Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Forficula auricularia
(European earwig)

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Datasheet

Forficula auricularia (European earwig)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Forficula auricularia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • European earwig
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The European earwig, Forficula auricularia, is a polyphagous insect that is native to large parts of Europe and western Asia as far east as western Siberia. In the early twentieth century it was accidentally...

  • Principal Source
  • Draft datasheet under review

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Forficula auricularia (European earwig); adult male. Laboratory specimen. USA.
TitleAdult
CaptionForficula auricularia (European earwig); adult male. Laboratory specimen. USA.
Copyright©Joseph Berger/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Forficula auricularia (European earwig); adult male. Laboratory specimen. USA.
AdultForficula auricularia (European earwig); adult male. Laboratory specimen. USA.©Joseph Berger/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Forficula auricularia (European earwig); adult female. Laboratory specimen. USA.
TitleAdult
CaptionForficula auricularia (European earwig); adult female. Laboratory specimen. USA.
Copyright©Joseph Berger/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Forficula auricularia (European earwig); adult female. Laboratory specimen. USA.
AdultForficula auricularia (European earwig); adult female. Laboratory specimen. USA.©Joseph Berger/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Forficula auricularia Linnaeus, 1758

Preferred Common Name

  • European earwig

Other Scientific Names

  • Forficula bipunctata Petanga, 1789
  • Forficula borealis Leach, 1835
  • Forficula caucasica Kolenati, 1846
  • Forficula forcipata Stephens, 1835
  • Forficula infumata Megerla, 1825
  • Forficula major De Geer, 1773
  • Forficula media Marsham, 1802
  • Forficula neglecta Marsham, 1802
  • Forficula parallela Fabricius, 1775

International Common Names

  • English: common earwig; earwig, common; earwig, European
  • Spanish: forficula; punza-orejas; tijereta europea
  • French: forficule commune; perce forficule; perce-oreille; perce-oreille européen; pince-oreille

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: alm. ørentvist; almindelig ørentvist
  • Finland: iso pithihäntä
  • Germany: Ohrenhöhler; Ohrenkneifer; Ohrwurm; Ohrwurm, Gemeiner
  • Italy: Forbicina; Forfecchia
  • Netherlands: Oorworm
  • Norway: Ørentvist; tvistjært; vanlig saksedyr
  • Portugal: bicha-cadela; bicha-tesoura
  • Sweden: vanlig tvestjärt

EPPO code

  • FORFAU (Forficula auricularia)

Summary of Invasiveness

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The European earwig, Forficula auricularia, is a polyphagous insect that is native to large parts of Europe and western Asia as far east as western Siberia. In the early twentieth century it was accidentally introduced into North America where it became widespread in a number of states/provinces of both the USA and Canada. It has also invaded Australia and New Zealand, and more recently Mexico, Chile and the Falkland Islands. Although economic damage to vegetable and flower gardens is generally minor, when high population densities occur it is a major pest in gardens and greenhouses, and a significant nuisance in households. Within and sometimes also outside its native range it is also regarded as a beneficial organism used or encouraged as a biological control agent to control other insect pests in orchards and gardens.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Dermaptera
  •                         Family: Forficulidae
  •                             Genus: Forficula
  •                                 Species: Forficula auricularia

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The taxon Forficula auricularia seems to contain two as yet unrecognized sibling species (Wirth et al., 1998; Guillet et al. 2000). Implications for habitat preferences, invasiveness and management are currently unknown.

Description

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Detailed descriptions and illustrations of F. auricularia are provided by Crumb et al. (1941), Behura (1956), and Lamb and Wellington (1975).

Eggs

The egg is white, sometimes tinged yellowish, and of elliptical to oval shape. It measures 1.13 mm in length and 0.85 mm in width when deposited, but increases in size before hatching (Crumb et al., 1941; Capinera, 2013). Clusters of up to 60 eggs are deposited inside a nest structure built by the parents just below the soil surface.

Nymphal Stages

There is some confusion concerning the correct number of nymphal stages. Although literature often cites four stages, there are in fact five -- the larva changes into the second stage soon after hatching (Herter, 1965; Günther and Herter, 1974). Nymphal stages resemble adult earwigs in shape but have reduced wings and cerci. Wing pads are only developed in the fourth instar. The body colour darkens, gradually changing from a pale greyish brown in the first instar to a darker brown in the last (Capinera, 2013). The legs are pale throughout, initially translucent and then becoming tinged with brown (Crumb et al., 1941).

The first instar has 8 antennal segments (Herter, 1965). Measurements provided by Crumb et al. (1941) for the corrected number of subsequent instars are:

2nd instar: body length 4.2 mm; width of head 0.91 mm; number of antennal segments 8.

3rd instar: body length 6.0 mm; width of head 1.14 mm; number of antennal segments 10.

4th instar: body length 9.0 mm; width of head 1.5 mm; number of antennal segments 11.

5th instar: body length 9-11 mm; width of head 1.9 mm; number of antennal segments 12.

Adult Stage

F. auricularia range in size between 13-16 mm but can be shorter when they have developed under adverse conditions. They are dark reddish-brown in colour (Crumb et al., 1941; Capinera, 2013). The head is of a brighter reddish colour compared to the rest of the body and the legs are pale yellow-brown. The shape, similar to many other earwig species, resembles superficially that of a rove beetle (Staphylinidae) with the wings folded underneath short wing covers leaving only the wingtips visible. F. auricularia exhibits gender polymorphism with the shape and size of the forceps (the pincers at the rear of the body) differing between males and females. The forceps of females are straight and parallel, slightly curved towards the apical tip. In males the forceps are broadly curved in the distal half and display a prominent tooth in the middle. There are two forms of forceps in the male, one being shorter and enclosing a subcircular apical space, and one longer enclosing a more elongate space (Crumb et al., 1941). The form with shorter forceps is usually much more common and widespread (Crumb et al, 1941). Crumb et al. (1941) and Oschmann (1969) cite the number of antennal segments as 14, and Herter (1965) as 13. According to Harz and Kaltenbach (1976) adults can have either 13 or 14 antennal segments.

