Put a Bug in Your Ear

I tried it and I didn’t care for it.

Fortunately, I was not alone, quite. Wife was just leaving for work at dark-thirty. I had been out on the back porch adoring the grand-pup who is officially boarding here while her family is traveling (vs the prior unofficial boarding overnight on our back porch more nights than not for the past few months.)

The yellow porch light draws fewer insects than a white light, but it only took one: a very tiny moth, enthralled by the lure of the bulb. Its erratic bumbling flight path took it just exactly into the waxy depth of my ear canal.

And thus contained inside my head it was not able in the tight confines of this dark orifice to create enough thrust to gain lift-off but only to propel itself deeper still towards my brain with unimaginably loud flappings and thrashings of its eagle-sized wings. Or so it seemed. And no head-shaking or banging with the palm, no amount of leaping or twirling would serve to do anything other than stir the lepidopt to even more panicked flailings.

The options loomed black before me. Do nothing: Leave the creature alone to flap until it died or succumbed to exhaustion; or Do Something: risk pushing it back even farther toward the eardrum with a pair of eyebrow tweezers–the only available tool suitable for this purpose in trembling hands in the poor light of the bathroom where the procedure took place with far too much emphasis for my comfort on speed–on getting the job done quickly so wife could drive off to work.

I am happy to report that things came out okay. Except for the moth.

Let Me Put a Bug in your Ear – Damn Interesting

Foreign object in the ear: First aid – Mayo Clinic

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Dear God, Fred. So glad you had a happy ending to this. My son had a bee fly into his ear when he and his sister were playing outside as small children. Don’t ask me why I thought to rush him to the bathroom, bend his little head over the sink, and pour hydrogen peroxide into his ear. The insect crawled out immediately and I captured it in an empty pill bottle. Brave young son was fine once it was out and ran back outside to play. When we reached the front porch again, I honestly tried very, very had not to laugh at his little sister who was standing in the middle of the front yard with both hands over her ears screaming at the top of her lungs. She insisted on wearing ear muffs or a hat for the rest of the summer. To this day she has a dread of things with wings getting in orifices. My son, other than a mild nervousness around bees, survived the incident with his sense of humor intact.

  2. That is like my worst nightmare, Fred! I am so glad you were able to get it out okay and didn’t have to go to the doctor to have it removed.

  3. I thought by the first line that you had tried to eat an earwig. I think someday they will be on the menu!