ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on August 28, 2010
Photo by Patti Adair
Photo by Patti Adair

The earwig is a slender insect of the order Dermaptera, with a pair of forcepslike cerci, or pincers, at the tip of the abdomen. If an earwig is handled, the cerci may grip the skin, but they are not able to pierce it. Possibly the cerci are used to assist in folding the very complicated hind wings, which are semicircular, with supportive veins radiating out in fanlike fashion. When folded, the hind wing is packed way underneath the fore wing, which is reduced to a short, leathery cover. Earwigs rarely fly, perhaps because it is so difficult to stow away the wings. Some wingless earwigs parasitize bats and rats.

It has been suggested that the name "earwig" may be a corruption of "ear wing," a reference to the peculiar type of wing. More commonly, it is believed that the name is derived from the habit attributed to these insects of crawling into the ears of sleeping people. Though now generally discredited as an old superstition, this idea is not without some grounds. Earwigs are nocturnal creatures and spend the day concealed in crevices. They display a reflex orientation (thigmotaxis) to tactile stimuli, or touch, that compels them to squeeze into narrow spaces.

Earwigs have chewing mouthparts and eat either animal or vegetable food. Some forms are predatory and will catch flies and other insects, but earwigs are chiefly scavengers of decaying material. They occasionally feed on living plants and may cause some damage in gardens or greenhouses. A nonpesticide method of control is to clear away plant debris under which the earwigs can hide and then to set up "earwig traps," consisting of flowerpots lightly stuffed with straw, into which the earwigs will crawl at night.

The reproduction of earwigs is of special interest because they practice an elementary form of maternal care. The female lays her eggs in a burrow in the ground and guards them until they hatch, even turning them over from time to time. The young, called nymphs, pass through four to six stages, or instars, before reaching maturity.

There are over 1,000 species of earwigs in the world, 20 of which occur in North America. The native American earwigs, however, are seldom seen. The most familiar European earwig, Forficula auricularia, has been introduced by man into the United States, where it is likely to become a minor horticultural pest as it is in Europe.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)