Creepy Crawlers

Twas the night before class, when all through the dorms

Not a person was stirring, not even a mouse…

…except for this:

Earwig. Photo Credit:

That modified Christmas poem describes my suite on a typical weekday. Everyone is snuggled deep in their covers, sleeping soundly with sweet (I hope) dreams. And then there’s me, snuggled deep in the arms of procrastination.

Although I admit that I am definitely much more of a night owl than a morning bird, I try to avoid unnecessary late nights. It’s not that I’m afraid of how tired I’ll be tomorrow morning, but it’s more like I’m scared of what’s out there in the dark. Still, you can usually find me bathed in the glow of my computer at three in the morning and then scrambling to get dressed for that 8AM class. Despite having absolutely no reason to still be awake, I tend to spend my time relaxing—snacking whilst reading a good book. However, because everything is creepier at three in the morning, there is one very important thing I dread to do: go to the bathroom.

Now normally, if this were any other activity, I would just ignore it and wait until morning, but “when you gotta go, you gotta go.” Who am I to argue with my bladder? On this particular morning, I safely sprinted from my room to the bathroom. Nothing had flown at me or attacked me, and I heaved a sigh of relief, before I turned around and saw a lovely earwig.

Earwig. Photo Credit: Me! (at 4AM)

Earwigs are part of the Dermaptera order. They are omnivorous insects, usually eating whatever they find, whether it is plants or dead matter. They are also nocturnal, and hide in moist dark places during the day, which explains why I found one crawling leisurely out of the sink. Although my immediate thoughts flew to whether Germ-X could be a suitable substitute for washing my hands, I eventually snapped a picture and poured some shampoo in the sink, followed by a steady stream of water (I’m sorry earwig!).

I thought I only had to worry about an earwig’s main weapons: its cerci and the unpleasant-smelling liquid it secretes. Earwigs use their cerci for defense, courtship, grooming, and attacking prey. They also release a foul-smelling liquid from their abdomen in the face of predators. However, earwigs are a lot more intimidating than I originally thought.

Some species of earwigs are ectoparasites, which are parasites that live on the surface of their hosts. Earwigs of the Hemimerina suborder feed on the skin of African giant rats, using their cerci to pinch onto the fur, while earwigs of the Arixenina suborder, such as the Arixenia esau feed on the gland secretions of some Asian bats. You can watch earwigs swarming around baby bats here.

I am incredibly happy I have not ever and hopefully will never come in contact with these menacing parasitic earwigs. In the meantime, I will (somewhat) regrettably continue flushing earwigs back down the sink drain during my late night bathroom runs.

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