‘It’s an epidemic:’ Levelland families call for city leaders to investigate bug infestation

Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 10:55 PM CDT
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LEVELLAND, Texas (KCBD) - Families in Levelland say the bug infestation in their neighborhood is not only a nuisance, it is a danger to public health. Residents who live in the Kaufmann Addition, a neighborhood north of Highway 114 on the east side of Levelland, called for city leaders to take action at Monday night’s council meeting.

More than 15 people spoke at the packed meeting, demanding their representatives take action. They called for city council to investigate where these bugs are coming from and to deal with them.

One resident, Eva Corgill, says the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agent for Hockley County told her the bugs invading her home were called red flour beetles.

Note from Mayor Barbra Pinner: The City of Levelland staff and elected officials are working diligently to locate the...

Posted by City of Levelland Texas-City Hall on Thursday, August 10, 2023

Its entomology department states the small insects feed on flour and food products made from ground and processed grain. It also notes the long-lived beetles are serious pests of grain processing facilities and food warehouses.

“They are in the attic of the house and they fall down when it becomes dusk. And in the morning we have to sweep, at night we have to sweep. We can’t even cook in the house, can’t eat in the house. They’re just everywhere,” Corgill said.

It is her second year to deal with an infestation of red flour beetles. This year, it has been about eight weeks of hundreds of bugs covering her home.

“We have to take and vacuum our ceiling, vacuum our beds before we go to bed, and by the time we get up, they’re all over us again,” Corgill said.

Corgill says she has had pest control spray her house four times within those eight weeks, costing $150 each time.

She says she has tried to get help from the city, county commissioners, the state health department and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. She has made 41 phone calls in the process.

Sunday night, Corgill and about 30 other residents met at the park in their neighborhood to discuss the issue and what to do next. They decided to flood Monday’s council meeting. One woman said she has asked, but the City will not add the issue to its agenda.

Most of the residents blamed the grain company right across the highway for the infestation.

“This place was encouraged to build here in Levelland. I want to know who is going to step up to the plate and help us eliminate this problem. They were encouraged to come here, now encourage them to take care of business,” one woman said at the council meeting.

Several residents mentioned the company has only been in Levelland a few years, and say the bugs only became a problem after it starting bringing almond hulls into town.

Corgill says she brought her concerns about the grain company to the city one Monday.

“By Tuesday morning, this company that’s in question, all the rows that they have across the street from the Kaufmann Addition is completely covered in white powder, and they have been having trucks spray the ground daily,” Corgill said.

Families told councilmembers they are cleaning several times a day, paying repeatedly for pest control, are worried about property appraisals and their physical and mental health. Some residents said they are finding bugs in their babies diapers and their children’s ears.

They say they are worried about kids getting bullied in school, and embarrassed about bringing bugs into work. One mom mentioned one of her kids in college refuses come to stay with her anymore.

“The reason I got really involved is because of the babies and the elderly. I can take care of myself but they cannot, they don’t have a voice,” Corgill said.

Levelland’s interim city manager José Cavazos says the council could not address the issue Monday night because it was not on the agenda.

Cavazos says there are some ongoing cases regarding the beetles with the code enforcement office. He says the city is working to find the source and doing everything it can to rectify the problem.