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


T 0


Circular 11


February 1941






Circular 11 Cockroaches

Table of Contents


Introduction... ***.... ..........* ..*****.***. 2
How Roaches Get Into Buildings................ 2
Habits of Roaches............................ 3
Species of Roaches Troublesome...............*** 3
Length of Development........................ 4
Prevention of Infestations...................******.** 5
Watch IncomingSupplies..................... 5
Tight Screening............................ 7
Cleanliness................................. 7
Control..i... ... . .. . . ... .. ... ... ... .. 7

Fun igation.................................. 8
SodiumFluoridePowder...................... 8
Pyrethrum Powder............................ 9
Borax...................,...........,....... 9
Phosphorus astes.............. ....** ...** 10
Sprays.............. .. ........ ............. 10
Vaporizing Machines......................... 10
References................. .... .............. 11

Circular 11 Cockroaches


Roaches may become troublesome in any establish-
ment where foods are stored, cooked or served. They
are most abundant in kitchens, storerooms and dining
halls. The commissary departments of camp and vessels
are very attractive to them. They can be very des-
tructive to library books by eating the starches and
glues from the bindings and they may gnaw holes in
clothing. The pollution of foods over which they run
may place them in the role of disease carriers.

The offensive, sickening or fetid odor associ-
ated with cockroaches is due largely to an oily liquid
secreted by scent glands. This oil leaves the charac-
teristic roachy odor wherever the insects are abundant.
Food is ruined by it and dishes over which roaches run
may seem apparently clean, yet give off the odor when
warmed unless thoroughly washed in hot water and soap.
The pellets of excrement, as well as the ink-like liq-
uid emitted by roaches from their mouths, contribute to
the development of the nauseating odor.


Because roaches are cosmopolitan, some one or
more species of those troublesome in commissaries are
to be found in almost all ports and inland cities. Most
of the species are capable of flight and sometimes fly
into buildings and onto moored vessels, being attracted
to lights on warm, humid nights. Cockroaches have been
observed to migrate in droves from place to place, and
many undoubtedly do crawl in through door and window
openings, particularly in warmer portions of the country
where roaches find little difficulty in living contin-
uously outdoors. Establishment in buildings is probably
due more, however, to the result of their nocturnal
habit which causes them to remain rather quietly in
sheltered, darkened spots during the daytime. During
their nightly foraging for food they often find their
way into loosely packed cartons of packages in the store
or warehouse, and there remain hidden while the consign-
ments are delivered to property clerks or commissaries
the following day.

Circular 11 Cockroaches


Roaches are nocturnal in habit, as mentioned
above. They hide during the day in sheltered, darkened
places where they congregate in large numbers when in-
festations are heavy. They usually hide near sinks,
drainboards, behind wall cabinets and radiators, under
loose door and window trim. They forage at night when
all is dark and still. If disturbed, they run rapidly
for concealment and disappear through cracks, holes in
walls, down along water or steam pipes and similar open-
ings. They may thus congregate beneath floorings, in
wall spaces, sometimes forming masses so dense that they
obscure the surface upon which they rest and over which
they move like herds of cattle when disturbed. After
dark, when they have come into the room to feed, enter
suddenly, turn on the lights and watch them run for their
hiding places. Knowledge of where they conceal them-
selves is usually the key to their control.

The method of laying eggs and the nocturnal habit
of roaches are important factors to be considered in
control operations. The eggs are laid not singly or in
unprotected groups about cracks and foods, but in chiti-
nous, more or less rigid capsules which the mother roach
usually glues to various surfaces where they are out of
sight. The eggs are encased in the capsule within the
body of the roach before the female deposits the capsule
and emits the gummy solution which causes it to adhere
to the object upon which it is deposited. An exception
to the habit of most roaches in gluing their egg cap-
sules to surfaces is that of the German roach which car-
ries the capsule partially extruded from the body until
the eggs hatch or are about to hatch, when the capsule
is dropped loosely on any surface.


There are four species of roaches that may become
abundant or persistent annoyers about defense establish-
ments. The largest of all species is the American roach
(Periplaneta americana Linn.) (Fig. 1). It is light
brown, from lL to 2 inches long when fully grown, and all
adults have long powerful, reddish-brown wings with which
they fly readily. The oriental roach (Blatta orientalis
Linn.) (Fig. 2j, is often called the black bTeetle",

Circular 11 Cockroaches

because it is entirely black or deep brownish black;
it is about 1l inches long when well grown, rather
sluggish in habits and thrives best in very damp
places. The females have wings only partially devel-
oped and cannot fly. The German roach (Blattella
germanica Linn.) (Fig. 3j, is never more than 5/8 of
an inch long when well grown and is one of our most
common roaches in buildings. Its light brown color
is offset on the back between the head and the wings
with two dark parallel blackish stripes. Its wings
are uniformly light brown and fully developed. The
brown banded roach (Supella supellectilium Serv.)
(Fig. 4), is a species quite like the German roach,
but thrives best in more tropical situations, partic-
ularly in the southern half of the United States and
Central America. The females are seldom longer than
3/8 of an inch when well grown, but the males may be-
come about 1/2 an inch long. The distinguishing
features of this roach are the broader body of the
female, the absence of the two blackish stripes on the
back of the body, but especially the presence of two
cross bands of light yellow, one at the base of the
wings and the other farther back on the well developed
reddish brown but often paler wings. The young tropi-
cal roaches are very easily distinguished by two
bright yellow or whitish transverse bands on the abdomen.


