Ants in your brain?

Every now and again I receive an e-mail hoax so ridiculous that I simply cannot ignore it, even though that is the course of action recommended by all of my skeptical friends. “It’s just so preposterous!” they say “Don’t waste your time on something so obviously fake”, well I can’t ignore it! Clearly too many people believe this particular load of bollocks, too many concerned friends are forwarding it without checking, I mean it actually landed in MY inbox! Well, here is the “live ants devouring your brain” e-mail I received a few days ago;

Dear All,
Please read this and advise your friends and family! You may save
others’ lives!

Incident One:   A little boy died because surgeons found ants in his
brain! Apparently this boy fell asleep with some sweets in his mouth or
with some sweet stuff beside him.

Ants soon got to him and some ants in fact crawled into his ear which
somehow managed to go to his brain. When he woke up, he did not realize
that ants had gone to his head.

After that, he constantly complained about itchiness around his face.
His mother brought him to a doctor, but the doctor could not figure out
what was wrong with him. He took an X-ray of the boy and to his horror;
he found a group of live ants in his skull. Since the ants were still
alive, the doctor could not operate on him because the ants were
constantly moving around. The boy finally died. So please be careful
when leaving food stuff near your bed or when eating in bed. This might
attract ants. Most importantly,

NEVER you or your child eat sweets before going to bed. You or your
child might attract ants while you are asleep.

Incident Two:   Another similar incident happened in a hospital in
Taiwan . This man was warded in the hospital and was constantly warned
by the nurses not to leave food stuff by his bedside because there were
ants about. He did not heed their advice. Ants finally got to him. His
family members said that the man constantly complained about headaches.
He died and a postmortem or autopsy was done on him. Doctors found a
group of live ants in his head. Apparently, the ants had been eating
bits of his brain. So friends, better be safe than sorry. Never leave
food stuff beside your bed you when you go to sleep.

Please forward this to your friends and relatives.

WAIT! Don’t forward it to anybody! Not until you have thought about what you have just read. We are talking about ants crawling into a person’s ear and somehow managing to enter the brain, then surviving long enough in this inhospitible environment for them to do damage to your brain – enough damage to kill you… OK, lets take a closer look, shall we?

The above image is a detailed diagram of the anatomy of the human ear and I am going to use it to help illustraste the potential hazards along the marching route of a platoon of tiny invader ants. You can clearly see the ear canal which is protected against insectoid invasion by ear wax and many tiny hairs to impede the passage of ants and other foreign objects. Directly between the ear canal and the middle ear lies the human eardrum. This is a barrier made of three layers of living tissue. Exquisitely sensitive tissue as anyone who has suffered a rupture of the eardrum could tell you. Any brain seeking ant would have to chew through this membrane in order to enter the deeper levels of the human ear, a violation which would not pass unnoticed.

Beyond the eardrum lies the confusing crossroads where the ants must choose to enter the fluid filled chambers of the cochlea, or hazard the sewer of the human ear, the Eustachian tube. A wrong turn here would see the ants ejected through your nostrils or swallowed unnoticed, their invasion foiled.

If our platoon of ants were to somehow survive the journey through the inner ear they would still have an insurmountable task ahead of them; traveling through the auditory nerve to the first of the brain’s defenses. You see, dear reader, the ants would then have to burrow through the three meningeal membranes which cover the brain and spinal cord, and hold the brain comfortably within it’s layer of cerebrospinal fluid.

From the above battle plan it should be abundantly clear that ants cannot possibly survive the journey through the human ear to the brain, any ant general proposing such a plan would be put up against the wall and shot! It cannot happen! Your brain is not under threat from insect invasion.

Furthermore, I’d like you to ponder the following points / questions after reading this e-mail (or any other e-mail making similar claims);

  1. What kind of ants are we talking about here? It may seem sticky, but details are very important, especially in cases such as the ant-in-th-brain e-mail,
  2. Where did this happen? Specifically which hospital / doctor treated the patients?
  3. The only “evidence” provided is anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence does not carry any weight and cannot be considered as convincing proof of a claim, especially one as extraordinary as brain eating ants.

NO! This e-mail is too many kinds of fear mongering rubbish to have any basis in reality. Before you pass it on to your address book, press delete!

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60 responses to “Ants in your brain?

  1. What if the ants are really small…n accidently there are a lot of them near ur bed n iv not noticed for mny days? Wud they get in the brain somehow?

  2. this morning a ant got in my ear and started biteing my drum I got the ant out but my drum hurts what I want to know can a ant chew through your drum and what should I do now

    PS, ear hurts

  3. There are a lot of ants that are making tunnels in my house and I when I was reading my ears tickles and today my ear tickles a little bit too I can’t tell if an ant crawled into my ear or if its just because I am thinking about it and it might make my ear tickle. But anyways thanks for the info it helped feel a bit less scared about the chances of it going into my brain

    • Hi , i had a feeling of something going into my ear , but then the feeling is gone , and i dont feel headache or itchy or painful in anywhere of my body , so what may have went in ?

