Bugs in ears

Earwigs in ears – Yeah, happened to me, about ten years ago. Didn’t go into my breain – er, brain – but it did bite my eardrum a couple of times, which is unbelievably painful. Doctor washed it out with a squirt of saline and squished it, then made me look at it, at which point I collapsed in hysterical sobs. Not a fun experience.

Welcome, Wordmama, to the Straight Dope Message Board. :slight_smile:

Someone is sure to point this out to you, so I may as well be the one. It is customary, nay, expected to link to the column when starting a thread on it.

Like so:


But don’t feel bad. I may be the next to leave off doing so. It’s no great shame for a guest to omit it.

  • TBJ

{Edited to change Staright to Straight. Good Grief!}

I don’t understand why you couldn’t just stick your ear in water to drown the little bastard. What am I missing?

When our second son was young, he was plagued with recurring ear infections. He had recently completed a round of antibiotics and had been declared infection-free, when we traveled to New England to visit his grandparents. He was playing outside and ran in crying that his earache had returned. We got a referral to a small-town pediatrician, who had an office is an old Victorian house.

The pediatrician put his scope in our son’s ear, said “Hmmm,” and left the room. He returned with an instrument that looked like a very narrow straw with a lasso on the end. The doctor stuck it into our son’s ear and pulled out a small bug, much to our son’s and our relief.

A bug wrestling around inside your ear can be way too painful to wait for someone to find the mineral oil or run to the drug store for lidocaine. Heck, when it happened to me, all I could do is thrash around and yell for help.

I happened to be in the army and sleeping out in the woods when it a beetle crawled in my ear. Fortunately, there was a medic on hand who was able to figure out what I was yelling about, and quickly began flushing my ear out with a canteen of water. It wasn’t long before that nasty bug washed out.

So, although I’m sure those other methods work, I would suggest simply flushing the ear with water might be the very first thing you try – especially if getting to the other options would prolong the person’s agony.

That doesn’t usually get water right into the ear, surface tension stops it getting into the depths.

But won’t the oxygen run out eventually?

I’m not sure they gulp oxygen the way we do - they might be able to hold out for some time. Plus, I’m not sure you want them expiring in there - what if they get pissed and start looking for oxygen and chomp everything in their path? Suddenly it’s like the Ceti Eel boring into your ear, and after some screaming, you start wanting to do what Ricardo Montalban tells you to …

Eventually, perhaps, but not soon. I’ve kept a cockroach in a small jar for two weeks and it didn’t run out in that time.

I had a small ant crawl into my ear once. I was just wondering what the hell to do when it wandered out again, into my outer ear where I promptly hooked it out with my finger.

My biggest remaining impression was how LOUD it is to have something (even as small as an ant) tromping around on your eardrum or near environs. It was like being in a wooden box while someone drummedonthe outside.

There was an episode of the Night Gallery or something where a guy got one in his ear. IIRC it was a lover’s triangle so the lover knew someone who knew someone…money crossed hands to an anonymous sort of “wig man” (à la hit man) to sneak into the room at night and deposit an earwig to make the husband go deranged.

Next morning, it turned out the wig man got the wrong dude…major backfire. So he goes mental but then later, mmkay, the earwig died, thank God for that. But oops, before the earwig died it laid eggs. Last shot was the guy going mental all over again, presumably condemned to lather, rinse, and repeat ad infinitum. GAAAAAAAAH!

It spooked me but I think I looked it up or asked someone and found it was urban legend.

Wikipedia sez:

The name comes from the old wives’ tale that earwigs burrow into the brains of humans through the ear and therein lay their eggs.[1] Earwigs are omnivores and are predisposed to hiding in small holes and warm humid crevices, so might crawl into a human ear canal; but this behavior has no basis in fact.[2] Nevertheless, Rod Serling created an episode of Night Gallery entitled “The Caterpillar” based on the earwig legend.


I thought this was from “Ghost Story” b/c I could have sworn that Sebastian Cabot hosted it and that the episode was called “The Earwig.”

Anyway, thanks for taking away my warm security blanket! Really!