A woman who began hearing strange noises turned out to have a spider living in her ear, alongside an exoskeleton it had shed while occupying her head.
The 64-year-old showed up at an otolaryngology clinic after four days of abnormal beating, clicking, and rustling sounds keeping her awake. She had a pretty clear idea of what was going on, according to a case report on her ordeal, as she had woken up on the day the symptoms started with the feeling of a creature moving around inside her ear.
"On physical examination, a small spider was seen moving within the external auditory canal of the left ear," the team said in the case report, adding in a horror show of a sentence: "the molted exoskeleton of the spider was also present."
A video taken by the team show it crawling around in there, near its discarded exoskeleton.
The species is not identified in the case report, which is far more concerned with the medical aspects of an ear becoming a studio apartment for a spider. However, a zoologist and a biologist told Ars Technica that it is from the family of jumping spiders (Salticidae), a particularly mobile species, and likely a juvenile as it had shed its exuvia (exoskeleton).
"Many hunting spiders (i.e., those that do not live in prey-capture webs) seek a sheltered location for the purpose of molting, as they cannot defend themselves from predators during that process," Jerry Rovner, an emeritus biology professor at Ohio University, told Ars Technica.
The spider and exoskeleton were removed from the woman's ear using suction, after which her symptoms immediately stopped.
The case report is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.