  4. Omg, your blog post kind of reassured me. Recently when I’m sweeping my bedroom floor, i found lots of ants eggs. I fear that the ants will crawl inside me and lay eggs! Is that possible?

  5. An adventurous ant once journeyed into my ear. Unresting as it was it kept disturbing in my inner ear. I guess that proves the fact that they can’t get past those complicated membrane roadblocks to the brain.
    To eject the tiny thing i had to bang that ear continuously on the cushion till it came out. (i was really sure because i saw it on the cushion)
    notwithstanding, these tiny things are capable of doing wonders!

  6. i have something in my ear, it was moving for the past two days but now there’s no movement but i can still feel that there’s something in my ear. What should i do, i put in cooking oil that’s when the movement stoped but it didn’t come out. please help

  7. That’s impossible they would need air and there’s no available air in the head it’s all in the bloodstream

  8. Thanks , even without reading this I already know those stories are cheap deceptions and wicked fabrication by some illiterates. thanks for the further education and pictorial illustration of same.

  9. Ok. So there are plenty of sites prooving ants cannot get through the ear. But there are other entrances insects could enter like the anus or nose. What would happen then. Anyone able to explain that

    • Off the top of my head, you’d have a dirty ant. An enterprising ant might go up your nose and down your throat, and possibly into your lung from there, but I can find no evidence that this happens or is a concern if it does.

      If an ant goes up your anus, it will not get far. Your intestines are extremely long, are specially designed to move waste in the other direction, and terminate in your stomach – a giant acid bath.

      I don’t think you need to worry about ants getting into your body.

  10. GOOD MORNING ,I live in a large community called ”tent city”,258 peeps live here!!We RESIDE IN TENTS!.I felt some thing in my ear that woke me up out of a sound sleep.I tried to pick it out and it just kept moving around making a loud noise in my ear! I was so scared!!!

  11. I woke up to an ant scratching on my ear drum once. So creepy and loud. It sounded like rubbing a fork along corrugated cardboard. The unfortunate little bugger was given a quick death upon my cheek when he came out and I spent the next few hours creeped out.Eeewwww!

  12. In Cambodia, there was one kind of small black ants run 3 to 4 times fast then most ants. They do not bite, but they might get in to people ‘s ears in the night of hot and dry season during looking out of water and food.

    If ant get in to the ear, you have two choice to kill it or get it out.

    First choice is put vinegar in to your ear, then kill the ant, and get vinegar and the ant out of your ear. Do not do the following.
    1,do not put cold water in the ear, the ant doesn’t come out or get kill.
    2, do not put hot water in the ear, you could get burn.
    3, do not put alcohol in the ear, it doesn’t do good for your ear canal and eardrum.

    Second choice is the best choice:
    First, hold your breath, then put saliva on your Umbilical. The ant will hurry run out from your ear.

    The Second choice above look like a joke, but it’s not a joke. It’s real life, real experience, and real Science.

    The Umbilical could transmit sensation such as heat (hot and cold) and chemical fast enough to the brain, and then distribute it to the body. The ant also has sensor on his hair and his head, It could feel hot , cold and vibration.

    When the chemical and heat on the saliva touch the Umbilical, the chemical and the temperature in the ear has change. Then the ant will hurry run out from the ear.

    • Who? You or me?

      This is not a news site. I blog about hoax emails as, and when, I receive them. If the email is still being sent about, then people still believe it is true, and more work is needed to remedy the problem.

  13. i live in Skopje
    Republic of Macedonia in suburb in on the fourth floor of soliter
    and there-always on the fourth floor I have ants

  14. I just read ur articles over ants in ur ear. I woke up this morning at 5 am feeling a strange movement in my ear i freaked out cuz i felt some ants earlier that nite. I could stop that movement but it went away im scared because i have a babygirl laying next to me do u think there is anything i should be concerned about? If u answer asap i would appreciate it and be able to sleep safely. Because i read some article where it says ants could lay up to 10,000 eggs and once they hatch they will go all over my brain and i would die!! Please help

  15. That email sounds like it was meant as a gag.. Based on some Urban Legend for parents and stuff to read and chuckle, then share to their kids to scare them about eating in bed and having treats before bed. It really sounds like a fear mongering statement for kids, yet it still makes people wonder. It sounded sarcastic and humorous to me, although it did get my attn and after reading it I did become a little curious. Did you ask the sender if it was a joke? Was my first impression of it.

    Great job illustrating how hard it would be to invade the brain. Even if some insanely crafty mb super intelligent space ant COULD make it to the brain, it would likely drown in the fluid around the brain.. and would probably suffocate in the brain even if it could navigate thru the fluids. Very interesting and funny argument, enjoyed reading it.

