What Are the Differences Between Earwigs and Termites

What Are the Differences Between Earwigs and Termites?

Biologists have created a system of scientific taxonomy to classify all living beings. This is explained in detail under “What Are the Differences Between Earwigs and Cockroaches?” As a result of taxonomy, it is clear that earwigs are in a different order than termites. Earwigs are in the order Dermaptera, and termites are in the order Isoptera. Dermaptera means “skin wings” due to the leathery durable forewings. Isoptera means “equal wings,” a hint that termites, for the castes which are winged, have wings of the same size. Even though not all termites are winged, reproductive termites, or alates, are winged. While there are non subterranean termites, for this discussion we’ll focus on subterranean termites, the most common type of termite in the U.S.

While earwigs and termites each have six legs and three body segments, as do all insects, there are many differences. First, termites are social insects, meaning that they have a hierarchy including king, queen, workers and soldiers. Earwigs do not exist in a social structure, and, while there may be many earwigs in an area, say, under mulch, they are not in a “colony” or truly social. Also, earwigs are simply male or female and have no castes such as worker or soldier. Also, termites need moisture as do earwigs, but most earwigs survive well in the open. Termites, especially subterranean termites, are cryptic and cannot come into open sunlight or air for long, since their bodies are soft and desiccate rapidly. Worker termites are usually white since the chitin in their shells has not hardened; earwigs are darker with hardened chitin.

Food choices for earwigs include live or decaying vegetation and, in some cases, depending on the species, other insects. Termites do not eat other insects and eat only cellulose products such as wood.


What do earwigs look like?

Earwig identification can be difficult since this particular pest is fast, nocturnal and adept at hiding during the day. But if you know these key marks to look out for, you’ll easily be able to spot them in your garden and around your home, even if you only see them for a few seconds.

What do earwigs look like?

Earwigs are one of the most readily identifiable insects due to their cerci. Cerci are the two appendages that stick out from the rear of the earwig, resembling forceps or pincers. This has led to nicknames such as ‟pincer bugs” or ‟pincher bugs.” Though they can pinch, earwigs rarely do so to humans, unless they are sat on or trapped. Instead, the cerci are used to fight-off predators, grasp prey and dominate other earwigs. Males have curved cerci while females have straight pincers. Most species are reddish-brown in color and measure about three-quarters of an inch in length, or smaller.

Can earwigs fly?

Most species of adult earwigs have fully-formed wings that are covered by another set of shorter, harder, protective wings (similar to most beetles). Even though they have these wings, earwigs rarely fly. They are quite speedy on the ground, however. Immature earwigs resemble adults, but are wingless and much smaller.

What other earwig >

There’s actually not much more that you need to know in order to identify an earwig, unless you want to study it. Entomologists study the segments of an earwig’s abdomen and antennae. This can help with species identification as well as distinguishing males from females. For example, males have 10 abdomen segments while females only have eight. Some species of earwigs let off a foul-smelling odor when crushed. This is where the trained eye of a service technician comes in handy – if you know the species will defend itself with odors, earwig control might not include physically crushing them.

For most people, simple earwig identification is enough – you don’t have to get into European earwigs versus striped earwigs. Once you see one, no matter the species, you want it gone. Don’t do more than you have to. Call Terminix® right away for your free pest estimate.


Earwig Infestation

What Does an Earwig Infestation Look Like?

Very few people ever encounter an earwig infestation of large proportion, and they typically do not actively infest indoors. As these are outside insects, even if people see just a few that might wander into a home or apartment, they are often considered a major invasion. These are not tiny insects, and the intimidating forceps can lead to panic when people do see an earwig infestation.

Earwigs are not social insects, so there is no queen or king or colony workers as one would encounter with bees or even termites. There is also no nest, so an infestation can’t be seen in a single place such as with a bee hive.

Earwig habits and habitat vary. Some are predaceous, typically preying on smaller insects or arthropods. Most are not predaceous and instead feed on the live or decaying vegetation found in moist soil.

