Dealing with a Bug In the Ear?

Learn How to Safely Remove It without Causing Damage
Last update on May, 28, 2024

Insects are normally just a buzzing nuisance but they can fly info your ear.

With the weather warming up and the sun staying around a little longer each day, many of us are eager to head outside for a hike, round of golf, or just to enjoy the scenery.

Of course, we're not the only ones excited for the change in season. Insects, for example, are also making their rounds in our neighborhoods, tending to "get in the way" of our precious outdoor time.

Usually, they're just a buzzing nuisance, but on rare occasions, they may find their way into our mouth, nose, or ears. 

Bug in Ear? Learn What To Do Next.

When a bug gets inside your ear, the experience can be alarming—for kids and adults—but knowing how to remove an insect from the ear at home is essential to ensure you don't damage the middle ear or eardrum.

In this guide, we'll discuss how to remove a bug from your ear safely and when you should seek medical attention.

Why Do Bugs Fly Into Our Ears?

Bugs are typically attracted to the warmth and moisture of the ear canal, and mosquitoes, in particular, are drawn to the carbon dioxide we exhale. This is why they tend to fly around our heads when we're outside.

In fact, pregnant women exhale more carbon dioxide and have slightly higher body temperatures, making them more susceptible to insects. Therefore, doctors recommend wearing bug repellent outdoors to protect themselves and their unborn children from the illnesses mosquitoes can carry. 

What Types of Bugs Fly into Ears?

Although rare in the United States, bugs can find their way into our ears. It's an unpleasant thought, but sleeping on the ground while camping or being outside on a warm, humid day are a few scenarios where experiencing a bug in the ear could occur.

The most common types of insects reported to enter a human ear include mosquitoes, small flies, and moths, but spiders, cockroaches, worms, and earwigs are also on this list.

The good news is that our ear wax is a protective barrier for our ears, helping to keep the ear canal lubricated, clean, and free from dust, debris, and even insects. However, bugs may still find their way inside our ears. They may die immediately after or remain alive and try to work their way back out of the ear.

How To Tell If a Bug Is In Your Ear

You or your child (or grandchild) may notice a bug flying inside the ear immediately due to the buzzing sound and the sensation of something crawling inside. Sometimes, people may be unaware that a bug is in their ear (i.e., if they're sleeping) and will experience pain and discomfort later.

Other common bug in the ear symptoms include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Infection
  • Vestibular complaints (note: your vestibular system provides the brain with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation. It helps us maintain balance and stabilize our gaze during movement.)

You may also feel like a foreign object is inside your ear, causing muffled sounds, or you may notice ear drainage, swelling, or inflammation. 

How to Remove Insect from Ear at Home

When a bug flies into your ear, the natural reaction is to hit your ear to kill it before it goes inside. Avoid doing so or attempting to remove the insect with Q-Tips® or tweezers. Doing so can cause more harm and push the insect further inside the ear canal.


Instead, the first step is to remain calm but act quickly. Whether you're the one experiencing a bug in the ear or your child is, here are some simple ways to safely remove the bug and prevent any damage to the middle ear or eardrum.



Tilt the head and shake

Tilt the head and shake: Whichever ear is affected, tilt the head down on that side and gently shake the head to help dislodge the bug. Think about when you get water stuck in your ear and need to shake your head to one side to remove it.

Use warm water

Use warm water: If the bug is dead, try flushing it out of the ear with warm water.

OTC ear wax removal

OTC ear wax removal: If the bug doesn't come out of the ear, contact your doctor, who may recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) ear wax removal kit to flush out the bug.

When to Contact a Doctor for a Bug in Ear

If you cannot remove the bug at home, contact your clinician for help. The longer the bug stays inside the ear canal, the more prone you are to infection and other serious issues.

Any symptoms mentioned earlier (i.e., hearing loss or muffled hearing, swelling, ear drainage, etc.) are also good indicators that you need to see a clinician for medical intervention. Be sure to do so immediately to avoid further damage to your ear.

Even if you have successfully removed a bug, contacting your clinician is always a good idea. They may recommend coming in to ensure the insect has been removed in its entirety. If parts of the bug are left inside, you may develop a fever, inflammation, and infection.

A bug may have also bitten or scratched you inside the ear, so it's best to have a professional inspect the ear thoroughly and recommend further treatment if necessary.

How To Prevent a Bug in the Ear

To prevent a bug from getting inside your ear, here are a few preventive tips:

  • Wear insect repellent when outdoors
  • Use a protective mesh screen on the windows and doors of your home and camper
  • Wear earplugs outdoors if needed
  • Avoid sleeping directly on the ground if camping

Family walk

Protect Your Ears and Hearing Health This Summer

Summer is a great time to explore the outdoors! Remember to protect your ears from bugs, lound noises, and swimmer's ear.

Ensure your hearing health is in top shape by taking a free, virtual hearing screening. From there, you can check your benefits using our helpful tool, and our team will connect you to a hearing care provider near you.

Remember to stay connected to our blog for more tips, news, and guidance on your hearing health journey. 

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