Common Earwig

Forficula auricularia

Common Earwig, European Earwig

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A green Forficula auricularia earwig insect on a leaf
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Forficula auricularia is also known as the Common Earwig or the European earwig. It belongs to the earwig family known as Forficulidae. They are active at night, venturing out to feed on soft young plant growth, the flowers and also fruit aphids. As they consume both plant material and animal matter, they are thus termed omnivorous.


A beneficial insect that can be used as a form of biocontrol in the garden.
Earwigs can sometimes be a pest of flowers and foliage, but the benefits they provide tend to outweigh the costs.


Active late spring-autumn. Adults: The adult earwig is a flat-bodied, deep brown insect with a slight shine. It has a large pair of pincers on its rear, measuring about 1-1.5cm in length. Nymphs: The young are called nymphs, they are very much like the adult earwig in appearance, just paler in colour and smaller in size. Eggs: Clusters of eggs may be present in the soil in winter or summer. They are creamy-white and visible to the naked eye.


Overnight, flower petals may be eaten and damaged. Soft young leaves on a plant can appear shredded. May tunnel into soft ripe fruit, such as plums and figs. As the earwig is nocturnal, a night-time check is the best time to catch them active on plants.











Europe, Asia and some parts of America.

Biological treatment

Earwigs rest in the daytime in dark, damp, cool places. So check under pots, edges of growing frames and any other places near affected plants that fit this description. Hand-pick them off and relocate. A rolled-up newspaper held with an elastic band may create a hiding place for earwigs. It can then be moved and emptied out in the garden, away from your precious plants. A small deep container stuffed with straw or hay, laid on its side between the affected plants will give a daytime retreat for earwigs. It can be emptied outside or placed into fruit trees to help control fruit aphid attacks.

Chemical treatment

As they are a beneficial insect in the garden, please consider alternative methods for controlling them. If a chemical option is sought, check with your local garden centre and please take care to follow the manufacturers' instructions. Check with your local regulating body for guidance on active ingredients and their authorisation for use.


Vegetables, ornamental flowers and fruit.

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