T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Earwig (European) Forficula auricularia

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Dermaptera
Family: Forficulidae
Genus: Forficula
Species: F. auricularia
Scientificl name: Forficula auricularia
Common name: Earwig, European earwig, Hiore kakati

European earwigs like a narrow crevice to hide in during the day such as flowers, fruits, and wood crevices preferring to have contact with the upper and lower surfaces of their body. This is probably how they got their name, when they crawled into the ears of people sleeping on straw beds. They are active primarily at night when they seek out food ranging from plant matter to small insects. Although they rarely fly, they have tightly folded wings which are hidden under hard wing covers. The male forceps (cerci) are very robust and broadened basally with crenulate teeth. The female forceps are about 3 mm long, and are less robust and straighter. The cerci are used during mating, feeding, and self-defence.
European earwigs over winter about 5 mm below the surface of the ground. The female earwig lays a clutch of about 50 to 80 eggs in an underground nest in the autumn. She enters a dormant state and stays in the nest with the eggs. These take about 10 days to 3 months to develop depending on the temperature. The nymph goes through 4 changes over a 40 to 50 day period. The female cares for her young by shifting the eggs about and cleaning them to avoid fungal growth. In the spring, she spreads them out into a single layer and the young emerge from the eggs. She guards them until they reach maturity after about one month. After this the nymphs leave the nest and fend for themselves feeding on small invertebrates like aphids. They resemble the adult but are paler and lack wings.



Adult Forficula auricularia.






Juvenile.