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The St. Helena Giant Earwig is from a tiny patch of land on a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The island was first discovered by humans in 1502. Until then the Giant Earwig had lived  on the desert plains for millions of years, hiding under scattered rocks by day and emerging at night to forage. Humans came and took the rocks to build things.

The earwig was last seen alive in 1967. Special expeditions have searched for it since then, but it is now believed to be extinct. There are many other animals on this isolated island ecosystem still unknown to science whose survival is threatened by a proposal to build St.Helena’s first human landing strip.

Giant Earwig

I wonder how many families I break up every time I kick a stone

How many quiet voices I never hear

In whose home I make myself comfortable

What dies with my breath

Who is it, after all, that I kill in in my sleep, and fiercely protect when I wake?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Stephenson permalink
    29/07/2009 12:52 pm

    I think you may have perpetuated a myth amongst children about earwigs in general, when you placed that specimen next to your ear, when – as I understand it – they are named for being found in the ‘ears’ of wheat, etc. in this country!

    Are you blaming human intervention for the loss of this giant earwig? Seems a bit harsh to me.

    Every autumn I go mushrooming in the woods, and always have half an eye out for an ‘Earth Star – a species now believed to be extinct for some reason, though dried specimens exist. There is no reason to blame humans for it’s disappearance.

    It is important to feel a collective guilt about certain ecological events – just so long as we deserve to feel guilty about them, or we can intervene to halt the disasters, but I think we’re in danger of instilling a sense of guilt into the very young (our inheritors) which they may not deserve, or may not have the power to act on. Maybe it is similar to the collective sense of national guilt experienced by German youth about the Holocaust? Interestingly, there is a back-lash in Germany now against the enforced inheritance of the sins of the fathers.

  2. Julian Vincent permalink
    31/07/2009 8:59 pm

    Earwig == ‘EarWING” – the shape of the expanded wing which is neatly folded away under the short covers. Finding the thing in your ear is also possible, since earwigs like to crawl into confined spaces and stay there – hence the gardner’s way of collecting them in an upturned pot on the top (=upturned ‘pot’!) of a stick. They are nature’s hermits, wanting to find a cave where it’s dark, protected and they are surrounded – usually by other earwigs wanting the same thing! You mustn’t make hermitry too popular or you’ll end up in a hermit collective, a national union of hermits, fighting for the ear of the public and for the right to be left alone . . . Should the Manchester Hermit actually be advertising his existence at all? Especially when, later on in this series, he is advertising his willingness to be part of someone else’s existence since he has finally relinquished any consciousness of his own existence. Do hermits always end up in a vicarious existence? Is that the fate of a hermit, or his definition, or the sign that he has finally achieved nirvana? Since your existence can only ever be proved by someone else’s reaction to you, as a hermit you cease to exist as soon as you enter your cave.

  3. Ian Jacobs permalink
    05/08/2009 8:42 am

    The process’of collection and destruction seem deeply connected. As we race towards destroying the planet on which we reside. is someone even now engaged in placing a chunk in a museum?

  4. Fhjvdsxvhjn permalink
    08/07/2010 3:35 pm

    Fuck the earwigs. Those things are scary as shit. I’m kicking all the rocks I can!

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