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Earwigs

Earwigs make up the insect order Dermaptera, found throughout the AmericasAfricaEurasiaAustralia and New Zealand. With about 2,000 species in 12 families, they are one of the smaller insect orders. Earwigs have characteristic cerci, a pair of forceps pincers on their abdomen, and membranous wings folded underneath short forewings, hence the scientific order name, "skin wings." Some groups are tiny parasites on mammals and lack the typical pincers. Earwigs rarely use their flying ability.

Earwigs are nocturnal; they often hide in small, moist crevices during the day, and are active at night, feeding on a wide variety of insects and plants. Damage to foliage, flowers, and various crops is commonly blamed on earwigs, especially the common earwig Forficula auricularia.

Earwigs have five molts in the year before they become adults. Many earwig species display maternal care, which is uncommon among insects. Female earwigs may care for their eggs, and even after they have hatched as nymphs will continue to watch over offspring until their second molt. As the nymphs molt, sexual dimorphism such as differences in pincer shapes begins to show.

Earwig are hemimetabolous, meaning they undergo incomplete metamorphosis, developing through a series of 4 to 6 molts. The developmental stages between molts are called instars. Earwigs live for about a year from hatching. They start mating in the autumn, and can be found together in the autumn and winter. The male and female will live in a chamber in debris, crevices, or soil 2.5 mm deep. After mating, the sperm may remain in the female for months before the eggs are fertilized. From midwinter to early spring, the male will leave, or be driven out by the female. Afterward the female will begin to lay 20 to 80 pearly white eggs in 2 days. Some earwigs, those parasitic in the suborders Arixeniina and Hemimerina, are viviparous (give birth to live young); they would be fed by a sort ofplacenta. When first laid, the eggs are white or cream-colored and oval-shaped, but right before hatching they become kidney-shaped and brown. Each egg is approximately 1 mm (0.04 in) tall and 0.8 mm (0.03 in) wide.

Most earwigs are nocturnal and inhabit small crevices, living in small amounts of debris, in various forms such as bark and fallen logs. Species have been found to be blind and living in caves, or cavernicolous; reported to be found on the island of Hawaii and in South Africa. Food typically consist of a wide array of living and dead plant and animal matter. For protection from predators, the species Doru taeniatum of earwigs can squirt foul-smelling yellow liquid in the form of jets from scent glands on the dorsal side of the third and fourth abdominal segment. It aims the discharges by revolving the abdomen, a maneuver that enables it simultaneously to use its pincers in defense.

Contact Knott's today for solutions to your earwig infestation!

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