Roaches are much slower in development than
other insects troublesome about pantries and kitchens.
They live in the adult state for long periods. The
fully grown female of the American roach at room tem-
peratures has been known to live 441 days and to produce
58 capsules averaging 14 eggs each, and the young re-
quire from about 30 to 60 days to mature sufficiently
to leave the egg and another 285 to 971 days to arrive
at adult growth. The German roach thrives under warmer
conditions and has been known to complete its life cycle
from egg to adult in 90 days. But adult females have
lived 260 days, laid 6 capsules averaging in content 30
eggs each which hatched in 28 days at 76F., the
young requiring another 103 days at the same temperature
to reach the adult stage. The growth of roaches is

Circular 11 Cockroaches

* -~ A

/ 1
4 1' /
-4-4 1

Figure 1 The American Roach; a dorsal view; b ventral view.

influenced greatly by temperature, humidity and the food
available, and their development therefore is subject to
such great variations in length of ti;'le that em.s, young
and adults are apt to be present at all seasons of the
year in and about commissaries inhabited by the more
troublesome species of roaches.

Watch Incoming Supplies

Une of the best ways to prevent roach establish-
ment in buildings is to watch carefully all baskets or
boxes of food supplies, clothing and laundry brought into

Circular 11 Cockroaches







Figure 2 The
Oriental Roach;
a female;
b male;
c side view of
d half-grown

-, A

. .

r .

C (/



Figure 3 The German Roach; a first
c third stage; d fourth stage; e
egg case; g egg case (enlarged); h

__ J U,


stage; b second stage;
- adult; f female with
- adult with wings spread.




WI ..'

-?,., j'.


a 4
Bf^v, *ikic.

Circular 11 Cockroaches

h I ^. ., ^ .o,: ."" i
41 4.,
; >' '0''"'
d4 }- / I' "

Figure 4 The brown-banded roach; a- female; b -male.

the building. Roaches hidden ar:rong packages and about
clothing are so frequently carried from place to place
it is well to have a receiving room for incoming sup-
plies in which they can be unpacked. Kill stray roaches
found in such incoming materials with a fly swatter, or
if they are encountered unexpectedly and no weapon is at
hand, crush them under foot or in any other Lianner pos-
Tight Screening
TigCit scrceliienng of ;i:dox:s, doors a.-d ve:ntilators
keeps out >,any roaches in the viariAer por-ti.ons of the coun-
try. Supplement this by eliminating all unnecessary
places that can be used as hiding places by roaches.
Sometimes eliminating smLall openings leading to wall or
floor spaces will confine roaches to the rooi:i itself
where they can be fought far more effectively.

Thorough cleanliness plays its part in roach con-
trol when supplemented with the covering of food supplies
so roaches cannot get at them.

Circular 11 Cockroaches


Roach elimination is not difficult if the sources
of infestation can be controlled. In loosely constructed
buildings or where a mild climate permits roaches to de-
velop out of doors, buildings are constantly being rein-
fested from outside by crawling and flying roaches. No
control will keep a building free from roaches continu-
ously if sources of reinfestation exist.


For immediate elimination of roaches in tight
rooms there is nothing better than a thorough fumigation
carried on under the direction of personnel trained and
professionally experienced in such work. Whether the
use of fumigation is warranted will depend on circum-
stances. In more loosely constructed buildings the
fumigant usually escapes so fast the eggs of roaches,
protected in the egg capsules, are not always killed and
a second fumigation about 3 or 4 weeks later may be neces-
sary. The dosage depends on the construction of the
building. A 12-hour fumigation, using 12 ounces of
sodium cyanide for each 1000 cubic feet is recommended.
Caution: Hydrocyanic acid gas is a deadly poison and
should be used only by experienced operators exercising
all safety requirements enumerated in Circular No. 22.
Most camps can be fumigated safely with hydrocyanic acid
gas provided the structure is detached and 15 to 20 feet
distant from other buildings. The structure must be
completely vacated and guarded during the 6 to 8 hours
of fumigation and until thoroughly ventilated.