Distribution

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The native range of F. auricularia covers almost all of Europe with the exception of the northernmost parts of Scandinavia (Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre and GBIF-Norway, 2015). The most northwesterly records are from Iceland but it is not clear whether this country has been colonized naturally or whether earwigs were brought there through human activities (IINH, 2015). There are also records from a number of North African countries. To the east F. auricularia reaches as far as western Siberia and towards the south-east its range stretches as far as Syria and Iran (Steinmann, 1993). However, only the northern parts of the Caucasus are colonized (Steinmann, 1993).

The taxon of F. auricularia may include two sibling species with a divergent distribution in Europe. Whereas one of the species involved seems to inhabit northern parts of Europe and mountainous regions further south, in contrast the second taxon inhabits plains and areas of low altitude throughout Southern Europe (Wirth et al., 1998).

F. auricularia is invasive and widespread throughout temperate regions of North America, although there are comparably few published records concerning its presence in individual states or provinces; Dave’s Garden (2015) and Insectidentification.org (2016) list states and provinces from which it has been reported in addition to those in the Distribution table.

The species is also invasive in and parts of Australia and New Zealand. It is also currently present in Mexico, Chile and the Falkland Islands. Old records exist for Central and Eastern Africa (Steinmann, 1993) but it is not clear how widespread F. auricularia is in this region or whether it is native or introduced.

In some countries and states, no recent reports of the presence of the species could be found in the scientific literature, but this does not necessarily mean that it is no longer present.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

Georgia (Republic of)PresentNative Not invasive Steinmann, 1993
IranPresentNativebefore 1936 Not invasive Steinmann, 1993
IsraelPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
KazakhstanPresentNativebefore 1936 Not invasive Steinmann, 1993
SyriaPresentNativebefore 1936 Not invasive Steinmann, 1993
TurkeyPresentNativebefore 1936 Not invasive Steinmann, 1993

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNative Not invasive Kuhlmann, 1991
CameroonAbsent, unreliable recordbefore 1973Steinmann, 1993
LibyaPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
MadagascarAbsent, unreliable recordbefore 1973Steinmann, 1993
MoroccoPresentNative Not invasive Pavón-Gozalo et al., 2011
South AfricaPresentIntroducedEvans, 1952
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentbefore 1900Steinmann, 1993
TanzaniaPresentbefore 1973Steinmann, 1993
TunisiaPresentNativebefore 1911 Not invasive Steinmann, 1993
UgandaPresentManyuli et al., 2008

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlbertaPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Treherne, 1923; Chant and McLeod, 1952
-ManitobaPresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroducedbefore 1951 Invasive McLeod, 1962
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedbefore 1989 Invasive Kuhlmann et al., 2001; Weems and Skelley, 2010
-OntarioPresentIntroduced1938 Invasive Smith, 1940; Evans, 1952
-QuebecPresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-SaskatchewanPresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-Yukon TerritoryPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
MexicoPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced2010 Invasive Pavón-Gozalo et al., 2011Lagunas de Zempoala National Park; Guadalupe
USAPresentIntroduced1940s or earlier Invasive Crumb et al., 1941; Spencer, 1947
-ArizonaPresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced1923 Invasive Langston and Powell, 1975; Capinera, 2013
-ColoradoPresentIntroduced1950s Invasive Cranshaw, 2010
-ConnecticutPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
-DelawarePresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
-FloridaPresentIntroducedbefore 1989 Not invasive Weems and Skelley, 1989
-IdahoPresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-MainePresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-MarylandPresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedbefore 1971 Invasive Steinmann, 1993
-MichiganPresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-MontanaPresentIntroducedWeems and Skelley, 2010
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedWeems and Skelley, 2010
-NevadaPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
-New HampshirePresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-New YorkPresentIntroduced1912 Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010
-North CarolinaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedWeems and Skelley, 2010
-OhioPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedWeems and Skelley, 2010
-OregonPresentIntroduced1909 Invasive Spencer, 1945; Guillet et al., 2000
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Weems and Skelley, 2010; Jacobs, 2013
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Jones, 1917; Steinmann, 1993
-South CarolinaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1983Hoffman, 1987
-UtahPresentIntroduced1900s Invasive Alston and Tebeau, 2011
-WashingtonPresentIntroduced Invasive Jones, 1917; Coyne, 1928
-WisconsinPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedWeems and Skelley, 2010

South America

ChilePresentIntroduced Invasive Devotto et al., 2014
Falkland IslandsLocalisedIntroducedbefore 1997 Invasive Maczey et al., 2016Port Stanley

