Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
NB: Dermoptera is a mammalian order
Explanation of Names
Dermaptera De Geer 1773
Earwig is from Old English eár-wicga 'ear-crawler' (folklore claims earwigs creep into human ears)
27 spp. in 12 genera of 6 families in our area(1)(2)(3)
, ~1800 spp. in >200 genera of 11 families worldwide(4)
Overview of our faunaincludes commonly intercepted genera • * –taxa not yet in the guide • classification follows(4)
Suborder Neodermaptera (the only extant suborder)
Easily recognized by the pair of large pincers (cerci
) at the tip of the abdomen. Adult males have 10 abdominal tergites
; females, 8. Some are wingless, but in most the forewings are short leathery covers (tegmina
), under which the hind wings (if present) fold in a unique fan-like fashion leaving a chitinized
triangular part exposed.
The pincers' shape is highly species-specific in males (asymmetrical in some groups) but quite uniform in females throughout the order.
Mostly in warm climates; very few range far north
tend to hide in cool, dark places during the day and come out at night; some hide under leaves, rocks and other debris; others, under bark, or, in deserts, inside rotting cactus. Winged species often come to lights
Year-round, but often inactive in cold or dry weather.
Plants, organic matter, other insects (some are almost exclusively carnivorous, and many are important in controlling soil pests).
In later winter or early spring, the female creates a snug chamber in the soil to lay about 50 eggs. She then guards these until they hatch and several days later. The young aggregate through 4-6 molts before appearing above ground for the summer.(6)
metamorphosis simple, antennomeres increasing in number with instar. The mother cares for the eggs and nymphs.
Can have 4-6 larval stages.(7)
Earwigs are harmless to people, though they may emit a foul-smelling liquid when disturbed or use their pincers in defense.
Some species often hide in cargo and are spread by commerce. Most of our species are non-native.
Earwigs can squirt their repellent as far as 4 inches.(6)
Rove beetles (Staphylinidae)
can look similar but never have unsegmented movable pinchers