    I guess the fear and believability stems from true stories of mites, ‘ant nests’, and earwig “infestations” that may also be Urban Legends, but Ive heard of earwigs living in the ear and was deathly afraid of them when i was a little. I remember screaming when i saw one in the baby pool. So maybe it taps into a similar childhood fear in people.

    I think it was gag that parents were ‘spose to laugh and then scare their kids with, but it backfired and scared the parents too.. Too funny.

    • Hey Scott, I didn’t really think that this e-mail sounded like a gag. Perhaps I’ve been floored often enough by the stupid things that people do believe that I just kinda figure people will believe ANYTHING.

      Thanks for your compliments and thoughtful comments.

      Angela

  16. Hello Sir,
    Thanks for the information you took the time to make and I’m very thankful for it. But I have a question that resembles this situation. What if the “ant” were to crawl up your nose? If you would be so kind as too help inform us about this, I would be surely grateful for it.

    Thanks so much,
    Mr. Murphy

    • @DavidMurphy, If an ant were to crawl up your nose it would not be able to reach your brain either. If you check this link, http://tinyurl.com/2wqtmg5, you will see a diagram of the human nasal cavity. As you can see, the brain is separated from the nasal cavity by solid bone, except for one place, the eustachian tube (as mentioned in my article above). If any insect were to climb through this tube it would find itself in the middle ear, but still unable to penetrate the brain.

      Thank you for the question! :-)
      SD

  17. Really very helpful. A lot of thanks for your stuff to clearify our fear. I just received this mail , but unfortunatly not thinking of anything just forward this mail to alll my freinds. Now iam again forward this link to whom are all i send .

    Yuvaraj.M

  18. thank u SO MUCH for the clarification! it makes me feel better as ive had an ant in my ear and was seriously freaked out…

  19. skepticdetective, Thank you very much for this detailed explanation. I appreciate that you did this, This will indeed help many people.

    -msaadn

  20. I’ve got black ant in my ears now. Is there anyway to get it out? I’m putting some honey beside my ear, hopefully it will smell and come out.

    • too funny.. was it really 4am where you were when u realized u had an ant in your ear, then after getting the honey, you stumbled across this link? LOL. Joking right.. 9months after you post =P

  21. its a mind blowing fact that i have been never heard of. thank u for giving us information about this wonderful fact. N thanks for clearing all our doubts .

  22. “just got the above hoax mail —> got annoyed —> googled —> found your page —> mailed back to the person with a link to your page.”

    me too.

  23. Thanks a ton for clearing the stupid clud of doubt….though ants story was unbelievable, it did cause discomfort…….thanks again for the research and clarifying everything..

    cheers
    laks

  24. We have ALOT of ants in our trailer. I woke up with a headache on my right side and there was an ant near my nose. I know there’s mucus in my sinuses, but could an ant be hurting me and cause this headache?

    • Suzie, I am not a doctor. If you are concerned, you should speak to your family GP.

      My skeptical opinion is, No, the ant is probably not causing the headache. You say you have blocked sinuses, that is a far more likely source of the pain then an ant which happened to be wondering around your pillow.

  25. Ants in your ears and ants in your brain are two different things. I accept that ants could wind up in your ears but do not accept that they could tunnel into your brain.

    I hope your ENT can get the ants out of your children’s ears.

  26. My kids have ant nests in their ears. I have tried everything to get hem out. My family doctor referred me to an ENT which I am still waiting for. They did not believe until I showed them.

  27. though insects may not go to your brain,they WILL live in the ear,and poop there, I am in the middle of battleing some kind of mites my cats brought inside,and the mites got on my scalp and in my ears,anybody out there know of a safe way to rid my ear of them ,without damage to the ear drum, have tried most oils and solutions but they just won’t die,Drs. are useless, say they can’t see them ,they burrow thats why !

  28. Pingback: It’s my first birthday! « The Skeptic Detective·

  29. Very interesting and detailed blog…. loved it…. will pass this link to all everytime this mail comes around…..

    Cheers!

  30. GREAT !!

    just got the above hoax mail —> got annoyed —> googled —> found your page —> mailed back to the person with a link to your page.

    Thanks a lot for the detailed clarification.
    Good Job. Thanks again

  31. Thank you Sandy, I really appreciate the compliment! Please feel free to e-mail me ANY questions or e-mails you may receive which you think deserve the critical eye of the Skeptic Detective :)
    My address is skepticdetective{at}gmail.com

  32. I loved this blog!! I often get so insensed by these ridiculous emails that are forwarded willy nilly so to find someone who has intelligent, and amusing comment is like a breath of fresh air!! Yay!! I now feel somewhat vidicated and can relax in the knowledge that there is someone else out there, equally as annoyed who is also going to take on idiots who start, and pass on insults to our human intelligence!! Way to go!!

  33. Pingback: Ants in your brain?·

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