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNative Not invasive Muranyi, 2013
AustriaPresentNative Not invasive Strenger, 1950; Ebner, 1951
BelgiumPresentNative Not invasive Moerkens et al., 2010
BulgariaPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
CyprusPresentAnlas and Kocárek, 2012
Czech RepublicPresentDvorák and Tet'ál, 2013
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
DenmarkPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
Faroe IslandsPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
FinlandPresentNative Not invasive Harz and Kaltenbach, 1976
Former USSRPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957In almost all the European part of the country and parts of western Asia
FrancePresentMalagnoux et al., 2015
-CorsicaPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
GermanyPresentNative Not invasive Panzer, 1793-1813; Huth et al., 2009
GibraltarPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
GreecePresentNative Not invasive Ramel and Haas, 2015
HungaryPresentNativebefore 1974 Not invasive Steinmann, 1993
IcelandPresentNativebefore 1938 Not invasive Tuxen, 1938; IINH, 2015
IrelandPresentNative Not invasive Good, 1982
ItalyPresentMaccolini, 2015
MacedoniaPresentNative Not invasive Muranyi, 2013
MoldovaPresentGoncharenko, 1971
NetherlandsPresentAalbers, 2008
NorwayWidespreadNative Not invasive Aagaard, 1972; Harz and Kaltenbach, 1976; Norwegian and Biodiversity Information Centre & GBIF-Norway, 2015
PolandPresentChmielewski, 2010
PortugalPresentNative Not invasive Pavón-Gozalo et al., 2011
-AzoresPresentbefore 1969Steinmann, 1993
-MadeiraPresentbefore 1775Steinmann, 1993
RomaniaPresentHerea et al., 2011
Russian FederationPresentNativebefore 1936 Not invasive Steinmann, 1993
-Central RussiaPresentNativebefore 1936 Not invasive Crumb et al., 1941; Steinmann, 1993
-Western SiberiaPresentNativebefore 1936 Not invasive Steinmann, 1993
SpainPresentNative Not invasive Pavón-Gozalo et al., 2011; Romeu-Dalmau et al., 2012
-Balearic IslandsPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
SwedenPresentBorish, 1989
SwitzerlandPresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957
UKWidespreadNative Not invasive NBN Gateway, 2015
Yugoslavia (former)PresentCommonwealth Institute of Entomology, 1957

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced1850s Invasive Department and of Agriculture and Food, Govt. of Western Australia, 2015
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced1930s Invasive Atlas of Living Australia, 2015; Cotsaris et al., 2015
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced1980s Invasive Cotsaris et al., 2015
-TasmaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Evans, 1952
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Invasive Atlas of Living Australia, 2015
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced1990 Invasive Department and of Agriculture and Food, Govt. of Western Australia, 2015
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive Tillyard, 1925; Tillyard, 1926; Hincks, 1949

History of Introduction and Spread

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Records from New South Wales, Australia, during the 1850s mark the earliest human-mediated introductions of F. auricularia.

At the beginning of the twentieth century earwigs were introduced to North America, where they colonized large parts of the Pacific coast, the northeast of the USA and eastern provinces of Canada. Subsequently, the species has spread to most if not all states of the USA (Insectidentification.org, 2016), but there are comparably few published records concerning its presence in individual states. There are indications that the current distribution in North America is the result of a succession of separate introductions (Guillet et al., 2000). In arid regions of North America the species seems to be restricted to irrigated areas and synanthropic habitats, and may often not have fully established (Lamb, 1975; Weems and Skelley, 1989).

New Zealand was colonized by the 1920s, possibly earlier (Tillyard, 1925).

More recent records are from Mexico, Chile and the Falkland Islands (Pavón-Gozalo et al., 2011; Devotto et al., 2014; Maczey et al., 2016). In Chile earwigs have rapidly become an invasive pest in agriculture, and are currently spreading currently from the Southern tip northwards. They also are a significant nuisance pest in Punta Arenas in the south. In the Falkland Islands the species has become a particularly abundant nuisance pest in settlements.

Risk of Introduction

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Although there are few confirmed records, the most likely means of introduction is accidental transport with building material, flowers, vegetables or other types of nursery stock (e.g. Evans, 1952). Weems and Skelley (1989) list interception in Florida from bundles of plants and shrubbery, cut flowers and florists’ equipment. A recent introduction to the Falkland Islands coincides with the import of large quantities of building material shipped by boat from Europe. Earwigs are nocturnal and tend to hide in small crevices in and under plant material, stones and wood. As nymphs and adults they can withstand a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels and can survive long periods without access to food. As a result, long distance transport via shipping or inside trucks and containers can easily facilitate the spread of this species. In contrast, natural spread is limited because F. auricularia tend not to fly, or to fly only over short distances (Weems and Skelley, 1989). A recapture experiment in a Belgian orchard showed a maximum dispersal of 30 m within one month (Moerkens et al., 2010). As in the native range F. auricularia, is used as a biological control agent in fruit production in its introduced range (Maher and Logan, 2007; He et al., 2008; Manyuli et al., 2008; Shaw and Wallis, 2010; Logan et al., 2011). There are, however, no records of deliberate introductions for this purpose.

Habitat

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Although habitats of earwigs in a natural landscape are most likely grasslands, forest edges, glades etc., in agricultural landscapes F. auricularia has become closely associated with human-influenced habitats and structures. High abundances occur particularly in crop fields and urbanized areas.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Natural
Buildings Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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F. auricularia is extremely polyphagous and has been reported to cause damage on a wide range of crops, in particular vegetables, flowers and stone fruits. Damage is mainly caused by external feeding of late instars and adults. Vegetables are mostly affected by external feeding externally on leaves, stems and stalks, and sometimes by penetrating the inside of crops such as cabbages and cauliflowers or feeding on seedlings and young plants (Frank, 1896; Lind et al., 1914, Lind et al., 1916; Crumb et al., 1941; Baker, 2009; Weems and Skelley, 2010; Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015). In addition a wide variety of fruits can be affected by earwigs, with damage to stone fruits such as cherries, nectarines, peaches and apricots being more prevalent compared to apples and pears (Theobald, 1896; Tillyard, 1925; Crumb et al., 1941; Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015).

