Unknown insect from Puerto Rico
December 19, 2009
My mother in law found this in her home in Puerto Rico, I have no idea what it is and I only have pictures. It black with tan spots on the black. Have 6 tan legs and the back look like horns. the head looks like an ant! (for some reason it somewhat similar to the insect drawing on the left of page). Can you help? Sadly my in laws don’t know any better and they already kill it…its a shame…i hate to kill insects!
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Sometimes we just send a quick identification answer to questions, and letters we plan to post take additional time. Though we already informed you this was an Earwig, we are touched by your letter and want it to appear on our website. We thought species identification might be easy since the markings are so prominent, but alas, BugGuide does not have any photos that resemble your lovely spotted Earwig. Earwigs are generally nocturnal insects that sometimes do damage to garden plants and produce. They are otherwise harmless to humans, though the name originates from the belief that earwigs will crawl into the ears of sleeping people, which probably occurred with more frequency when people slept on straw beds. The forceps at the end of the abdomen can pinch slightly, but we doubt they can ever break through human skin.
It would be an honor to be on the page! I love your page and this is the third insect I send for identification! Keep the good work.
Update from Karl
December 23, 2009
I believe this earwig is probably Doru albepes (Forficulidae: Forficulinae) which occurs throughout the Greater and Lesser Antilles. Information is hard to find but I did find one description that indicated a body length of 8-15 mm, with forceps 2.5-10 mm (males) and 2-3 mm (females). So this would be a male. The Earwig Research Centre website has several photos and drawings, including a female, male and male forceps (cerci). The individual in Joel’s photo appears to have a yellow patch on the side of the abdomen which I haven’t seen in any description for this species. I suspect that there are color variations that would account for this, but I suppose it could also be another closely related species. Regards.