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Mysteries of vernacular: Earwig - Jessica Oreck and Rachael Teel

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An earwig is neither an ear nor a wig; it is an insect. Jessica Oreck and Rachael Teel explain how folklore gave this bug its name, combining entomology with etymology.

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  • Director Jessica Oreck
  • Producer Rachael Teel

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Earwigs make up the insec torder Dermaptera, found throughout the Americas, Africa, Eurasia, Australia, and New Zealand. With about 2,000 species in 12 families, they are one of the smaller insect orders. Earwigs have characteristic cerci, a pair of forcep spincers on their abdomen, and membranous wings folded underneath short forewings, hence the scientific order name, "skin wings." Some groups are tiny parasites on mammals and lack the typical pincers. Earwigs rarely use their flying ability.Earwigs are a distinctive group of insects of small to medium size, ranging from 5 to 50 millimetres in length. Earwigs are sometimes confused with Staphylinid beetles but can be distinguished from the latter by the presence of pincer-like cerci, which Staphylinid beetles lack.This snopes.com article busts the urban legend! No bugs in the brain.There are loads of earwig pages on the Internet. Here's a website that collects some exciting links.Here's all of the Mysteries of Vernacular videos.

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Director Jessica Oreck
  • Producer Rachael Teel

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