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What Are the Differences Between Earwigs and Cockroaches?

Earwigs and roaches – two fast-moving insects with a similar appearance from afar. With a quick glance, it's hard to tell these two species apart, especially if they scurry away from your peripheral. However, earwigs and roaches belong to separate insect classes and are not related in any way.


Earwig or Roach: How to Tell?

An earwig on a wall

An earwig with long pincers at the rear. It looks scarier than it is.

Roaches cause more problems for homeowners than earwigs do as they transmit diseases and raid pantries. They multiply by the hundreds in a short time and infest interiors behind the walls and sometimes out in the open. Roaches have six legs and two antenna and aren't defensive or predatory insects.

Some earwig species are predatory, attacking live insects when they're in need of food. Otherwise, they prefer to feed on decaying matter. They don't transmit diseases but can infest interiors if they're not controlled in time. Earwigs are easy to spot as they have six legs, two long antennae and forceps at the end of the abdomen.

What Damage Do They Cause?

An American cockroach

An American cockroach. Note the two round spots behind its head.

Roaches create more of a health risk than physical damage indoors and outdoors. They're nature's decomposers, consuming garbage and decaying animals. These insects threaten people with diseases such as salmonella and can cause businesses to shut down over health concerns. Some earwigs feed on decaying vegetation whereas others feed on live plants and smaller insects. Common house earwigs prefer wet, dark areas and can be found in bathrooms and around plumbing pipes. If earwigs attack live vegetation, they can damage the shoots and render the plants unproductive.

Indoor Earwig and Roach Infestations

Earwigs and roaches have one thing in common: They both invade homes and businesses on a daily basis. Though roaches should be met with aggressive pest control treatments, you can usually treat an earwig problem easily with DIY insecticides such as aerosols and granular baits.

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