Friday, February 18, 2011

Feeling the Pinch: Earwigs

I found this fine specimen of a male earwig Forficula auricularia under a rotten log today. You can tell it's a male by the curved pincers on the tail - the female's are much straighter. Earwigs can fly and have exquisite fan-shaped wings but they are tightly stowed away under those little wing cases and are very rarely unpacked. When this one suddenly found itself in the daylight its first instinct was to ....

... crawl into a crevice, so that .....

... only those tail pincers protruded, capable of delivering a painful nip - although their other purpose is to clasp the female's pincers during tail-to-tail mating. Somewhere the female would have been hiding away guarding her eggs through the winter and when they hatch in spring she'll continue to guard the young during their early stages of growth - compared with most insects, earwigs are very attentive mothers.

10 comments:

  1. Waw, great pictures!! i never saw that animal..

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  2. Fascinating, I am learning so much from reading your blog.

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  3. Great to see an Earwig again, they used to be as common as ants in gardens here on Sheppey in Kent when I was a boy 50 odd years ago - I don't think I've seen one in the last 30 years since.
    Every dahlia flower used to be full of them, now we just don't see them.
    www.lettersfromsheppey.blogspot.com

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  4. Interesting point about earwigs and dahlias. I've often been told that my grand-father was a very keen gardener and dahlia man. As a child my mother disliked the dahlias as they would always have earwigs in the flower.

    Very good photos as always. Cheers. Brian

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  5. Hi Dejemonos sorprender, it is a very strange insect..

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  6. Hi Derek, they like to get between the petals of chysanthemums too - seems they feel secure if they are wedged in a crevice, defended by those picers

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  7. Funny you should mention that Brian, my mother used to grow dahlias and the earwigs nibbling holes in the petals used to annoy her too. She used to stuff flower pots with straw and perch them on canes, upside down, to catch earwigs..

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  8. First - I am in love with your blog. The topics, the photography, the writing, and the fact that you're educated on what you write about makes this one of the few blogs that I have found as a student studying horticulture and turf grass management that fulfills my formerly insatiable appetite for awesome botany-laden blogs. THANK YOU :)

    Second - earwigs. Wow, I'm glad this little "pest" is getting some press time. I once found one crawling around in my tupperware of turf (Champion GQ perennial rye that I grew for a class project), and it pinched me. My body promptly commenced by breaking into a full body rash. From what I've researched, my body rash was a freak response; earwigs supposedly rarely pinch, and when they do, they just leave a tiny "vampire" styled mark that may get red and swell just a little. But what do I know? I went around for two days with ice bags duct taped to my body. But they're still one of my favorite insects to look at :)

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  9. Hi Hylarie, thanks for visiting and you're kind comments. I've never been nipped by an earwig but after reading your experience I'll make sure it never happens! best wishes, Phil

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