Medical And Economic Importance

Earwigs are harmless to humans: they carry no known pathogens of humans, and their mouthparts are incapable of biting humans (although some species can pinch).

Some genera (e.g., Forfícula, Labidura, Euborellia) are repeatedly reported as a pest of homes, gardens, and orchards. Their thigmotactic nature, coupled with (known and suspected) aggregation pheromones, can lead to high densities of earwigs in and around homes. In gardens, earwigs may attack seedlings and soft fruit. Management in backyard gardens can be accomplished by persistent trapping in bamboo tubes, rolled-up newspaper, or low-sided cans filled with vegetable oil. Removing refuge sites, such as ivy and piles of leaves, is also helpful.

Some species are also of importance to commercial agriculture, being pests of ginger, maize, and of honey bee colonies. However, earwigs are also regarded as valuable biocontrol agents for crop pests, consuming armyworms, aphids (of various types), mites, scale insects, sugarcane rootstock borers, and tropical corn borers. Several dermapteran species are found in commercial egg houses and have potential as biocontrol agents for fly eggs and larvae.

See Also the Following Articles

Cave Insects • Juvenile Hormone • Orthoptera

Further Reading

Burr, M. (1911). "Genera Insectorum" (P. Wytsman, ed.), pp. 1—112. L.

Desmet-Verteneuil, Bruxelles. Crumb, S. E., Eide, P. M., and Bonn, A. E. (1941). The European earwig.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin 766. DeGeer, C. (1773). "Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire des insectes," Vol. 3. Hesselberg, Stockholm. Lucas, W. J. (transl.) (1920). "A Monograph of the British Orthoptera." The Ray Society, London. Giles, E. T. (1963). The comparative external morphology and affinities of the Dermaptera. Trans R. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 115, 95—164.

Popham, E. J. (1963). The geographical distribution of the Dermaptera.

Entomologist June, 131—144. Popham, E. J. (1965). The functional morphology of the reproductive organs of the common earwig (Forficula auricularia) and other Dermaptera with reference to the natural classification of the order. J. Zool. 146, 1—43.

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