Benny and I love almost all living things even if we have to squish those things from time to time. The one distinct exception to this rule is the earwig. This is the common name for the insect order Dermaptera, which frequently have an abdomen that ends in forceps-like cerci or, in other words, pinchers!
Earwig in a typical threatening posture
The earwig was the bane of our existence growing up. Gathering en masse in damp, dark places, they were particularly fond of the area where the fence gate met the first post, which divided our front and back yard. Such was our extreme fear of these creepy, pinchy, clearly evil creatures that they effectively prevented us from leaving the backyard, serving as sinister, miniature Berlin Wall guards.
Our mother went to great effort to reassure us tiny young Bleimans that we had nothing to fear from earwigs. That is until one crawled up my brother’s arm and pinched him in the neck. In effect, earwigs are responsible for the moment that we realized our mother was not omniscient. Here’s another thing she told us: earwigs don’t crawl in peoples ears. Actually, sometimes they do, as happened to a neighborhood friend before our eyes to our horror! Rather than help him, we fled in terror. Now I admit that the frightened little earwig probably just found the first dark place it could find and ducked in, but even that one in one million likelihood was enough to ensure that I put pencil erasers in my ears (probably much more dangerous) when approaching an earwig layer.
In the animal kingdom, organisms with pincers on their butts are classified in the phylum “evil”
So why bring this up now? Because the government of the Philippines is about to make a grievous error. The Filipino coconut industry has been decimated in recent years by the coconut leaf beetle, Brostispa, a friendly looking, albeit quite destructive little creature. In an effort to reverse the spread of the invasive beetle, the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Coconut Authority plans on propagating 1,000,000 earwigs, who eat, among other things, beetle eggs and larvae.
While this might appear to be a clever, natural solution to environmental problem, it is clear to us that the Philippines is playing right into the earwigs’ evil hands… err… tarsi. While the US Govt. might be slow to act, Zooillogix is issuing its first international travel advisory, warning US citizens to avoid traveling to the Philippines due to earwig infestation. We are optimistic that the earwigs will not gain control of the military, but if they do, we may refer this to the UN Security Council.
The much more aesthetically pleasing coconut leaf beetle
We can only imagine the abject horror of the poor Filipino hired as the ground floor level earwig breeder. Zooillogix offers to pay for ongoing psychological counseling if the guy lives through the ordeal. If he can make it to the US, he can join Benny and for group sessions.