Flying Earwigs: Do Earwigs Fly or Have Wings?

There are over 1,500 species of earwigs documented, and most species of earwigs have wings. The name of the biological order which they belong, Dermaptera, actually means leather or skin wings. The front wings, or forewings, are not clear but rather are darker and more durable. Even though most species of earwigs have wings, not all species fly.

Earwigs that do fly are not the most agile fliers in most cases. The wings are not as efficient as a house fly's for example. Earwigs which fly usually fly in short bursts. If there is abundant food and shelter, as well as available mates, there is little reason in flying for the earwig.

Rather than flying, common domestic earwigs prefer the moist, wet soil areas with an abundance of live or decaying vegetation as cover and food. This reduces chances of predators such as birds and also allows for their life cycle to proceed.

The typical domestic earwig which is able to fly does so by moving the forewings which are the harder, leathery covers to the side. The clear and rather flowery-looking flight wings are then unfolded and spread so that the earwig can prepare for takeoff. In the air, the earwig will fly with limited agility, with most appearing a bit clumsy.

Due to their size, airborne earwigs, with those pincers or forceps visible, can be intimidating, but they are not dangerous.

Resources

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