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  • European Earwig - (Forficula auricularia)

    European Earwig - (Forficula auricularia)

    The exotic European Earwig has made North America its new home, comfortably living in a variety of habitats from coast to coast.

    Staff Writer (7/23/2014): Contrary to popular belief, earwigs do not typically crawl into human ears to make nests or lay eggs. They also do not bite or pinch people on the ear. In fact, bug literature about earwigs states that they are harmless to people. It is believed that the name for this insect was intended to be "earwing" because of the shape of the wing, but somehow the 'n' was dropped and a mythology about the insect was created.

    Testimonies of those who have been bitten or pinched exist, but their pincers are not intended for use against humans. Their pincers designed for use in defense against other earwigs (males fighting for females) as well as against predators in self-defense. The pincers also help the earwig fold its wings to close them.

    They do have wings, but rarely fly. Adults of this species tend hide under objects by day, and sometimes in clusters. Lifting rocks, logs and BBQ grill covers may reveal a group of them. They can crawl into small spaces like outdoor garage door openers and outlets, startling the unsuspecting human that opens the lids.

    They are considered somewhat beneficial in gardens because they eat aphids. However, if insect prey is scarce, they may eat the roots of planted flowers (in containers as well as in ground). They will also nibble on the flower blossoms of fruits and vegetables, making the produce inedible. In such a case, they become pests. Their population numbers swelled so rapidly in Portland, Oregon back in 1924 that the city declared a state of emergency. The European Earwig was decimating its crop and fruit tree harvest and measures were taken to eradicate them from the area. These days, they are not likely to pose such a threat and are mostly contained in backyards.

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    Details of the:
    European Earwig

    Category: Earwig
    Common name: European Earwig
    Scientific Name: Forficula auricularia
    Other Names: Earwig

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Dermaptera
          Family: Forficulidae
           Genus: Forficula
            Species: auricularia

    Size (Adult, Length): 9mm to 17mm (0.35in to 0.67in)

    Identifying Colors: brown; yellow; red; orange

    Additional Descriptors: pincers, long, skinny, segmented

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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