Earwig Parental Care



Earwigs display parental care. A female will lay eggs in a nest made from organic material that can harbor many microorganisms including mold. The female will groom the eggs with her mouthparts, picking off mold and spores that might grow on the eggs. Females also deposit hydrocarbons on the eggs which suppress the growth of molds. It is thought that the hydrocarbons prevent water condensation on the eggs, making them too dry for mold to survive. The hydrocarbons originate from the female but it is not clear if they are from the saliva or elsewhere. In one study* only 4 percent of eggs hatched without a mother compared to 77 percent hatch when the mother groomed the eggs.

*Stefan Boos, Joël Meunier, Samuel Pichon, & Mathias Köllike. 2014. Maternal care provides antifungal protection to eggs in the European earwig. Behavioral Ecology (2014), 00(00), 1–8.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Earwig Parental Care

  1. Pingback: Costs of Parenting | Living With Insects Blog

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