How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines


European Earwig

Scientific Name: Forficula auricularia

(Reviewed 2/17, updated 2/17, corrected 1/19)

In this Guideline:

Description of the Pest

The introduced European earwig is the most common of several earwig species that can occur in citrus. Adults are about 0.75 inch long, reddish brown, and have a pair of prominent tail appendages (cerci) that resemble forceps. Most species have wings under short, hard wing covers, but earwigs seldom fly. Males have stout, strongly curved cerci that are widely separated at the base while females possess slender, straight pinchers that are close together. Earwigs use these cerci to protect themselves and to grab and hold prey. Immature earwigs resemble small, wingless adults.

Earwigs feed mostly at night and hide during the day. Common hiding places include bark crevices, mulch, topsoil, protected (touching) plant parts, and under trunk wraps. Females lay masses of 30 or more eggs in soil. Nymphs are whitish and remain in soil until their first molt, after which they darken and begin emerging from the soil in search of food. Earwigs generally have one or two generations a year. They can be active year round.


Earwigs feed on dead and living insects and insect eggs, other organisms, and on succulent plant parts. Earwig nymphs will climb trees and feed on buds, leaves , and fruit of trees during the spring flush months (March through May). Once they molt into adults and the foliage hardens, they move back down to the soil and stop damaging trees.

They can be especially problematic on young trees with trunk wraps or cardboard guards, in which they reside. The cause of damage can be difficult to distinguish from that of other chewing pests that hide during day and feed at night, including worms, brown garden snail, Fuller rose beetle, and June beetles.


If you suspect that earwigs are causing damage in young trees, lift and shake or sharply tap any trunk wraps and look for earwigs dropping to the ground, where they quickly scurry for cover. Remove trunk wraps when they are no longer needed for sunburn or rodent control, thereby reducing earwig numbers.

In mature trees, near the time of petal fall when young fruit could be damaged, use a beating sheet or net to shake the trees and collect earwigs to determine if earwigs are infesting the trees. Where damage to young fruit is occurring, foliar applications of insecticides with an air blast sprayer can be effective; however, only the most broad-spectrum insecticides reduce their numbers and these insecticides may affect natural enemies needed for other pests.

Common name Amount to use REI‡ PHI‡
(Example trade name) (type of coverage)** (hours) (days)
Calculate impact of pesticide on air quality
Bee precaution pesticide ratings
Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Always read the label of the product being used.
  (Baythroid XL) 6.4 oz/acre (OC) 12 0
  RANGE OF ACTIVITY: Pests: broad (many insects); Natural enemies: most
  PERSISTENCE: Pests: long; Natural enemies: intermediate (low rates), long (high rates)
  COMMENTS: Do not apply in the vicinity of aquatic areas.
  (Sevin XLR Plus) 2–3 qt/acre (OC) 12 5
  RANGE OF ACTIVITY: Pests: broad (many insects); Natural enemies: most
  PERSISTENCE: Pests: long; Natural enemies: long
** OC - Outside coverage uses 100 to 250 gal water/acre.
Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a group number other than 1B. -Mode-of-action group numbers ("un" = unknown or uncertain mode of action) are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
* Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.



[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Citrus
UC ANR Publication 3441

Insects, Mites, and Snails

E. E. Grafton-Cardwell, Entomology, UC Riverside and Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier
J. G. Morse, Entomology, UC Riverside
N. V. O'Connell, UC Cooperative Extension, Tulare County
P. A. Phillips (emeritus), UC IPM Program, UC Cooperative Extension, Ventura County
C. E. Kallsen, UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County
D. R. Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County

Acknowledgments for contributions to Insect, Mites, and Snails:
J. Barcinas, E.S.I., Corona, CA
R. Dunn, Badger Farming Co., Exeter, CA
J. Gorden, Pest Management Associates, Exeter, CA
H. Griffiths, E.S.I., Corona, CA
D. Machlitt, Consulting Entomology Services, Moorpark, CA
C. Musgrove, retired entomologist, Riverside, CA
K. Olsen, S & J Ranch, Pinedale, CA
T. Roberts, E.S.I., Corona, CA
T. Shea, UC Cooperative Extension, Riverside County
J. Stewart, Pest Management Associates, Exeter, CA
P. Washburn, Washburn & Sons Citrus Pest Control, Riverside, CA

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