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What Do Earwigs Do With Those Pincers Anyway? | Deep Look

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Channel: Deep Look
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science  
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Earwigs are equipped with some pretty imposing pincers on their rear, and they're not afraid to use them. But when it comes to these appendages, size isn't everything.

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DEEP LOOK is a ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.

Many animals seem to show a preference for symmetry in a potential mate. It can be a clue that the mate has the genes necessary to develop properly and thrive in an environment full of stresses and dangers.

But in some critters buck the trend. Like the earwig, a diminutive insect found on every continent except Antarctica.

Andrew ZInk, an associate professor of biology at San Francisco State University, has been looking at how symmetry affects earwigs success when it comes to social interactions.

He’s studying maritime earwigs, a larger and more powerful cousin to the common European earwig you might find in your backyard. Both creatures bear fearsome looking pincers on their backsides. And they aren’t afraid to use them to defend themselves. Zink knows all about that.

--- Do earwigs climb into your ear?
The quick answer is no. Earwigs are not interested in climbing into your ear to lay their eggs or otherwise. They’re no more likely than any other bug to accidentally find its way into you ear. The name earwig come from the old english words for ear and insect. It may have been named after the shape of the common European earwig’s wings, which when extended resemble a human ear.

--- Do earwigs pinch people?
Earwigs will use their pincers to defend themselves, but the pinch is typically not strong enough to be considered dangerous.

--- Do earwigs fly?
Male common European earwigs have wings and can fly to disperse and find mates. Females do not have wings or fly. Neither male nor female maritime earwigs have wings or fly.

--- What do earwigs eat?
Most earwigs are scavengers and omnivores. In addition to scavenging and eating plants, the common European earwigs also hunts small prey like aphids. Maritime earwigs are carnivorous hunting smaller arthropods like sand hoppers.

---+ Read the entire article on KQED Science:

---+ For more information:

Biologists probe asymmetric warfare between earwigs

Asymmetric Forceps Increase Fighting Success among Males of Similar size in the Maritime Earwig

Sexual selection by the seashore: the roles of body size and weaponry in mate choice and competition in the maritime earwig (Anisolabis maritima)

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