St Helena Earwig Labidura herculeana

Physical characteristics: This species is the largest earwig in the world. They are black with reddish legs and wing covers, with no hind wings. Their bodies measure between 1.44 to 2.13 inches (36 to 54 millimeters). Their pinchers add an additional 0.6 to 0.96 inches (15 to 24 millimeters). The largest known specimen is a male measuring 3.1 inches (78 mm).

Geographic range: The species is found on Horse Point Plain in the extreme northeastern portion of the island of St. Helena. St. Helena is located in the Atlantic Ocean, almost midway between the continents of Africa and South America.

This species is of scientific interest because it is the largest earwig in the world. However, the St. Helena earwig was last seen in 1967 and may no longer exist today. (Illustration by Marguette Dongvillo. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: The St. Helena earwig lives in a dry and barren habitat, with stony soil, bushes, and tufts of grass.

Diet: Nothing is known.

Behavior and reproduction: Living specimens have been found under stones or near burrows in the soil. St. Helena earwigs are nocturnal and active during summer rains. During the dry season they remain underground.

St. Helena earwigs and people: This species is of scientific interest because it is the largest earwig in the world.

Conservation status: The St. Helena earwig is listed as Endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Endangered means it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild. It is in danger because it is found only on one part of a very small and remote island. This species was last seen in 1967 and may not still be alive today. More study is needed to determine whether or not this species still exists and, if so, how to protect it from becoming extinct. ■


Helfer, J. R. How to Know the Grasshoppers, Crickets, Cockroaches, and Their Allies. New York: Dover Publications, 1987.

Holm, E., and C. H. Scholtz. Insects of Southern Africa. Durban, South Africa: Butterworths, 1985.

Rights, M. Beastly Neighbors: All about Wild Things in the City, or Why Earwigs Make Good Mothers. Boston: Little, Brown, 1981.

Tavoloacci, J., ed. Insects and Spiders of the World. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2003.


Hoffman, K. M. "Earwigs (Dermaptera) of South Carolina, with a Key to the Eastern North American Species and a Checklist of the North American Fauna." Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington (1987) 89: 1-14.

Web sites:

"Dermaptera." North Carolina State University. http://www.cals.ncsu .edu/course/ent425/compendium/earwigs.html (accessed on September 20, 2004).

"Dermaptera. Earwigs." Ecowatch. Insects_Invertebrates/dermaptera.htm (accessed on September 21, 2004).

"Dermaptera. Earwigs." Tree of Life Web Project. group=Dermaptera&contgroup=Neoptera#refs (accessed on September 21, 2004).

"Earwigs. Dermaptera." Biokids. Critter Catalog. http://www.biokids (accessed on September 20, 2004).

"Gordon's Earwig Page." Earthlife. dermapta.html (accessed on September 21, 2004).



Class: Hexapoda

Order: Orthoptera

Number of families: 43 families

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