What are the Most Common Insects to Get into Your Ear?

Earwigs, flies, crickets, spiders and cockroaches are among the most common insects to get into your ear.1 These bugs are attracted to warm and humid environments, which make the ear canal a perfect place for them to hide. 

Earwax is the body's natural defense against insects and other foreign objects entering the ear. The sticky substance traps dirt, dust, and insects before they can reach the eardrum. However, if you have excessive earwax, it can create an ideal environment for insects to thrive and lay their eggs.

How to tell if a Bug is in Your Ear?

When an insect finds it's way into your ear, it can be an unpleasant or even painful and uncomfortable experience. For the most part, it is harmless, but you may experience several symptoms2, including:
  1. Feeling a crawling sensation in your ear:
    It can be a strange feeling that is difficult to describe. Some people describe it as a tickling, twitching or itchy sensation.

  2. Hearing a buzzing or humming sound in your ear:
    This is caused by the insect's movement and is often described as a rustling or fluttering sound.

  3. Feeling fullness or pain:
    If the insect starts to move around in your ear canal, it can cause a sensation of fullness in your ear, discomfort or even pain. The pain may be mild or severe, depending on the size of the insect and how far it has travelled into the ear canal.

  4. Tinnitus:
    Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear that is not caused by an external noise. However, if the insect is making noise as it moves around in your ear canal, it can cause tinnitus.

  5. Muffled hearing:
    You might temporarily feel that you are not hearing as well as you did before in that ear or in relation to your other ear.

Can It Cause an Ear Infection?

As the insect moves around in the ear canal, it can cause irritation and inflammation. In some cases, the presence of a foreign object in the ear can cause an infection, resulting in ear pain, fever, and discharge from the ear.2

Can It Damage Your Eardrum?

The eardrum is a thin layer of tissue that separates the outer and middle ear. It's delicate and can be easily damaged. If an insect gets stuck in the ear canal and starts to move around, it can cause damage to the eardrum. This can lead to bleeding, a ruptured eardrum, hearing loss, and even dizziness.

How to Remove a Bug in Your Ear?

If you have a bug in your ear and you want to try removing it yourself, you can try:

  1. Tilting your head sideways and shaking it to see if the bug crawls or falls out.
  2. If it doesn't, try dropping a few drops of olive oil into your ear with a dropper and repeat step 1 to see if the bug comes out with the flow of liquid. NOTE: Do this only if you are certain you do not have a middle ear infection or a ruptured eardrum.3

It's important NOT to try to remove the insect yourself with Q-tips or cotton swabs. You could end up pushing the insect deeper into the ear canal, causing more harm.

The best course of action is to see a doctor. Here's what the doctor will do:
  • A doctor can use an otoscope to examine your ear and determine the location of the insect.
  • If the insect is still alive, the doctor may pour some olive oil or mineral oil into your ear to kill it.
  • They may then use forceps or medical tweezers to remove it.
  • Alternatively, they may use warm water to flush the insect out of your ear.
Your doctor will also be best-placed to check your ear canal with the otoscope afterwards and prescribe antibiotics or ointments to sooth any inflammation or infection if required.4

Tips for Preventing Getting Bugs in Your Ears

  • Keep your windows closed when sleeping to prevent bugs from flying or crawling into your room.
  • Sleep with earplugs in your ears if you're camping outdoors.
  • Keep your sleeping area clean to avoid attracting insects.
  • Wear bug spray to repel bugs at bedtime.


Getting a bug stuck in your ear can be uncomfortable or even painful, but more often than not, it does not lead to serious complications.

You might experience itching, buzzing, fullness in your ear or even a temporary loss of some hearing.

To remove the bug yourself at home, you can try tilting your head to the side and shaking it.

If this does not dislodge the bug, seek advice from a healthcare provider who can examine your ear canal and use special tools and procedures designed to remove foreign bodies from ear canals.


  1. 7 Bugs actually found in ears. Retrieved from https://www.actionpest.com/blog/post/7-bugs-actually-found-in-ears, on 8 May 2023.
  2. Calleja T. (2020). 'A bugging feeling': a live foreign body in the ear. Arch Dis Child. Jul;105(7):689. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2019-316881
  3. Adcox, M. (2019). How do I remove a bug from my ear? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/bug-in-ear#prevention, on 8 May 2023.
  4. Alfaifi AJ, Khan LA, Mokarbesh HM. (2019). Light-assisted removal of ear canal live insect–a noninvasive approach for first level responders. J Family Med Prim Care. Sep;8(9):3042–4. doi:10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_443_19
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not use the information as a substitute for, nor should it replace, professional medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.