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100 Species #99: earwig


This earwig (almost certainly Forficula auricularia) was on our kitchen floor, looking slightly stepped-on. I picked it up and moved it outside where it could properly reenter the food web.

Earwigs are mostly tropical and subtropical animals, but the cold tolerant European earwig Forficula auricularia can be found just about everywhere. It probably came to New England in soil ballast, but it could have come in the cracks of wooden shipping crates, or in potted plants, or almost any other way. They eat just about anything and can get into tiny crevices. It's fortunate that they seem to prefer to be outside, or else they would be as serious pests as cockroaches. As it is, they come indoors more often in humid places (according to anecdotes that people have told me, and my own experience where I find them in the zoo) and are rarely found in swarm-like numbers.

The European earwig was featured here earlier as 365 urban species #191. Earwigs are no more likely to crawl in your ear as you sleep than any other insect (and less so than some others) but just in case, gag gift outfitters Archie McPhee have provided this product:

(thanks to ndozo for the link)


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 3rd, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
We lived in a house on the west side of Indy that had an earwig problem; when you ran the lawnmower along the side of the house or pounded on the vinyl siding they'd fall out from beneath it in large numbers. That was the most I'd ever seen in one place at once.
Dec. 3rd, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
"I want to live in your ear."

Well, in the drawing, it's kinda cute!
Dec. 4th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
I just discovered a large number of black pellets under my kitchen sink. At first, I was like, "Oh shit. I have a rat. I have six cats in this house and yet I have a rat." I cleaned everything up and then looked a little closer in the dust pan and realized that it wasn't scat, but pupae. I was hoping they were earwigs, as they would look about right for them, but Googling it, I see that earwigs go through incomplete metamorphosis, so they can't be. Hmm....
Dec. 4th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
I encounter that pretty often. Many fly pupae are about the same size and color as mouse droppings. If they are as big as rat droppings they must be pretty big flies.
Dec. 4th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
The weird thing is that I don't have any apparent flies in the house. I have spiders and I let them be. Of course they must be surviving off of something, but usually I only ever find pill bugs in their webs. Sometimes an earwig. I get the occasional silverfish and if my husband buys bananas, sometimes fruit flies. Only rarely do I encounter a cockroach and that is surprising, being that my doors are not very well weather-proofed and I live in the south. I get geckos more often than cockroaches. Oh, and there is an assassin bug currently living on one of my shampoo bottles.
Dec. 4th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
Have you examined them? Are they empty, perhaps evidence of some earlier event?
Dec. 4th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
They are all dead, but some are intact and others are broken and hollow. My camera battery is dead, otherwise I would take a picture. Perfect opportunity to use my new macro lens. Even if it was from a past event, I haven't ever had a problem with large flies. The drought this year has been harsh on all insects and if by chance a fly does get in the house, it is short-lived because of the cats. Still. In spite of my protests, obviously something made it in.
Dec. 4th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, post a pic when you have a chance. The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, if I recall.
Dec. 4th, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
Hahaha! Accept my burden of proof, dammit! While the battery charges, here is an approximate preview: I'm thinking they are maybe moth, rather than fly.
Dec. 5th, 2011 01:57 am (UTC)
Wow, you got me. They look too irregular to be pupae to me. They look like feces, but not from rodents. They could be the leftovers from spiders feeding in the cupboards or something. Weird.
Dec. 5th, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
Oh, that's a good idea. Some of them are encased in a grey cocoon which could be spider web. For sure, these are composed of cuticles. I couldn't really get any satisfactory photos, but here is another shot:
Dec. 5th, 2011 10:32 am (UTC)
They look almost like bat droppings. Some other insectivore possible? Shrews?
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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