Research Article


Phenology and interspecific association of Forficula auricularia and Forficula pubescens in apple orchards


Jaume Lordan

IRTA-Estació Experimental de Lleida, Parc Científic i Tecnològic Agroalimentari de Lleida. Parc Gardeny, Edifici fruitcentre, 25003 Lleida, Spain.

Simó Alegre

IRTA-Estació Experimental de Lleida, Parc Científic i Tecnològic Agroalimentari de Lleida. Parc Gardeny, Edifici fruitcentre, 25003 Lleida, Spain.

Rob Moerkens

Proefcentrum Hoogstraten, Voort 71, B-2328 Meerle, Belgium.

Evolutionary Ecology Group, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium.

María-José Sarasúa

Centre UdL-IRTA de R+D de Lleida, Alcalde Rovira Roure, 191, 25198 Lleida, Spain.

Georgina Alins

IRTA-Estació Experimental de Lleida, Parc Científic i Tecnològic Agroalimentari de Lleida. Parc Gardeny, Edifici fruitcentre, 25003 Lleida, Spain.



The European earwig Forficula auricularia L. (Dermaptera: Forficulidae) has been widely studied as a key predator of pests in temperate regions, but its phenology and behavior may differ in warmer areas such as the Mediterranean. Here we assessed the phenology, aggregation, and interspecific association of F. auricularia and Forficula pubescens Gené, the only two species found consistently in both ground and canopy shelters in Mediterranean apple orchards. In addition to F. auricularia and F. pubescens, three other earwig species, namely Labidura riparia Pallas, Nala lividipes Dufour and Euborellia moesta Gené, were found occasionally. The mature stages of F. auricularia were observed mainly from May to November in tree shelters and immature ones from October to June in ground shelters. Adult individuals of F. pubescens were observed year-round and nymph instars were detected from April to June in ground as well as in tree shelters. The suitability of the current degree-days models for temperate regions was evaluated for the prediction of European earwig phenology in a Mediterranean climate. Regarding interspecific association, F. auricularia and F. pubescens co-occurred in canopies without apparent competition. This study provides useful weekly data about the phenology of the two earwig species throughout the year that can be used to detect the key periods during which to enhance their populations in pip fruit orchards or to control them in stone fruit crops. Furthermore, our results are of relevance for the development of new phenological models of earwigs in Mediterranean areas where nymphs hibernate, a feature that makes current models inaccurate.

Additional key words: biological control; Dermaptera; earwig; Forficulidae; Mediterranean; pest.

Abbreviations used: BB (Les Borges Blanques); DD (degree-days); FA (Forficula auricularia); FP (Forficula pubescens); IU (Ivars d’Urgell); MI (Miralcamp); MO (Mollerussa); N1 to N5 (1st to 5th nymph instars); RAA (Rosy apple aphid); WAA (Woolly apple aphid).

Citation: Lordan, J.; Alegre, S.; Moerkens, R.; Sarasúa, M. J.; Alins, G. (2015). Phenology and interspecific association of Forficula auricularia and Forficula pubescens in apple orchards. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, Volume 13, Issue 1, e10-003, 12 pages.

Received: 09 Sept 2014.Accepted: 12 Feb 2015

Copyright © 2015 INIA. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC by 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funding: This study was funded by the Spanish project Programa Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario nº AGL2010-17486 (AGR) Control integrado de plagas en frutales de pepita y hueso.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Correspondence should be addressed to Jaume Lordan:;





Material and methods






The role of the European earwig, Forficula auricularia Linnaeus (Dermaptera: Forficulidae), as a generalist predator in orchards has been widely cited. For instance, it has been reported to predate on pear psylla Cacopsylla pyri Linnaeus (Hemiptera: Psyllidae) (Lenfant et al., 1994; Sauphanor et al., 1994; Höhn et al., 2007), codling moth Cydia pomonella Linnaeus (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) (Glenn, 1977; Jones et al., 2012; Sauphanor et al., 2012), apple leaf-curling midge Dasineura mali Kieffer (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) (He et al., 2008),diaspidid scale insects (Hill et al., 2005; Logan et al., 2007), the leafroller Epiphyas postvittana Walker (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) (Suckling et al., 2006; Frank et al., 2007), and aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) such as the woolly apple aphid (WAA) Eriosoma lanigerum Hausmann (Mueller et al., 1988; Asante, 1995; Nicholas et al., 2005), the rosy apple aphid (RAA) Dysaphis plantaginea Passerini (Brown & Mathews, 2007; Dib et al., 2010) and the green apple aphid Aphis pomi DeGeer (Carroll & Hoyt, 1984; Hagley & Allen, 1990). Therefore the promotion of F. auricularia populations in pip fruit crops seems to be an effective biocontrol strategy.

