It all starts in late fall, when a male and a female pair up, and spend the winter together in a pile of leaves, under wood, in bark cracks, in your tool shed, or even an inch or so under the ground. Early spring comes, the female kicks out the male, and she spends a couple days laying up to 80 eggs. Once they hatch, she actually sticks around to take care of them, helping them hatch from their eggs, barfing up breakfast for them--you know, typical maternal stuff--until after their 2nd instar state. Earwigs don't have a larval stage, so they come out as tiny versions of the adult. Each version is called an "instar," and after 5 of them, they're fully-sized and rarin' to go.
Breakfast includes plants, plant leaves, rotted plants, dead animals, and insects smaller than itself. Definitely not a vegan, and the earwig would definitely not give you dirty looks for eating a steak, but they do seem to prefer rotting piles of plant material.
Birds, frogs, lizards, centipedes, and spiders all find the earwig tasty, and are handy to have around the vegetable garden and rose garden.
To date, it has not been documented that an earwig will crawl in your ear and lay eggs to feast on your brains, but perhaps the people who would do the research have already been infected. Or maybe I've been watching too much Dr. Who. As far as we know, the term "earwig" comes from the shape of their unused wing, which, when extended, forms the shape of a human ear. The "wig" part of "earwig" just means insect, so you can throw out the idea that they used to make their homes in British parliamentary wigs. Although that would be cool, it's unsubstantiated and bad science.
Curiously, I once had a customer believe she had accidentally inhaled eggs one fall when gardening, and was quite certain they were coming through her digestive tract and living in her insides. I inquired how that was possible, since they need oxygen to survive, and how they would reproduce in there, but this line of question was overruled entirely, and she later informed her doctor that I had assured her it was possible.
It's a crazy world, and all the crazier for having earwigs in it. Give us a call if you'd rather not have them around your prize roses, living room, or kitchen!