As an insect scientist I have heard quite a number of unproven theories about the six-legged creatures I study. Some such theories originated long ago and are now considered folklore. That is the case of the earwig that is so named because of the ancient belief that the insect would enter human ears and chew through the eardrum. There is no truth to that assumption.
Some unsubstantiated beliefs today are associated with human efforts to control insects that are considered pests. For instance, I am sometimes told that placing hedge apples – the green, ball-shaped fruits of Osage orange trees – in closets will keep moths out of clothes. There is no scientific support for such a control approach, short of dropping the hedge apple on the offending moth. Also, some people believe that eating garlic will prevent mosquito bites. Again, scientific evidence does not support this contention.
So how do ideas like these originate? They probably get started when people associate two events and assume a cause-and-effect relationship. But it is easy to be misled by such observations. The relationship might only be coincidence and have nothing to do with one causing the other. The only way to know for sure is to test the idea in a scientific experiment.
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