Earwig, line drawing.
- Andrew Howells
- © Australian Museum
Earwigs belong to the Order Dermaptera.
What do earwigs look like?
- 5 mm - 50 mm in length.
- Column-like or vaguely tear-drop shaped.
- Flattened as if pressed from above.
- Thread-like, never longer than body.
- Large and well separated or very small to absent.
- For chewing or munching.
- Held in front at rest.
- Two pairs if present.
- Forewing hardened, cloudy and without veins; rectangular shaped and so short the abdomen is uncovered.
- Hindwing membranous, and partially see-through; larger than forewing and folds like a hand fan.
- At rest the wings are held flat to body, meeting at midline, with hindwing hidden.
- Six legs, slender.
- Tarsi (toes) with three segments.
- Two hardened tails modified as forceps.
Where are earwigs found?
- Amongst leaf litter, under bark and rocks, and within crevices or rotting logs.
What do earwigs do?
- They are usually found alone or at most in small numbers.
- When disturbed they run away, in search of cover; they rarely fly.
- They are weak fliers, usually flying for short bursts.
- They feed on decaying plant or animal debris; some will also feed on live plant material and capture live insect prey.
- Most are active during the night.
What looks similar?
- Diplurans (Order Diplura) can be distinguished from earwigs by a lack of eyes, paired ventral appendages under all or most of the abdominal segments and tarsi (toes) with only one segment.
- Rove beetles have small forewings, with large folded and functional wings underneath, but unlike earwigs they lack fully developed forceps.