Earwigs make up the order Dermaptera, with about 2,000 species. Earwigs have characteristic pair of forcep-like cerci on their abdomen, and membranous wings folded underneath short, rarely used forewings.

Most earwigs are scavengers, but some are omnivorous or predatory. Some earwigs are tiny parasites on mammals and lack the distinctive pincers like cerci. The forceps are used for a variety of purposes, and in predatory species they have been observed using these forceps to hold prey, and also in copulation.

Earwigs can be found on all continents except Antarctica. In colder climates few earwigs survive winter outdoors and most of them seek shelter in tight crevices in woodland, fields and gardens, manoeuvring tight crevices using their flexible and muscular abdomen. 25 out of about 2,000 species occur in North America, 45 in Europe (including 7 in Great Britain), and 60 in Australia.

Earwigs are mostly nocturnal and often hide in small, moist crevices during the day, and are active at night, feeding on a wide variety of insects and plants.

Earwigs moult five times within a year before they become adults. Many earwig species display maternal care, which is uncommon among insects. Female earwigs may care for their eggs, and even watch over their nymphs till their second moult. As the nymphs moult, sexual dimorph features such as differences in forceps shapes appear, with the forceps tending to be more curved in males than in females.

There is no evidence that earwigs transmit diseases to humans or other animals. Though their pincers are thought to be dangerous, in reality, even the curved pincers of males cause no harm to humans. Though what their namesake suggests, earwigs have rarely been known to crawl into the ears of humans,and do not lay eggs inside the human body.

There is a debate whether earwigs are harmful or beneficial to crops. They are beneficial in that they feed on insects such as aphids that are harmful to crops. Though they eat crop foliage, it would take a considerable population to cause any impact on the crop.

Source: Wikipedia

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