Ear pince-nez - helper in chitin armor

Ear pince-nez - helper in chitin armor

the essentials in brief

  • Ear pinks are neither poisonous nor dangerous. They rarely appear as pests and are usually very useful pest fighters.
  • Insects do not have to be fought chemically. Self-made traps are enough to get the animals out of the apartment.
  • Earwigs have special habitat requirements. If the conditions are right, they get lost in houses and apartments. Prevention is therefore important.
  • Four species are widespread and can be promoted by insect hotels in the garden.

Ear puss in the apartment

Earwigs, which represent the order of the earwigs, belong to the dreaded insects. Especially when they are discovered in the apartment and in the house, there is great concern. In fact, the insects prefer a protected habitat in the garden. If ear peckers suddenly appear in your own four walls, it is usually a coincidence.

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Popular names:

  • Ear louse or ear crawlers
  • Ear peasants, ear wraiths and ear brooders
  • Ohrawusler

Are ear peasants dangerous?

In the past, the insect was considered dangerous to humans. Tradition has it that the ear pince-nez nests in the ears of humans and pets and destroys the eardrum at night in order to lay its eggs there. In fact, the insect's mouthparts are not strong enough to eat their way through the tissue.

Their pincers, which have developed from abdomen threads, are used to hunt and defend small prey. If they feel threatened, they can tweak with these so-called cerci. Such an ear pecker bite is neither poisonous nor dangerous and does not cause pain.

Useful or harmful?

The common earwig is an omnivore that feeds on both vegetable and animal foods. It turns out to be a beneficial insect because it eats aphids and caterpillars of various species of butterflies and curbs powdery mildew infestation. Earwigs utilize dead material and, as predators, actively hunt down smaller insects. They are involved in the decomposition of dead biomass. The sand earwig is considered a pure carnivore and can be used for pest control.

In rare cases the ear pince-nez appears as a pest. It mainly eats soft parts of plants such as flowers and tender vegetable sprouts. It cannot bite through hard leaf tissue and fruit membranes. If the insect is observed on grapes or apples, then the fruits were previously damaged by other insects. The earwig only uses the existing feeding ducts that come from codling moth and other insects.

Ear puss in the apartment - cause


Ear pikers prefer warm and slightly damp habitats. If you spot an ear pince-nez around the house, there is no need to panic. They like to hide in cracks and crevices, so that they often find suitable places of retreat in window frames. In this way, the insects get into the apartment, which, however, does not belong to the optimal habitat. Various plants on the windowsill can attract the insects through open windows and doors. Earwigs often get into the home through the soil in the flower pot.

  • in the bathroom : ear peckers crawl into freshly washed and slightly damp laundry
  • in the kitchen : overripe fruit attracts insects
  • in bed : warm and slightly damp conditions are an attractive shelter

Fight ear peasants

Usually there is no need to fight the earwigs. Since the insects develop a maximum of two generations per year, a pince-nez plague rarely occurs. The insects feel at home in garages, sheds and garden sheds or greenhouses. If you still want to get rid of the ear pince-nez, we recommend gentle measures. There is no need for insect sprays, poison or other chemical agents.

Ear pinch: A pot can serve as a trap as well as a dwelling

It is neither necessary nor useful to fight ear pussies with the chemical club. The insects are harmless and often very useful.

Ear pince-nez trap

A trap is particularly effective when it corresponds to the optimal habitat of the insects. The animals like it warm, a little damp and dark. They are crepuscular to nocturnal and go on a raid under cover of darkness. Leave the lights on at night to trap the ear peasants. However, it can take a while for the animals to discover the roost. In the garden you can protect fruit trees with simple barriers.

To preparePlace
Clay potfill with wood wool, straw, newspaperHang upside down in the kitchen
materialmoistenput in a corner of the room
Glue trapCut the double-sided tape to sizeGlue around fruit tree trunks

Attract with home remedies

If you want to get rid of earwigs, you should attract the animals. A bunch of fresh lavender sprigs is said to magically attract the insects. They crawl between the plant parts and can then be released outdoors. A bunch of brushwood also serves as a lure, because catchy tunes like to retreat into such protected niches.


