What’s worse? Evil spirits or a spider in your head?

Today we present yet another plausible alternative to hauntings and possession. Spiders.

The tabloids just love creepy stories about spiders. So, there were plenty of links to the story about the woman who heard scratching sounds and thought she was possessed by evil spirits only to find out there was something alive in her ear canal.

After a hiking trip near Xiamen, in East China’s Fujian Province, Li Peng experienced discomfort in her ear. She had pain and heard scratching only she could perceive. Apparently, she was very worried. She didn’t immediately seek out medical attention, but went to pray. When she finally consulted an ear specialist, it’s reported he found the spider that was building a web in her ear canal. The spider was finally safely extracted.

So, we have a number of interesting claims in this story:

  • Do spiders (or other arthropods – insects and the like) use the human ear to hide?
  • She feared evil spirits over a natural explanation.
  • Built a web in the ear? Why? Waiting for other visitors to drop by?

There are many cases of hoaxes and exaggerations about things living in human orifices. Creepy crawlies in ears are popular tales.

In late May 2015, Bruce Branit posted a video where he used his phone to film his ear to examine why it might be painful after a swim. A cute little set of eyes appeared peering from inside his ear hole. It was faked, CGI.

Shortly after that (about two weeks), there was another video of a man who posted a similar setup claiming he saw a black widow spider in his ear. This one also looks fake since he reacts IMMEDIATELY when the itsy bitsy spider appears. How did he see what was being filmed? It’s also not a black widow, too small and wrong shape. The setup sounds like just another hoax. But it was not officially revealed as one that I can find. I’m still going with fake because there is just no decent evidence for it being real.

No we don’t swallow spiders, though I’ve probably ingested some pesky gnats. But it is plausible that a small animal can mistake the ear canal for a good hiding place. We likely don’t hear of most of the incidents. Those we do hear of, are difficult to read, like this one about a beetle doing some damage. We also know that leeches might head up people’s noses. And, in this rare case, a botfly larva lived for a while in a child’s eye. That one showed up in the medical literature.

Holy Wrath of Khan!

Recall this story last July about a boy who had a centipede as an unwelcome guest. The invader didn’t get far but it was again a plausible scenario. The media however, will often play it up for literal yucks. It also makes for great horror fodder.

And… who knows what else has happened that we’d all rather not hear about. That’s enough of THAT. You can forgive me for NOT looking for more videos about bugs in ears on YouTube to confirm this, but I’d be surprised if anyone can actually catch the culprit on a cellphone camera.

As for the spider in the featured story building a web, spiders often will trail silk behind them. There’s really not a whole lot of space in the ear canal. From an original Chinese source, it sounds more like the spider lined the ear canal with silk. So, this is another bit of exaggeration to make the awful story sound more horrific.

Even more spine-chillingly, it had started to weave an intricate web there.

~ Daily Mail

Thank you for descriptive words, Daily Fail!

Subsequent sources will capitalize and repeat such stories without confirmation. It’s just too “GOOD” not to share.

People are understandably concerned that critters will crawl into their ear, especially during sleep. That this happens is confirmed by insect experts. [Note: spiders and centipedes are NOT insects but we’re generalizing to things with 6 or more legs.] It can be difficult to confirm many cases that the tabloids report. Several of such tales appear on Reddit, in other self-reported posts, or from foreign language sources, so they are best not taken at face value because they are unconfirmed.

To be clear, earwigs, spiders, roaches, moth or beetles, or any other critters would rather NOT be in your ear. They just weren’t quite smart enough to figure out it wasn’t the nice, safe dark and cozy place they thought it was.

So, now that we’re all itchy and freaked out a bit, evil spirits don’t sound so scary, eh? About that…

The link above was sourced out of CEN (Central European News). This source has been called out for fake stories by BuzzFeed. (CEN didn’t like that.) That is where the “possessed by evil spirits” quote originated. It’s not mentioned in the original Chinese sources except as a brush off showing the woman’s desperation “at one point”. So it seems more like an aside that CEN (or whomever) capitalized on to make this story even more sensational.

Don’t worry about it. Now, sleep tight.


  11 comments for “What’s worse? Evil spirits or a spider in your head?

  1. October 1, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    Gee, thanks for that! I have had a spider hanging out on the ceiling near my bed, and I have just left it there because it isn’t harming anyone (unless it comes down and one of my cats eats it) – generally speaking, unless something is a pest (ant, mosquito, fly) I don’t bother it. I figure, it isn’t here to menace me and it doesn’t deserve to be killed just because it exists.

    But now…

    Thanks. Just…thanks.

  2. Jim
    October 1, 2015 at 11:53 PM

    >She did immediately seek out medical attention, but went to pray.

    It seems like this sentence means to say that she did *not* immediately seek medical attention.

  3. One Eyed Jack
    October 2, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Earwigs. You just had to mention earwigs. Ugh!

  4. busterggi (Bob Jase)
    October 2, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    Ages ago I briefly had a gnat in one of my ears – it really is crazy painful to have a critter banging on your eardrum. It didn’t stay long enough for me to need any medical attention.

  5. October 2, 2015 at 8:01 PM

    The well-known truth about swallowing spiders.

  6. Perry
    October 3, 2015 at 8:02 PM

    “No we don’t swallow spiders…”

    There Was An Old Woman who did:

    There was an old woman who swallowed a fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed a fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.

    There was an old woman who swallowed a spider,
    That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
    Perhaps she’ll die.

    and so on….

  7. Lee
    October 4, 2015 at 9:20 PM

    My younger brother at one time complained to my mother that his ear hurt. My mother took him to the doctor and the doctor discovered that my brother had been putting beans in his ears for some time and one had actually germinated. I am dubious about creatures wishing to enter the human ear but a human’s propensity for placing items into various orifices know no bounds!

  8. Vilding
    October 6, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    True story, I have actually had an earwig in my ear. Went to the doctor, who flushed it out. Witnessed by a second doctor. Both were pretty surprised. Yes, these things happen, but they aren’t common enough that you should worry about it. And it didn’t do any damage, so that was nice, too.

    It’s probable that these things only happen by mistake; earwigs (and spiders) probably do not seek out ears, or even warm enclosed spaces intentionally, but once in there, they essentially get trapped.

    And it should probably be added to the story that this happened in a log house in a rural setting. Now I live in a city and can’t really remember the last time I’ve seen an earwig.

  9. Russian Skeptic
    October 8, 2015 at 4:27 AM

    We Russians have an idiom ‘to have cockroaches in one’s head’. It means that the person in question is, errr, insane. I believe this is just the case.

  10. Cathy
    October 8, 2015 at 7:03 PM

    My son put a flower behind his ear one day. That night he had a really bad ear ache. I shined a torch into his ear to see the tail of something tiny rushing out of view. I think it was an earwig. We headed down to the hospital to get it flushed out as there was nowhere else to go at that time of night. By the time they could see him the insect had disappeared but he was still in pain so they poured something into his ear to ease his pain and sent us on our way. It was very painful for him and apparently they could tell his ear canal was quite inflamed.

  11. Jack
    October 9, 2015 at 6:29 PM

    Years ago while working nights I got used to wearing earplugs while sleeping and now I can’t sleep without them so this is something that has never wigged me out. 😉

Comments are closed.