Earwig Behavior: Understanding their Habits for Better Control

Earwig Behavior: Understanding their Habits for Better Control


Earwigs are fascinating insects known for their distinctive pincers and nocturnal behavior. To effectively control and prevent earwig infestations, it is crucial to understand their habits and behaviors. By gaining insights into their preferences, habitats, and mating habits, homeowners can implement targeted control measures and create a pest-free environment. In this article, we will explore the behavior of earwigs, providing valuable information that will aid in their control. Understanding earwig behavior enables homeowners to take proactive steps, implement appropriate control methods, and effectively manage these pests.

Nocturnal Nature: Nighttime Activity:

Earwigs are primarily nocturnal insects, which means they are most active during the night. They prefer to stay hidden during the day and emerge from their hiding places after sunset. Understanding their nocturnal nature helps homeowners focus their control efforts during the appropriate times. This includes setting traps, inspecting infested areas, and implementing control measures when earwigs are most active.

Moisture and Darkness: Preferred Habitat:

Earwigs are attracted to moisture and darkness, seeking shelter in damp and dark environments. They are commonly found in areas such as damp basements, crawl spaces, under mulch, and in garden debris. To prevent earwig infestations, homeowners should address moisture issues by improving drainage, fixing leaks, and reducing humidity levels. Minimizing dark and damp areas around the property helps discourage earwigs from taking up residence.

Feeding Habits: Omnivorous Diet:

Earwigs have an omnivorous diet, feeding on both plant material and other insects. They are known to consume decaying plant matter, tender shoots, flowers, fruits, and even other insects. This feeding behavior can lead to damage in gardens and crops. Homeowners should be vigilant about removing decaying organic matter and implementing control measures to protect susceptible plants from earwig feeding.

Mating and Reproduction: Maternal Care:

Earwigs engage in complex mating and reproductive behaviors. During courtship, males use their pincers to engage in aggressive behaviors, including forceful antennal fencing and tussling. Once mating occurs, female earwigs exhibit unique maternal care. They lay their eggs in underground chambers or other protected areas and guard them until they hatch. Understanding their reproductive habits can help homeowners identify potential breeding areas and focus control efforts accordingly.

Nymph Development: Gradual Maturation:

Earwigs undergo incomplete metamorphosis, meaning they do not have a pupal stage like other insects. After hatching, the nymphs closely resemble adult earwigs but lack wings and reproductive capabilities. Nymphs undergo several molts as they mature, gradually developing wings and reproductive organs. This gradual maturation process takes several weeks to months, depending on environmental conditions. Homeowners should consider the presence of nymphs when implementing control measures to target both adult earwigs and their developing offspring.

Seasonal Activity: Cold Weather and Hibernation:

Earwigs exhibit seasonal activity patterns influenced by temperature and light. During colder months, they enter a hibernation-like state known as diapause. Earwigs seek shelter in protected areas, such as cracks in walls, under leaf litter, or in crevices in trees. Understanding their seasonal activity helps homeowners prepare for potential infestations and take appropriate measures to prevent earwig invasions as seasons change.

Shelter and Nurturing Behavior: Grouping and Nesting:

Earwigs display gregarious behavior, often congregating in groups and nesting together. This behavior is particularly noticeable during the colder months when they seek warmth and protection. They may gather in tight crevices or in piles of organic matter. Homeowners should be aware of this behavior when inspecting and treating infested areas, as targeting these gathering spots can help reduce the overall population.

Invasive Potential: Outside and Inside Infestations:

While earwigs are primarily outdoor pests, they can also find their way indoors. They may enter homes through cracks, crevices, open windows, or doors. Inside, they can seek shelter in dark and damp areas such as basements, bathrooms, or kitchens. Understanding their invasive potential helps homeowners take preventive measures to seal entry points and implement control methods both indoors and outdoors.


Understanding the behavior and habits of earwigs is crucial for effective control and prevention. Their nocturnal nature, preference for moisture and darkness, feeding habits, mating and reproductive behaviors, nymph development, seasonal activity, nesting behavior, and invasive potential provide valuable insights for homeowners. Armed with this knowledge, homeowners can implement targeted control measures, address conducive conditions, and effectively manage earwig infestations. By understanding earwig behavior, homeowners can create a pest-free environment and protect their homes and gardens from these intriguing but sometimes troublesome insects.