Prevent ear pimples

With a few precautionary measures, you can prevent catchy tunes from entering your home. If you deal with the way of life of these insects, you will quickly see the conditions under which earwigs feel comfortable. For prevention to be successful, it is important that the environment appears unattractive to the insects.

Avoid forage crops

There are a number of plants that ear peckers prefer to eat. They do not belong to any particular plant family, but rather have particularly soft plant parts. Young plants or soft-skinned fruit such as apricots or grapes can also be eaten. So that the insects don't get lost in your apartment, you should avoid these plants on the windowsill:

  • Nightshade family : angel's trumpet
  • Trumpet trees : Trumpet flowers and trumpet trees
  • Buttercup Family : Clematis
  • Asteraceae : dahlias
  • Orchids : thin-leaved species

Daily routines

Before you bring laundry in from outside, it should be completely dry. Shake out sheets and towels thoroughly so that you do not bring ear peckers into the apartment unnoticed. During the day, ventilate your bedding and shake your pillow and blanket outside. This allows moisture to evaporate and the laundry becomes unattractive to ear pimples. Rooms with linen and beds should be regularly heated and ventilated.

Inspect flower pots


Before you bring plants into the house from the patio or balcony, you should get the root ball out of the pot. Potential residents are scared away in this way. If a pince-nez has settled in the substrate, you can watch the insect as it flees immediately. Then place the root ball in a bucket of water in order to remove any insects that are hidden deep in the substrate.

Prepare windows and doors

Since ear pincers feel comfortable in niches, you should close all possible entry gates to the house and apartment from the outside. Use silicone or acrylic for facade holes and close door gaps with special bristle strips. Open windows and doors are protected from intruders by insect screens.


Ear peasants are not beetles but an independent order and are related to the beetles. Both orders belong to the flying insects. The earwigs bear the scientific name Dermaptera, which are represented by 1,800 species worldwide.


Earwigs display a pronounced courtship behavior in which the males use their pincers. These are also used during mating in order to fixate the female. After successful fertilization, it lays its eggs in spring and sometimes a second time in autumn.

It builds an underground nest to lay its eggs, or places its eggs in leaf grooves and under rotten bark. The females remain in the nest until the larvae hatch. Brood care is mainly done in the spring generation. The female cleans and feeds the larvae throughout their month-long development.

Interesting facts about the larvae:

  • molt four to five times
  • lighter colored than adult insects
  • wingless
  • hibernate only in the adult stage

The males always have it with them

The male earwigs have a main penis that can reach the length of the insect's body. When hardened, it can break out of the chitin shell and get stuck in the sex duct of the female. Theories suggest that males want to impose some kind of chastity belt on their partners. These can then no longer pair with competitors. This loss does not bother the males because they have a second replacement limb.

What do ear peasants eat?


As omnivores, earwigs have not specialized in any particular food. They prefer aphids and their eggs and prey on other arthropods. Plant-based food is also on their menu. The insects attack soft plant tissue and eat young shoots or flowers of roses and other flowering plants.

You go for lettuce, celery or potatoes. Strawberries, peaches and grapes are not spurned. In addition, ear peckers eat the dead and not yet degraded substance that accumulates on the ground. The insects also attack the collected supply of solitary bees, which store their food in earth nests.

Can ear peasants fly?

Earwigs belong to the flying insects. You will seldom encounter a flying pince-nez, because most species have regressed flight muscles or incompletely developed wings. The common earwig has wings that are reduced to stumps, so that it is unable to fly. Winged insects have membranous wings that are intricately folded under their short wing-coverts. In order to develop this, the ear pincers have to use their pincers.



Ear peas are mainly active during twilight and at night. They don't like daylight, which is why they rarely stray into lighted rooms at night. During the day, earwigs hide in dark niches that are narrow and have slightly damp conditions. They form large clusters under stones or rotten bark.

Dense branches or piles of leaves on the ground are also attractive hiding spots. They like to retreat to hollow peach kernels or abandoned bird nest boxes. If you observe an ear pince-nez during the day, it was most likely disturbed.

