This story was first published on May 11, 2004
Circulating message claims that licking envelopes to seal them can result in cockroach eggs incubating and hatching in the person’s mouth.
The claims in the message are untrue. The scenario described is not possible. Roach eggs are contained in relatively large egg cases, each of which, depending on the species, can hold as many as fifty eggs. The eggs cannot survive outside of the egg cases. Thus, there is no way that an individual egg could have survived, first on an envelope and then in the victim’s mouth until a live roach was hatched. And an entire egg case would be too large to escape notice. The message is just a silly urban legend that has circulated decades.
Subject: Licking Envelopes
A woman was working in a post office in California. One day she licked the envelopes and postage stamps instead of using a sponge. That very day the lady cut her tongue on the envelope. A week later, she noticed an abnormal swelling of her tongue. She went to the doctor, and they found nothing wrong. Her tongue was not sore or anything. A couple of days later, her tongue started to swell more, and it began to get really sore, so sore, that she could not eat. She went back to the hospital, and demanded something be done. The doctor took an x-ray of her tongue and noticed a lump. He prepared her for minor surgery. When the doctor cut her tongue open, a live cockroach crawled out!!!! There were roach eggs on the seal of the envelope. The egg was able to hatch inside of her tongue, because of her saliva. It was warm and moist…
This is a true story reported on CNN. Andy Hume wrote “Hey, I used to work in an envelope factory. You wouldn’t believe the things that float around in those gum applicator trays. I haven’t licked an envelope for years!”
To All: I used to work for a print shop (32 years ago) and we were told NEVER to lick the envelopes. I never understood why until I had to go into storage and pull out 2500 envelops that were already printed for a customer who was doing a mailing and saw several squads of roaches roaming around inside a couple of boxes with eggs everywhere. They eat the glue on the envelopes. I think print shops have a harder time controlling roaches than a restaurant. I always buy the self sealing type. Or if need be I use a glue stick to seal one that has the type of glue that needs to be wet to stick.
PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO YOUR FRIENDS. After reading this you will never lick another envelope or stamp ever again
This message relates the harrowing tale of a hapless woman who had a cockroach hatch in her mouth after licking an envelope that was harbouring roach eggs on its seal. The message relies for effect on our natural human revulsion at the thought of insects invading our anatomy. Versions of the story have circulated for more than a decade, at first via email and more lately via social media.
But, although it makes for an entertaining tale, there is not a grain of truth to the story. A little research on the subject reveals that roach eggs are actually laid in batches and stored in an egg case. Depending on the species, each egg case can hold as many as 50 individual eggs and the eggs cannot survive outside this case.
Therefore, if the story were true, the hapless victim would have ended up with a mouth full of the critters rather than just one. Also, the egg cases are quite large, and even if one did end up on the lickable portion of the envelope, it is quite unlikely that the person doing the licking would not have noticed it!
Information about cockroach eggs on Orkin.com explains:
Female cockroaches produce egg cases, known as oothecae. Oothecae contain many eggs and are enveloped by a protein substance that gradually hardens into a strong, protective casing. Some cockroach species drop the egg case, while other species carry it until the eggs are ready to hatch.
An article about cockroaches on the University of Minnesota website notes:
A cockroach has three stages during its life cycle: egg, nymph, and adult. Adults lay eggs contained within egg cases that are dark-colored and roughly the same size and shape as a dry kidney bean. Depending on the species, an egg case contains between 16 – 50 eggs. Eggs hatch into young cockroaches called nymphs.
What’s more, the claim that the story was reported on CNN is false. A search of the CNN site reveals no mention of the story. Nor has the story been reported by any credible news or medical resource. A similar, and equally false, tale claims that a girl was found to have roach eggs in her gums or other parts of her body as a result of eating a taco. The similarity of the stories is further evidence that both are fiction.