What Are the Differences Between Earwigs and Cockroaches?

Sometimes when people encounter earwigs they believe that they are seeing some fast-moving strange cockroach. In fact, for some, any insect found inside a home or business if it is not an ant, is pretty much judged to be a cockroach.

Biologists categorize all living things in a scheme of scientific taxonomy. Over hundreds of years, scientists have looked for similarities in living things in order to categorize these into groups for ease of cataloging. These categories for animals are:

  • Kingdom

  • Phylum

  • Class

  • Order

  • Family

  • Genus

  • Species

Earwigs, technically and practically, are different from cockroaches. In the hierarchy of biology classification, earwigs and cockroaches are both members of the class Insecta (Hexapods). However, scientists categorize animals based upon their characteristics, and earwigs and cockroaches are not in the same group. So, the Kingdom is Animalia, the phylum is Arthropoda, meaning hard shell. This includes insects, spiders, shrimp, crabs and many others such as millipedes. Under the class Insecta, all adult members must have six legs; no more, no less. Within the class of insects, then there are numerous orders, such as one including roaches, one including earwigs, one including all beetles, etc. Within each of these, then, are families or subcategories of the order. Within families are the genus, or multiples, genera. Finally, the species is defined in many different ways but one way is that it cannot successfully reproduce with another species and produce offspring that can reproduce. Or, simply put, with rare exception, only members of one species can commingle and reproduce.

Earwigs are of the order Dermaptera while cockroaches are of the order Blattodea. Earwigs sometimes fly, as do roaches. Earwigs lay eggs directly into the soil or other suitable substance, while cockroaches encapsulate their eggs in a casing, or ootheca. Earwig cerci, or forceps, are usable pincers where the cockroach cerci are not defense or hunting mechanisms.

Resources

Protect Your Home From Earwigs

Earwig Facts | Earwig Habitats & Behaviors

Earwig illustration

Brown bugs with prongs pointing from their backs

Q

Could you tell me if you think they are roaches or waterbugs? I have looked at the pictures and am not sure if they really look like either.

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