Ear pince-nez in medicine and popular belief

In ancient times, ear pincers were used medicinally to treat diseases of the ears such as deafness. To do this, the insects were dried and made into powder. The Latin name “auricula”, which means little ear, probably comes from this fact. Possibly the fairy tales about ear pincers as eardrum destroyers also come from the Middle Ages.

Recognize species

Of the 1,800 known earwig species, ten are found in Germany, because the insects, as cold-blooded animals, prefer warmer climates. Most species are extremely rare, so they are unlikely to get lost in your own garden. Only four species are considered common and are represented throughout Germany.

German nameOccurrencefrequency
Euborellia annulipeSouthern earwigSaxonyRare
Euborellia arcanum-Saxony, BrandenburgRare
Labidura ripariaSand earwigpredominantly north and east Germanyscattered
Labia minorDwarf earwigalmost all of Germanyfrequently
Paralabella curvicauda-SaxonyRare
Chelidurella guentheriForest earwigalmost all of Germanyfrequently
Chelisurella thaleri-BavariaRare
Anechura bipunctataTwo-point catchy tuneBavariaRare
Apterygida mediaBush earwigalmost all of Germanyfrequently
Forficula auriculariaCommon earwigthroughout Germanyfrequently

Common earwig

The dark reddish brown ear pince-nez grows to between ten and 16 millimeters. His body appears laterally in a lighter brown. The short wings are yellow-brown in color. The hind wings protrude slightly below them. Since the wings are greatly reduced, the common earwig is almost unable to fly.

At the end of the abdomen, the insect has a pair of pincers, the base of which is light brown in color. The tools turn dark brown towards the tip. In males, the pincers are flat and slightly curved with one or two small teeth on the inside. Females have straight pincers that are shorter and finer than those of the males.

Bush earwig

With a body length of six to ten millimeters, this species is more delicate than the common earwig. The insect is finely hairy and has a glossy dark brown to almost black head. Its wings are severely stunted or missing completely. The name comes from the preferred habitats in hedges and bushes. It needs holes in tree trunks or holes in the ground to lay eggs. Its diet includes flowers and pollen from various shrubs, whereby the bush earwig also eats rotting plants and aphids.

Preferred habitats:

  • Alluvial forests along waters
  • Parks and gardens in residential areas
  • not too dry forest edges
  • Bushes overgrown with hops and wild vines
  • in spring mainly on sloe and hawthorn
  • in summer on blooming nettles

Forest earwig


The species is between ten and fourteen millimeters long and has a predominantly brownish to black colored body. Its flanks appear light brown. Forest earwigs do not have wings and their wing covers are severely stunted, which makes them different from other earwigs. Typical for males are the round tongs on the abdomen, which taper to a point in females. This species lives in deciduous and mixed forests, where it prefers to stay in fallen leaves. During the day the animal hides under stones and rotten bark.

Dwarf earwig

This small insect appears dull brown with a yellowish tinge because its entire body is finely and densely hairy. The head and antennae are dark brown in color, with the tip of the antennae shining a little brighter. The abdomen has a reddish brown basic color. Compared to other common ear pincers, this species has well-developed wings. With a body length of six to eight centimeters, the dwarf earwig is the smallest species.


  • preferentially occurs on dung heaps
  • As a good flier, it also occurs far from suitable habitats
  • eats sap, droppings, fly eggs and maggots


The dwarf earwig likes to fly on walls that have been painted with white lime paint. In the niches, you have a good chance of spotting the species.

Promote ear peas in the garden

Ear peas are interesting and versatile insects that deserve a habitat in the garden. With an insect hotel you can settle the ear pince-nez and thus increase the biodiversity in your own garden. Numerous insectivores such as birds and hedgehogs feel that this appeals to them, who like to consume catchy tunes as delicacies.

A treat for natural enemies

If you encourage ear peasants in your garden, you will also attract various insectivores. The animals are not only preyed on by ants, spiders and other predatory insects. Birds also like to peck the delicacies from their hiding places and hedgehogs use the crawlers as a source of energy to prepare for the harsh winter. The forceps are of little use as a defense against such predators. Therefore, the catchy tune tries to defend itself with a secretion, which is supposed to deter the robber.


