There are more than twenty species of earwigs in the United States. Depending on the species, adults range in size from 5-25 mm. They are slender insects with two pair of wings. Some species produce a foul smelling liquid that they use for defense. Earwigs also produce a pheromone scent. Scientists believe that this pheromone is the reason that earwigs cluster together in large numbers. Immature earwigs (nymphs) resemble the adults except they do not have wings.
Earwigs are active at night. During the day they hide in cracks in damp areas. They live under rocks and logs and in mulch in flowerbeds. Earwigs eat plants and insects.
Outdoors, earwigs spend the winter in small burrows in the ground. In spring the female lays eggs in the burrow. She tends the eggs until they hatch. Then she cares for the nymphs until they can find their own food.
Earwigs are attracted to lights. They can become a nuisance on porches and patios on summer evenings. In the morning they will be gathered under things like cushions that were left outside overnight.
Earwigs move into homes to find food or because of a change in weather.
Females typically lay between 30 and 50 but actual numbers depend on species. After hatching, the nymphs undergo four to five molts until they become adults.