What are earwigs?

Earewigs are nocturnal insects, who like to crawl into small dark crevices during the day. Although they do have wings they don't like to fly. One of their defining features are their pincers.

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What do earwigs use their pincers for?

It’s uncertain but the forceps (technically called cerci) may offer a pinch defence — which is not painful, but may startle. Or they could help with the complex origami-fan-style folding of the membranous flight wings. They might also be used in courtship as the male’s are rounded whilst the female’s are narrow.

How do earwigs care for their young?

A female earwig stands guard over her clutch of eggs, palpating them with her antennae and periodically licking them. This seems to offer protection from predators and also prevents the growth of fungi and mould. She maintains this motherly protection until the nymphs have hatched, helping them exit the egg shells and providing them with food.

Can - and do - earwigs really enter your ears?

Old English ear-wicga (ear-wiggler), is similar to perce-oreille (French for ear-piercer), ørentviste (Danish for ear-twister), and ohrwurm (German for ear worm). They crawl into tight spaces behind loose bark, between fence slats and under logs, but there is an oft-told tale of a homeless person reporting to experts that if you have a mind to sleep under a hedge then they might sometimes crawl into your earhole.

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Main image: Getty Images

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