What Are the Differences Between Earwigs and Spiders?

Earwigs and spiders have many differences. First, the biological classification of earwigs branches differently from spiders beyond the common phylum Arthropoda. Arthropods include both spiders and insects, but earwigs are under the Class Insecta and the order Dermaptera, meaning “leathery wing.” Spiders are under the class Arachnida, as they are not insects. Insects have three body segments and six legs as adults. Spiders have two body segments and eight legs.

There are other differences between earwigs and spiders. Earwigs have wings and can fly, whereas no spiders have wings or are capable of powered flight. Young spiders may appear to fly as they drop to the ground after hatching, but they are riding small pieces of web and “ballooning” to earth as they disperse. Earwigs stay pretty close to where they were hatched.

Earwigs have two compound eyes, while spiders have six to eight simple eyes. All spiders are predators with rare exception, whereas only some earwigs are predaceous. Many earwigs feed on decaying vegetation and remain in hiding in moist decaying areas. Spiders prefer to feed anywhere insect prey is available, including the habitat of earwigs.

For catching prey, spiders have many mechanisms depending on the spider type. One mechanism is to spin a web and capture prey in the sticky spider web. Another mechanism, common to more robust spiders and faster ones would be to stalk the prey and pounce on the prey, injecting it with venom to immobilize the prey. Some capture the prey by waiting to pounce in secluded harborages such as the trap door spider. Earwigs only physically capture prey, possibly even using its physical appendages or developed cerci, called forceps, which look like pincers extending from the abdomen. All spiders have venom, but most are not life threatening to humans. Earwigs do not have venom.

Earwigs and spiders might have some similarities; however, earwigs do not hunt spiders, yet spiders will feed on earwigs that come into their hunting territory.