Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 1553–1565 | Cite as

The invasion biology of the invasive earwig, Forficula auricularia in Australasian ecosystems

  • Stephen R. Quarrell
  • Juliette Arabi
  • Arnaud Suwalski
  • Michel Veuille
  • Thierry Wirth
  • Geoff R. Allen
Original Paper


The European earwig, Forficula auricularia, is a cosmopolitan insect endemic to Europe, West Asia and North Africa, which has invaded many temperate regions of the world including Australia and New Zealand. F. auricularia has been shown to be a complex of morphologically identical, reproductively isolated lineages that possess two distinct clades of mitochondrial DNA. Entomological collection data, historical literature and further field collections were used to develop a greater understanding of Australian F. auricularia’s invasion biology and its current distribution. Genetic analysis of F. auricularia collected from Australia and New Zealand using two mitochondrial genes (COI and a fragment overlapping parts of the COI -COII genes) was also undertaken. To identify the possible source populations of the Australasian invasion these sequences were compared to those from 16 locations within Britain and continental Europe. All Australasian populations were shown to be of the clade B lineage. Tasmanian and New Zealand populations consist of a single subclade comprised of only 4 and 1 haplotypes respectively. The Australian mainland populations also contained a second subclade consisting of up to 11 haplotypes indicating that multiple introductions possibly occurred on the Australian mainland. Comparison of mitochondrial genomes from Australasian and European populations showed the Australian mainland subclade to be most closely related to Portuguese haplotypes, and the Tasmanian and New Zealand clade closely related to those in Brittany, France. No European haplotypes perfectly matched the Australasian sequences. Therefore, the original source populations are still to be identified with harbours on the Iberian Peninsula’s western coast and those on the English Channel likely candidate areas.


Forficula auricularia Australia Europe Biological invasion Earwig 



We wish to thank Alice Balard, Aurore Maillard and Lounès Chikhi for their help. We also thank Svetlana Micic and Marc Widmer for the collection of the Western Australian samples. Finally, we wish to thank the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment, the ATM barcode from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle and the École Pratique des Hautes Études for their financial support.


