Earwigs are characterized by the cerci, or the pair of forceps-like pincers on their abdomen; male earwigs have curved pincers, while females have straight ones. These pincers are used to capture prey, defend themselves and fold their wings under the short tegmina Many earwig species display maternal care, which is uncommon among insects. Female earwigs are known to take care of their eggs, and even after they have hatched as nymphs will continue to watch over offspring until their second molt.
Earwigs are generally nocturnal, and typically hide in small, dark, and often moist areas in the daytime.
They can usually be seen patrolling household walls and ceilings. Interaction with earwigs at this time results in a defensive free-fall to the ground followed by a scramble to a nearby cleft or crevice. During the summer they can be found around damp areas such as near sinks and in bathrooms. Earwigs tend to gather in shady cracks or openings or anywhere that they can remain concealed during daylight. Some people erroneously believe that earwigs crawl into people’s ears at night and make burrows. Earwigs are harmless to people. Picnic tables, compost and waste bins, patios, lawn furniture, window frames, or anything with minute spaces (even artichoke blossoms) can potentially harbor them.
The common earwig is one of the few insects that actively hunt for food and are omnivorous, eating arthropods, plants, and ripe fruit. To a large extent, this species is also a scavenger, feeding on decaying plant and animal matter if given the chance.