I have read that people used to use powdered earwig as a cure for ear infections. Is this claim true? What are the details of this practice?

  • What do you mean with "ought to be used"?
    – YviDe
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 23:21
  • I read, they have been used as medicine against ear disease. But I would like to know, whether this is true. Why is the word "ear" used in their name. People think, they crawl in ears. But this is not correct.
    – Doc17
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 7:09
  • Hi Doc17, it seems that you asked several things, but the grammar made it a bit difficult to understand exactly what you wanted to know. "Why was it called 'earwig'" is off topic here, we can't tell you how language originated. "Did people use it to try to cure infections" is a question on the history of medicine, and it is OK on the site, as far as I know. So I edited to leave that part. Given your comments to YviDe's answer, this seems to be your main point.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


The term "earwig" comes from people thinking that the animal crawled (and wiggled) into people's ears. It doesn't. So this has nothing to do with using it as medication against ear infections etc.

(In German, by the way, it's called Ohrenkneifer (ear pincher))

  • Is this false belief also the reason, why the insect was used as medication against ear diseases in ancient times? Because people thaught, it is called earwig it must also be an appropriate drug? This is strange.
    – Doc17
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 12:01
  • @Doc17 I couldn't find any sources that it ever was. Can you provide them?
    – YviDe
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 12:09
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Earwig
    – Doc17
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 12:30
  • But I would love to see a reliable source.
    – Doc17
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 12:31
  • 1
    I've found a few places repeating the same assertion in passing (e.g. a random blog post) but not the original source. However, they do all agree this was a treatment in Elizabethan England, and pre-science "medical" treatments were largely guesswork :)
    – era
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 15:59

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