Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do Earwigs crawl into your ears and eat your brains?

It's obvious on my daily walks now that winter has us in its grip and the bugs and insects are keeping well hidden or have hibernated until spring.
Today the only thing I found to photograph was a common earwig.

However, look a little closer and despite its name and threatening appearance, the common earwig is a harmless and interesting creature.

Earwigs rest during the day inside damp crevices such as under bark or in hollow plant stems. They are scavengers and emerge at night.
Their pincers can give a small nip to a human but they are normally used to scare away predators and to help them tuck their wings away.
Males and females can be distinguished by their tail pincers, which are more curved in males than females.

 It was once commonly believed that earwigs would burrow into people's ears at night and lay eggs in their brains. In fact the story still circulates as an urban myth. Earwigs are not parasitic and would rather lay their eggs under a stone. The human ear, though about the right size for an earwig, is not an ideal resting place.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Common Earwig (Forficula auricularia )

Photographed using natural light only.


  1. Actually, some earwigs *are* parasitic. More specifically, those of the sub-orders Arixeniina and Hemimerina. However, they are ectoparasites (so their larvae would not be born within another organism) of bats and rodents in parts of Asia and Ethiopia. They also lack the well-developed cerci of the more typical earwigs. But they are parasitic.

  2. Thank-you for this information. I perhaps should have been more precise then? I was given to understand in all the literature I've read that they are not parasitic but you are obviously better informed. The point I was trying to make however was that they would not lay eggs in a human ear etc.I alos THINK I'm right in saying that there are no British parasitic earwigs.

  3. Apologies-that should have read 'also'


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