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Earwigs Mating

earwig2 -horizontal175Earwigs are elusive insects, primarily because they are nocturnal and during the day tend to hide in crevices. When we do see them, the first thing often noticed is their cerci, the pair of forceps-like pincers at the tip of their abdomen. These pincers are used primarily to capture prey (earwigs are scavengers for the most part, but some are omnivorous and prey on other insects) and for copulation. Male earwigs have curved pincers, while females have straight ones. After mating in the fall, the male and female earwigs spend much of the winter together, tucked away in a crack or crevice. By the time spring arrives, the male has left and the female has laid her eggs (the sperm stays viable within her for several months), which hatch in about a week’s time. Earwigs are one of few insects that provide maternal care for their eggs and offspring. (Photo is of male earwig eating the outermost tissue of a milkweed pod.)

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5 responses

  1. dellwvt

    Thanks! This has helped me appreciate earwigs a bit more – I must admit that I’m not pleased when I come across an earwig that was hiding out somewhere I wasn’t expecting it. But now I’m wondering if, when there is a small crowd of them, I’m seeing a group of siblings? Can you say more about the “maternal care” a mama earwig provides her offspring? – Dell

    September 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm

  2. Hi Dell,
    Am away from my cmputer for a couple of days. If I forget to get back to you, write me again!

    September 26, 2014 at 4:19 pm

  3. Bob and Inge

    Dear Mary,

    I am so grateful to you for changing my impression of earwigs! I admit to having had a prejudice against them. You changed all that! Can you send me a postal address I could send a contribution to.

    Thank you, Inge

    September 27, 2014 at 12:17 am

    • Hi Inge,

      I am so glad you are now an admirer of earwigs! You are very kind to think of making a donation, but only if you wish! My mailing address is 134 Densmore Hill Road, Windsor, VT 05089. Thank you for your kind words. Mary

      September 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm

  4. Jean Harrison

    I haven’t seen earwigs on milkweed. Do they commonly eat it? They must be immune to the poison. I just tried to look in my “Milkweed Visitors”, but I can’t find it. It may be in Vermont, and I have just returned to California for fall, winter and spring.

    September 29, 2014 at 3:50 am

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