A catalogue of earwig types


Just before Christmas I completed a draft catalogue of the type specimens in Manchester Museum’s Dermaptera (earwig) collection.

The museum has about 11,000 Dermaptera including type material for 276 species.

There are 60 trays of earwigs  in 3 cabinets, where they are laid out by genus, and within genus by species.

This drawer shows the great variety between the species.

They show a fascinating variety.

The dried specimens are either pinned directly, or glued onto card which is on a pin.

Beneath the specimens are labels telling us about where they were collected, when and who by, and who determined which species it is.

Beneath the specimens, labels tell us where they were collected, when, who by, and who determined which species it is.


Types are flagged up by special labels – pink for holotypes, cream for paratypes.

Accession numbers attached to the pins.

First job – attach unique accession numbers to the type specimens.

Information from the labels was transferred to the catalogue –

New Picture

The labels make fascinating reading – some of the earliest species for which types are represented here were described in the first few years of the 20th century.  Its likely they were collected years before publication, making them well over 100 years old.  Some were gathered by individuals, others by scientific expeditions.  There is hardly anywhere they do not come from.   Going through species alphabetically, even before we get into the ‘D’s we have such locations as:

Congo Guinea Colombia Kaschmir
Uttar Pradesh, India Venezuela Gabon New Caledonia
Burma Phillipines Kenya Dutch New Guinea
Nigeria Argentina Peru S. Rhodesia
South Africa Ecuador Zaire San Francisco
Cameroon Panama Sierra Leone Ceylon
Sudan Lesser Sunda Islands Bolivia Sarawak
Madagascar Uluguru Mts, Tanganyika Seychelles Uganda
New Hebrides Bhutan Sumatra Costa Rica

The reference for the original publication of each species was checked (the first line under the bold heading) and an initial foray made into identifying their current taxonomy.    For some of the species, many revisions have been made to their taxonomic name since their original description.  Ensuring this information is correct will be a much longer project for someone else.

Thanks are due to Dr Dmitri Logunov, Curator of Arthropods, for suggesting and guiding me through the project.