European EarwigForficula auricularia  

Earwigs found in Colorado were introduced in the 1950s, they are a common nuisance pest both indoors and outdoors. Occasionally, earwigs damage soft parts of plants, however, they mainly feed on smaller insects, including plant pests, like aphids. 


The European earwig is about 5/8 inch long and brown with a dark red head. Younger earwigs look similar to adults, just smaller. Males are more strongly curved than females. A distinctive feature of earwigs is the pair of prominent forceps at the rear of the body. The European earwig is the only earwig found throughout most of Colorado. In extreme southern areas of the state, a second species, ring-legged earwig may be found.  

Adult male and female earwigs

Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,
Adult male and female earwigs on a flower.

Adult male european earwig

Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,
Adult male European earwig.

Earwig feeding damage

Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,
Earwig feeding damage.

Earwig adults
Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,
Earwig adults and brown garden snail on alium flower.

Quick Facts

  • White grubs are immature scarab beetles that injure turfgrasses by feeding on the roots
  • Heavy infestation of white grubs may kill grass or attract mammals, such as skunks, that damage grass when digging to feed on grubs
  • Insect parasitic nematodes are a biological control option for white grubs
  • Lawns that are adequately watered and in good condition can often tolerate much of the injury caused by these insects



During the day they hide in dark, confined spaces, especially if it is moist. Typical hiding spots include under rugs or potted plants, in stacks of newspapers or similar locations. Common hiding spots outside include under rocks or stacked wood, in ear tips of sweet corn, and under various kinds of debris. Peak problems with earwigs occur mid-July through mid-September. 



Nuisance and Plant Injury

  • Nuisance indoors and outdoors  
  • Earwigs are active at night and occasionally damage leafy plants like lettuce and some flower blossoms  
  • Found hiding in injuries caused by other insects like leaves curled by aphids and holes in fruit  
  • Mainly a nuisance pest, made worse by widespread fear 
  • Earwigs may actually be considered beneficial since they feed on many plant pests such as aphids, mites and insect eggs. However, there are situations where control of earwigs is desired  





  • Clearing the area around the home of sheltering debris (including mulches) used by earwigs  
  • All cracks around doors and windows should be sealed to prevent entry 
  • Many earwigs can be trapped which may help reduce numbers  
    • Can be trapped with rolled newspapers with food bait 
    • Or oil-based baits such as vegetable or fish oil in a small cup  

CSU Extension Fact Sheet

Download or view the CSU Extension’s PDF fact sheet for your reference.