If there is a home with moist soil around the foundation and an abundance of leaves, dead plant material in the soil, and even live plants such as tender weeds, earwigs will have adequate conditions to eat, hide and rear young.

It is very common to remove the vegetation cover and see dozens of earwigs scurrying about to find hiding places. Domestic earwigs and young especially cannot tolerate dry and sunny areas for long. Sometimes, one might even see earwigs go into holes in rotten tree stumps, but earwigs typically do not dig or burrow to a great extent. The flexible abdomen will allow them to move quickly and into tight areas.

Inside, unless conditions are excellent, in a basement for example, earwigs will not typically be present in large numbers. They most often infest outdoors but might wander indoors, giving the illusion of an infestation.


Termite or Terminator? Ways to Spot Termite Lookalikes

There are few things as frustrating as having bugs treat your home like it’s theirs. Even worse is when they don’t just move in — they decide your house is their next meal. Hardwood floors, wooden furniture legs, structural foundations. Nothing is safe from the wood-loving insects we call termites.

While termite damage is fairly easy to identify, a termite infestation is much harder to diagnose when you are seeing bugs but no damage. If this scenario sounds familiar, it’s possible that the creepy crawlies you’re seeing around your home aren’t termites at all, but some relatively harmless impersonators. So don’t panic! We’re here to assuage your fears and help you spot the differences between a Real Deal Termite and a knock-off wannabe.

The Imposters

The insects most commonly confused for termites are flying ants. The most common species of ants to take flight around your house are carpenter ants, but they’re by no means the only ones. Other would-be imposters include moisture ants, black garden ants and pavement ants. Nearly every species of ant has breeding adults that grow wings and come out to mate —creating new nests and scaring the bejeezus out of you.

The Differences

It’s easy to tell the difference between ants and termites by identifying a few key visual differences.

Antennae: Termites have straight antennae, while ants have elbow-like antennae with a bend in the middle.

Color: All species of ants are generally dark in color, whereas termites are light, white or transparent.

Body shape: Termites’ bodies are made up of two sections — the head and the abdomen. Ants on the other hand are split into three segments, which gives them that old Hollywood, hourglass figure.

Wings: Both insects have four wings, but while ants have shorter back wings and longer front wings, termite flappers are all of equal length. Termite wings are also more veiny and opaque than those of their ant friends.

The Solution

They may not cause structural damage, but termite imposters are still a major nuisance. Even if they aren’t eating through your floors, having swarms of nasty looking critters buzz around your house is anything but pleasant. Arrow is here to help you deal with any pest problem, big or small, so call us today to ensure that the only beings living in your house are the ones you want to be there.


Making Sure They Are Actually Termites

  • Termites have a thick waist
  • Termites have straight antennae
  • Termites have shorter legs
  • When wings are present, both pairs of wings will be the same length on a termite
  • Ants have noticeable waists
  • Ants have clubbed or bent antennae
  • Ants have longer legs
  • When wings are present, the front wings will be longer than the back wings on ants

Once you have determined you are indeed dealing with termites you will need to find out if you have subterranean termites or drywood termites because a subterranean termite treatment is quite different than a drywood termite treatment. If you have determined that you actually are in fact dealing with ant infestation, please visit our Ant Control Guide.

  • Subterranean termites have the main portion of their nest underground
  • Subterranean termites make mud tubes to access structures
  • Subterranean termites usually have large colonies
  • Subterranean termites do not kick out feces and debris
  • Subterranean termites typically eat along the grain of the wood
  • Subterranean termites are known to make “carton” nests in wall voids and in trees. A carton is a nest made from the termite fecal matter to maintain the correct moisture level when the termites are unable to return to the actual subterranean nest.
  • Drywood Termites do not require soil contact
  • Drywood Termites nest inside of the wood they are infesting
  • Drywood Termites do not make mudtubes
  • Drywood Termites fly into infest wood
  • Drywood Termites make small “kickout” holes in wood to push feces and debris out of the nest
  • Drywood Termites leave small piles of debris outside of the infested wood
  • Drywood Termites usually eat across and along the grain of the wood
  • Drywood Termites are usually found in coastal regions but they can be transported in infested wood

If you have determined that you actually are in fact dealing with a drywood termite infestation, please visit our Drywood Termite Control Guide.


