Earwigs are beetle-like insects about 3/4" long and reddish-brown. The insect has a prominent pair of forcep-like cerci at the rear of the body. The cerci of the male are curved. Earwigs hide during the day and forage at night. These insects are occasionally found in lawns and sometimes they breed in enormous numbers in piles of lawn clippings. The feed on all kinds of food.
Plants affected include shrubs, perennials, and annuals such as dahlias, chrysanthemums, and clematis.
Symptoms include young leaves with holes eaten along the edge.
DESCRIPTION: Adult earwigs are flattened insects, up to 1-1/4" in length, and light red-brown to black. Some species are wingless but others have a pair of leathery forewings covering a few segments of the abdomen and the membranous hind wings, which have the tips protruding. The forceps-like appendages at the end of the abdomen are strongly curved in the male. The female's appendages are smaller and less curved. The forceps are used primarily for defense and during courtship and cannot harm people. Earwigs are primarily scavengers on dead insects and rotted plant materials. Some feed on living plants. Some species are predators. Only a few of the winged species are good fliers. They are often transported great distances in plant materials and occasionally in other freight.
Cerci (the elongated pincer-looking protrude at the back end) are normally borne on the last abdominal segment of insects that bear them. They are sensory organs, acting as tactile or touch receptors. In earwigs (Order Dermaptera), the size and shape of the cerci vary between species and between males and females. Male earwigs commonly have cerci that are curved and pincer-like in structure (shown above), while in females they tend to be straight. Earwigs may use their cerci for defense, capturing prey and sensing the environment.
INTERESTING FACTS: Some tunnel as deeply as 6' into the ground to escape the cold. The name earwig is from a European superstition that these insects entered the ears of a sleeping person and bore into the brain and cause insanity. This belief is of course totally unfounded, but a good way to scare children.