Ear peas protect themselves with chemicals

Researchers from Gießen found that earwigs are continuously surrounded by a cloud of chemicals. This fine mist comes from the defense secretion, which the insects can secrete when threatened. The secretion can be shot at the enemy up to ten centimeters. As a cloud of fog, it protects the insects from fungi, bacteria and parasites. This defense mechanism is necessary because the earwigs live in warm, humid and bacteria-friendly environments.

Build an ear-pecker hotel


With a suitable nesting aid, you can encourage the insects in your garden and thus benefit from the natural pest killers. When the insects are comfortable, the sociable animals reproduce regularly and form a whole colony. In the hotel they are protected from predators and can lay their eggs. You need a classic clay pot with a drain hole or a ceramic vessel, filling material, grating or wooden sticks, wire and a string.

Building instructions for a hotel made of ceramic or clay:

  1. Tie the string to a small wooden stick and pull it through the drain hole
  2. Fill the pot or vessel with straw, wood wool, hay and a handful of soil
  3. Cover the opening with a grid or wooden sticks and secure with wire
  4. Hang the pot in trees in direct contact with the trunk
  5. Alternatively, set up in beds


To prevent the filling material from getting wet when it rains, you can glue pottery shards onto the drain hole before filling.

Turn ear pincers into beneficial insects

If you have discovered a large colony of the insects that have settled in an inconvenient place, you can try to relocate. Place a bunch of hollow bamboo sticks near the colony and startle the animals with a light source. After some time the catchy tunes have discovered the attractive hiding place and withdraw into the narrow cavities. Carefully remove the bamboo sticks and hang them in plants that are preferably attacked by aphids:

  • Elder : Sambucus nigra
  • Hibiscus : Hibiscus syriacus
  • Snowball : Virbunum opulus and lanata
  • False jasmine : Philadelphus coronarius
  • Roses : numerous types and varieties

frequently asked Questions

Do ear picks crawl in your ear?

It is a myth that ear peasants prefer to enter the ears of sleeping people at night. Although it is possible that the insects occasionally crawl around on the human body, implantation in the ears is extremely unlikely and should be classified as an accident. The most likely occurrence for this is when you fall asleep in the tall grass of a flower meadow or in the hayloft in the barn. But here, too, the ear pince-nez is not targeting the eardrum.

Why are ear peasants called ear peasants?

There are several theories about the origins of names. In ancient times, insects were dried and pulverized. The powder was a remedy for various ear complaints, which has solidified in the Latin suffix of the common earwig: auricularia means small ears. Other theories about the origins of the name refer to the shape of the pincers on the abdomen, which are often reminiscent of the eye of a needle.

Can ear peasants pinch?

Earwigs are able to use their pincers as grippers. They use the tools in hunting and courtship. If they feel threatened and are lifted on the hand by humans, they can bite. Such a sting is completely painless in most cases. Ear peas are not dangerous. If you have been bitten by the ear pucker, you should clean and disinfect the wound.

What helps against pince-nez?

If you want to get rid of catchy tunes, you don't have to resort to the chemical club. There are gentler methods and natural remedies for earache in the house and garden. Hang a bundle of fresh lavender branches in the apartment and wait for the animals to nestle in it. Alternatively, you can use a clay pot filled with straw and newspaper as a relocation aid. Expose the insects away from your garden.

What do male ear peckers always have with them?

The males are equipped with a second penis, which researchers previously considered useless. Probably the insects in the wild follow a special strategy. When mating, the males intentionally break off their main body-length limb so that the partner's sexual duct remains closed. Other males are no longer able to mate the female.

How do I build an ear pince-nez trap?

You need a flower pot or an empty tin can. Fill the dwelling with grass, hay, straw, and crumpled newspaper. To prevent the filling from falling out of the container, put an elastic nest over the opening. A network of garlic bulbs, for example, is very suitable for this. The self-built insect hotel (€ 8.87 at Amazon *) is hung upside down in trees and bushes that are often attacked by aphids. These serve as food for the earwigs.