However, due to their omnivorous diet, European earwigs can cause economic damage to stone fruit crops (Albouy & Caussanel, 1990; Kuthe, 1996; Grafton-Cardwell et al., 2003; Huth et al., 2011). In nectarines, the action threshold is considered when any trap in the orchard contains five or more earwigs (Hetherington, 2006), while in cherries, no predictive relationship between the number of earwigs in traps and the level of damage has been found (Allen, 2013). In addition, the frass produced by earwigs can negatively influence the aroma and flavor of some wines (Burdet et al., 2013). To control earwigs in conventional fruit production, growers spray orchards with commonly used pesticides such as chlorpyrifos and spinosad (Hetherington, 2006; Peusens & Gobin, 2008; Vogt et al., 2010; Fountain et al., 2013). In organic fruit production, alternative strategies, such as mass trapping and exclusion by setting glue around the base of tree trunks, are used (Hetherington, 2006; Alston & Tebeau, 2011; Saladini et al., 2012).

Another earwig species, Forficula pubescens Gené, has been reported to be phytophagous or omnivorous (Albouy & Caussanel, 1990); however, it has also been observed to prey on pear psyllids (Debras et al., 2007) and RAA (Dib et al., 2010). Few studies have been devoted to the phenology of F. pubescens (Herter, 1964; Romeu-Dalmau et al., 2011). Most studies on earwigs have been conducted on F. auricularia in central-northern Europe (Phillips, 1981; Helsen et al., 1998; Kocarek, 1998; Gobin et al., 2008; Moerkens et al., 2009), New Zealand (Burnip et al., 2002; Suckling et al., 2006), and North America (Fulton, 1924; Crumb et al., 1941; Lamb, 1975, 1976; Lamb & Wellington, 1975); however, little is known about these insects in Mediterranean apple orchards, where they may also act as key predators in pip fruit and citrus orchards but as pests in stone fruit orchards and vineyards.

The European earwig forages at night and seeks shelter during the day (Albouy & Caussanel, 1990; Helsen et al., 1998). Given that these insects are important biocontrol agents, the use of additional shelters to enhance their populations has been assessed in apple, pear, and kiwifruit orchards (Solomon et al., 1999; Gobin et al., 2006; Logan et al., 2011). As earwigs have a univoltine life cycle, any disruption in their cycle in one year can have long-lasting repercussions on populations (Gobin et al., 2006; Peusens & Gobin, 2008; Peusens et al., 2010). To minimize negative effects on vulnerable life stages of earwigs, the prediction of their phenology will contribute to determining the precise timing for spray applications and soil tillage, thereby improving orchard management (Peusens et al., 2010; Belien et al., 2012, 2013; Moerkens et al., 2012). For instance, common pesticides sprayed in orchards, such as chlorpyrifos, deltamethrin, indoxacarb and spinosad, have been reported to have lethal effects on the European earwig (Peusens & Gobin, 2008; Peusens et al., 2010; Vogt et al., 2010; Fountain et al., 2013). Software applications and prediction models have been developed to optimize orchard management techniques geared to promoting the European earwig (Helsen et al., 1998; Moerkens et al., 2011; Belien et al., 2012, 2013). However, these studies have been conducted in colder regions, and earwig phenology and behavior may differ in warmer areas such as the Mediterranean.

Here we assessed the phenology, aggregation, and interspecific association of F. auricularia and F. pubescens in Mediterranean orchards, with the aim to promote their populations in crops where they served as biocontrol agents but also to optimize their control in crops where they are pests. We evaluated the suitability of the current degree-days models for temperate regions to predict the phenology of the European earwig in a Mediterranean climate.

Material and methodsTop


Trials were conducted in four apple orchards under organic management located in Catalonia (NE Spain): BB, Les Borges Blanques (41º30’23.06’’N; 0º51’05.93’’E); MO, Mollerussa (41º36’51.13’’N; 0º52’22.75’’E); IU, Ivars d’Urgell (41º41’06.19’’N; 0º58’06.09’’E); and MI, Miralcamp (41°36’31.89”N; 0°52’24.62”E). The climate is semi-arid Mediterranean, with a mean annual rainfall of 350 mm.

BB was an IRTA (Institute of Research and Technology, Food and Agriculture) experimental orchard of ‘Fuji Kiku 8’ apple grafted onto M9, planted in 2003, and trained to a central leader with 4 × 1.4 m spacing. MO was a commercial orchard of ‘Golden Smoothee‘ apple grafted onto M9, planted in 1985, and trained to a double-axis system with 4 × 1.2 m spacing. IU was a commercial orchard of ‘Golden Smoothee’ apple grafted onto M9, planted in 1993, and trained to a central leader with 4 × 1.1 m spacing. MI was a commercial orchard of ‘Golden Smoothee’ apple grafted onto M9, planted in 2000, and trained to a central leader with 4 × 1.2 m spacing.