What Are the Differences Between Termites and Earwigs?

October 01, 2018 2 min read

When insects invade your home, it’s important to identify the pests correctly if you want to treat an infestation right the first time. If you misidentify the pests and use the wrong treatments, getting rid of termites and earwigs will mean spending more money down the road and dealing with a larger infestation in the meantime. In the case of identifying earwigs and termites, one is not like the other.

The Difference Between Earwigs and Termites

This is an earwig. It’s long, has pincers and invades interior spaces.

Earwigs and termites have nothing in common. They don’t look the same or eat the same foods; they also prefer different living conditions. Termites look like ants with big heads, wide abdomens and straight antennae. They live in massive colonies and consume wood as they attack buildings, furniture and more.

Earwigs may or may not live in groups depending on the species. They prefer dark, moist areas and feed mainly on decaying vegetation. They have long, slender bodies with pincers located at the rear of the abdomen. Most species use the pincers for defense, but predatory species use them for catching prey.

Which Insect Causes More Damage?

Termites in a colony. They devour 6 pounds or more of wood each year.

Termites cause more damage than any other insect combined. They attack wooden timbers and feed on the structures, increasing their colony’s size over time. These insects cause more than a billion dollars in damages each year. It’s important to treat the termites with potent termiticides at the first sign of their presence. Earwigs feed on plant matter and may attack live plants in some cases. When they infest interiors, they’re seen primarily as a nuisance.

How to Get Rid of Termites and Earwigs

Insecticides have various formulations for targeting, killing and controlling various pests. Some formulas wipe out termites, earwigs and other insects, providing broad-spectrum control. However, you may have to use a stronger termiticide depending on the termite species and the infestation level. Spray or granular insecticides, including insect glue traps, will get rid of the earwigs in your home and help to prevent future infestations.


Earwigs are nocturnal pests that move into homes in search of food or to escape changing temperatures.

What do earwigs look like?

Earwigs are typically about a half-inch in length, but can grow larger. They can be winged or wingless and have two antennae and distinguishing pincers.

Nuisance or danger?

While earwigs may look dangerous because of their pincers or forceps, they are not dangerous and do not bite.

Why do I have them?

Earwigs inside your home most likely indicate a much larger presence outside your home. When in search of food, they can frequently end up inside homes.

How do I know if I have earwigs?

Homeowners often find earwigs near water sources – kitchens, bathrooms and laundry spaces. While earwigs can usually be spotted near water, they can turn up in any area of your home.

What should I do if I have earwigs?

Earwigs like any insect need a source of food. If you find earwigs in your home, be sure to seal any food products, like cereal and pet food, to cut off any food sources. If you suspect you have an earwig infestation, call Bug-Z Termite and Pest Control to schedule an inspection at 402-991-4005.

Should I have concerns about treatments used?

At Bug-Z Termite and Pest Control, we only use EPA registered pesticides. Your Bug-Z pest control specialist will walk you through all recommended precautions and safety measures.

What does treatment cost?

Bug-Z Termite and Pest Control of Omaha offers standard pricing to save you money.

Contact us today to get rid of earwigs!

“We have used Bug-Z from the beginning for our termite inspections and we love them because they always come through. Even if it’s down to the wire for us, when we call Pete and his team they consistently go above and beyond to make sure the inspection is completed and we get the paperwork we need in time! Bug-Z is fast, friendly and professional!”

– Alyssa Bahler, Administrative Assistant with Charter Title & Escrow

“When Pete starting Bug-Z a few years ago, it was easy to support his decision. I was then quick to support him as I am today, to see him continue to grow.

He is a person of high integrity, a motivation to make his customers satisfied with his service, prompt attention to their requests and most of all “service after the sale”. It was easy for me to refer him to my friends in real estate who began using him and have continued to use him.

