Order: Dermaptera (earwigs)
> Eukaryotes >
Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa
> Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Phylum:
Arthopoda > Mandibulata >
Atelocerata > Panhexapoda >
> Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota >
Metapterygota > Neoptera > Polyneoptera > Anartioptera
Earwigs are easily identified by the pincers they have at the end of the abdomen which
are used for capturing and holding prey, for protecting themselves and for helping to fold
the hindwings. They could be mistaken for some diplurans which
also have pincers but diplurans are eyeless whereas earwigs have large prominent compound
eyes. In winged species of earwigs, the hind pair of wings is membranous (Dermaptera =
'skin-winged') and folded under the forewings which are short, leathery and not used for
Earwigs are mainly nocturnal and by day live in secluded places such as under rocks, in
leaf litter and under bark. Most species are omnivorous feeding on dead or living plant
and animal matter. Some are active predators and a few are herbivorous. A suborder of
earwigs called the Hemimerina are parasitic on vertebrates.
Eggs are usually laid in batches in a burrow underground and females care for the eggs
and the young nymphs. Nymphs pass through four to five moults before reaching adulthood.
Skaife, S.H. 1979. African Insect Life. Struik, Cape Town, pp. 64-65.