The pinchers are called “cerci” and used as both offensive and defensive weapons. They are sometimes used to capture prey. The common name of “earwig” comes from an old European superstition that these insects enter the ears of sleeping people and bore into the brain. There about 22 species occurring in the United States. Adults can be ¼ to 1 inch long with Bogy elongate, flattened in form. The red legged earwig is a native American species which is common in the South and Southwest.
Earwigs have a distinctive disagreeable /repugnant odor that is released when they are crushed, but some species can squirt such a liquid. They are gregarious in the nature, typically occurring in groups. Red legged earwigs have been reported to cause minor skin abrasions in humans.
Earwigs are nocturnal or active at night and hide during the day in moist, shady places, such as under stones or logs, or in mulch.
Earwigs feed on live or dead plants and/or insects. At times they damage cultivated plants. Earwigs are attracted to lights or to insects attracted to lights.
Usually it is the European and red legged earwigs which occasionally invade homes, sometimes by the hundreds of thousands.
The key to control is the removal of unessential mulch, plant debris, and objects such as stones and boards from around the structure. The purpose of this is to establish a low moisture zone that is disagreeable to earwigs. Diatomaceous earth or Boric acid along the exterior foundation wall can be very effective, ecofriendly treatment. Microencapsulated and wettable power residual formulations applied as a 3-10 ft band treatment are highly effective as well.