Dermaptera (earwigs) is an insect order found on all continents except Antarctica, and is comprised of 1,900 described species, in 11 families.

Earwigs range in length from 5mm to 55mm but are usually 15–20mm long.

They are best characterised by unsegmented cerci present in adults that are used to assist in predation, mating and wing folding. 

Most earwigs are probably omnivorous, but some are carnivorous.

Most live in confined, damp areas, such as underneath stones, bark, fallen logs, or in leaf litter. Earwig females exhibit brood care by protecting eggs from destruction, predation and mould, and not emerging from their burrows until after the eggs have hatched.

About the name

Dermaptera comes from the Greek derma meaning 'skin' and pteron meaning 'wing'. This refers to the small fore wings and large hind wings found in some species. Most earwig species are wingless however. 


Cerci are paired appendages found on the rear segment of many insects.