The Earwig: An Intriguing Insect

Size: Adults can reach up to 2 cm in length.
Color: Adult earwigs are typically reddish-brown.


Earwigs, with their distinctive appearance and nocturnal habits, are defined by the striking forceps at their rear. These intriguing insects, known for their slender bodies and agile movements, display a notable sexual dimorphism: males boast elegantly curved forceps, adding a touch of menace to their silhouette, while females exhibit a more subdued, nearly straight pair. Beyond their formidable appearance, earwigs play a crucial role in ecosystems, scavenging on decaying matter and occasionally predating on smaller insects. Their adaptability to various environments underscores their evolutionary success, making them a captivating subject of study and observation in the natural world.

Pest Profile Earwig

The Colonizing Crowd

Earwigs belong to the insect order Dermaptera, encompassing around 2,000 species across 12 families, making it one of the smaller insect orders. They can easily be identified by their cerci, forceps-like pincers on their abdomens that protrude like forceps from their surface, and foldable membranous wings that protect rare forewing use – something which lends the order its scientific name “skin wings.” Certain earwig species, particularly parasitic ones found on mammals, lack the characteristic pincers. Earwigs are present on every continent except Antarctica.

Earwigs, which tend to be nocturnal creatures, typically seek shelter during the day in small and moist crevices before emerging at night to feed on various insects and plants – often damaging foliage, flowers, and crops as they feed off of Forficula auricularia (Forficula Auricularia).

Earwigs undergo five molts before reaching adulthood. Notably, many species exhibit maternal care, a rarity among insects. Female earwigs tend to their eggs and continue to protect the nymphs even after they hatch, up until their second molt. As the nymphs grow, sexual dimorphism becomes apparent, particularly in the shape of their pincers.

Fossil records show that some earwig specimens belong to the extinct suborders Archidermaptera and Eodermaptera, dating back to the Late Triassic and Middle Jurassic periods, respectively. Dermaptera, studied by Get ‘Em Out Wildlife Control, is classified under the major grouping Polyneoptera, with their closest living relatives being the angel insects of the order Zoraptera.

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