The name of this pest has always baffled me. Everyone knows I am not a big insect fan. But even the name of this particular pest is creepy! Why ear? And wigs? Why name it earwig?
Having done a little bit of research into the origin of the name I can now explain to you the meaning ( I hope!). It appears that the common name stems from the Old English wicga (insect) and ēare (ear). And the “ear connection” comes from the old wives tale that this insect used to burrow into the human brain to lay eggs by crawling inside the ear canal! Like most old wives tales, I do hope this one is untrue.
Despite the threatening name and appearance – they have a pincer tail – earwigs are relatively harmless. You are most likely to encounter them in the garden though they have been known to get indoors through cracks and small openings (following in the footsteps of the pesky garden ants no doubt!).
As a keen gardener, I have to say that I don’t recall meeting this insect before. My usual encounter is with slugs. Nevertheless my colleague recalls that back in Italy earwigs used to regularly invade her favourite fuchsia plant in her nonna’s garden.
Just to add then, in case you are interested, the scientific name for the common earwig is Forficula auricularia. Sounds much better in Latin!