In March 1997, Brian Cranshaw, a chemical engineer from West London, returned to the UK after spending the previous six months overseeing work at a petrochemicals plant in Nigeria.
During his first week back, his wife complained that he seemed to have difficulty listening properly. Brian suggested that his ears had not fully recovered from the air pressure changes experienced during his flight.
Over the next two weeks, Brian’s condition worsened as he started to feel tickling sensations deep in his ears. Thinking the trouble was caused by loosened ear wax, he attempted to clean his ears with a ballpoint pen.
When he pressed it into his right ear, he heard a cracking sound and saw the pen covered in a yellow goo. He went to his local GP claiming he had punctured his ear drum. The GP reached into Brian’s right ear with a pair of tweezers and pulled out what appeared to be an insect antenna.
During the examination Brian was horrified to learn that he had a total of 5 African cockroaches living in his head. Four cockroaches were alive and one cockroach was dead, presumably crushed by Brian’s pen attack.
An investigation revealed that when Brian was in Nigeria, a female African cockroach must have laid numerous eggs in the toiletries bag where he kept his cotton buds. When he was cleaning his ears, he was also transferring the cockroach eggs to his inner ear where they started to hatch.