[ stop the slideshow ]

Forficula auricularia Linnaeus, 1758 ♀

Forficula auricularia-F-Hamoir.jpg ThumbnailsThumbnailsThumbnailsThumbnails

Forficula auricularia Linnaeus, 1758 ♀
Common names: Common earwig, European earwig [En], Forficule, Perce-oreille [Fr], Gemeine Ohrwurm [De], Ørentvist [Da], Oorworm [Nl], Tagliaforbici, Tenaglietta [It], Tijereta común [Es]

Hamoir ● Belgium (on a Mava alceae)

Description: Forficula auricularia has an elongated flattened brownish colored body, with a shield-shaped pronotum, two pairs of wings and a pair of forcep-like cerci. They are about 12–15 mm long. The mouth parts are of the chewing type.
The male forceps 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-defense. Although F. auricularia have well-developed wings, they are fairly weak and are rarely, if ever, used.

Harmless insect! Generations of children in Europe or North America are afraid of this harmless insect only because of its (wrong) name! The common name for this insect in at least six European languages incorporates a word for ear. There is an ancient Anglo-Saxon legend that they crawl into the ears of sleeping persons. Entomologists, however, insist that this belief is without foundation. Forficula is even useful for the gardener. And females care of their eggs and nurse their young (rare among insects!).

Biology: European earwigs spend the day time in cool, dark, inaccessible places such as flowers, fruits, and wood crevices. Active primarily at night, they seek out food ranging from plant matter to small insects. Though they are omnivorous, they are considered scavengers rather than predators. European earwigs prefer aphids to plant material such as leaves and fruit slices of apple, cherry and pear.

A male finds prospective mates by olfaction. He then slips his cerci under the tip of the female's abdomen so that his and her ventral abdominal surfaces are in contact with each other, while both face in opposite directions. If not disturbed, pairs can stay in this mating position for many hours.
The female earwig lays a clutch of about 50 eggs in an underground nest in the autumn. 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.

Humans have, however, found beneficial uses of F. auricularia in the pest management of other insects. The European earwig is a natural predator of a number of other agricultural pests, including the pear psyllid and several aphid species, and in this regard has been used to control outbreaks of such organisms.

Distribution: Native to Europe, western Asia and probably North Africa, Forficula auricularia was introduced to North America in the early twentieth century.

Wikipedia, Forficula auricularia
Fisher J.R., 1986. Earwig in the ear., West J Med. 1986 August; 145(2): 245.