In vineyards damage is caused by feeding on tender leaves, shoots and fruits (Huth et al. 2009; Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015). The biggest problem with F. auricularia in vineyards is, however, their presence in harvested berries and the risk of tainting wine (Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015).

The species can cause significant damage to flower production with dahlias, pinks, carnations, sweet William, zinnias and roses most frequently cited (Crumb et al., 1941; Weems and Skelley, 2010). Hops can be affected by feeding on tender leaves and shoots (Theobald, 1896). Among staple crops, damage has been reported from potatoes and corn (Frank, 1896; Coyne, 1928; Hearle, 1929; Eckstein, 1931; Weems and Skelley, 2010).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

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F. auricularia is a polyphagous generalist feeding on a wide range of crops, particularly fruits, vegetables and flowers. Most of the damage observed is caused by external feeding, resulting in partially destroyed or shredded plant parts. Feeding on tender plant parts often results in underdeveloped or malformed crops. On hops, earwigs have been observed to feed on young tender leaves (Theobald 1896). In corn (Zea mays) they feed on tender kernels but greater damage is caused by feeding on the silks, which leads to underdeveloped grains (Crumb et al., 1941). Sugar beets and mangels are damaged by feeding on both the roots and leaves (Lind et al., 1914, Lind et al., 1916). Cabbage varieties such as Savoy or cauliflower are prone to be affected by earwigs through direct feeding on the leaves, tunneling into the cabbage heads, and hiding and feeding inside. Other crops reported to be affected are peas, beans and tomatoes (Capinera, 2013). Occasionally, defoliation of potato plants takes place (Frank, 1896). Serious damage to seedlings is reported from cabbage, carrot and cucumber (Crumb et al., 1941). In flower production earwigs cause damage by feeding on various parts of the plants. Seedlings and flower buds are particularly affected, resulting in deformed blossoms (Crumb et al., 1941). There have been reports of earwigs damaging flowers of fruit trees such as plums (Theobald, 1896). In New Zealand, earwigs have been of economic concern by eating into peaches, nectarines and apricots rendering them useless for sale and in Chile damage to ripening cherries is problematic (Tillyard, 1925; Devotto et al., 2014). In Australia cherries are particularly affected; earwigs either eat directly into ripe fruits or damage the stalks of ripening cherries (Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015. Damage to ripe apples and pears is sometimes reported (Capinera, 2013).

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / abnormal shape
Fruit / external feeding
Fruit / frass visible
Growing point / frass visible
Inflorescence / external feeding
Leaves / external feeding
Leaves / frass visible
Leaves / shredding
Stems / external feeding
Vegetative organs / external feeding
Vegetative organs / frass visible
Whole plant / external feeding
Whole plant / frass visible
Whole plant / unusual odour

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The taxon Forficula auricularia seems to contain two sibling species (Wirth et al., 1998; Guillet et al., 2000). The molecular divergence between the two species has been assessed for a 627-bp amplified fragment overlapping the COI and COII mitochondrial loci. Sequence data for the 626-bp fragment from this study has been deposited under the GENBANK accession numbers AF015226-AF015241 (Wirth et al., 1998). No hybridization between the sibling species has been observed.

Reproductive Biology

In Europe, adults start to mate in autumn. A polygamous phase in September/October is followed by a monogamous phase starting in November when females and males pair up and retreat into small cavities prepared below the soil surface for overwintering (Weyrauch, 1929; Herter, 1965). From November onwards the female deposits on average 40 eggs (max. 60 eggs) into the cavity (Crumb et al., 1941; Behura, 1956). The number of eggs is positively correlated with the weight of the female (Lamb and Wellington, 1975). After the eggs are deposited males are expelled from the nest by the females (Crumb et al., 1941; Beier, 1959). The number of egg clutches is given for Northern Germany as one, for Scotland as two to three and for England as two (Behura, 1956; Buxton and Madge, 1974). Duration of the egg stage under field conditions has been measured in British Columbia (Canada) at between 56-85 days (Crumb et al., 1941). The development of eggs is dependent on the care provided by the guarding female (Lamb, 1976).  Depending on climatic conditions, in north-west Europe first instars appear in April to May. First and second instars are still guarded by the female (Lamb, 1976).  Second and third instars inhabit moist and humid places on the ground but fourth and fifth larval stages prefer elevated and dry places (Herter, 1967; Lamb, 1976). Development times for the different stages under field conditions in British Columbia are recorded as 18-24 days (2nd instar), 14-21 days (3rd instar), 15-20 days (4th instar), and 21 days (5th instar) (Crumb et al., 1941).

Physiology and Phenology

Earwigs are generally resistant to cold temperatures, particularly cold winters. In Europe, F. auricularia can survive average minimum temperatures in December to February of -12°C to -13°C (Beier, 1959). Prior to an outbreak of earwigs in Moscow in 1920, temperatures had dropped to a mean of -10°C between December and February (Crumb et al., 1941). Outbreak years in Europe and the USA are frequently preceded by warmer and drier summers rather than milder winters. Warmer and drier summers will particularly affect survival rates of eggs and young nymphs (Crumb et al., 1941). F. auricularia is sensitive to low humidity and at 25-30% relative humidity earwigs survive only between three and six days (Crumb et al., 1941). Nymphs in particular are susceptible to cold and wet conditions owing to fungal diseases such as that caused by Zoophthora forficulae Giard (also known as Entomophthora forficulae) (Crumb et al., 1941). Earwigs are very resistant to drowning in cold water -- although they are killed very quickly in water at a temperature of 43°C they survive up to 52 hours of complete submergence at 10°C (Crumb et al., 1941).

