Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mini Urban Legend: Ants in the Brain

In July 2009, an urban legend was circulated online through emails, and this urban legend contained a warning about ants in the brain.

Apparently, around this time, a little boy who was enjoying some sweets but happened to be eating his snacks close to naptime. His tiredness outweighed his love for the sweets and he fell asleep with the sugar-treats on him. As he lay napping, sugar still melting in his saliva and with his candy in reach, ants detected the sweet treats and started to crawl around him to get their fair share of sugar. Some of the ants crawled inside the sleeping toddler and many crawled right inside his ears.

The boy awakened after his short rest but several hours later, his ears began to itch a bit and he complained that his face felt itchy.

He was taken to a doctor but the doctor couldn't find a reason for the itchy discomfort the little boy was complaining about. The doctor decided to take an x-ray of the boy and when the results were examined, the doctor was horrified!

What the doctor saw in the x-ray was a group of live ants in the boy's skull. Apparently, the doctor couldn't operate right away because the ants were alive and moving around.

Needless to say, without the doctor being able to perform surgery, the little boy died.

This story was circulated with urgent warnings for people not to have food items in bedrooms or near places where they sleep - whether these be sweet treats or anything else. The sender of the story urged parents to never let their kids eat sweet items just prior to sleep times, for fear that ants would be attracted to the sweets.

All in all, a very creepy little tale, don't you think?

Can you pick out the obvious signs that it is an urban legend?

Buggy Creepy Germs

People have a natural and very strong aversion to almost all creeping and crawling life forms, from mice and other small rodents to smaller organisms like insects. The idea of bugs on or near a person is sufficient to freak most people out. Naturally, this means there are plenty of totally gross, disturbing tales about insects on, near or even IN people. Add the fact that we call germs and sicknesses by the name of 'bugs' (the flu bug) in our common, everyday language and it becomes a near paradox, this connection-aversion with people and bugs.

Perhaps it is because WE KNOW that sometimes smaller organisms can invade our larger bodies (resulting in great or fatal damage) that we fear bugs so much in general. Almost everyone is perfectly aware that organisms invisible to the naked eye have wiped out entire populations before during the course of history. Smallpox (has killed millions upon millions of people), The Spanish Flu (killed up to 100 million in a space of around two years, 1918 and 1919), The Black Death (1340-1771, killed an estimated 75 million), Malaria (still kills about 2 million each year) and AIDS (has killed an estimated 25 million since we learned what this disease was around 1981) have all been sicknesses that decimated astounding numbers of people and also spread uncontrollably across the landscape.

Most of us know that at least one of the terrible diseases named above is carried by one of the most common insects in the world - the mosquito. These insects - mosquitoes - have been the cause of and are still often the cause of transmission of the germs that cause Malaria. Actually, the disease is carried and transmitted through a particular type of mosquito, the female Anopheles mosquito - but to the naked eye, how is one to identify the Malaria carrying female Anopheles mosquito in order to protect oneself, anyway?

From all this, it is quite apparent that the human body can be considered quite fragile when pitted against an insect large enough to see but which carries a smaller 'bug' that can infect and cause death.

No wonder folklore, mythology and even modern urban legends are filled with creepy bug stories... Bugs are almost universally feared. Bugs are also universally more powerful than the human body, under the right circumstances.

Next post: An Urban Legend about BUGS!