Earwig Bite

The Myth of the Earwig Bite

Beware, the earwig bite!  Even more dangerous than the bed bug, the earwig finds its home in the warmth of your bedroom, and then when you are deep asleep the earwig takes flight, landing ever so gently on your pillow where it crawls along the soft down, and creeps into the warm nook of your unsuspecting ear and burrows deep.  There, right by the brain it leaves it eggs.  In time, they hatch and you begin to feel the first earwig bite—one tiny bite at first.  Once the other tiny earwigs hatch, the bites come more often driving you to madness and eventual death—the earwig mania having run its course!



The Truth about Earwigs

Every bit of the above story is false.  Earwigs pose virtually no threat to humans.  Although there are some rare cases of an earwig ending up in a human ear—as with just about every other kind of small insect--it is not the case that earwigs lay their eggs in the human ear.  An earwig is a small insect that somewhat resembles a cockroach.  It has wings (although it barely ever flies) and the male has curved pincers that it uses to capture its lunch or to mate.

Although earwigs tend to like warm wet places, the human ear is not its primary choice for burrowing.  In fact, your bedroom is also not the homiest of environments for the earwig.  The earwig much prefers the basement because earwigs like not only warmth and heat, they also like a place that is perpetually dark.  In fact, they like the dark much as we like the light.  This is because the earwig is a nocturnal animal that is blind.  Not only does it do its hunting in the dark, the nighttime is also the safest time for the earwig, which is prey to several kinds of birds, frogs, and reptiles.  There are even some other kinds of insects that prey on the earwig.  For this reason and others, the earwig prefers the darkness of your basement or garage to the bright windows of your bedroom during the day.


Even if you do run across an earwig, it is not the earwig bite that you are likely to note.  The earwig is actually much more likely to alarm you with its behavior.  If you disturb an earwig, most likely he will take evasive action.  The earwig will act somewhat like a spider, suddenly dropping down from its perch along the wall and then running along to the floor until he finds a suitable hiding place.

As to the earwig’s methods of reproduction, they are somewhat unusual for insects.  They do not lay eggs in your ear and let their young eat your brain.  They are one of the very few creatures in the insect world that takes care of their young.  In fact, the female earwig will not only carefully clean and protect her eggs (those that don’t give birth to live young) and feed them even after they have hatched.

And in regard to earwig’s feared bite?  The earwig bite is not a thing of fear because that is not how the earwig attempts to injure its prey or to defend itself.  The most dangerous part of the earwig’s anatomy is the curved cerci—fore arms that it uses to grapple its victims or to ward off predators.  Humans need fear it even less than a bee-sting, which both causes more pain and has the possibility of causing an allergic reaction.  Neither of these is a possibility with the earwig bite.