Can swallowing a bug be dangerous? The unsatisfying answer: It depends, according to health experts.
Bobbi Pritt, a microbiologist and director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., tells the Wall Street Journal
swallowing an insect is harmless, but some can be dangerous.
In most cases, eating a bug isn’t cause for worry, she says. In general, your body will digest spiders, mites and ticks, and insects such as gnats, flies, mosquitoes, fleas, and bedbugs, “just like any other food,” she says. “Eating a bug now and then probably won’t be a problem for most.”
But certain biting or stinging bugs can be a problem if swallowed, including bees, wasps, fire ants, and some types of caterpillars.
“Usually eating one will just cause mild pain and localized swelling if it bites or stings you,” she says. But for people who are allergic, eating one that then stings you can lead to breaking out in hives; swelling of the face, throat or mouth; difficulty breathing; dizziness; a drop in blood pressure; and even cardiac arrest.
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