The forficula commonly known as the earwig is found in most gardens. It is inoffensive and is helpful to the gardener as it feeds on ravaging insects like greenflies.
The earwig is an insect which is a member of the Forficulidae family, which belongs to the dermaptera order. There are about 20 species of this insect in France, the Forficula auricularia being the most well- known. It measures between 1 and 2 cms. long, and can be recognized by its two cerci which form a kind of pinchers at the end of its abdomen. It varies in colour from dark to light brown.
The earwig’s diet is very varied. It feeds on vegatation nearing the decomposition stage, like very ripe fruit, and on ravaging insects like greenflies and the psylla bug, which damages apple trees.
Generally considered as a useful insect for the gardener, the earwigs hides away from light. During the day it hides in cracks in the soil, under dead woodbark or under flowerpots. At night, it goes hunting.
It couples during the summer. The female digs a tunnel in which it lays its eggs, generally around 30, at the beginning of autumn. It licks its eggs continuously until they hatch in order to protect them from the surrounding humidity. When the larvae hatch, the female continues to look after them until their fourth and final transformation.
Most males die during the winter, whereas the females survive. The young adults come out of their tunnel around the month of June. They are smaller than the adults and don’t have wings. During a wet summer, they tend to proliferate throughout the garden.
Even though they are generally helpful to the gardener, too many of them can cause damage, especially to fruit with stones, like peaches, prunes and apricots. In the event of an invasion, earwig traps can be placed on fruit trees. These traps consist of overturned flowerpots filled with straw. These pots can afterwards be placed beside plants infested with greenfly and psyllae so that the earwigs can devour them to their hearts delight !
Did you know ?
The origin of this forficula’s nickname is unknown, but it is thought that it comes from the fact that it is often found at the centre of very ripe stoned fruit. As segments of apricots and peaches are called “oreilles” -“ears” in French- the name “earwig” has stuck.