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Common Earwig

The adult Common Earwig Forficula auricularia is 11-16 mm long. Its legs, thorax and wing-cases are yellowish brown, but the head and the abdomen are dark brown. The pincers on the tip of the abdomen are curved in males but almost straight in females. The membranous hind wings are folded tightly underneath the wing cases: these wings are functional but the Common Earwig rarely flies. The nymphs of the Common Earwig resemble the adults, but are (of course) smaller.

Where do they live?
During the day, Common Earwigs hide in dark sheltered places such as under stones, flower pots, logs or loose bark on trees. They can be found by turning over likely stones and pots or by searching in corners of garden sheds. They are active at night, when they can often be seen by examining plants by torchlight on mild evenings.

Where can they be found?
The Common Earwig occurs throughout Europe. It can be found in most gardens in Britain and Ireland.

When can you see them?
Common Earwigs are most often seen between April and October.

Life cycle
There is one generation per year. Common Earwigs mate in the autumn and the female digs a hole in the soil, where she lays 30-50 eggs. Whereas most insects abandon their eggs, female earwigs stay and guard their brood until after the nymphs have hatched in the spring. The nymphs shed their outer skin four times between spring and mid-summer as they grow and develop into adults.

What do they do?
Earwigs are sometimes regarded as garden pests because they eat the young leaves and petals of plants such as clematis, dahlia and chrysanthemum. However, they also feed on small insects, such as greenfly, so they can be beneficial.

What do they do?
Earwigs are sometimes regarded as garden pests because they eat the young leaves and petals of plants such as clematis, dahlia and chrysanthemum. However, they also feed on small insects, such as greenfly, so they can be beneficial.

Photo Credit: © Royal Entomological Society

www.royensoc.co.uk www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk
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Royal Entomological Society

Royal Entomological Society

Providing a forum for the discussion of the conservation of insects in Britain.

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