Insects in relation to national defense


Material Information

Insects in relation to national defense
Series Title:
Its Circular no. 1-23. Feb. 1941-Jan. 1944
Added title page title:
Insects in relation to national defense, circular
Physical Description:
24 nos. in 1 v. : ill., photos., map, plans, diagrs. ; 23 cm.
United States -- Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine
U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Beneficial insects   ( lcsh )
Insect pests   ( lcsh )
Insecticides   ( lcsh )
Fumigation   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Health aspects   ( lcsh )
serial   ( sobekcm )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


General Note:
Reproduced from type-written copy.
General Note:
Includes bibliographical references.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 029081698
oclc - 09471812
lcc - SB931 .U44
System ID:

Full Text





TO 0


Circular 10


February 1941








Circular 10 Bedbugs

The mature, well-grown bedbug is a wingless,
brown insect between one-fourth and thrlee-eighths of
an inch long. vvhen unfed it is very flat and shaped
as shown in Aig. 1 a. When engorged with blood, the
body loses its paper-thin appearance and becomes
more elongated and swollen, as shown in Fig. 1 b; and
the blood within its body gives it a more reddish ap-
pearance. The food of bedbugs is the blood of warm-
blooded animals, principally man.


Circular 10 Bedbugs


Bedbugs are sucking insects. Their mouth parts
are so constructed as to form a sharp beak, or probos-
cis, which can be thrust into the skin and through
which blood of its victim can be drawn. It requires
a continuous feeding of from 3 to 5 minutes for a well-
grown bedbug to become engorged with blood. Once filled
to capacity, the bug withdraws its beak and quickly
crawls to its hiding place where it remains for several
days digesting its meal, seemingly indifferent to its
host. When hunger finally reasserts itself, the bedbug
comes out of hiding and seeks out its host for another


Bedbugs are normally nocturnal in habit. ,lien
darkness arrives, they emerge from their daytime hiding
places and seek to feed upon their host. Sometimes,
when very hungry, they will feed in subdued light dur-
ing the daytime. Their normally nocturnal habit is
modified when they infest furniture in rest rooms, in
stores, theatre seats, desks in offices, and similar
situations that are not frequented by man throughout
the night. In such places bedbugs often bite persons
during the day.


Bedbugs are distributed in many ways. They crawl
freely to their victims from and to their hiding places,
but do not move freely from room to room, or from build-
ing to building, as many believe. probably clothing,
baggage, secondhand furniture, laundry done in private
infested homes, and visitors are the chief means of
spread. At army camps bedbugs are often brought in the
baggage of new arrivals.


The mature female bedbug, under favorable condi-
tions, is said to live from 6 to 8 months, and has been

Circular 10 Bedbugs

known to lay as many as 541 eggs, although 200 eggs
is probably a fair average. When temperature and food
conditions are favorable, eggs are laid at an average
rate of 3 or 4 a day. INo eggs are laid at temperatures
lower than 500'., and very few between 50 and 60,
while maximum oviposition occurs only above 70 and
when the female has ample opportunity to feed. starved
females soon stop laying eggs.

At temperatures above 700F. the e -gs hatch in 6
to 17 days. At lower temperatures they may not hatch
for 28 days. The eggs are white, about one thirty-
second of an inch long, are shaped as indicated in
Fig. 2, and at first are coated with a mucilaginous
substance which forthwith dries, sticking them to the
object upon which they
are deposited. The un-
-hatched eggs and the milk-
white egg shells are seen
singly or in clusters a-
bout the crevices or hid-
ing places where bedbugs

The newly hatched
Figure 2 Milky-white egg translucent and nearly
shells of bedbug colorless young bedbug
shells of bedbug, feeds at the first oppor-
tunity. During growth the.
young bedbug closely resembles the parent insect. It
molts, or sheds its skin, 5 times in reaching maturity.
It must feed after each molt in order to grow and molt
again. The cast skins are white and fluffy and often
accumulate in piles in cracks of bedsteads, in spaces
about window and door frames, behind wall pictures, or
any other place where the bedbugs hide during the day-
time. VAll nymphal growth requires from 4 to 6 weeks
during warm summer weather or in houses continuously
heated. There may be three or four generations, or even
more, a year in warm climates. Generations overlap, and
all stages may be present at all seasons of the year. In
unheated buildings, bedbugs overwinter mostly as adults.

