The following "earwig alert" is purported (via The Folklorist.com)
to have come from the Texas Department of Agriculture, although there is no
date attached to the document. It is true, however, that earwigs were
in the past widely believed to behave in exactly the manner described
below. They don't, but I'm sure the faux-scientific tone of the
announcement engendered a few shivers here and there.
The Texas Department of Agriculture in cooperation with the Department of Health has issued a warning surrounding earwig infestations in the state. The earwig is a small insect, with forceps-like antennae, many jointed feelers and a pincher-like beak at the end of itâ€™s tail. They mate in the cooler days of autumn and prefer to engage their mating behavior on vegetables of the squash and gourd variety. During the Halloween season, pumpkins are of particular concern for transmission of these parasites to humans.
These insects are quite insidious, the fertilized female will attach herself to hair, clothing and/or skin, and under the cover of darkness wend her way into the ear canal, burrowing then through the middle and inner ear to the brain. Upon reaching the brain, the earwig first severs the cranial nerve, which serves as both a blessing and a curse to the victim. Whereas the victim suffers no pain thereafter, the victim is also unaware of the progressive degeneration of cerebral tissue.
As The Folklorist points out,
Over the course of several days, the female burrows a network of tunnels through the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain, implanting her eggs as she digs along. After she has deposited her entire brood of approximately 1000 eggs, she emerges in the sinus cavity where she expires. The eggs hatch after about 4 days of incubation. Immediately after they pass through the pupae stage, about 2 days later, each larva burrows further into the brain, shredding brain tissues and consuming it for nourishment. The victim will usually die a horrible and debilitating death about a week later as the larvae reach maturity.
The entire process of host infestation to host death spans only about 2 weeks, so recognizing the symptoms and seeking treatment is of immediate concern.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
Bleeding from the ears, fever over 103 F for more than a day, heart palpitations, migraine-like headaches and/or sudden speech impairment.
[Earwigs] get their name from the mistaken belief that they have a particular affinity for human ears. This notion has persisted for close to a millennium. An earwig may, on a rare occasion, find it's way into an ear, but no more often than any other insect.
I imagine that having a "bug in your ear" would be quite disconcerting, but deadly? Not likely. Earwigs are neither carnivorous nor parasitic. The earwig primarily eats plants, but will ingest another insect if given the opportunity. As far as eating human tissue, no chance.
The illustration is from Bugstoppers