Earwigs make themselves obvious when they crawl onto the kitchen bench from flowers brought in from the garden. Although they look fierce with the large pincers on their hind end, they are harmless insects. Myth has it that earwigs crawl into sleeping human ears and eat their way into the brain. Not true. They are inoffensive creatures which live in plant litter, dead wood and under stones where they feed on organic materials such as rotting vegetation and carrion. They are also a minor pest of glasshouses. Some eat flower buds which explains their appearance on the kitchen bench!

Earwigs in side and ventral view.

Some are flightless while others have semicircular wings which are hidden away under the wing covers. The feature which gives them away are the pincers at their hind ends. These are used for warding off predators, to carry prey, in mating and for folding away their large wings under their small covers.

Earwig pincers.

Earwigs for pets! Earwigs are easy to capture – just leave a rolled-up newspaper on the garden path for several days in the summer. They take shelter in the pages of the paper. Make a home for the earwig in any clear sided glass or plastic container, place some moist soil and leaf litter in it. Put a piece of pine bark for it to shelter under and feed it lettuce and dried dog food.