Last instars and adults build large aggregations caused by a positive thigmotaxis and facilitated by a species-specific aggregation pheromone (Günther and Herter, 1974; Gasch et al., 2013). The specific smell of earwigs may have some importance as a defence mechanism, but also plays a role as an attractant for parasitoids (Maczey et al., 2016).

Longevity

The average life expectancy of F. auricularia in north-west Europe is 17-18 months, of which 7-8 months are spent at the adult stage (Günther and Herter, 1974).

Activity Patterns

F. auricularia hibernates as an adult but does not become fully dormant, and remains active to some extent (Soszynska-Maj and Jaskula, 2013). In particular, extensive activity during winter has been observed at higher temperatures in greenhouse environments, where earwigs sometimes build nests and hatch first instars at this time of year (N. Maczey, CABI, UK, personal observation). In Europe, last instars and adults move from the ground into elevated positions in scrub, hedges and trees during late spring/early summer and then back into soil habitats during autumn.

Population Size and Structure

In areas where F. auricularia has been introduced, new colonies tend to build up very high population levels, leading occasionally to extreme multiplication of the insects unknown in their native range (Wirth et al., 1998). Consequent competition for food and shelter is reported to be followed by gradual decline (Weems and Skelley, 2010). The lack of outbreaks of this nature within the native range is possibly related to interactions with natural enemies. 

Nutrition

F. auricularia is polyphagous and omnivorous. Dissections have revealed that the majority of individuals contain more ingested plant material, such as algae, fungi, moss, lichens, pollen, parts of flowers, shoots, mature fruits and grasses, compared to food from animal sources (Günther and Herter, 1974). Animal food includes insects, spiders, mites and Protozoa (Crumb et al., 1941). Ingested insects are dominated by aphids (McLeod and Chant, 1952; Buxton and Madge, 1976a,b; Müller et al., 1988).

Environmental Requirements

With an average minimum temperature in January of -2.2°C and a maximum of +18°C in July in combination with a minimum monthly precipitation of 32 mm in February and a maximum of 73 mm for July and August, north-west Europe is considered to provide optimal conditions for F. auricularia (Beier, 1959; Günther and Herter, 1974). At an average temperature above 24°C the species becomes notably scarcer (Crumb et al., 1941). Annual precipitation should be above 500mm and optimal humidity is 70-90% (Crumb et al., 1941; Heerdt, 1946). Tropical areas are most likely only permanently inhabited at higher altitudes (Herter, 1967). In Central Europe F. auricularia has been reported up to 2000m altitude, and it reaches 64° northern latitude in Norway (Harz and Kaltenbach, 1976; Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre and GBIF-Norway, 2015). During summer, aggregation takes place primarily at dry and warm sites (Lamb, 1976).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Preferred Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Tolerated Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Preferred Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
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Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Gregarina ovata Parasite
Mermis Parasite
Metarhizium anisopliae Pathogen
Ocytata pallipes Parasite Adults/Nymphs Falkland Islands; USA vegetables; health & safety; conservation of natural habitats
Triarthria setipennis Parasite Adults/Nymphs Canada; New Zealand; USA; Falkland Islands stone fruits, vegetables; health & safety; conservation of natural habitats
Zoophthora forficulae Pathogen

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The main parasitoids of F. auricularia in large parts of Europe are two tachinid flies (Tachinidae), Ocytata pallipes (Fallén) and Triarthria setipennis (Fallén), both of which are widespread throughout Europe (Thompson, 1928; Kuhlmann, 1991). A third species, Phryxe nemea (Meig.), cited in the literature (Emden, 1954; Phillips, 1983) has been dismissed as a wrong host association (Kuhlmann, 1991).  The more common parasitoid T. setipennis (previously placed in the Digonochaeta or Bigonichaeta), is ovolarviparous and produces eggs from which larvae emerge immediately after oviposition. The larvae actively try to find and climb onto nymphs or adult earwigs and enter through intersegmental skin. O. pallipes (previously placed in Rhacodineura), which in many situations is less abundant, is microoviparous and produces microtype eggs that are deposited on host food plants. After ingestion by the host, the eggs hatch in the gut and first-instar larvae penetrate the haemocoel (Kuhlmann et al., 2001).

Details of the biology of T. setipennis and O. pallipes are provided by Thompson (1928), Mote et al. (1931), and Kuhlmann (1994, 1995).

Nematodes of the genus Mermis frequently parasitise F. auricularia (Kuhlmann, 1991).  In British Columbia, specimens bred from F. auricularia were identified as either M. nigrescens or M. subnigrescens (Crumb et al., 1941). In Canada parasitization rates by Mermis varied from 11 to 63% (Wilson, 1971), which is much higher than rates observed in Europe of below 2% (Möller, 1983; Kuhlmann, 1991).  F. auricularia may also be a potential host for the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae (Hodson et al., 2011).

The entomopathogenic fungus Zoophthora forficulae (Giard) (also known as Entomophthora forficulae) is present in earwig populations in both Europe and North America (Crumb et al., 1941; Ben-Ze'ev, 1986). During wet and cold conditions this species can cause a high mortality rate, particularly when infecting the more susceptible nymphs (Crumb et al., 1941). Another entomopathogenic fungus recorded from F. auricularia is Metarhizium anisopliae (Crumb et al., 1941).

The protozoan Gregarina ovata (Dufour) is a widespread parasite of F. auricularia.  A second species, G. forficulae, has recently been recognized as a junior synonym of G. ovata (Clopton et al., 2008). On average 60% of earwigs carry these protozoa but impact is only reported after heavy individual infestation (Ball et al., 1986).