BB was sampled for 4 years (2010-2013), MO and IU for 3 (2011-2013), and MI for 2 (2012-2013). For each orchard from 2010 onwards, 10 shelters were set on the second scaffold limb of various trees (tree shelters). From 2012 onwards, 10 additional shelters were tied at the base of 10 supplementary trees in each orchard (ground shelters) in an attempt to capture earwigs in younger stages that do not climb on trees. Following Lordan et al. (2014a), shelters were prepared by rolling a piece of corrugated cardboard into cylinders (12 cm height × 9 cm diameter), which were protected from rain and adverse conditions by a PVC tube (15 cm height × 9.5 cm diameter). Similar shelters have been used in studies of European earwigs elsewhere (Phillips, 1981; Helsen et al., 1998; Solomon et al., 1999; Burnip et al., 2002; Gobin et al., 2006; Logan et al., 2007; He et al., 2008; Moerkens et al., 2009). Every week throughout the year, the species, number, phenological stage, and sex of adult earwigs for each shelter were recorded, and earwigs were then released at the base of the assessed tree. Presence of wings was used to distinguish between F. auricularia and F. pubescens adults (Albouy & Caussanel, 1990). Cerci dimorphism was used to distinguish sex while size and number of antennal segments and the apparent wing buds on the 3rd segment of the thorax were used to distinguish nymph stages (Albouy & Caussanel, 1990).

Evaluation of the degree-days models

The European earwig phenological degree-days model (Model) designed by Moerkens et al. (2011) was tested in our region. The daily minimum and maximum temperatures required to run the model were obtained from the closest automatic weather station of the Meteorological Service of Catalonia (Meteocat, Departament de Territori i Sostenibilitat, Generalitat de Catalunya). For BB, data were from the Castelldans station 8.5 km away, for IU from the Castellnou de Seana station 3 km away and for MO and MI from the Mollerussa station 0.5 km and 1 km away respectively. From 2011 onwards, daily soil temperatures at a depth of 5 cm were also available but only from the Mollerussa station, which is 12 km from BB and 10 km from IU; these distances were within the range used to construct the model described by Moerkens et al. (2011). Thus, the model was run with soil temperature data from MO for all the orchards. The model was checked for 2012-2013 based on the dates of first appearance and peak of each developmental stage observed in the field.

The sum of degree-days (DD) up to the first and maximum number of N3, N4 nymph instars, and adults was calculated for each orchard and year and compared with those reported by Helsen et al. (1998). The minimum and maximum temperatures from each weather station were used to calculate the effective temperature for each orchard and year. The effective temperature sum in DDs was calculated through the sine wave approximation (Rabbinge, 1976), using a lower threshold of 6°C and taking 1st January as the biofix. These parameters were chosen following Helsen et al. (1998).

Data analysis

Data from April to July—when more earwigs were recorded—were used to compare among years within orchards. Replicates were the weekly mean number of earwigs in the 10 tree shelters. F. auricularia data were log-transformed and ANOVA assumptions (normality and homoscedasticity) were confirmed before analysis. Means were compared at the p = 0.05 level, and a Tukey HSD test was used to separate means. Due to heterogeneity of variance, F. pubescens data were analyzed by Welch’s test.

To compare earwig species, data from April to July in tree shelters were used. Replicates were the weekly mean number of earwigs in the 10 tree shelters, and in this case they were compared within orchards by Welch’s test.

Data from June and July—when more adults were recorded in tree shelters—were used to calculate and analyze the sex ratio for F. auricularia and F. pubescens within orchards. Data were log-transformed and analyzed by a nonparametric Wilcoxon test. Homogeneity of variance was also confirmed before each analysis.

Aggregation in shelters was evaluated by fitting data to Taylor’s power law (Taylor, 1961):

where S2 is the variance, m is the sample mean, a is a sampling factor, and b indicates whether the population distribution is regular (b<1), random (b=1) or aggregated (b>1). For F. auricularia, the weekly mean data of the 10 shelters from June to July from all the years and orchards were used, while for F. pubescens the data used were from IU 2011-2012 and MI 2012. Equation [1] was log-log transformed to estimate a and b.

To evaluate the interspecific association between F. auricularia and F. pubescens, data from IU 2011-2012 and MI 2012 were used. Tree and ground shelters were assigned to one of the following categories on the basis of insect presence: (a) both earwig species; (b) only F. auricularia; (c) only F. pubescens; and (d) without earwigs. For each month, the number of shelters within each category was used to calculate the interspecific association coefficient (Cas) following Yule’s formula (Yule, 1912):

Cas varies from -1 to +1. A negative value shows competition, zero no interaction, and a positive value an association between species (Legendre & Legendre, 1984; Sauphanor & Sureau, 1993).

Data were analyzed using the JMP statistical software package (Version 9; SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA).



F. auricularia was very common in all the orchards during the study period, whereas F. pubescens, although observed in all the orchards, was not captured all the years (Suppl. Table S1 [pdf online] and Fig. 1). Both species were found in tree and ground shelters (Suppl. Table S1). Higher numbers of F. auricularia than F. pubescens were observed in all the orchards (Figure 2). The abundance of F. auricularia did not change along the years in BB, IU or MI, whereas the population increased in MO over the years (F2,48=19.75; p=0.0001) (Figure 1). The abundance of F. pubescens decreased in IU (F2,20=35.44; p≤0.0001) and MI (F1,19=9.49; p=0.006) (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Number (mean ± SE) of Forficula auricularia (a) and Forficula pubescens (b) from April to July per year in the four orchards, BB, IU, MO and MI. Column bars marked with different letter or asterisk indicate significant differences among years within each orchard according to the Tukey HSD or Welch’s tests (p<0.05). Note that y-axis scales are different.

