Earwigs are in the Class Insecta and are of the Order Dermaptera. Dermaptera means “skin wing” due to the leathery appearance of the wings. Earwigs have four wings and the hind wings typically fold under the front wings.

There are over 20 species of earwigs in North America; but there are about 1,800 species worldwide. Most earwigs encountered in North America are up to 25 mm long; however, there are species in other parts of the world which can reach almost 80 mm in length, although the largest known earwig is extinct.

Three common species in the U.S. are European earwigs, red-legged earwigs, and striped earwigs. European earwig adults are approximately 16 mm long and are rust-brown colored with light-colored wing covers. They are one of the most commonly encountered species and found in many parts of North America.

Red-legged earwig adults are 12 to 15 mm long and are brown to black in color. They are most common in the southern half of the U.S. Striped earwigs, sometimes called the shore earwig, are dark brown, bordering on a reddish brown. They are 20 to 25 mm long and are most likely found in the southern half of the U.S.