Earwig taxonomy

Submitted by rkl on


There is current trend on iNaturalist to us the name Forficula dentata for all UK earwig records. However, this name doesn't exist in the iRecord taxonomy so some observations are not getting through to iRecord. I would be interested to know if this change has been accepted by the UK community. If so, will it result in a change to the iRecord taxonomy and when. 

This may have been posted previously. If so, please direct me to the discussion.



Roy Lowry.


Submitted by andersonkieran on Fri, 17/05/2024 - 12:49


An entirely inexpert voice here, so very happy to be corrected! 

A little worrying that all earwigs in the UK are being labeled as such, as we have a number of other species, not just the common one… 

There has long (at least from the 1960’s I seem to recall but cannot currently put my finger on a source……) been some acceptance that Forficula auricularia is a species complex of a number of cryptic species, in this paper https://academic.oup.com/zoolinnean/article/190/3/788/5894910?login=false, a number of species, including F. dentata, are established on the basis of genetic characteristics. While F. dentata has been established as present in the UK, I don’t think that there has been any large scale work to establish that it is the only member of the species complex in the UK, very keen to be corrected if otherwise. Theres a big differences in being able to say that a member of a species complex is present in the UK, to this being the only member on the complex in the UK, that might be able to justify a morphological 

I think that the situation remains that F. dentata is only diagnosable on genetics and is not presently on morphology. I’d be surprised if many iNaturalist records have the barcoding to establish the species, so remain as F. auricularia agg.  

I think iRecord relies on the UK Species Inventory for the list of available species, which appears not to have listed F. dentata, or to have recognised F. auricularia as an aggregate.  The UKSI moves in mysterious ways and is not transparent in its reasoning for anything and is frankly mysterious about getting anything updated. 

I think there is a bigger issue about how iRecord, via the UK Species Inventory, handles species aggregates and evolving species concepts as there are, I think, at least some inconsistency about how the issue is handled, likely as a result of differing approaches between recording schemes and practices between differing domains of life. 

It’s unfortunate that iRecord doesn’t presently have a facility to submit the results of barcoding.