Earwigs (Order: Dermaptera)

A photograph of a male earwig (_Forficula auricularia_).

Male earwigs have curved pincers at the end of their abdomens and females have straight. This photograph is of a male Forficula auricularia

Most people are familiar with earwigs. Their liking of moist crevices and rotting vegetation often brings them into contact with humans! Gardeners tend not to like them due to their fondness for nibbling at flowers such as Dahlias. However, they are omnivorous and eat many pest species. So, on balance, they are often beneficial for gardeners.

Earwigs are a small group of insects. They are mainly tropical and Britain is at the northern extreme of their range, hence the paucity of species.

It is very uncommon for Earwigs to actually enter the ear, though they do investigate any crevice.

Main characteristics of Earwigs


The commonest species in Britain is the Common Earwig (Forficula auricularia). It is about 10-15mm long and found almost everywhere.

Other species tend to be rarer, but the Lesser Earwig (Labia minor) is worth looking for. It is small (6-7mm) and seems to like horse manure heaps!

Related links: Earwigs (Order: Dermaptera)

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