Little information is available on how much effect these natural enemies have on earwig populations.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

F. auricularia is able to fly but rarely does so, and is also not inclined to travel extensively by crawling (Crumb et al., 1941; Weems and Skelley, 1989). A recapture experiment in a Belgian orchard showed a maximum dispersal of 30 m within one month (Moerkens et al., 2010), with similar distances observed in a similar experiment in British Columbia (Crumb et al., 1941). However, earwigs may easily be passively transported along river systems and during floods as they are resistant to drowning in cold water (Crumb et al., 1941). Frozen ground seems to inhibit dispersal (Popham, 1959).

Accidental Introduction

The most likely means of introduction is accidental transport with building material, bulk goods, flowers, vegetables or other types of nursery stock. Weems and Skelley (1989) list interception in Florida from bundles of plants and shrubbery, cut flowers and florists’ equipment. Earwigs are nocturnal and tend to hide in small crevices in and under plant material, stones and wood (or in hollow stems -- Harvey et al., 2016). As nymphs and adults they withstand a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels and can survive long periods without access to food, so long distance transport via shipping or inside trucks and containers can easily facilitate the spread of this species. Females can deposit fertile eggs several months after mating (Crumb et al., 1941), and it is therefore feasible that new colonies can be founded by single females.

Intentional Introduction

As in its native range, F. auricularia is also used as a biological control agent in fruit production in its introduced range (Maher and Logan, 2007; He et al., 2008; Shaw and Wallis, 2010; Logan et al., 2011). However, there are no records of deliberate introductions for this purpose.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionaccidental Yes Yes Crumb et al., 1941; Weems and Skelley, 2010
Cut flower tradeaccidental Yes Yes Weems and Skelley, 2010
HitchhikerMost important pathway for this species; nymphs and adults Yes Yes Crumb et al., 1941
Horticultureaccidental; nymphs and adults Yes Yes
Landscape improvementaccidental; nymphs and adults Yes Yes
Military movementsaccidental; nymphs and adults Yes Yes
Nursery tradeaccidental; nymphs and adults Yes Yes Crumb et al., 1941; Weems and Skelley, 2010

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Bulk freight or cargoProbably most frequent and important pathway for this species; nymphs and adults Yes Yes Crumb et al., 1941
Containers and packaging - woodFrequent and important pathway for this species; nymphs and adults Yes Yes
Floating vegetation and debris Yes
Mulch, straw, baskets and sodfrequent and important pathway for this species; nymphs and adults Yes Yes
Plants or parts of plantsfrequent and important pathway for this species; nymphs and adults Yes Yes
Ship structures above the water linefrequent and important pathway for this species; nymphs and adults Yes Yes
Soil, sand and gravelfrequent and important pathway for this species; nymphs and adults Yes Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bark adults; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx adults; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Fruits (inc. pods) adults; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Growing medium accompanying plants adults; nymphs Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Wood adults; nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Leaves
Roots
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
True seeds (inc. grain)

Wood Packaging

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Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transportTimber typeUsed as packing
Loose wood packing material Yes
Processed or treated wood Yes
Solid wood packing material with bark Yes
Solid wood packing material without bark Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Negative

Economic Impact

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Negative impacts of F. auricularia occur predominantly on intensively managed agricultural land and in gardens and greenhouses, in vegetable and fruit production and horticultural production of flowers. It is extremely polyphagous and has been reported to cause damage on a wide range of crops, in particular vegetables, flowers and stone fruits. Damage is mainly caused by external (and sometimes internal) feeding of late instars and adults on leaves, stems, stalks, shoots and fruits. For more information see the ‘Hosts/Species Affected’ section.

There is still an ongoing debate whether the beneficial impacts of the species as a biological control agent in some crops outweigh the costs that it causes as a pest in others. It seems that within its native range it is mostly regarded as beneficial overall, although damage can become more prominent than benefits above certain thresholds (Huth et al., 2009). In its introduced range it is generally more often considered to have negative economic impacts than in Europe.

For the USA, a country where F. auricularia is invasive, Crumb et al. (1941) point out the difficulty in balancing benefit and damage soon after initial colonization. It can become problematic during post-harvest processes and when hiding in large numbers in harvested cauliflowers or inside strawberry punnets, as well as damaging balled shrubs and trees during shipment. Very occasionally F. auricularia invades beehives and feeds on honey. However, this seems to affect mostly run-down bee colonies, indicating that the species is of little importance to beekeepers (Crumb et al., 1941).

It is only relative recently that more research has begun to assess and quantify the impacts in individual crop situations (Carroll et al., 1985; Helsen et al., 2004; Cross, 2012; Romeu-Dalmau et al., 2012). F. auricularia has been rated as one of the six most important structural pests in California (Ebeling, 1978). Again, thresholds determine the levels of damage caused. 30 earwigs per square metre are sufficient to cause damage to established canola crops at the 8 to 12 leaf stage (Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015). Although the significance of the species as a pest in various crops such as flowers, fruit and vegetables has been described frequently (Tillyard, 1925; Lamb, 1974; Flint, 2002; Cranshaw, 2010; Umina, 2014), there is little information available on the magnitude of the damage caused. In some cases it has only recently increased in status as agricultural crop pest (Baker, 2009; Umina, 2014).

Markham and Smith (1949) report the transmission of the turnip yellow-mosaic virus to crucifers under laboratory conditions.

F. auricularia can cause problems in vineyards when its presence in harvested berries results in the tainting of wine (Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015).

Environmental Impact

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Few studies have assessed the phenology of occurrence and spread of F. auricularia within its introduced range (e.g. Zack et al, 2010), and it is not known to what degree it can impact on the composition of the native fauna and habitats and to what degree it might alter ecosystem services. Equally, no scientific studies have been conducted assessing its impact on biodiversity levels or whether it poses a threat to individual native or endemic species.

