Six-legged does an inverse Houdini
July 29, 2011 12:48 PM   Subscribe

[Animals-in-unexpected-places-filter] This morning, preparing breakfast, we found an earwig INSIDE AN EGG. How did it get there? Egg was laid in the past couple of days by one of our chickens in the back yard. Shell was intact. Earwig was dead, somewhat bloated (from being in the egg white for too long I guess).

Answers to expected counterquestions:
- Yes, it definitely was an earwig. The egg was not fertilized: no rooster, and I can tell the difference between an insect and a chick embryo.
- Yes, we ate the egg, after removing the earwig. It was the fourth egg to go in the pan when we found it and in the consternation we could not decide in which one it was. No use throwing out four eggs because of a harmless stowaway in one of 'em.
posted by gijsvs to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

There was a thread about this on backyardchickens a few months ago. The consensus seems to be that stuff can get into the oviduct and then be incorporated into an egg.

this pushes so many of my DO NOT WANT buttons that i want to crawl out of my own skin. Commence AAAAUUUGHGHGHGHGH again.
posted by peachfuzz at 12:58 PM on July 29, 2011 [13 favorites]

Could the earwig have somehow gotten into the chicken's uterus, before the shell was added to the egg?
posted by Solomon at 12:59 PM on July 29, 2011

It wasn't inside the egg. It was on the bottom of the shell, or it dropped from the fan hood or your hat...
You know how magic tricks work, right?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:59 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

weapons: yes it was. I totally suck as a magician.
peachfuzz: thanks for the link, I tried backyardchickens but did not find it. The consensus there appears to be that the animal got into the oviduct an lodged itself in the egg before the shell is formed. It also appears to be VERY rare, so I do not worry about repeat encounters.
I am actually not too grossed out about it, I think I've eaten a few bugs unknowingly, at outdoors lunches etc
posted by gijsvs at 1:10 PM on July 29, 2011

Nthing the "got into the oviduct" theory.

Also wanted to add that in my family of origin we have a phrase for incidents of this nature (bug in your food).... "It's just protein, dear." I say it out loud any time there's an ant in my salad, moths in my millet, or mosquitos trapped in the ice water.
posted by bilabial at 1:29 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Having eliminated the merely improbable, you are left with what I would prefer to think was the impossible, getting into the egg before it was shelled.

Makes you wonder if all those earwig crawling into the ear and penetrating the brain stories are entirely apocryphal, doesn't it?
posted by jamjam at 2:58 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it makes you feel less crazy, in 1972, my mom cracked in egg into a skillet and what fell into the sizzling butter was some kind of long, coiled worm, quite alive. There was very little egg left. She took it over to the local ag office and a few days later, they told us that it was impossible to have found such a thing in an egg. (it was some kind of avian worm) I still crack eggs into a bowl first.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:18 PM on July 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Well, ick. At least it wasn't a gecko.

The worm story is beyond disgusting. I would never eat an egg again if I cracked that one open.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:18 PM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I used to find bits of grain very occasionally in my hens' eggs. I suppose the same mechanism is at work here. You're made of stronger stuff than me, though! Grain is one thing...
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:20 PM on July 29, 2011

oneirodynia, I am just about to click on that link, and I can already tell I'm going to regret it...
posted by superfish at 7:28 PM on July 29, 2011

Well -- Mr Yuck, your nick is most appropriate! "it's only protein", right...
posted by gijsvs at 1:02 AM on July 30, 2011

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