Dermaptera (Earwigs)

There are about 90 species of earwig found in Australia.  Earwigs are mainly nocturnal and live in damp places in cracks or amongst debris. They can be attracted to light at night. Not many species are known to fly anything other than a short distance.  Earwigs are probably best recognised by the pair of forceps at the end of their abdomen.  These forceps are used to capture prey, defend themselves and to help fold the wings back under the tegmina and as part of reproduction. Adult males never have less than nine apparent abdominal tergites, where as the females never have more than eight. (The visible number of tergites in nymphs are similar to the adult males but the forceps are more cerci-like or similar to the forceps of the adult females.) Eggs are mainly laid in short burrows under debris.  These hatch into nymphs that are then cared for by the female until they have completed one or two moults.  There may be four or five mouths before the nymphs reach the adult form.

Direct family links A-Z
Anisolabidae Apachyidae Chelisochidae Forficulidae  Labiduridae  Pygidicranidae. Spongiphoridae

Quick Visual Finder
 – visit sections for snapshots of all respective documented families.

Family Apachyidae
(Currently empty)

Family Chelisochidae
(Currently empty)

Family Forficulidae
Forficula auricularia     

Family Labiduridae

Family Pygidicranidae
(Currently empty)


Bormans, A. de & Krauss, H. A. 1900. Forficulidae und Hemimeridae. Das Tierreich 11: 1-142.

Burr, M. 1905. Notes on the Forficularia. IX. On new species, with synonymic notes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 7 14: 486-496.

Burr, M. 1908. Notes on the Forficularia. X. A revision of the Nesogasterinae. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 8 1: 42-47.

Burr, M. 1911. Dermaptera. In Wystman, P. (ed.). Genera Insectorum 122: 1–112.

Haas, F. 2006 (updated from Cassis, G. 1998). Order Dermaptera. Australian Faunal Directory. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. Viewed 20 April 2014.

Hudson, L. 1973. A systematic revision of the New Zealand Dermaptera. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 3: 219-254.

Kirby, W. F. 1891. A revision of the Forficulidae, with descriptions of new species in the British Museum. Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 23: 502-531.

Kirby, W. F. 1903. Notes on Forficulidae, with descriptions of new species in the collection of the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 7 11: 60-68.

Rentz, D. C. F. & Kevan, D. K. McE. 1991. ‘Dermaptera (Earwigs)’, in The Insects of Australia Volume I. 2nd edn. Brown Prior Anderson Pty Ltd, Burwood, Victoria.

Steinmann, H. 1993. Dermaptera. Eudermaptera II. Das Tierreich 108: xxii 1-711.

Tillyard, R. J. 1926. The Insects of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Angus & Robertson xi 560 pp. 43 pls.