Social Impact

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In most areas where earwigs have been introduced and become invasive they have developed into significant nuisance household pests (Fulton, 1924; Dimick and Mote, 1934; Stene, 1934; Vickery and Kevan, 1986; Flint, 2002; Maczey et al. 2016). In some cases invasion of buildings in residential areas has also lead to health and safety issues. For example earwigs have repeatedly been found hiding in asthma inhalers or inside the sealing of oxygen masks in hospital (Maczey et al., 2016). In the past the presence of earwigs could impact on the value of properties (Gibson and Glendenning, 1925).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
Impact outcomes
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
Impact mechanisms
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Economic Value

F. auricularia has considerable economic value as an agent for the biological control of insect pests, in particular aphids and scale insects in pipfruit such as apples and pears (Blommers, 1994; Gobin et al., 2008). For this reason fruit growers and gardeners in Europe have widely adopted measures to encourage the presence of earwigs by providing hiding places and restrict the use of pesticides harmful to this species. Equally, the benefits as a biological control agent are increasingly exploited in the introduced range (Nicholas et al., 2005; Maher and Logan, 2007; He et al., 2008; Shaw and Wallis, 2011).

Environmental Services

As a biological control agent for agricultural insect pests, F. auricularia can have a significant positive impact on sustainable agriculture by reducing pest numbers.

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Biological control

Detection and Inspection

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F. auricularia is primarily a nocturnal species, hiding during daytime in dark places, where it tends to aggregate. Its presence in the agricultural environment can easily be established by looking under loose bark, stones, pots, wooden boards etc., or by providing artificial hiding places such as upturned flower pots filled with straw or cardboard. Using corrugated cardboard rolls or bands on trunks of trees or grapevines is an easy way to detect earwigs in orchards and vineyards. They can be easily seen on crop edges and on trees and vines when active and feeding at night (Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015).

Despite the considerable size of last instars and adults detection is difficult in shipments. With vegetables, a sample will need to be cut open in order to reveal any hiding earwigs. Sometimes submergence of fruits and vegetables (e.g. cauliflowers) in cold water will drive earwigs out. Frequently they hide in the cores of apples and pears, in which case their presence can often be detected through frass and some external damage around the remnants of the calyx through which they usually enter the inside..

It is also difficult to detect contamination with earwigs in bulk loads, timber and balled up or potted plants.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The taxon Forficula auricularia seems to contain two as yet unrecognized sibling species (Wirth et al., 1998; Guillet et al. 2000). Currently, these species can only be separated through molecular assessment, and not morphologically. One of the taxa involved tends to be single-brooded whereas the second one usually produces two clutches per year. Both taxa overlap geographically in Europe and also in North America (Wirth et al., 1998; Guillet et al. 2000).

Apart from the sibling species, the most similar species in the native range are the smaller Forficula lesnei and Labia minor.

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

SPS measures

There are no prevention measures in place specifically targeting the accidental introduction of F. auricularia. However, a range of already widely established SPS measures such as certification of plant material and the fumigation of shipments undoubtedly helps to reduce the frequency of accidental introduction. Farmers can minimise the risk of introduction by ensuring that all machinery, vehicles and equipment arriving on their property have been cleaned. Seed and plant material should be checked for live insects before being transported to the farm. Where F. auricularia has become established on properties the above steps will minimise the risk of further spreading of this pest (Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015).

Eradication

Eradication of established populations has not been attempted as yet.

Containment/zoning

As yet containment of spreading populations has not been attempted.

Control

Cultural control and sanitary measures

Earwigs can be found in large numbers under boards, in tree holes, under decaying bark, or wherever it is moist and dark. The first step to controlling them is to eliminate these and other breeding and nesting places. Homeowners should remove decaying vegetable matter around the home, such as piles of leaves or grass clippings. They should also repair poorly placed rain downspouts and broken irrigation systems, which contribute to moist, dark areas that are attractive to nesting females (Jacobs, 2013).

In gardens and on farms European earwig populations may be effectively reduced by using grooved-board traps set in shrubbery, in hedges, and around trees. These traps should be emptied daily or twice each week by shaking the earwigs into a can containing a small amount of oil (Jacobs, 2013).

The mechanisms of aggregation driven by a specific pheromone may also provide opportunities for population control in future pest management (Evans and Longepe, 1996).

Physical/mechanical control

In North America, an integrated approach to control F. auricularia around houses involves the physical removal of insects by vacuuming, harbourage removal, pest proofing of buildings and trapping (Cooper, 1997; Kuhlmann et al., 2001).

Romeu-Dalmau et al. (2016) found that a number of earwig species overwintered in the soil of a Mediterannean citrus grove and could be controlled by tillage if control was necessary, but that F. auricularia was not present and presumably wintered elsewhere, meaning that it could not be controlled in this way.

It is notable that grain harvested at night is more likely to contain earwigs (Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015).

Biological control

The tachinid flies Triarthria setipennis and Ocytata pallipes are the two main parasitoids of F. auricularia in its native range. T. setipennis is generally the more abundant species, causing significantly higher infection rates. However, O. pallipes sometimes can exert high rates of parasitism; it seems to be better adapted to coastal climates and may in regions with maritime climates be equally suited for the control of F. auricularia (Phillips, 1983; Kuhlmann et al., 2001). Both species have been released repeatedly into the USA, Canada and New Zealand (Atwell, 1927; Davies, 1927; Crumb et al, 1941; Evans, 1952; Kuhlmann et al., 2001). Only T. setipennis is known to have established and spread to large areas of the USA and Canada (Dimick and Mote, 1934; McLeod, 1954; O’Hara, 1996; Kuhlmann et al., 2001).

