Families of the Order Dermaptera Discovered
in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Can't find the families you are looking for? Note:
Families on this list are only those contained
in the ATBI database,
and do not neccessarily include
all Park families from historic park reports, literature,
or other sources that have not yet been entered in the Biodiversity Database.
Also note: where the family name ends with '_family', it means that the family
name has not yet been agreed upon by taxonomists for this group,
or that it was not identified to this level.
In Case You Didn't Know ...
These insects are certainly found in the park, but none have been entered yet into the Biodiversity database of the park.
Earwigs hide during the day in moist dark tight-fitting places typically under stones, logs and bark. They come out at night in groups to feed as either predators or scavengers on live or dead insects and plants.
These small to medium-sized (6-35 mm long) insects can be commonly identified by 1) flattened bodies, 2) two large, pincer-like cerci at the end of the abdomen, and 3) bead-like antennae. Their heads are equipped with chewing mouthparts.
One of the most unusual habits that earwigs have involves their maternal protective instinct. Females may be seen protecting not only their eggs, but even newly-hatched nymphs.
Their diet consists of either small animals, like soil arthropods, for instance, or live or decaying plants, depending on the earwig species.
If you are a gardener, or maintain a greenhouse, you may occasionally see one of these rather flat-bodied insects scurry out-of-sight when you pick up an old plant pot.
Their habit of hiding in dark places (even shipping crates, etc.) has enabled many foreign species to cross the US borders and make themselves at home, mostly in the warmer parts of the U.S. In fact, currently there are more non-native species of earwigs than native inhabiting our part of the globe. Out of about 1,800 species world-wide, only about 25 occur in North America.
Dermaptera is an order of insects that the park considers priority for research and inventory since they have not yet been the subject of a targeted study, and little is yet known of their specific distribution within the park boundaries.
Discover Life in America views these little inhabitants of dark under-cover places as one of many valuable and interesting parts of the Smokies web of life
Taxon References for Dermaptera
1.) Evans, A. V. 2008. National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America. New York, NY. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.