Earwigs are rather elongated insects. They have simple, slender antennae and biting mouth-parts. Legs are thin and adapted for running.  Wings are not present in all species. When they are, the fore wings are hardened to cover the hind wings and the base of the abdomen (most of the abdomen is always exposed). These resemble the familiar wing cases of beetles and are also called elytra. The hind wings are almost semi-circular. They are thin and transparent. Most species fly rarely.

The abdomen ends in the characteristic pincers or cerci. The precise function of these pincers is unclear. However, some earwigs use them to intimidate predators, though some have been observed using them to fold their wings after flight.

A photograph of a male earwig (_Forficula auricularia_).

A male earwig.

Other names for (or types of) Dermaptera include:

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