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Some 1800 species of Dermaptera (earwigs) have been described from all parts of the world (except the polar regions), but only about 60 are known from Australia.

All are elongate and flattened, the mobile, telescopic abdomen ending in a pair of forceps. They range from approximately 7 to 50 mm long, and vary in colour from buff to black.

They favour damp, confined spaces and are largely nocturnal.

Their relationships have been investigated by Giles (1963), who concluded that they are closer to the primitive Grylloblattodea than to any other orthopteroid order. This is supported by a number of subsequent authors including Matsuda (1976) (see Vickery and Kevan 1983, 1986), but not necessarily by recent investigations on the anatomy and embryology of the Grylloblattodea (Ando 1982), or the micromorphology of the spermatozoa (Baccetti 1987).



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