Figure 2. Number (mean ± SE) of Forficula auricularia and Forficula pubescens per orchard. Column bars market with an asterisk indicate significant differences among earwig species within orchards according to Welch’s test (p<0.05).

In addition to F. auricularia and F. pubescens, three other earwig species, namely Labidura riparia Pallas, Nala lividipes Dufour and Euborellia moesta Gené, were found occasionally but only in ground shelters.

F. auricularia was found throughout the year (Figure 3a-b and Suppl. Table S1). From January to June, N2, N3 and N4 instars were found in ground shelters. At the end of January the population peaked with an average of 3 N3 instar individuals (Figure 3b). The presence of the N4 instar rose from mid-March to the end of May, after which no more N4 instars were observed in ground shelters (Figure 3b). The presence of the N2 instar was intermittent during winter and early spring and more regular from May to June; however, the population peak was observed in December, with an average close to 3 individuals per ground shelter (Figure 3b). Adults were found in ground shelters from May to November, but their abundance was lower than that of nymphs (Figure 3b). In fact, adults were more abundant in the tree shelters than in the ground shelters (Figure 3a). In tree shelters, they were captured from April to November, but a greater presence of adults was observed from mid-May to the beginning of July, with a peak of 23 individuals per shelter (Figure 3a). N4 was the most abundant instar in tree shelters from the end of March to mid-May, with a population peak of 14 individuals per shelter in mid-May (Figure 3a). The N3 instar was also observed in tree shelters one month after the N4 instar was found. The abundance of the N3 instar was much lower, with an average of 3 individuals per tree shelter (Figure 3a).

Figure 3. Weekly mean earwig individuals per tree and ground shelters for Forficula auricularia (FA) and Forficula pubescens (FP) throughout the year for nymph stages (N2, N3, N4 and N5) and adults. Note that y-axis scales are different. FA figures were calculated with data from all the orchards and years, whereas FP figures were calculated on the basis of IU 2011-2012 and MI 2012.

Regarding F. pubescens, adults were found in ground shelters mainly from mid-January to April, and after that N2, N3, N4 and N5 instars were successively observed either in ground or tree shelters until July (Figure 3c-d). The N2 instar of F. pubescens was more common in ground shelters, while it was barely observed in tree shelters. In contrast, the N1 instar was not found in tree or ground shelters (Figure 3c-d). Adults of F. pubescens were observed from March to April and from June to December in canopies, with a maximum of 2 individuals per shelter (Figure 3c).

Captures dropped for both earwig species during molting into adults (Figure 3). In both species, the sex ratio was not significantly different from 1:1 (p>0.05, Wilcoxon test).

Aggregation behavior and interspecific association

The relationship between the variance and the mean was studied by Taylor’s law. The distribution of F. auricularia in shelters was observed to be aggregated, as the b coefficient was higher than 1 in all the orchards (Table 1). On the other hand, for F. pubescens, the b coefficient was higher than 1 in IU, also indicating an aggregated distribution. In contrast, in MI this distribution could not be confirmed (Table 1). F. auricularia and F. pubescens showed mainly a positive association (Fig. 4). A few negative values were observed (Fig. 4).

Table 1. Taylor’s parameters for each orchard and species; b indicates when the population in shelters was regular (b<1), random (b=1) or aggregated (b>1).

Figure 4. Monthly interspecific association coefficients between F. auricularia and F. pubescens for IU and MI orchards (2011-2012). A negative value indicates active competition, zero no interaction, and a positive value an association between species.

Evaluation of the degree-days models

No matches among observed and estimated dates were found for any of the developmental stages detected in tree or ground shelters when running Moerkens’ model (2011) (Table 2). Regarding Helsen’s model (1998), the N3 instar was observed to appear at 215 DD; however, large differences between orchards were found (Table 3). Although smaller differences were observed for the N4 instar (264 DD) and adult stage (250 DD), there were no matches between observed and estimated dates (Table 3). We found some coincidences only when predicting the maximum number of N4 (613 DD) and adult individuals (1035 DD), with a range from 0 to 29 days between observed and estimated date (Table 3).

Table 2. Estimated appearance dates for the first and maximum number of individuals of each European earwig developmental stage according to the degree-days model (Model) and observations (Tree and Ground).

