On a day-to-day basis, is there anything worse than finding out a bug has crawled into your ear and is either trapped there, or has otherwise comfortably nested there? Why yes, yes there is. As reported by the Tallahassee Democrat, it turns out things can become far more nightmarish incredibly quickly.
Picture the scene. You’re living in an apartment near Florida State University, but not just with your husband: sadly, you share your living space with cockroaches. In the sheets, in the mattresses. You have to pick them off your partner as he sleeps, and try not to freak out when they crawl out of light bulbs sockets.
Then, one fine day back in May, you awake to hear a rustling noise in your ear. A roach, clearly wanting its own prime bit of real estate, decided to have a bit of a burrow, which the affected man, 25-year-old Blake Collins, described thusly: “It felt like someone was shoving a Q-tip all the way inside my head and there was nothing I could do to stop it.”
Heading to a hospital, a doctor used a numbing medication – lidocaine – to kill the roach. Normally, this is where these stories end, but oh no. This one is as beautifully, unnecessarily descriptive as you’d like.
“I heard it die in my head,” Collins explained, adding that he “could feel him go super, super fast, kicking and try to dig its way out.” After hearing a cartoon-esque “faint little squeal” and two more minutes of ear canal pandemonium “it just stopped and he died.”
And yet, there’s more: the roach left an egg behind in his ear canal. As gleefully elucidated by Gizmodo, it turns out that it’s not just a single egg either; a German cockroach, the perpetrator of the frightening festivities, lays an oothecal, an egg delivery sack that can contain up to 50 individual eggs.
This egg sac was cleaned out too, of course, but if they failed to notice it, the hatchlings would have come out en masse, using air to inflate and break open the sac.
Although Collins opined that bugs crawling and dying into your ear is something that happens to corpses, not living people, he’s sadly wrong. There are, fairly grimly, far too many tales of this exact thing happening, with another Floridian experiencing the same series of utterly shitty events just a few weeks earlier.
Coby Schal, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, told National Geographic that “it’s actually not an uncommon phenomenon to have a cockroach in the ear.”
Roaches are always looking for food, and earwax – a delicious secretion of keratin, dead skin cells, fatty acids and so forth – can be a convenient meal for them. When you’re asleep, it’s not that difficult for them to dive in for a midnight snack. Other bugs can enjoy dipping in too, of course, as do some small geckos.
Either way, if you live in a roach-infested region, then, best get some earplugs. That way you might just be awoken by them knocking on the door.
Schal noted that nose intrusions are more unusual, but they do happen, though: a few months back, a live cockroach was extracted from a woman’s skull, between her eyes, after engaging in a bit of frenzied nasal exploration.