In combating bedbugs, first find where they are
hiding. When first established in a room, they are likely

Circular 10 Bedbugs

to hide about the tufts or seams of the mattress, later
in the cracks and crevices of the bedstead. In the
case of metal army cots, they often hide in the hollow
interior of the frame. Upon becoming more numerous, or
after being fought, the bedbugs become scattered and
establish themselves behind baseboards, window and door
casings, pictures, picture moldings, loosened wallpaper,
or in cracks in plaster. Partitions of composition
board are ideal for bedbugs, for usually there are many
cracks about the unions in which bugs can hide or through
which they can retreat to the wall space. Bedbugs do
not crawl far into wall spaces for hiding to any great
extent. They hide usually on a flat surface just away
from the bright light. Habitual hiding places are
usually made evident by the disfiguring spots that stain
surfaces upon which the bugs rest (Fig. 3j. Hiding

O* -( '' i **

Figure 3 Characteristic bro,.-n or black excretal spe-_cks
found -Ihere bedbugs hide daring the dayti.e.

places are usually close to the beds and easily detected.
Frequent inspection of beds by an experienced inspector
will detect the presence of a few bugs and periLit applica-
tion of control and prevent infestation front becoming


There is no better way to stamp out an infestation
quickly than by fumigation. Fumigations of 6 to 12 hours

Circular 10 Bedbugs

duration with hydrocyanic acid gas gener'fted fror 1
pound of sodium cyanide per each 1,000 cubic feet of
space have given excellent results in most barracks.
Trained personnel with professional experience should
be employed for the use of this excellent but deadly
poisonous gas. Fumigation can be made thoroughly ef-
fective and does away with the messiness and disagree-
able features of spray applications. ,Aost buildings
can be safely fumigated if detached and separated from
other buildings by a distance of 15 to 20 feet. They
must be completely vacated and guarded during fumigation
and until thoroughly ventilated. In no case should
fumigation with hydrocyanic acid gas be undertaken ib
persons untrained in its use. For directions see
Circular No. 22.


Heating rooms or entire buildings to a temperature
of 120 to 1252. for one hour will kill bedbugs. It
usually requires from 10 to 12 hours to secure a killing
temperature in all parts of the various rooms of a
structure when ordinary heating equipment is available.
6uperheating has been resorted to with success during
hot summer weather when advantage can be taken of the
normally prevailing high temperatures. The length of
time required for the heat treatment varies with the
heating equipment. Thermometers should be placed in vari-
ous parts of the room to make certain that the proper
temperatures are secured. Bedbugs in hollow interiors of
metal bedsteads can be killed by heating the metal with a
blow torch where this drastic control is feasible.


Where fumigations and superheating are not possible,
the application of spray liquids can be used effectively.
Ordinarily, sprays must be applied several times before
complete relief is secured. They must be brought into
contact with the various stages of the bedbug to effect
a kill. The miere casual or haphazard applications do
very little good. Sprays generally used consist very
largely of a light mineral oil with small additions of
pyrethrum extract. These sprays are readily available
on the market under various trade names and are frequent-
ly referred to as fly sprays. Sprays are best applied

. h

Circular 10 Bedbugs 6

with power sprayers operated with electricity, and
such spray equipment is recommended for large barracks
where trouble with bedbugs is a recurring one and where
an experienced operator is present. Ordinary cheap
hand sprayers, such as can be purchased at stores for
40.25, can be made a satisfactory means of applying
liquids provided the user understands where the bed-
bugs are hiding and takes the necessary care to see that
the spray is directed to these spots.
Individual Action in Controlling Bedbugs on a Bed

Sometimes beds become infested in situations where
it is difficult to get prompt official action, and it is
desirable that the individual do something about his own
bed. He should first pull his cot away from the wall
so that no part of the frame touches the side walls. The
legs can then be set in shallow dishes of kerosene after
which the bed should be stripped, thoroughly sprayed
with a hand sprayer, or in the absence of such sprayer,
all cracks and crevices should be treated with kerosene
or a proprietary bedbug solution applied with a small
brush or large feather, with special reference to minute
cracks. This done, the bed should be made up with fresh-
ly laundered and well brushed bedding which should be so
arranged that it will not touch the floor or walls.


Back, E. A. -- 1937 -- Bedbugs. U. S. Dept. of Agricul-
ture Leaflet 146.


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