Table 3. Observed and accumulated degree-days (DD>6°C, from 1 January on) for first and maximum number of European earwig individuals for each developmental stage found in tree canopies


In our study the average number of F. auricularia was higher than that of F. pubescens, whereas in citrus orchards the opposite was observed (Romeu-Dalmau et al., 2011). However, as different sampling methods were used in each study, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the relative abundance of the two species. In general terms, the abundance of F. auricularia among years within orchards did not change, and only in one orchard was an increase detected, while the abundance of F. pubescens decreased. Moerkens et al. (2009) reported large variations in population density among orchards and years for F. auricularia. In 2012, heavy hail seriously damaged the whole crop, thus destroying some of the natural shelters, such as fruit clusters. These circumstances increased the likelihood of earwigs using the artificial shelters. The following year, as consequence of the hail, the trees showed more vegetative growth but less crop load, thus also reducing the number of natural shelters. Moerkens et al. (2009) reported an increase in the number of adults in the shelters immediately after the harvest of pears, thereby pointing to the relevance of natural shelters. Regarding the variations observed for F. pubescens, although significant differences were observed, the variation was less than one individual per trap.

For both species, the presence of males and females was similar, with a sex ratio of 1:1, coinciding with observations made by Romeu-Dalmau et al. (2011) in citrus orchards.

Concerning earwig phenology, we found individuals throughout the year in apple orchards. The mature stages of F. auricularia were observed mainly from May to November in tree shelters and immature ones from October to June in ground shelters. Most published studies have been based on tree sampling, reporting the presence of F. auricularia individuals from May to October, with a May-June peak for N3 and N4 instars, and the abundance of adults in July (Lamb & Wellington, 1975; Phillips, 1981; Helsen et al., 1998; Gobin et al., 2008; Moerkens et al., 2009, 2011). Romeu-Dalmau et al. (2011) also observed a longer active period in Mediterranean citrus orchards—an observation that coincides with our results. The decrease in tree shelter captures during the summer months may be explained by the increased availability of natural shelters during this period. For instance, Helsen et al. (1998) observed that an increase in the size of apples leads to greater numbers of earwigs in fruit clusters, thus reflecting the availability of alternative shelters in the tree canopy.

In our study, the N2, N3 and N4 instars of F. auricularia were not found in a consecutive order along the months of the year in tree or in ground shelters. These findings may indicate the coexistence of single brood and double brood strategies, as observed by Helsen et al. (1998), Gobin et al. (2008), and Moerkens et al. (2009) in pip fruit orchards in central-northern Europe. The single brood strategy has been reported to be more susceptible to cold temperatures than the double brood one (Moerkens et al., 2012). Therefore, depending on the strategy type prevailing in each area, distinct population fluctuations might be observed. Although low temperatures can be considered a crucial determinant of earwig mortality (Moerkens et al., 2012), in Mediterranean orchards nymphs were also found during winter, thereby indicating that earwig development in these conditions does not stop, as nymphs also hibernate. Due to these differences in phenology, the predictions of population dynamics through the available degree-days models are not appropriate in Mediterranean orchards.

Adult individuals of F. pubescens were observed year-round (except in May in tree shelters) and nymph instars were detected from April to June in ground as well as in tree shelters. However, Romeu-Dalmau et al. (2011) observed individuals only from May to December. This finding could be attributed mainly to the sampling method, as the earlier earwig instars on the ground could not be detected by the beating technique used by those authors.

The occurrence of the different nymph instar stages of F. pubescens in apple orchards has not, to the best of our knowledge, been reported previously. The N1 instar was never observed. This could be attributed to the fact that this stage is very short and the nymphs probably remained in the nest with the female (Albouy & Caussanel, 1990). We found the N2 instar mainly in ground shelters from April to mid-May. After this time, the successive instars were also detected in tree and ground shelters. We found nymph instars only from April to July, thus indicating a single reproductive period per year. Similar observations were made by Romeu-Dalmau et al. (2011).

For both earwig species, after the peak numbers of last nymph instars (N4 or N5), we observed a population decline during molting into adults. Moerkens et al. (2009) proposed that this decrease was caused by competition for limited resources, such as hiding places and food, when the population increases, but also by an increase in cannibalism and intraguild predation, as insects are highly vulnerable during molting.

The distribution of F. auricularia in field shelters was clearly aggregated, coinciding with the findings of Sauphanor & Sureau (1993) in laboratory trials. In contrast, the distribution of F. pubescens in these shelters was not aggregated, although these authors found the opposite behavior in laboratory conditions. These differences may be due to the fact that F. pubescens was not abundant in field shelters, thus the opportunity to aggregate was lower than in lab trials, where more individuals per shelter were present. This observation is consistent with those of Taylor et al. (1978), who reported that in most species the degree of aggregation is density dependent. In addition, under laboratory conditions, the only shelters available were artificial. In contrast, the field provides a variety of alternative natural shelters, which may reduce the chance of detecting aggregation.

Both F. auricularia and F. pubescens were found together in only two orchards and with a low population of F. pubescens. On the basis of these data, we propose that there is only a tendency of F. auricularia and F. pubescens to associate or at least not to compete. The few negative values that we observed appeared only in months when the insects were barely found in the shelters. Sauphanor & Sureau (1993) observed a positive association, estimating a coefficient value of 0.75. High association values were observed when more earwigs were found in the shelters, thus resembling the conditions tested by Sauphanor & Sureau (1993) in lab trials. Even in the field, Debras et al. (2007) reported the absence of competition between F. auricularia and F. pubescens. We can assume that when these two earwig species are found in high numbers in the shelters, no competition occurs. This may be linked to high availability of food or to the different diet preferences of each species, which prevent interspecific competition. In this regard, Debras et al. (2007) observed that F. pubescens concentrated predation on younger pear psylla instars, whereas F. auricularia showed a preference for older ones.

