An omnivorous insect in the family Forficulidae. The European earwig survives in a variety of environments and is a common household insect in North America. The name earwig comes from the appearance of the hindwings, which are unique and distinctive among insects, and resemble a human ear when unfolded; the species name of the common earwig, auricularia, is a specific reference to this feature. They are considered a household pest because of their tendency to invade crevices in homes and consume pantry foods, and may act either as a pest or as a beneficial species depending on the circumstances (see below).
Forficula auricularia is reddish brown in color, with a flattened and elongate body, and slender, beaded antennae. An obvious feature of earwigs is the pair of ‘pincers’ or forceps at the tip of the flexible abdomen. Both sexes have these pincers; in males they are large and very curved, whereas in females they are straight. Nymphs are similar to adults in appearance, but their wings are either absent or small.
In North America, European earwigs comprise two sibling species, which are reproductively isolated. Populations in cold continental climates mostly have one clutch per year, forming species A, whereas those in warmer climates have two clutches per year, forming species B.