The Entomology Department retains specimens of a number of extremely rare or already extinct insects. One of them is the magnificent Giant Earwig (Labidura herculeana), of which the Museum holds only two specimens, a male and a female. The Giant Earwig is the world’s largest earwig and derives from the small volcanic island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. Its body length ranges from 36 to 54 millimetres. The largest known specimen is a male of about 78 mm long. The creature is also known as the ‘Dodo of the earwigs’, since it was endemic to a small island and is likely to have become extinct. Fundamental reasons for its disappearance seem to have been the clearing of the Gumwood forest where the species occurred and its predation by introduced animals, particularly by the large centipede (Scolopendra morsitans) and mice. Since 1967, when the earwig was still reasonably common, it has not been seen alive, though three unsuccessful expeditions have been organized and sponsored by the London Zoo in order to find and rescue it. However, the earwig has entered into the folklore of St Helena and many people believe that it is still living out there somewhere. Further details on this earwig species can be found here.

Dmitri Logunov, the Curator of Arthropods at the Manchester Museum, and two Manchester based artists, Ian Clegg and Angela Tait, are talking about the story of the Giant Earwig.