The occasional presence of L. riparia, E. moesta, and N. lividipes can be explained by their low aggregation coefficient and, in some cases, solitary behavior (Albouy & Caussanel, 1990; Sauphanor & Sureau, 1993). The observation that these species were found only in ground shelters is consistent with their low appearance in literature as biocontrol agents in fruit orchards, as those surveys addressed mainly tree canopies. L. riparia, N. lividipes, and E. moesta have been described as important biocontrol agents in cereal and cotton crops (Shepard et al., 1973; Albouy & Caussanel, 1990). As ground dwelling insects, these species may predate on pests that have developmental stages on the ground, such as WAA, the codling moth, and the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata Wiedemann; Diptera: Tephritidae) (Urbaneja et al., 2006; Jacas et al., 2008; Boreau de Roince et al., 2012; Lordan et al., 2014b).

F. auricularia and F. pubescens were present throughout the year either in ground or tree traps, F. auricularia being the most abundant. These two species may co-occur in canopies of pip fruit orchards where they can serve as biocontrol agents as a result of their early appearance and long activity period. This long period may also explain the damage they cause to peaches, nectarines, apricots and cherries. In Mediterranean apple orchards, as the nymphs of F. auricularia also hibernate, the phenology of this species cannot be predicted by the current models developed in colder areas of central northern Europe. New degree-days models better fitted to Mediterranean conditions are required in order to improve the protection of earwigs in pip fruit canopies and to control them in stone fruit orchards and vineyards. This study provides useful data about the weekly phenology of earwigs throughout the year that can be used to develop new phenological models for Mediterranean areas.


We thank Germans Coll SL, Fruit Nature SAT, and Saort SCP for allowing us to work in their orchards, and Anna Geli and Lourdes Zazurca for technical support.


