auricularia; despite its name, this bug does
not infest ears
Adult earwigs are reddish-brown
in color, with dull yellow brown wing covers and
legs. The body is flattened. The elytra (wing
cases) are short and cover the hind wings, which
are rarely spread out. Males can be distinguished
from females by the shape of the pincers, which
are curved on the male and straight on the
female. The pincers of the male also distinguish
this species from other North American species.
As its name implies, the
European earwig is native to most of Europe, but
has also been introduced and firmly established
in North America. It is not known how earwigs got
their common name, but they do not get into the
ears of humans or any other animals except in
rare cases when one may wander into an ear by
accident because it is on the path the animal is
Sexes come together in
September, and stay together until late January.
During this period the pairs can be found in
chambers dug about an inch down into the earth,
where mating takes place. The female lays 20-80
oval, pearly-white eggs over the span of a couple
of days. At first the eggs are scattered about
the floor of the chamber, but once they are all
laid she gathers them into a single pile.
Throughout the 3-4 week incubation period the
only food she has is the occasional egg that has
gone bad. The eggs must be licked by the mother
regularly or they will not hatch.
Hatchlings are essentially
small versions of the adults, but lighter in
color and with smaller, simpler pincers. They
will stay with their mother until their second
moult, and are fully grown by July or August.
European earwigs feed on other
insects, fruit, leaves, flowers and fungi.
Although they are primarily scavengers they have
been seen to capture insect prey.
Habits and Behaviors
The earwig is nocturnal. It
spends its day hidden away in dry upright
crevices or under loose bark, or tucked away
among the petals of dahlias and other flowers.
genus & species Forficula auricularia
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