Overview

Distribution

Geographic Range

Earwigs are found in temperate regions to the tropics and subtropics. Of the approximately 1,800 species that exist worldwide, 28 species are found in the United States, and 6 species are found in the Great Lakes region. Those in the Great Lakes region are introduced from southern areas.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Range length: 4.0 to 25.0 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes shaped differently

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Ecology

Habitat

These nocturnal insects hide in cracks, crevices, under bark, and in debris during the day. If present in sufficient numbers, earwigs can be found hiding almost anywhere in the homes of humans.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Earwigs feed mainly on dead or decaying vegetable matter, and they will feed on living plants. They eat plant leaves, algae, fungi, sprouts and seedlings, flower petals, pollen, and corn silks. A few species are predators, eating other live Insecta and small invertebrates. The earwig will grasp its prey with its cerci, the pinchers at the end of its abdomen, and then bend so that the prey is within reach of its mouth. Earwigs will also scavenge dead insects and small invertebrates.

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Dermapterans are contributors to biodegradation in that they are feeders of decaying organic matter.

Ecosystem Impact: biodegradation

Species Used as Host:

  • bats in southeast Asia
  • South African rodents

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • bats in southeast Asia

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Animal / predator
Dermaptera is predator of Aphididae

Animal / pathogen
Entomophthora forficulae var. major infects adult of Dermaptera

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
larva of Mermis nigrescens endoparasitises body cavity of Dermaptera

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Known predators

Dermaptera (Dermaptera 2 families 2 spp.) is prey of:
Saurothera vieilloti
Eleutherodactylus coqui
Melanerpes portoricensis
Todus mexicanus
Mimocichla plumbea
Margarops fuscatus
Anolis evermanni
Anolis stratulus
Anolis gundlachi
Leptodactylus albilabris
Vireo latimeri
Icterus dominicensis
Vireo altiloquus
Diploglossus pleei
Mniotilta varia
Gonatista grisea
Schizomus

Based on studies in:
Puerto Rico, El Verde (Rainforest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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Known prey organisms

Dermaptera (Dermaptera 2 families 2 spp.) preys on:
live leaves

Based on studies in:
Puerto Rico, El Verde (Rainforest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Development

Metamorphosis is simple with three stages of development. Temperature is important in controlling the rate of development which can range from 20 to 70 days. In the spring, the female will lay eggs. By late summer to early fall, the nymphs are fully grown. Adult earwigs overwinter.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Reproduction

Breeding interval: In temperate regions, there are usually two generations of earwigs produced annually.

Breeding season: spring through fall

Range eggs per season: 20.0 to 50.0.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 20.0 to 70.0 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 20.0 to 70.0 days.

Key Reproductive Features: semelparous ; seasonal breeding ; sexual ; oviparous ; sperm-storing

The female will guard the clusters of eggs until they hatch. In addition, she will care for her brood until the second or third instar stage. After this, the female may cannibalize the young. Young mature after four or five molts.

Parental Investment: female parental care

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:1287
Specimens with Sequences:758
Specimens with Barcodes:695
Species:86
Species With Barcodes:20
Public Records:648
Public Species:9
Public BINs:46
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Barcode data

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Some earwigs may cause damage to flowers and vegetables, ornamental tress and shrubs. They are especially fond of corn. They have even been found in honey in beehives. When their populations increase, earwigs are found in homes, hiding in household items, foodstuffs, and most any other place, much to the disdain of humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Earwigs eliminate decaying organic materials from the environment.

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