Species of the Month: August 2015


Common Earwig: Forficula auricularia


The Common Earwig is one of our best-loved insects, and its scientific name has one of the finest rings to it: Forficula auricularia. However, it is seriously under-recorded with under 1000 records in the SEBWReC area, and we hope you can help us redress that imbalance this month. Common Earwigs are omnivorous opportunists and so can be encountered anywhere. They have bodies the colour of shiny conkers, beige wing cases and reddish heads. Adult Common Earwigs are 10–15 mm long.

There are two other species of earwig in Wales, Lesne’s Earwig and the Lesser Earwig, but they are both significantly smaller and less likely to be seen. This image shows the comparative sizes of the three species. The Lesser Earwig (4–6 mm) has a dark head and relatively long wing cases. It is associated with compost heaps and other warm places with rotting vegetable matter. Lesne’s Earwig (6–7 mm) lives in vegetation, is completely wingless and the pincers of the male close to form a perfect O. More information about the ID features of earwig species and how to survey for them is in this pdf article (about the earwigs of Devon & Cornwall, but still applicable in Wales!). All species of earwig are under-recorded, so do keep your eyes out for any earwigs at all. We are happy to help with ID from photos or specimens if needed.

More information on the Common Earwig is available from the Orthoptera and Allied Insects website.

This map in the Data Access Tool shows the distribution of the Common Earwig at a 10km square level for the whole of Wales. Zoom in or click on a 10km square to see the 1km square record distribution.

If you spot a Common Earwig during August (or see the species at any other time of year), please send us the record, ideally via our Species of the Month form on SEWBReCORD (nb. you will need to be signed into SEWBReCORD to use this link). Instructions on how to submit records are available here.