by A. L. Antonelli and Stanley C. Hoyt, originally published 1993
Forficula auricularia Linnaeus (Dermaptera: Forficulidae)
The European earwig is chiefly a garden pest but occasionally attacks tree fruits. Adults and nymphs can damage pome and stone fruits. The name earwig comes from an old, unfounded superstition that the pest invades the ears of humans.
Earwigs attack a wide range of plants including vegetables, flowers, tree fruits, berries, ornamental trees and shrubs. At times, they can be scavengers or predators, feeding on decaying vegetation or insects such as aphids.
The egg is small, oval and pearly white.
The young earwig passes through four instars. The immature earwig starts out creamy white but the cuticle soon hardens and darkens in color. It looks like the adult, except it is wingless.
The full-grown earwig is brownish black, about 3/4 inch (2 cm) long and has a pair of forceps-like appendages at the rear. The male has curved forceps and the female’s are straight. It has short, leathery forewings under which are tucked a rear pair of wings that look like tiny fans when open, but it rarely flies. Some species of earwigs have scent glands on their abdomen that release a foul smelling odor, which is probably for defense.