25 Super Cool Facts About Earwigs You Probably Didn’t Know

Posted by , Updated on March 23, 2024

Ever nursed a fear that an earwig might creep into your ear and plant eggs in your brain? If this has ever crossed your mind, then you’ve been swayed by an age-old myth. Other than the potential harm they can cause to crops and infrastructure, earwigs pose no threats to humans. However, they are rather fascinating creatures. Check out these 25 Amazingly Interesting Earwig Facts That Are Likely New To You!


Earwigs are part of the insect order Dermaptera. With about 2,000 species in 12 families, they are one of the smallest insect orders.

earwigSource: scientificamerican.com

They are found on all continents except Antarctica.

antarcticaSource: nationalgeographic.com

They are mostly nocturnal, hiding in small moist crevices during the day.

moonSource: nationalgeographic.com

Earwigs feed on a wide variety of insects and plants. Typically, damage to various crops and plants is blamed on earwigs.

earwig1Source: nationalgeographic.com

Many earwig species display maternal care, which is uncommon among insects.

maternalSource: nationalgeographic.com

The scientific name "dermaptera" is derived from ancient Greek, stemming from the words "derma" meaning "skin" and "ptera" meaning "wings."

earwig wingsSource: scientificamerican.com

The common term "earwig" is derived from Old English "ēare" meaning "ear" and "wicga" meaning "insect."

BeowulfSource: scientificamerican.com

Entomologists believe the name stems from the fact that an earwig's hind wings are unique among insects.

earwigSource: scientificamerican.com

Also, they resemble a human ear when folded.

folded earwigSource: scientificamerican.com

More popularly though, it is believed that the name is related to an old wive's tale which claims that earwigs burrow into people's brains through their ears and lay their eggs there.

brainSource: bbc.com

Luckily, this old wives’ tale is not true. However, there are a few old wives’ tales that do hold quite a bit of truth. Curious? Check out 25 Old Wives’ Tales That Are Actually True.


Scientists, however, have never found evidence of earwigs burrowing into ear canals. There have been anecdotal reports though.

earSource: scientificamerican.com

Earwigs are found all over the world, but luckily, there is no evidence they transmit diseases to humans or animals.

bacteriaSource: nationalgeographic.com

Although their pincers are often believed to be dangerous, even the curved pincers of the male cause no harm to humans.

earwigSource: nationalgeographic.com

Although they are typically seen as destructive to crops, there is a debate as to whether earwigs can also be beneficial since they eat other invasive species, like aphids.

aphidSource: bbc.com

In rural parts of England, earwigs are called battle-twigs.

earwig 2Source: nationalgeographic.com

It only takes an earwig about 20 to 70 days to become an adult. Talk about growing up quickly!

baby earwigSource: facts.net

In some parts of Japan, earwigs are called Chinpo-Basami, which translates to "penis cutter." Entomologists believe this is because they used to be found around old Japanese-style toilets.

squat toiletSource: yahoo.com. bbc.com

North America has about 25 species of earwig; Europe has 45; and Australia has a whopping 60!

australiaSource: nationalgeographic.com

The largest species can also be found in Australia. It is appropriately called the Australian giant earwig and can be more than 55 mm (2 in) long!

2 inches on rulerSource: scientificamerican.com

Although most earwigs have wings and are capable of flight, they are rarely seen flying.

Dermaptera_ps1Source: scientificamerican.com

A few earwig species are both wingless and blind.

purple earwigSource: scientificamerican.com

Earwigs live for about 1 year after hatching.

ripSource: nationalgeographic.com

For protection from predators, some species can squirt foul smelling yellow liquid from their bodies.

defensive earwigSource: orkin.com

Earwig eggs and nymphs are sometimes cannibalized by other earwigs.

noSource: nationalgeographic.com

"To earwig" is a slang term that means "to eavesdrop."

eavesdropSource: washingtonpost.com

Images: Featured Image: shutterstock, 25-23. pixabay (public domain), 22. shutterstock, 21. pixabay (public domain), 20. shutterstock, 19. wikimedia commons (public domain), 18. pixabay (public domain), 17. shutterstock, 16-12. pixabay (public domain), 11. shutterstock, 10. wikimedia commons (public domain), 9-7. pixabay (public domain), 6. Piero sagnibene from itDermaptera ps1CC BY-SA 3.0, 5. shutterstock, 4. pixabay (public domain), 3. AssafnForficula 2CC BY 2.5, 2-1. pixabay (public domain)