They only have praise and appreciation for the introduction.

If you would like to call me and ask any specific questions regarding Pete Christina, and Bug-Z Termite, you are welcome to call me.”

– Judi E. Anding, Associate Broker with Nebraska Realty

“I use Bugz for all my termite inspection. They are very customer oriented.”

– Keisha Davis, Realtor® with Np Dodge Real Estate & Notary Public

“We enjoy your service as well as your electronic delivery. This efficiency helps us quickly provide inspections to our customers.”

– Lisa Tavizon, Escrow Manager with Title Core National


What Do Termites Look Like?

Home > Pest Articles > What Do Termites Look Like?

Carpenter ants cost U.S. property owners millions of dollars annually. That is pretty bad. But when you consider that termites are responsible for billions of dollars in damages to U.S. property every year, it is clear to see why it is important to know the difference between these two insects. Recognizing these differences is one of the best ways to learn what termites look like. Inside a termite colony there are several castes. Each caste has a role to play, and each caste has a slightly different appearance. The following are the 5 castes of termites that make up a colony, and a few of the ways they are different from ants.


The termite caste you’re most likely to see is the termite swarmer. These are the only termites that live outside of the soil or the wood the colony is feeding on. They are also the caste of termite that will most likely be mistaken for ant swarmers. Here are the ways they are different:

Termite swarmers are black or dark brown. Carpenter ant swarmers are black or reddish black. Other ant swarmers can come in many different colors.

Termite swarmers have a ½ inch body and wings that are ¾ of an inch in length and extend past the abdomen by ½ an inch. Ant wings do not tend to extend very far beyond the abdomen. For this reason, the wings of a termite are likely to be the most noticeable characteristic of these insects.

Termite wings are white and transparent. Ant wings tend to be yellowish and transparent.

Termite wings stack on top of each other. This causes them to be rounded at the tips. While ants and termites both have 4 wings, ant wings are clearly divided into two wings on each side, which produces a cleft at the tips.

Body size is the easiest way to tell the difference between termite swarmers and carpenter ants. While both may be black in color, carpenter ants are much larger. The body of a termite swarmer isn’t going to be much more than ¼ of an inch in length.

The body of a carpenter ant can be a full inch. And, not only are carpenter ants larger than termites, they are larger than any other ant you’ll find in your home.

Termites have three body parts like other insects, but they lack the distinct pinch between the thorax and abdomen, like ants have. This can make it appear as though they only have a head and body.

Termites have antennae that are straight or slightly curved. When examined with a magnifying glass, these antennae appear as several tiny balls stacked on top of each other. Ant wings are more stick-like and have an elbow. When looked at with magnification, their antennae may also have tiny stacked balls after the elbow and before the tips.


You’re more likely to mistake termite workers for maggots than you are ants. This is because termites have a shiny pale color that makes them look like no ant you’ve ever seen. You’ll also notice that termite workers do not have a pinched waist, like an ant. Workers are smaller than swarmer termites, and are pale colored, instead of black. Workers have legs, body segments, and antennae like swarmers, but not the wings.


This is another caste of termite you’re not going to mistake for an ant. The large, dark yellow head and black pincers on a soldier termite make it look more like an earwig than an ant. Soldier termites look like termite workers in every way, except for their oversized head and pincers.


Swarmer termites are male and female reproductives. Once they have bred, the male swarmers lose their wings and take their place at the side of their queen. They look like swarmers in every way, except for their lack of wings.


Female reproductive termite swarmers lose their wings after they have bred, and establish themselves at the heart of a colony, just like king termites do, but they look very different. This is because the abdomen on a queen termite never stops growing. The more offspring she produces, the more her abdomen will bloat and become tan with equidistant dark brown marks.

It is vital to know what termites look like. These wood-destroying insects can cost you a lot of money and eat their way into your equity. For assistance in preventing termite damage, reach out to Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions. We protect homes and businesses in our extensive Missouri service area with the most advanced termite protection available. Get your home protected today.

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