Albouy V, Caussanel C, 1990. Dermaptères ou Perce-Oreilles. Fédération Française des Sociétés de Sciences Naturelles. Paris, France. 241 pp.
Allen G, 2013. Improving European earwig management in pome and cherry orchards through use of pheromones. Horticulture Australia Ltd., Sydney, Australia.
Alston D, Tebeau A, 2011. Utah pest fact sheet: European earwig (Forficula auricularia). Utah State Univ. Ext. & Utah Plant Pest Diagn. Lab. Ed. University US.
Asante SK, 1995. Functional responses of the European earwig and 2 species of coccinellids to densities of Eriosoma lanigerum (Hausmann) (Hemiptera: Aphididae). J Aust Entomol Soc 34: 105-109.
Belien T, Moerkens R, Leirs H, Peusens G, 2012. Earwig management tool: a practical software application to predict and optimize the development of earwig populations in pip fruit orchards. 15th Int Conf on Organic Fruit-Growing, Hohenheim, Germany, pp: 415-419.
Belien T, Moerkens R, Leirs H, Peusens G, Bylemans D, 2013. Earwig management tool: Transfering knowledge of population dynamics and side effects on earwigs (Forficula auricularia L.) into practical sustainable plant protection strategies in pip fruit growing. IOBC-WPRS Bull 91: 441-418.
Boreau de Roince C, Lavigne C, Ricard JM, Franck P, Bouvier JC, Garcin A, Symondson WOC, 2012. Predation by generalist predators on the codling moth versus a closely-related emerging pest the oriental fruit moth: a molecular analysis. Agric For Entomol: 1-10.
Brown MW, Mathews CR, 2007. Conservation biological control of rosy apple aphid, Dysaphis plantaginea (Passerini), in Eastern North America. Environ Entomol 36(5): 1131-1139.[1131:CBCORA]2.0.CO;2.
Burdet JP, Karp J, Deneulin P, Linder C, Kehrli P, 2013. Occurrence of earwigs in vineyards and their impact on aroma and flavour of “Chasselas” and “Pinot Noir” wines. IOBC-WPRS Bull 85: 165-171.
Burnip GM, Daly JM, Hackett JK, Suckling DM, 2002. European earwig phenology and effect of understorey management on population estimation. N Z Plant Prot 55: 390-395.
Carroll DP, Hoyt SC, 1984. Augmentation of European earwigs (Dermaptera, Forficulidae) for biological control of apple aphid (Homoptera, Aphididae) in an apple orchard. J Econ Entomol 77(3): 738-740.
Crumb SE, Eide PM, Bonn AE, 1941. The European earwig. United States Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin 766: 1-76.
Debras JF, Dussaud A, Rieux R, Dutoit T, 2007. A prospective research on the hedgerow’s ‘source’ function. C R Biol 330(9): 664-673.
Dib H, Simon S, Sauphanor B, Capowiez Y, 2010. The role of natural enemies on the population dynamics of the rosy apple aphid, Dysaphis plantaginea Passerini (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in organic apple orchards in south-eastern France. Biol Control 55(2): 97-109.
Fountain MT, Nagy C, Harris A, Cross JV, 2013. Importance of naturally occurring predators for pear sucker control. IOBC-WPRS Bull 91: 117-125.
Frank SD, Wratten SD, Sandhu HS, Shrewsbury PM, 2007. Video analysis to determine how habitat strata affects predator diversity and predation of Epiphyas postvittana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in a vineyard. Biol Control 41(2): 230-236.
Fulton BB, 1924. Some habits of earwigs. Ann Entomol Soc Am 17: 357-367.
Glenn DM, 1977. Predation of codling moth eggs, Cydia pomonella, the predators responsible and their alternative prey. J Appl Ecol 14: 445-456.
Gobin B, Marien A, Davis S, Leirs H, 2006. Enhancing earwig populations in Belgian orchards. Commun Agric Appl Biol Sci 71(2 Pt B): 269-273.
Gobin B, Peusens G, Moerkens R, Leirs H, 2008. Understanding earwig phenology in top fruit orchards. Weinsberg/Germany.
Grafton-Cardwell EE, O’Connell NV, Ce K, Morse JG, 2003. Photographic guide to citrus fruit scarring. University of California, Oakland.
Hagley EAC, Allen WR, 1990. The green apple aphid Aphis pomi DeGeer (Homoptera, Aphididae), as prey of polyphagous arthropod predators in Ontario. Can Entomol 122(11-12): 1221-1228.
He XZ, Wang Q, Xu J, 2008. European earwig as a potential biological control agent of apple leaf-curling midge. N Z Plant Prot 61: 343-349.
Helsen H, Vaal F, Blommers L, 1998. Phenology of the common earwig Forficula auricularia L. (Dermaptera: Forficulidae) in an apple orchard. Int J Pest Manag 44(2): 75-79.
Herter K, 1964. Zur Fortpflanzungsbiologie des Ohrwurmes Forficula pubescens (Gené). Zool Beitr 10: 1-28.
Hetherington S, 2006. Integrated pest and disease management for Australian summerfruit. The State of New South Wales, NSW Dept of Primary Industries. Ed. Ann Munroe.
Hill MG, Mauchline NA, Cate LR, Connolly PG, 2005. A technique for measuring growth rate and survival of armoured scale insects. N Z Plant Prot 58: 288-293.
Höhn H, Lahusen A, Eder R, Ackermann T, Franck L, Höpli H, Samietz J, 2007. Régulation du psylle du poirier. Rev Suisse Vitic Arboric Hortic 39: 169-176.
Huth C, Schirra KJ, Seitz A, Louis F, 2011. A beneficial species becomes a pest - The common earwig Forficula auricularia (Linnaeus 1758). IOBC-WPRS Bull 67: 249-256.
Jacas Ja, Urbaneja A, García-Marí F, 2008. Artrópodos depredadores. In: Control biológico de plagas agrícolas (Jacas JA & Urbaneja A, eds.) Phytoma-España,Valencia, Spain, pp: 39-56.
Jones VP, Brunner JF, Beers EH, Gallardo K, Goldberger J, 2012. Enhancing biological control in Western orchards - A USDA-NIFA Specialty Research Initiative Project. USDA-NIFA, Wenatchee, WA, USA.
Kocarek P, 1998. Life cycles and habitat associations of three earwig (Dermaptera) species in lowland forest and its surroundings. Biologia 53(2): 205-211.
