After many nocturnal visits to the garden, witnessing numerous snails and slugs, and the occasional Armadillidiidae (roly poly) foraging on my vegetables, last night I spotted a Dermaptera (earwig) lounging on a young spinach leaf.

I was curious what critter was eating on my new spinach seedlings, which I’d recently planted in a box.

Nearly every seedling bears a hole, or two. I suppose the earwig discovered last night could have been eating a smaller insect, as these holes are pretty small.

According to Wikipedia, “with about 2,000 species[1] in 12 families, Dermaptera are one of the smaller insect orders. Earwigs have characteristic cerci, a pair of forceps pincers on their abdomen, and membranous wings folded underneath short forewings, hence the scientific order name, “skin wings.” Earwigs rarely use their flying ability.

Earwigs are nocturnal; they often hide in small, moist crevices during the day, and are active at night, feeding on a wide variety of insects and plants. Damage to foliage, flowers, and various crops is commonly blamed on earwigs, especially the common earwig Forficula auricularia.” 

This appears to be a male common earwig, as the female pincers are straight. Earwigs usually move so fast, you can’t get your camera out fast enough. This one must have been too full from eating 1/3 of that leaf. It slid off after a few seconds. I blasted these young plants with a solution of water and a couple drops of plant-based dish soap, a dash of apple cider vinegar with a fresh sprig of rosemary. Someone told me recently they’d had luck with adding fresh rosemary to the sprayer. I’ll be back for tonight’s performance to see if this bit player makes an appearance. Thanks for reading! – Kaye