forcep-like cerci that extend from the abdomen may in fact, resemble little scissors. These rearmost appendages are used as a weapon against attackers and prey, but are they capable of harming humans?

At some point, you may become convinced you have an earwig bite on your skin. This is probably because earwigs can be very notable pests and they are most commonly identified by homeowners, thanks to their unique appearance. However, the “earwig bites” on your skin are probably not earwig bites at all. While an earwig that has been taken hostage between the tips of your finger might retaliate with a snap of its cerci, the result of this attack would feel more like a pinch than anything else.

A weapon for the enemy

The sharp-looking pincers of earwigs may seem intimidating, but they play an important role in assisting them with routine garden maintenance. This is because earwigs are a natural enemy to many garden pests and fungi.

Of course, if it isn’t an earwig bite on your finger, then what other pest is lurking in your home? Call Terminix® and eliminate the possibilities.