Night Gallery

The Caterpillar

Season 2, Ep 60, Aired 3/1/72
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  • Episode Description
  • A bored colonial on a Malaysian plantation employs an exotic accomplice--an earwig--in his gruesome plot to assassinate a romantic rival.

  • Cast & Crew
  • Joanna Pettet

    Rhona Warwick

  • Jack Laird

  • John Williams (II)


  • Joseph Alves Jr.

  • Tom Helmore

    John Warwick

  • Fan Reviews (3)
  • the earwig

    By dragonflii, Sep 21, 2014

  • The Caterpillar

    By imbigG, Sep 29, 2013

  • Extremely memorable

    By ldkennison, Dec 06, 2007

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (9)

    • Host: Good evening. I'm your little old curator in this museum which we call the Night Gallery. There are horror stories and horror stories. Elements of terror that take myriad forms. But this item has a built-in terror which can refrigerate even the most dispassionate amongst us. It has to do with a little beastie known as an earwig. A small bug that crawls into the human ear, and while inside, it doesn't whisper sweet nothings. It performs quite another function. Offered to you now on Night Gallery, a brand new nightmare which we call The Caterpillar.

    • Rhona: You are a moody one, Mr. Macy. You go from outrage to silence as if it were a quick tram ride.

    • Warwick: I see you've met our village entrepreneur. Macy: Robinson? Warwick: Yes, the only known rodent in captivity with a Christian name.

    • Macy: Bloody fool. I'm not soliciting an assassination. Tommy: Assassination? Oh, come now, young gentleman. Assassination? I shudder at the very word. The thought of a killing palpitates me, is what it does. Sends shivers up and down my body.

    • Tommy: An earwig. A kind of caterpillar. A thing almost as fine as a spider's web. It lives on wax, feeds on the innards of flowers, and it has a decided liking for the human ear. The natives hereabout, they have a distinct terror of it, they do. You see, it moves and it rests so lightly on a human being, that one is practically unconscious of it. Now, if you were to place one of these earwigs in a man's hair, just above his ear, well... once in the ear, it's a thousand-to-one chance of it ever coming out the same way again. You see, Mr. Macy, it can't turn round. Backing out is impossible. So it continues to feed as it goes, and it crawls right inside of the head.

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    Notes (1)

    • This episode is based on the short story "Boomerang" by Oscar Cook. This story was first published in the Christine Campbell Thomson anthology Switch on the Light (1931).

    Trivia (1)

    • The Earwig Superstition: There is a long-standing European superstition that earwigs do, in fact, bore through the eardrum and tunnel through a person's brain, leaving eggs behind to hatch if they are female. Sources that cite this belief go back about a thousand years. This belief is also the origin of the insect's name. In May 2007, a 9-year-old boy in Albany, Oregon, US, had two spiders, one living and one dead, extracted from one of his ears. In 1862, British explorer John Speake, credited with being the European discoverer of the source of the Nile, suffered infections and other considerable ill effects from a beetle that crawled into his ear. In that case, however, the problems were not caused by the beetle itself, but by the attempts to remove it. Although there have been cases of maggots growing under human skin, usually introduced through a wound, medical literature has yet to record a case of burrowing through the eardrum.

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