Have you ever been scared than an earwig will climb through your ear and lay eggs in your brain? If so, you’ve bought into an old wives’ tale. Earwigs aren’t dangerous to humans unless you consider damage to crops or infrastructure. But they are interesting little critters. These are 25 Super Cool Facts About Earwigs You Probably Didn’t Know!
Earwigs are part of the insect order Dermaptera. With about 2,000 species in 12 families, they are one of the smallest insect orders.
They are found on all continents except Antarctica.
They are mostly nocturnal, hiding in small moist crevices during the day.
Earwigs feed on a wide variety of insects and plants. Typically, damage to various crops and plants is blamed on earwigs.
Many earwig species display maternal care, which is uncommon among insects.
The scientific name "dermaptera" is derived from ancient Greek, stemming from the words "derma" meaning "skin" and "ptera" meaning "wings."
The common term "earwig" is derived from Old English "ēare" meaning "ear" and "wicga" meaning "insect."
Entomologists believe the name stems from the fact that an earwig's hind wings are unique among insects.
Also, they resemble a human ear when folded.
More popularly though, it is believed that the name is related to an old wive's tale which claims that earwigs burrow into people's brains through their ears and lay their eggs there.
Luckily, this old wives’ tale is not true. However, there are a few old wives’ tales that do hold quite a bit of truth. Curious? Check out 25 Old Wives’ Tales That Are Actually True.
Scientists, however, have never found evidence of earwigs burrowing into ear canals. There have been anecdotal reports though.
Earwigs are found all over the world, but luckily, there is no evidence they transmit diseases to humans or animals.
Although their pincers are often believed to be dangerous, even the curved pincers of the male cause no harm to humans.
Although they are typically seen as destructive to crops, there is a debate as to whether earwigs can also be beneficial since they eat other invasive species, like aphids.
In rural parts of England, earwigs are called battle-twigs.
It only takes an earwig about 20 to 70 days to become an adult. Talk about growing up quickly!
In some parts of Japan, earwigs are called Chinpo-Basami, which translates to "penis cutter." Entomologists believe this is because they used to be found around old Japanese-style toilets.
North America has about 25 species of earwig; Europe has 45; and Australia has a whopping 60!
The largest species can also be found in Australia. It is appropriately called the Australian giant earwig and can be more than 55 mm (2 in) long!
Although most earwigs have wings and are capable of flight, they are rarely seen flying.
A few earwig species are both wingless and blind.
Earwigs live for about 1 year after hatching.
For protection from predators, some species can squirt foul smelling yellow liquid from their bodies.
Earwig eggs and nymphs are sometimes cannibalized by other earwigs.
"To earwig" is a slang term that means "to eavesdrop."
Images: Featured Image: shutterstock, 25-23. pixabay (public domain), 22. shutterstock, 21. pixabay (public domain), 20. shutterstock, 19. wikimedia commons (public domain), 18. pixabay (public domain), 17. shutterstock, 16-12. pixabay (public domain), 11. shutterstock, 10. wikimedia commons (public domain), 9-7. pixabay (public domain), 6. Piero sagnibene from it, Dermaptera ps1, CC BY-SA 3.0, 5. shutterstock, 4. pixabay (public domain), 3. Assafn, Forficula 2, CC BY 2.5, 2-1. pixabay (public domain)