Forficula Auricularia

Categories Family, Niger


The common earwig. Harmless quirky insect, or fearsome foe?

The earwig is thought to have received its humourous name from an old wives’ tale about the small insect burrowing deep into human brains through the ear canal. Supposedly their purpose was to seek out a quiet spot to lay their eggs. Although earwigs are not generally known to hide out in the ears of humans, this has certainly happened at least once.

Earwigs do not seem fussy about what kind of small quiet space they squeeze themselves into. An ear canal could be just as good as a toothbrush holder, a fold in a shower curtain, or a straw of a drink bottle.

As you may have guessed, earwig season has arrived! This is the fun time of year when everyone in Galmi engages in battle with tiny black and brown creatures. New hip-hop style dances are invented to brush the earwigs off limbs. Various poisons are sprayed and distributed in vast quantities around houses. Everyone has a theory about how to beat them, but no one has an iron clad defensive system.

Certain earwigs seem more suicidal than most – including the ones that line the rim of the kettle, waiting for the jets of steam to toast their antennae. Presumably these have migrated from Scandinavian countries and miss their saunas. Other earwigs creep into the spring-loaded tap of the water cooler, positioning themselves accurately so that after one fills a glass and releases the tap they fall into the glass neatly bisected in half. Others cluster around the drain hole of the shower, waiting for the morning tsunami to wash them down to a watery death. Still others sneak into the freezer, possibly in an attempt to cryogenically freeze themselves in order to annoy future generations.

Given this self destructive earwig behaviour, one might be led to imagine that they are easy to eradicate. Yet despite their stupidity, earwigs still prevail. They turn up in every possible location – dropping on to the sterile field during surgery, spurting out of the tap when getting a drink, loitering between folds of toilet paper, seeking electrocution in power points, getting baked inside a loaf of bread, and snuggling under the armpits of children at night.

An earwig contemplating its fate

It is no surprise then that the main defense against these loathsome brutes is named after that fearsome fighter portrayed by Sylvester Stallone – Rambo. We’ve been sprinkling this white powder in lines of defence around the house. The earwigs happily snort it recreationally, then continue to make their way inside the house. After a few aimless wanderings searching for a dark corner they fall down dead, ready to be swept up into great piles the next day.

From experience we know that earwig season only lasts a few weeks. Suddenly they will all vanish. But do not be reassured – the earwigs are still there, hibernating in great clumps in the least expected spots. Last year a large population took up residence in our empty suitcases, and despite our best efforts to remove them we brought back six earwigs into Australia. One was pounced on by a diligent customs worker, who then made us unpack EVERY item from our bags. The other five wandered off and were last seen heading towards Canberra to ask Peter Dutton for asylum.

So blame us for the earwig plague that will no doubt spread through the land Down Under in years to come. But at least if you have read this far you will be prepared with 10 bottles of Rambo powder in one hand and a broom in the other.

Andy is a GP obstetrician living in remote Northern Territory, Australia. He is totally outnumbered by girls in his family - one wife, 3 daughters, 2 chooks.

3 thoughts on “Forficula Auricularia

  1. How does Rambo go in the ear canal? Haven’t seen earwigs in Darwin or Nhulunbuy yet but I guess there’s time. What are the predators of earwigs? Apart from Rambos.

  2. Most eloquent story of a possible invader.I wonder what God had in mind when He created this little bug…certainly keeping folk on their toes !

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