Earwigs are dark, reddish-brown insects which are easily identified by the pincer-like projections on the tip of the abdomen, called forceps. Both males and females have forceps. The most common species in Illinois, the European earwig, is 5/8 of an inch long.
Earwigs prefer moist, dark areas. They are most active at night and seek shelter during day. They are commonly found in mulch, organic debris, cracks and crevices, under flower pots and boards. They frequently enter the house and are often found in the basement or crawlspace. Earwigs feed on living or dead plant material and some insects.
Generally, earwigs are not destructive. They are not poisonous and generally will not bite or sting humans. They may pinch the skin with their forceps. With large numbers, they may feed on tender plants and may damage lettuce, strawberries, dahlias, marigolds, zinnias and roses.
Non chemical: If found indoors, remove by vacuuming. Discourage earwigs by eliminating their desired habitat. Remove leaf litter, stones, and mulches near foundations; keep shrubs trimmed, Discourage and reduce entry into buildings by caulking and repairing cracks and crevices and checking door thresholds, windows and screens for a tight fit.
Chemical: Contact your county Extension office for current pesticide controls.