Sodium Fluoride Powder

Sodium fluoride powder is the best, all-round
cockroach remedy. It is poisonous to man if taken in-
ternally in sufficient amounts and it should be kept,
plainly labeled, out of food and away from children and
pets, but if used carefully in roach control no harm
will follow. It may be applied with a small duster or
bellows, or better, w/ith a modern electric power duster
with an extension rod so shaped that the powder can be
blown into the hiding places rather than about the room.
It can be sprinkled by hand along the back of shelving
and drainboards where roaches run most frequently, but

Circular 11 Cockroaches

dusting the hiding or congregating places affects more
roaches at one time and they die more rapidly when the
powder is blown directly upon them; however, .nAien the
powder is placed where the roaches ran over it, it kills
chiefly as a stomach poison. It sticks to their bodies
and in cleaning themselves after running over it they
transfer the powder to their mouths and thus swallow it.
As a stomach poison it is slow but sure. Sodium fluoride
powder is.the basis of most effective roach powders sold
under various trade names. It remains effective indef-
initely in dry situations but in very damp places it
may cake over and become useless. Applying the powder
in the evening is advised, and it is best not to clean
it up for 2 or 3 days. The application should be re-
peated at intervals of a week or two until all roaches
disappear. Usually one or two thorough treatments are

Pyrethrum Powder

Fresh, finel, ground pyrethrum powder, used in
the same way as sodium fluoride, is excellent when thor-
oughly applied to the hiding places or to the roaches
themselves. It quickly stupefies the roaches. They
usually turn on their backs, and although they live for
some time they eventually die if thoroughly treated.
The stupefied roaches should be swept up and destroyed
several hours after treatment before those least affected
can revive. Pyrethrum powder is a safe remedy and will
not injure man or pets. Upon exposure to air it loses
its effectiveness after some days, and only fresh, finely
ground powder should be used. It can be most thoroughly
applied by means of an electrically operated dusting
machine with which it can be forced easily in most of
the hiding places.


Borax powder can be used in the same manner as
sodium fluoride and pyrethrum powders. It is not poison-
ous and is not so effective, but when used in office rooms
or elsewhere where there is little food for roaches,
borax, either as a powder or made with inert materials
into tablets, has usually given satisfactory results.

Circular 11 Cockroaches

Phosphorus Pastes

Phosphorus pastes, obtainable at drug stores, are
excellent for the control of roaches, particularly the
larger species and the tropical roach. If the paste is
spread on a small piece of flexible cardboard, which is
then rolled into a cylinder with the paste on the in-
side and with the cylinder held firm with a rubber band
or string, it can be inserted behind books, etc., without
danger of soiling anything; or the cylinders or other
containers can be tacked to the back of cabinet drawers,
the interior framework or springs of upholstered furni-
ture, or in other situations where they will not be seen.
Phosphorus pastes are especially effective in damp cli-
mates and are often smeared in basements directly on
foundation walls and rafters where the persons cannot
rub against the paste. Phosphorus is extremely poisonous
to man and should be used with great caution.


Sprays consisting largely of kerosene oil and
pyrethrum extract (odorless oil 19 gallons, 1 gallon of
pyrethrum extract (20-1)) are excellent for killing roaches.
They kill only by contact; hence the roaches must be hit
and made wet by the spray. As roaches run rapidly sprays
are not so easily applied to isolated individuals. If
possible, the liquid should be sprayed into the hiding
places where more of the roaches can be hit at one time.
Much good can be done by applying sprays with a hand
sprayer, but the liquid can be introduced into hiding
places more effectively with a power sprayer.

Vaporizing Machines

There are on the market today various makes of
machines, operated by electricity, which break up oil-
pyrethruni preparations and some other sprays into a fine
mist that can be made to fill a room. This mist is very
irritating to roaches and causes them to run out of their
hiding places into the open, where they die if a sufficient
amount of the spray particles comes in contact with their
bodies. By repeated applications roaches can be controlled
by the spray from these machines in modern tight rooms.
Vaporizers have a tendency to drive roaches into surround-
ing rooms; hence before using them, all openings to the

Circular 11 Cockroaches 11

exterior should be closed so that the roaches cannot
escape from the room under treatment. When loosely
constructed rooms are infested, many roaches are in the
surrounding wall spaces and the irritating vapors pene-
trate these only sufficiently to annoy the roaches and
drive many to parts of the building to which they nor-
mally would not spread, thus complicating the problem
of control.


Back, E. A. -------- 1937 Cockroaches and Their Control.
U.S. Dept. of Agr. Leaflet
No. 144o
Gould, Geo. E. and- 1940 The Biology of Six Species of
Deay, H. 0. Cockroaches which Inhabit
Buildings. Purdue Univer-
sity Agricultural Experiment
Station, Lafayette, Ind.
Bulletin No. 451.

..'*":**. t


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