An intensive breeding and release program of T. setipennis originating from the Mediterranean region started in 1924 and lasted until the 1930s in Portland, Oregon, where it became well established (Dimick and Mote, 1934; Spencer, 1945). Since then, it has also established in Washington, California, Idaho, Utah, New Hampshire and Massachusetts (O’Hara, 1996). It was also released in Connecticut and Rhode Island but has not been recovered there (O’Hara, 1994).

In Canada, releases of T. setipennis were made in British Columbia (1934–1939), Ontario (1930–1941) and Newfoundland (1951–1953) using flies originating from Oregon (Getzendaner, 1937; McLeod, 1962).  The species established in British Columbia and Newfoundland but did not reach high population densities (Mote, 1931; Dimick and Mote, 1934; Spencer, 1947), possibly due to poor adaptation to local climatic conditions (Kuhlmann et al., 2001). Additional releases of the species collected from climatically better matching sites in Switzerland, Germany and Sweden were made in the 1960s. New introductions into Newfoundland were followed by an average increase in parasitism (Morris, 1971, 1984; Morry et al., 1988), but in Nova Scotia, no establishment of T. setipennis could be confirmed (Kuhlmann et al., 2001). Five additional attempts were made in the 1980s to establish T. setipennis in the Ottawa area but it is not known whether it has established (Kuhlmann et al., 2001).  The early studies on the establishment of T. setipennis in Newfoundland indicated a considerable reduction in earwig numbers, which was most probably due to high levels of parasitism in the mid-1970s (Morris, 1984; Kuhlmann et al., 2001). Since 1978, no further evaluation of parasitoid impact has been undertaken (Kuhlmann et al., 2001).

During the 1930s, some O. pallipes adults were released but only established temporarily in Oregon (Mote, 1931; Clausen, 1978). Pupariae of this species were also shipped to New Zealand for release there but whether the fly became established is not known (Davies, 1927; Evans, 1952). T. setipennis and O. pallipes have also been assessed for their suitability and safety to control F. auricularia on the Falkland Islands and both species are part of an on-going release programme (Maczey et al., 2016).

Details of the biology of T. setipennis and O. pallipes are provided by Thompson (1928), Mote et al. (1931), and Kuhlmann (1994, 1995).

Apart from the above-mentioned studies in Newfoundland, little information is available on how much effect these natural enemies have on earwig populations.

Chemical control

Within the agricultural environment chemical sprays are widely ineffective against F. auricularia because of its widespread occurrence and great mobility (Santini and Caroli, 1992; Kuhlmann et al. 2001). Therefore control options in broadacre crops are limited and currently there are no insecticides registered for specific use against the species in this situation. In the native range chemical control is not frequently applied, but it is more often used in the introduced range where the species can become a significant nuisance pest in and around buildings.

In parts of Australia insecticidal sprays are registered for use against F. auricularia in horticultural crops including grapes and stonefruit (Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015). Here baits are also registered for use in these crops, and are considered more effective than most spray applications. A strategic use of bait application for in deciduous crops with a known earwig problem consists of bait application during a rainless period in late winter before the breeding cycle commences. Even when earwigs are feeding within the canopy, baits can still be effective (Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, 2015).

In North America, control is mostly done by perimeter spraying (Kuhlmann et al., 2001), which aims to provide a barrier over which earwigs will not cross. Chemicals in use in North America are deltamethrin, fipronil, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, sumithrin or tralomethrin, which need be applied to the areas most frequented by earwigs, including building foundations, areas along fences and walks, around trees and utility poles, and around wood piles and rocks (Jacobs, 2013). The recommended timing for outdoor perimeter spraying in the USA is early summer (Jacobs, 2013).

In the Falkland Islands perimeter spraying relies mainly on lambda-cyhalothrin, a synthetic pyrethroid. Here, spraying takes place all year round; often, individual buildings need treatment twice annually, with peak times in summer (January/February) and autumn (March/April) when the lower temperature seems to drive earwigs into buildings for hibernation.

Preformulated cockroach baits were tested against F. auricularia in the form of bait stations, producing useful levels of mortality after 3–10 weeks (Snell and Robinson, 1989). Bait traps used in spring mostly trapped adult males; therefore this method is ineffective in reducing the spring population (Lamb and Wellington, 1975; Kuhlmann et al. 2001).

IPM

IPM practices seem to be well suited to control damage caused by earwigs while still benefiting from their capacity as biological control agents for other insect pests. Some research has begun to look more closely into this (Evans and Longpepe, 1996; Huth et al., 2009).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Significant gaps in knowledge still exist with regard to:

  • Presence and invasiveness of F. auricularia in large parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America
  • Magnitude of economic costs caused by F. auricularia
  • Cost-benefit analysis in individual crops under specific crop management systems
  • Potential of using F. auricularia in IPM setups including integrated control of the species itself
  • Impact of F. auricularia on habitats, biodiversity and ecosystem services in its introduced range
  • Establishment and impact of natural enemies used for the control of F. auricularia
  • Host specificity of Triarthria setipennis and Ocytata pallipes, the major control agents for F. auricularia

References

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Chant DA; McLeod JH, 1952. Effects of certain climactic factors on the daily abundance of the European earwig, Forficula auricularia L. (Dermaptera: Forficulidae), in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canadian Entomologist, 84(6):174-80.

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EPPO Global Databasehttp://gd.eppo.int
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

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11/12/2015 Original text by:

Norbert Maczey, CABI, UK

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