  1. Australian Town and Country Journal (1889) Orchard and fruit garden. Sydney, NSW. 2nd Feburary, p 21. Accessed 22nd May 2012
  2. Bach J (1976) A maritime history of Australia. Thomas Nelson (Australia) Limited, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  3. BDCP (2008) Bay-Delta Conservation Plan - Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus). Accessed 25th March 2009Google Scholar
  4. Bell PJ (1998) Ptunarra Brown Butterfly Recovery Plan 1998-2003. Accessed 20th June 2016
  5. Capinha C, Essl F, Seebens H, Moser D, Pereira H (2015) The dispersal of alien species redefines biogeography in the Anthropocene. Science 348:1248–1251. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Cassey P, Blackburn TM, Sol S, Duncan RP, Lockwood JL (2004) Global patterns of introduction effort and establishment success in birds. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 271:S405–S408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duncan R (2016) How propagule size and environmental suitability jointly determine establishment success: a test using dung beetle introductions. Biol Invasions 18:985–996. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Empire (1854) Shipping Intelligence. Sydney. 12th October, p 4. Accessed 7th March 2017
  9. Fu YX, Li WH (1993) Statistical tests for neutrality of mutations. Genetics 133:693–709PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Fulton BB (1924) The European earwig. Or Agric Coll Exp Stn Bull 207:1–29Google Scholar
  11. Gordon SC, Cormack MR, Hackett CA (1997) Arthropod contamination of red raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) harvested by machine in Scotland. J Hortic Sci 72:677–685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Great Britain Colonial Office (1869) Reports showing the present state of Her Majesty’s colonial possessions, vol 2. Great Britain Colonial Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Great Britain Colonial Office (1949) The past and present state of Her Majesty’s colonial possessions, vol 2. Great Britain Colonial Office, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Guillet S, Guiller A, Deunff J, Vancassel M (2000a) Analysis of a contact zone in the Forficula auricularia L. (Dermaptera: Forficulidae) species complex in the Pyrenean Mountains. Heredity 85:444–449CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Guillet S, Josselin N, Vancassel M (2000b) Multiple introductions of the Forficula auricularia species complex (Dermaptera: Forficulidae) in eastern North America. Can Entomol 132:49–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gurney WB (1934) Records of some new insect pests. Agric Gaz N S W 45:452–454Google Scholar
  17. Kehrli P, Karp J, Burdet JP, Deneulin P, Danthe E, Lorenzini F, Linder C (2012) Impact of processed earwigs and their faeces on the aroma and taste of ‘Chasselas’ and ‘Pinot Noir’ wines. Vitis 51:87–93Google Scholar
  18. Lach L, Thomas ML (2008) Invasive ants in Australia: documented and potential ecological consequences. Aust J Entomol 47:275–288. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lamb RJ, Wellington WG (1975) Life history and population characteristics of the European earwig, Forficula auricularia (Dermaptera: Forficulidae), at Vancouver, British Columbia. Can Entomol 107:819–824CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lea AM (1903) Remedies for insect and fungus pests of the orchard and farm 2edn. Government Printer, HobartGoogle Scholar
  21. Liebhold AM, Tobin PC (2008) Population ecology of insect invasions and their management. Annu Rev Entomol 53:387–408CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Liverpool Herald (1901) Naturalist—Common or Garden Earwig. Liverpool, NSW. 5th January, p 9. Accessed 22nd May 2012
  23. Lockwood JL, Cassey P, Blackburn TM (2009) The more you introduce the more you get: the role of colonization pressure and propagule pressure in invasion ecology. Divers Distrib 15:904–910. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Matheson SR (2000) Trade. Tasmanian year book, 27th edn. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Hobart, pp 279–292Google Scholar
  25. Mattoni RHT (1998) The endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly. UCLA. Accessed 25th AprilGoogle Scholar
  26. O’Dwyer C, Hadden S, Arnold A (2004) Action Statement No.106 Golden Sun Moth (Synemom plana).$File/106+Golden+Sun+Moth+2000.pdf. Accessed 23rd April 2008
  27. Quarrell SR, Davies NW, Walker PW, Corkrey R, Smith JA, Allen GR (2016) Identification of the putative aggregation pheromone components emitted by the European earwig, Forficula auricularia. Chemoecology 26:173–186. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rentz DC, Kevan DK (1991) Dermaptera. Insects of Australia, vol 1. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, pp 360–368Google Scholar
  29. Rozas J, Sanchez-DelBarrio J, Messeguer X, Rozas R (2003) DnaSP, DNA polymorphism analyses by the coalescent and other methods. Bioinformatics 19:2496–2497. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Schmid-Hempel P, Schmid-Hempel R, Brunner PC, Seeman OD, Allen GR (2007) Invasion success of the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, despite a drastic genetic bottleneck. Heredity 99:414–422. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Snyder WE, Evans EW (2006) Ecological effects of invasive arthropod generalist predators. In: Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics, vol 37. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics. pp 95–122.
  32. South Australian Register (1841) The natural history of the colony. Adelaide, SA. 18th September, p 4. Accessed 22nd May 2012
  33. South Australian Register (1888) Donations to the museum. Adelaide, SA. 14th June, p 6. Accessed 21st May 2012
  34. Suarez AV, Holway DA, Case TJ (2001) Patterns of spread in biological invasions dominated by long-distance jump dispersal: insights from Argentine ants. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:1095–1100CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. Sydney Morning Herald (1854) Shipping. Sydney, p 4. Accessed 7th March 2017
  36. Tajima F (1989) Statistical method for testing the neutral mutation hypothesis by DNA polymorphism. Genetics 123:585–595PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. The Argus (1886) Tasmania. Melbourne, Victoria. 26th June Accessed 22nd May 2012
  38. The Argus (1911) Question Box. Melbourne, Victoria. 6th June 1911, p 10. Accessed 22nd May 2012
  39. The Cornwall Chronicle (1847) Local. Launceston, Tas. 17th November, p 3. Accessed 21st May 2012
  40. The Mail (1918) Insect pests in autumn. Adelaide, SA. 2nd February, p 12. Accessed 22nd May 2012
  41. The Mercury (1878) Earwigs. Hobart, Tasmania. 5th December, p 3. Accessed 21st May 2012
  42. The Mercury (1879) Earwigs. Hobart, Tasmania. 21st May 2012, p 3. Accessed 21st May 2012
  43. The Mercury (1884) South Arm. Hobart, Tasmania. 3rd January, p 2. Accessed 21st May 2012
  44. The Register (1912) Common insect pests-forms and habits. Adelaide, SA. 17th June, p 10. Accessed 22nd May 2012
  45. The Register (1915) The Screech Owl. Adelaide, p 4. Accessed 21st May 2012
  46. Walker KA, Jones TH, Fell RD (1993) Pheromonal basis of aggregation in European earwig, Forficula auricalaria L. (Dermaptera: Forficulidae). J Chem Ecol 19:2029–2038. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. West Gippsland Gazette (1907) Common garden pests. Warragul, Victoria. 3rd September, p 4. Accessed 21st May 2012
  48. Widmer M, Micic S, Dore T (2008) European earwigs - pests in crops. Farmnote 322 Department of Agriculture and Food. Western AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  49. Wirth T, Le Guellec R, Vancassel M, Veuille M (1998) Molecular and reproductive characterization of sibling species in the European earwig (Forficula auricularia). Evolution 52:260–265. PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yang ZH, Bielawski JP (2000) Statistical methods for detecting molecular adaptation. Trends Ecol Evol 15:496–503. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tasmanian Institute of AgricultureUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Systematics and EvolutionUMR-CNRS 7205, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle – EPHEParisFrance
  3. 3.Institut de Systématique, Evolution, BiodiversitéUMR-CNRS 7205, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Sorbonne UniversitésParisFrance
  4. 4.Laboratoire Biologie Intégrative des PopulationsEcole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, PSL Research UniversityParisFrance

Personalised recommendations