|This magnificent earwig is (or was) endemic to St Helena. It is shiny
black with reddish legs; the elytra are short and the hind wings absent.
The animals lived in deep burrows, appearing on the surface only at night
after rains. L. herculeana is the world's largest earwig, with body length
in some males over 50 mm plus forceps up to 34 mm. The remains of the
largest known specimen -a male - were found by Douglas Dorward and Philip
Ashmole in 1959 when excavating fossil bird bones; in 1995 we found the
forceps of a female during our similar work on Prosperous Bay Plain.
The Giant Earwig has not been seen alive since the 1960s and is probably
extinct. However, it has entered into the folklore of St Helena and many
people feel intuitively that it is still living out there somewhere. In
1966/67 it was reasonably common, though with distribution limited to
a small area including Horse Point. Many were collected 40 at that time
and this may have contributed to its disappearance. However, perhaps more
fundamental is the destruction of the gumwood forest in which the species
evidently lived. Furthermore, if you walk over the northeastern plains
and look under stones, you will soon encounter the large introduced centipede
Scolopendra morsitans. Although the earwig may have been the dominant
invertebrate predator in the forest before 1502, we think that in conflicts
between it and the centipede, the latter would have won. Mice are also
common in these areas and probably eat earwigs.