Dermaptera - The Earwigs
The Earwigs are ancient ancestors of the Orthoptera. They first appear in the fossil record during the Jurassic, about 208 million years ago. They are easily recognized by their abdominal pincers, which are actually single-segment creci. While they are not dangerous, large specimens can give a good pinch with their cerci and are also able to use them to capture prey. The ordinal name, Dermaptera, comes from the Greek words for "skin-wing", indicating the short, leathery fore wings (tegmina) which conceal the delicate, semi-circular wings used for flight. Some species are wingless and have evolved to become parasites on the bodies of bats and giant South African pouched rats. However, most are associated with soil or plants, feeding omnivorously. Females contruct underground nesting chambers where they lay their eggs. They exhibit remarkable parental care and will guard the eggs and hatchlings until they can fend for themselves. The earwigs body form, slender and elongate, allows it to fit into small crevices. Its love of tight spaces has given rise to the common name “earwig”, based on the notion of them nesting in a humans’ ear (and boring into the brain, to be sure). We feel the need to dispel the urban myths and let you know that you are not in danger of having them nest in your ears. Many insects like to hide in tight spots and do occasional wind up in people' ears (this is a common occurrence with cockroaches). The earwigs preference for tight spots has invariable led to it being removed from the auditory canals of humans on occasion, especially where humanity lives in squalor. Earwigs are common in the temperate zones of the world and very abundant in the tropics. They are hemimetabolous (exhibiting incomplete metamorphosis), with wingless nymphs that resemble the adults. There are about 1,200 described species.