Friday, July 23, 2010

Earwigs: Friends or Foes?

I took this photo of an earwig hangin' out on a flower a few days ago while working in the garden. When I was little, I used to be scared of them as I thought they were really creepy.

Despite their scary appearance and reputation, earwigs are not directly harmful to humans. In fact, they are often beneficial, acting as scavengers of decaying matter and predators of insect larvae, slug eggs, aphids, and other garden pests.

Adult earwigs are about 1.5 to 2.0 cm (1/2" to ¾") long and have antennae about half as long. The male has a large, curved pair, while the female has smaller, nearly straight ones. The earwig uses these during courtship and as a defence against attackers. Earwigs have a long, flat body with a tough, shiny, reddish-brown hard outer shell and prominent pincers (or forceps) at the end of their bodies. They do have wings but seldom fly. The female earwig can lay up to two batches of eggs per season and protects the nymphs (young earwigs) for the first two weeks, often chasing the male earwig away.


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