Can Any Insects Survive in the Human Body? Things to Be Aware Of

Not everyone spends their days thinking about what kind of bugs could be crawling around inside us. But if you are that kind of person, we’ve got you covered. 

We’re deep-diving into the various insects that can live inside the human body. If you’re curious and don’t easily fall victim to a queasy stomach, read on for all the details on the subject. 

Topics we are exploring: 

  • 5 examples of insects that can survive in the human body
  • How these insects get there in the first place 
  • A real-life tale of an unexpected insect in an unexpected place
  • How they survive once they are in there and how long they will stay
  • Is it dangerous?
  • Ways to avoid having these bugs inside you


Seeing a cockroach anywhere is extremely unpleasant, but having one inside you is a whole different nightmare.

If the world is hit by an atomic bomb, cockroaches are one of the few species that will continue their lives as though nothing had happened. Thus, surviving on the inside of our bodies is no problem for these guys

Don’t believe us? In 2017, doctors removed a cockroach from a woman’s skull in India. There is a video online if you need to see it to believe it, but we will let you do your own researches!

The insect crawled up her nose while she was sleeping. She woke up with an unpleasant tingling in her nasal passage and went to the hospital. Sometime later, the doctors pulled the cockroach out. And yes, it was still alive.

Though cockroaches aren’t frequent invaders of the human body, we thought this one was worth the mention. 

Human Itch Mite

These insects are about half a millimetre in size, but don’t let that fool you when it comes to what they are capable of. Human Itch Mites will burrow into human skin and stay right beneath the surface for weeks. Eventually, they will also lay their eggs there. 

These insects are transferred through the skin of other infested humans or dirt that infested animals have been in. You won’t be able to see them, but you will be able to see their little tunnels, which will look slightly raised and are usually red.

Though this may seem frightening, you mustn’t worry as with certain medications, you can get rid of Human Itch Mites and the problems that come with them. 

Guinea Worm

Ever heard of Dracunculiasis? It’s the disease caused by Guinea Worms, and it’s exactly as it sounds. It occurs in communities lacking access to clean drinking waters, particularly in Africa, hence the name.

The worms enter the body when they are present in the water being consumed. Luckily the case numbers have fallen from 3.5 million annually in the 1980s to 28 in 2018.

There are no vaccines available currently to help with the disease so to remove the worms, one must pull them out with an incision. And, yes, they will likely be alive when pulled out.

If you’re looking for a frightening image, you can look up what these Guinea Worm removals look like, but once again we leave that up to you.


Our fourth insect is no other than lovely lice. We’ve all endured the lice checks at school for years, and it’s no surprise these are frequent, considering how contagious and unpleasant lice are.

Though these insects will usually stay above the surface of our skin, they can lay eggs below the skin’s surface on occasion.

Lice are easily transferred from person to person and can be extremely irritating as they cause rashes and itchiness. They also feed on our blood, which can lead to disease.

If lice have lay eggs below your skin’s surface, you’re going to want to get that checked out by a professional sooner rather than later. 

Loa Loa Worms

NIAID, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you don’t live in a tropical area, you don’t need to worry about this one as they only live in hot, humid climates close to the equator.

These bugs tend to work alongside deer flies and black flies, infecting humans after the flies have made the initial bite.

They work their way through the bite because of their tiny size and live within the human tissue just below the skin’s surface. In extreme cases, they can enter our bloodstreams.

Perhaps, the scariest part is that because they stay so close to the skin’s surface, you can occasionally see them moving. Luckily, if detected early enough, they can be removed through surgery or with extremely potent medication.

How Do They Get Inside Us Anyway?

When it comes to the topics of insects living inside us, perhaps the most important question has to do with their entrance. How do these creepy crawlies get inside our bodies? 

Most insects enter the human body through the openings we have, our orifices. The nose, the ears, the mouth, and in extremely unpleasant cases, our privates. 


Ears are a particularly common entryway for insects. The scent and taste of our earwax attract them. As our ear canals go into our skull, this is not a pleasant place for an insect to enter. 

Nasal Passages

The case of the woman with a cockroach in her nose is rather unique however, bugs do seem to climb up our noses.

This can happen while we sleep, but it can also happen while we are conscious in the case of small insects that tend to go unnoticed at first. 


The final most common way an insect can get into your body is through burrows. This is the case with lice.

The insect must first attach to your skin, usually through a transfer from another infected person or animal. Then they may lay their eggs or simply continue living by burrowing just below the skin’s surface. 

Accidental Ingestion

Unfortunately, another way these insects enter the body is by being consumed. As with the case of Guinea Worms, this can happen by drinking contaminated water or other foods.

Though stomach acid kills many insects on their way down, it is not always the case. 

How Dangerous is it to Have Insects Living Inside Me? 

As one might expect, it’s not great to have insects on our insides. However, the danger is dependent upon the type of insect, where they are in your body, how long they live there, and your general health. 

For instance, in the case of our cockroach woman, it was rather dangerous.

This is because of the sheer size of a cockroach and where it was in her body. However, because she had it removed as soon as she woke up, and the procedure went smoothly, she was just fine. 

With insects that lay eggs beneath the skin’s surface, danger also varies. If these eggs go undetected for extended periods (which is unlikely considering how much irritation they will cause), it can be dangerous.

As eggs grow and proliferate, they can cause disease, which can become serious. However, there are lots of medicines, vaccines, and treatments that exist to prevent and mitigate the effects of living insects on and in our bodies. 

How Do I Avoid Having Bugs Live in Me?

As with most topics of this nature, prevention is the best course of action. Hygiene is essential. Wash yourself and make sure to clean those crevices such as armpits, groin, and even bellybutton in case any creepy crawlies have snuck in undetected. 

Don’t try on other people’s hats and make sure you wash your clothes after buying them, especially if they are second-hand. As insects can live on surfaces for extended periods of time. 

If you are around children or crowds of people, be sure to wash your hair thoroughly afterwards. And try your best not to drink unfiltered water

If the thought of a bug crawling in your ear disturbs you enough, you could also wear earplugs.

Earplugs tend to increase the amount of earwax we build up because it doesn’t have an exit way during the night, but they do, undoubtedly, block the entrance for insects.

If you are very concerned about insects entering your body in other ways while you sleep, you can always sleep under a net

Final Thoughts

Now that you know some details on the types of insects that can call our bodies home, you may not sleep easily for a few days. However, most of the insects mentioned above are rare and thankfully, treatment exists for almost all of them.

Again, the key is prevention. Take care of yourself, and you can easily avoid most of these insects. There is also some relief to be found in the fact that very few insects can live inside us.

So, next time you swallow a housefly or get a mosquito up your nose by accident, do not panic, it will likely die or fly out immediately. Most insects don’t want to be inside us and much as we don’t want them to be!

Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:  

What Would Happen if I Swallowed a Wasp?

Bugs That Live In Hair Not Lice – Here’s What They Really Are

The Unlucky 13: Insects with the Shortest Life Spans

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page

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