The other day while doing what I normally do, which is crawling under and around houses in search of bugs I found a completely ‘white’ earwig. I’ve seen many white roaches in my time but I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen a white earwig. Of course I had forgotten my camera and scooping him up with big leather gloves was out of the question. (I didn’t want to hurt the little guy)
Earwigs grow via gradual or incomplete metamorphosis which is a fancy way of saying the young look like the adults. From birth they molt 4 to 6 times over a 10 week span which consists of shedding their now to small exoskeleton. The new outer shell is larger and allows them to keep growing until they get to big for it as well and they need to molt again. Normally earwigs are brown in color but right after molting they are white for a short period of time while the color is manifested as the body fluids flow and their new skeleton hardens.
Since earwigs are nocturnal and spend the day light hours hidden it is not often that you would get to see this stage in their growth process. It’s usually when you unearth a plant or moist hiding place that you may see a white earwig. Molting is not an easy task as it takes a lot of energy for an insect and they are almost completely defenseless at this time. For this reason they tend to hide deeper in seclusion during this time for protection so it’s not likely you would find one just by chance. But fear not, if you don’t catch him this time you have 4 or 5 more chances till the end of summer or you can always wait until spring.