A man in eastern China recently visited a hospital with complaints of "a crawling sensation" in his right ear. Upon examination, the doctor found a spider that had really made itself at home.
The tiny arachnid had spun a web that covered the patient's entire ear canal.
Dr. Zhang Pan of the Affiliated Hospital of Yangzhou University treated the man, inserting an endoscope into his ear and capturing footage of the eight-legged intruder, which was shared online by Newsflare on May 8. [27 Oddest Medical Cases]
The video shows a tube descending deep into the man's ear, revealing a small spider squatting very comfortably near the tympanic membrane, or eardrum. Wispy, pale filaments of its web are visible nearby — though it did not appear to have caught anything yet.
Zhang told The Sun that the spider was so small he couldn't see it until he inserted the endoscope. He first tried to snatch the spider from the ear canal with a pair of tweezers, but it escaped him; Zhang then successfully flushed the spider out with a squirt of saline, The Sun reported.
Cases of spiders and insects taking up residence inside people's ears are rare — though, perhaps not rare enough. A boy from Connecticut who complained of a buzzing in his ear was recently found to have a tick latched to his eardrum. In Florida last year, a woman awoke from a sound sleep to discover a cockroach had invaded her ear.
And in 2017, a man in China who suffered from severe ear pain found that it had a very unlikely source: a live gecko — albeit a very, very small one — that was curled up in his ear canal.
Because the patient with the spider in his ear sought treatment so quickly, there was no damage to his eardrum, Zhang told The Sun. However, the fate of the spider after its removal remains unknown, The Sun reported.
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Originally published on Live Science.
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Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.