Flipping My Earwig

Earwigs (Doru taeniatum) are predators of aphids and others

Earwigs (Doru taeniatum) are predators of aphids and others

When I think of earwigs I recall my youth and the creepy crawly insects that were hidden in our somewhat damp basement.  Never did I consider that they could be beneficial in any way.

Of course likely those I encountered in the past were exotics. Earwigs,

“can devastate seedling vegetables or annual flowers and often seriously damage maturing soft fruit or corn silks, they also have a beneficial role in the landscape and have been shown to be important predators of aphids.

Another benefit is that earwigs eliminate decaying organic materials from the environment. They eat algae, fungi, mosses, pollen as well as insects, spiders and mites both dead and live.

Two of the younger members of the clan

Two of the younger members of the clan

This week I discovered a family living in the folds of a Redroot (Lachnanthes caroliniana) leaf.  I was thrilled to discover they are a native variety called the Lined Earwig (Doru taeniatum).  With its bright, shiny pallor that glistens in the sunshine it doesn’t seem creepy to me at all.

Enjoying the sunshine while dancing on the Bidens alba

Enjoying the sunshine while dancing on the Bidens alba

Earwigs are generally nocturnal, although I’ve seen my guys out and about during the day in recent times,  dancing quickly up and down the Bidens alba and grass seedheads.  The genus Doru are important caterpillar predators and have a particular taste for the egg of the velvetbean caterpillar, a pest of pod plants especially soybeans.

Family oriented

Family oriented

Unlike a lot of the insect world, the momma earwigs provide care to their offspring, feeding their nymphs through regurgitation.  They do, however, seem to play favorites.

Still growing up, this one doesn't seem to quite have full wings.

Still growing up, this one doesn’t seem to quite have full wings.

Rumor has it that they fly, but I my bunch didn’t take to the airways.  An earwig’s defense mechanism is to squirt foul smelling liquid or use the pinchers to…well…PINCH! Stand back and keep your fingers away, or just don’t annoy the little buggers.

Tachinid Flies are an enemy of earwigs

Tachinid Flies are an enemy of earwigs

Predators include the Tachinid fly, toads, birds, chickens and ducks.  On a good note, natural enemies of the exotics, include arboreal earwigs (Doru taeniatum). So, I’m welcoming my new little friends!

Out and about in the sunshine eating Bahai grass seedhead (YAY!!!)

Out and about in the sunshine eating Bahai grass seedhead (YAY!!!)

While large populations may damage grass and be a pest if they get inside your home, they are generally harmless preying on more harmful insects.  Just use common sense to keep home areas free from dampness.

So, while earwigs as a family may be a mixed bag, I’d vote for keeping my friendly native genus around.

© 2013, Loret T. Setters. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com If you are reading this at another site, please report that to us

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About Loret T. Setters

Loret is an active member of The Florida Native Plant Society. She writes about wildlife happenings in her native plant garden on a rural acre in Central Florida at the Osceola FL Garden Blah Blah Blog, posts daily at Central Florida Critter of the Day, as well as What Florida Native Plant is Blooming Today. Loret is also  part of the team at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. Follow @PineLilyFNPS for daily updates on conservation and native plants.
"I garden for wildlife ~ the benefit to my senses is merely a bonus"

Comments

  1. I did not know that earwigs eat aphids! I will look upon them more respectably now. I’ve never been afraid of them, although my kids are- despite the fearsome-looking pincers, not one has ever pinched me. But I did think they chewed on my plants. Maybe they were there chewing on the aphids instead!
    Jeane recently posted..forced hiatus

  2. Have always had a fondness for earwigs, maybe because they were so easy for me to catch as a kid.
    Thanks for the good article.

  3. Damon Morris says:

    Thanks so much for your article, Loret. I did not know anything about earwigs. I used to only notice them in our basement but haven’t since we’ve fixed the dampness. Anyway, I’ll try not to harm anything that eats aphids. :-)

  4. Cora Howlett says:

    Thanks, Loret, for your information. I didn’t mind them at all until last spring when I found them hiding out in the tops of my common milkweed plants. And then I noticed some of the Monarch caterpillars were missing. I wondered at the time if the earwigs were the culprits, and quite possibly they were after reading your post. I want to save every Monarch I possibly can and have retrieved them whenever possible to a safehouse and then release them later. Then, later in the summer, the earwigs don’t seem as troublesome. We can’t save everything, but I sure keep trying.

  5. I have seen this insect but can’t remember where…not in this house or garden…but very menacing with those pinchers…good to hear you have a native variety to keep things balanced in your garden Loret.
    Donna Donabella recently posted..Garden’s Eye Journal-August 2013

  6. Here is where I become a “shallow gardener”..Earwigs..blecchh! I rarely meet an insect I don’t like..heh, heh..I guess my distaste comes from their predation on my vegetable seedlings..tho’ I must admit if I plant early enough (on time) I don’t have a problem.. Thanks for the info (aw..they care for their young) and I will try to overcome my prejudice..

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