Kuthe K, 1996. The common earwig (Forficularia auricularia L.), an occasional pest of sugarbeet. Gesunde Pflanzen 48(2): 55-57.
Lamb RJ, 1975. Effects of dispersion, travel and environmental heterogeneity on populations of earwig Forficula auricularia L. Canadian Journal of Zoology-Revue Canadienne De Zoologie 53(12): 1855-1867.
Lamb RJ, 1976. Polymorphisms among males of European earwig, Forficula auricularia (Dermaptera, Forficulidae). Can Entomol 108(1): 69-75.
Lamb RJ, Wellington WG, 1975. Life-history and population characteristics of European earwig Foficula auricularia (Dermaptera: Forficulidae) at Vancouver, British Columbia. Can Entomol 107(8): 819-824.
Legendre L, Legendre P, 1984. Ecologie numérique: La structure des données écologiques. T. 2. Masson, Paris et les Presses dc l’Université du Quebec, Quebec. 335 pp.
Lenfant C, Lyoussoufi A, Chen X, Darcier FF, Sauphanor B, 1994. Potential of Forficula auricularia L. as predator of pear psylla - Cacopsylla pyri (L.). Entomol Exp Appl 73(1): 51-60.
Logan DP, Maher BJ, Connolly P, 2011. Increased numbers of earwigs (Forficula auricularia) in kiwifruit orchards are associated with fewer broad-spectrum sprays. N Z Plant Prot 64: 49-54.
Logan DP, Maher BJ, Connolly PG, Pettigrew MJ, 2007. Effect of cardboard shelter traps on predation of diaspidid scale insects by European earwigs, Forficula auricularia, in kiwifruit. N Z Plant Prot 60: 241-248.
Lordan J, Alegre S, Blanco R, Sarasúa MJ, Alins G, 2014a. Aggregation behavior in the European earwig: Response to impregnated shelters. Crop Prot 65(0): 71-76.
Lordan J, Alegre S, Gatius F, Sarasúa MJ, Alins G, 2014b. Woolly apple aphid Eriosoma lanigerum Hausmann ecology and its relationship with climatic variables and natural enemies in Mediterranean areas. Bull Entomol Res 105(1): 60-69.
Moerkens R, Gobin B, Peusens G, Helsen H, Hilton R, Dib H, Suckling DM, Leirs H, 2011. Optimizing biocontrol using phenological day degree models: the European earwig in pipfruit orchards. Agric For Entomol 13: 301-312.
Moerkens R, Leirs H, Peusens G, Belien T, Gobin B, 2012. Natural and human causes of earwig mortality during winter: temperature, parasitoids and soil tillage. J Appl Entomol 136(7): 490-500.
Moerkens R, Leirs H, Peusens G, Gobin B, 2009. Are populations of European earwigs, Forficula auricularia, density dependent? Entomol Exp Appl 130(2): 198-206.
Mueller TF, Blommers LHM, Mols PJM, 1988. Earwig (Forficula auricularia) predation on the woolly apple aphid, Eriosoma lanigerum. Entomol Exp Appl 47(2): 145-152.
Nicholas AH, Spooner-Hart RN, Vickers RA, 2005. Abundance and natural control of the woolly aphid Eriosoma lanigerum in an Australian apple orchard IPM program. BioControl 50(2): 271-291.
Peusens G, Belien T, Gobin B, 2010. Comparing different test methods for evaluating lethal side effects of some insecticides on the European earwig Forficula auricularia L. IOBC-WPRS Bull 55: 95-100.
Peusens G, Gobin B, 2008. Side effects of pesticides on the European earwig Forficula auricularia L. (Dermaptera: Forficulidae). IOBC-WPRS Bull 39: 40-43.
Phillips ML, 1981. The ecology of the common earwig Forficula auricularia in apple orchards. Doctoral thesis. University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
Rabbinge R, 1976. Biological control of fruit-tree red spider mite. Pudoc Wageningen, 228 pp.
Romeu-Dalmau C, Espadaler X, Piñol J, 2011. Abundance, interannual variation and potential pest predator role of two co-occurring earwig species in citrus canopies. J Appl Entomol 136(7): 501-509.
Saladini MA, Asteggiano L, Pansa MG, Giordani L, Serre L, Ronco D, Vittone G, Tavella L, Tedeschi R, 2012. Indagine bioetologica e definizione di metodi di controllo a basso impatto ambientale su Forficula sp. su albicocco. Consorzio di ricerca Sperimentazione e Divulgazione per l’Ortofrutticoltura Piemontese (CRESO), Torino.
Sauphanor B, Chevignon G, Libourel G, Capowiez Y, 2012. Earwig predation of codling moth eggs in apple orchards. IOBC-WPRS Bull 74: 7.
Sauphanor B, Lenfant C, Brunet E, D’arcier FF, Lyoussoufi A, Rieux R, 1994. Regulation of populations of pear psyllid Cacopsylla pyri (L.) by a generalist predator, Forficula auricularia L. IOBC-WPRS Bull 17(2): 125-131.
Sauphanor B, Sureau F, 1993. Aggregation behavior and interspecific relationship in Dermaptera. Oecologia 96(3): 360-364.
Shepard M, Waddill Van, Kloft W, 1973. Biology of the predaceous earwig Labidura riparia (Dermaptera: Labiduridae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 66(4): 837-841.
Solomon M, Fitzgerald J, Jolly R, 1999. Artificial refuges and flowering plants to enhance predator populations in orchards. IOBC-WPRS Bull 22(7): 31-37.
Suckling DM, Burnip GM, Hackett J, Daly JC, 2006. Frass sampling and baiting indicate European earwig (Forficula auricularia) foraging in orchards. J Appl Entomol 130(5): 263-267.
Taylor LR, 1961. Aggregation, variance and the mean. Nature 189: 732-735.
Taylor LR, Woiwod IP, Perry JN, 1978. Density-dependence of spatial behavior and rarity of randomness. J Anim Ecol 47(2): 383-406.
Urbaneja A, Mari FG, Tortosa D, Navarro C, Vanaclocha P, Bargues L, Castanera P, 2006. Influence of ground predators on the survival of the mediterranean fruit fly pupae, Ceratitis capitata, in Spanish citrus orchards. BioControl 51(5): 611-626.
Vogt H, Anderson G, Jürgen J, 2010. Experience with a field test to test side-effects of pesticides on the European earwig, Forficula auricularia, in orchards. IOBC-WPRS Bull 55: 117.
Yule GU, 1912. On the methods of measuring association between two attributes. J Royal Stat Soc 75: 579-652.