What Are The Differences Between Earwigs And Termites?

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Though earwigs and termites may look similar, they have different habits and preferences. So, what are the differences between earwigs and termites? Earwigs like to live in moist environments, while termites prefer to dwell in dry areas.

Termites are also more likely to cause damage to buildings and other structures. To get the best treatment, it is important to identify the insect infestation correctly. Insects like earwigs and termites look very similar but require different treatments

How to Identify an Earwig?

How to Identify an Earwig?

There are approximately 20 different earwig species in the US. They can be identified by their long, slender body and six legs. They also have rear pincers used for defense and capturing prey. Earwigs are not commonly found in homes but can fly if necessary.

Earwigs are not insects because they don’t fly. They use pheromones to attract mates, and Juvenile earwigs have no wings.

What are the differences between earwigs and Termites? (Earwig vs. Termite)

Forficula auricularia


Earwigs are tiny insects that range in length from 1 to 3 centimeters. They have two antennae, six legs, three body segments, and a pair of fearsome pincers on their abdomen. Earwigs are known for their forceps which they use to catch and eat other insects.

Earwigs and termites are insects, but there are key differences. Earwigs are approximately 1 inch long, dark brown, and have large forceps on their rear. Termites are much larger, measuring up to ½ inches long.

Male earwigs also have larger forceps than female earwigs. Another difference is that earwigs are nocturnal animals, meaning they hide during the day and roam at night. Termites are active during the day and night.

Physical Features

Earwigs are also known as pincher bugs. They get their name from the pincers on the end of their abdomen. Termites have two sets of wings, which is a key difference between them and earwigs.

Earwigs are typically about one-eighth inches to an inch long, while termites can be up to half an inch long. Additionally, earwigs are blind and rely on pheromones to communicate, while termites have eyes and use sound vibrations to communicate.


Termites can be differentiated from earwigs based on some characteristics. The most distinguishing features are their body color and the shape of their wings.

Worker termites are paler than swarming termites and have wings that have rounded tips. Their exoskeleton, called chitin, is tough and helps protect them from predators.


Termites consume wood gradually and break down other cellulose materials such as paper and cardboard. They play an important role in facilitating the decomposition process, which is a great aid to nature.

Unlike termites, earwigs are interested in biting humans and often infest furniture. They typically nest above ground level.

Earwigs are scavengers and eat mostly live or dead and decaying plant matter. They are not poisonous, so they are not harmful to humans. You are more likely to find them in gardens than in houses, but there is always the possibility that you might see one or two inside your house.


While earwigs and silverfish share a few similarities, they have many differences. Earwigs prefer to live outdoors, where they can find more moisture than termites. They are also nocturnal, meaning they come out at night. 

Earwigs prefer dark, moist areas like under rocks or in piles of leaves. Termites are attracted to moisture and can be found in bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas with a lot of humidity.

They also feed on carbohydrates like sugar and starches, so you might find them eating cereal boxes or flour sacks.

Additionally, earwigs are harder to control if they infest your home because they reproduce quickly and can crawl into tight spaces. Finally, termites have many physical characteristics that set them apart from earwigs, including their size, body shape, and coloring.


Termites are social creatures that live in colonies. The queen can live as long as a decade, and the workers can live for up to five years. Earwigs, on the other hand, are solitary creatures. They only come together to mate, and the female can lay up to fifty eggs at a time.

Male earwigs die shortly after mating, and females die about one inch deep in the soil after laying their eggs. Autumn is mating season for earwigs.

There are three stages in the lifespan of an earwig: egg, baby or nymph, and adult. The egg hatches into a baby or nymph, which molts (sheds its skin) as it grows into an adult.

The entire process from egg to adult can take anywhere from two months to two years, depending on the species and environmental conditions.


Earwigs emit an unpleasant stench when disturbed, while termites do not. Additionally, rotting wood may indicate a termite infestation, which is not generally a sign of earwig infestation.

Finally, to protect your home from termites, you can spray termiticide on the soil around your house.

What insects look like earwigs?



Silverfish is a type of insect that is often mistaken for an earwig. They are both long and slender and can grow up to 25mm in size. However, silverfish are not predators of earwigs – they are preyed upon by them instead.



Firebrats are a type of insect that is often mistaken for termites. They are grayish-brown and speckled with darker spots on their back. They have three long, slender, hair-like structures that extend from the last segment of their body – giving them the common name.

Firebrats prefer warm environments and are commonly found in attics, crawlspaces, and near furnaces or other heat sources.


Termite on white background in Thailand and Southeast Asia.

Earwig and termite have a white translucent body, but there are key differences. Earwigs have cerci- two long, thin appendages sticking out from their rear end. Termites do not have cerci.

Additionally, earwigs have 11 abdominal somites (segments on their abdomen), while termites only have 10. Finally, it can be hard to see earwigs because they live underground, while termites are visible as they build their nests above ground.



Centipedes and earwigs are common insects in many parts of the world. They share some similarities, such as their size, but there are also some differences. For example, centipedes are generally larger than earwigs and can be more harmful to humans.

Earwigs rarely bite people, but when they do, the bite is painful and often followed by a headache or fever.


Woodlouse, extreme macro close-up with high magnification

Woodlice are a type of crustacean often studied in the context of evolution and evolutionary biology. They resemble earwigs with a small dark body, long antennae, and two cerci at the rear. Most importantly, woodlice are often found under logs or in decaying wood.

Are earwigs or termites with pincers?

what are the differences between earwigs and termites

Earwigs got their name because they resemble the human ear. They are small, have a pincer at the end of their abdomen, and are brown or black. Termites, on the other hand, look nothing like earwigs. They are white or cream and are about 1/4 inch long.

Additionally, termites eat wood, while earwigs prefer vegetation. Finally, earwigs live in moist environments while termites thrive in dry environments.

Some Information on Earwig Infestation

A pair of male and female Earwig 'Forficula auricularia'

There are several key differences between earwigs and termites. Earwigs are not as destructive as termites and typically only eat decaying plants.

Termites, on the other hand, eat through the wood of trees to cause them to die and can also be a problem in homes. Additionally, you are more likely to see earwigs outside than you are to see termites.

Earwigs are attracted to moist areas and will travel inside when the temperatures outside become too hot or cold. They also like to hide in small, dark spaces where they can find moisture. It means that they often infest homes through leaks and windowsills.

How to Get Rid of Earwig Infestation at home

Adult Shore Earwig of the species Labidura riparia

Earwigs are attracted to moist areas and can be found in large numbers near water sources. If you have an earwig infestation, the first step is to identify and remove any moisture-rich areas where they may be living.

You can also use diatomaceous earth to help keep them from climbing onto plants. If the infestation is inside your home, you will need to clean up any moist or cluttered areas to get rid of them.

You can unpot potted plants, remove the eggs, and remove the earwigs. You can also sign up for a home warranty plan, including pest control. If you already have an earwig problem, you can call to request a service specialist to come out and spray for earwigs.


Termites and earwigs are two of the most common insects found in homes. They both have different diets and characteristics that set them apart. Termites are more destructive and should be treated with a strong termiticide to stop them from causing damage.

While both can be a nuisance, earwigs are much less invasive than termites. People often find them inconvenient because they crawl into homes and other buildings through small cracks and crevices. 

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.