The use of derris and cube washes in the control of cattle grubs


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The use of derris and cube washes in the control of cattle grubs
Physical Description:
Wells, R. W
United States -- Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine ( Washington, D.C )
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aleph - 30269806
oclc - 778706683
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Full Text

E-496 February 1940

U. S.


By R. W, Wells, Division of Insects Affecting Man and Animals


Experiments conducted by the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quaran-
tine, as well as actual ranch practice, have shown that the abundance of
cattle grubs (Hypcderma lineatum (DeVill.) and H. bovis Deg.) can be
greatly reduced and the annoyance by the adults, or heel flies, very largely
eliminated by applications to the backs of infested cattle of a soapy wash
containing powdered root of either derris or cube. The wash should be
applied before any of the grubs drop from the backs, and the applications
should be repeated about once a month during the season when the grubs are
present in the backs of the cattle.


The grubs ("warbles" or "wolves") in the backs of cattle are the
young, or larvae, of the heel flies. When the grubs have attained their
full growth in the back each grub crawls out of the pocket, or cyst, which
it has occupied for 5 weeks or longer and drops to the ground. On the ground
it pupates as promptly as climatic conditions will permit, and 4 or 5 weeks
later the pupa changes into a heel fly. The female fly goes to the cattle
merely to lay her eggs and she lives only a few days. Usually the eggs are
laid on the hair around the hoofs, but occasionally they may be laid on hair
along the belly and escutcheon. In a very few days the eggs hatch, and
the tiny larvae, or grubs, burrow through the skin near the base of the hair
upon which the eggs were laid. Having thus effected an entrance, the young
grubs pursue a devious course through the body of the animal, reaching the

I For more technical and detailed information on the habits of cattle
grubs see Farmers' Bulletin No. 1596, "Cattle Grubs or Heel Flies with
Suggestions for their Control."


back about 9 months later. Each grub makes a hole in the skin of the back
and remains in close contact with the opening, through which it gets air.
In this location the grub completes its growth while the tissues of the host
form a pocket, or cyst, around it. It is here also, before the grub escapes
to the ground, that the stock owner has the best opportunity to destroy
it. Being open to the air, the cyst may become contaminated with bacteria.
Pus and swellings occur in many cases.


The serious losses to the cattle industry are well known (see Farmers'
Bulletin No. 1596). In addition to the great damage to the meat and the
leather caused by the grubs, the cattle are extremely annoyed by the flies.
When the heel fly attempts to lay her eggs the cattle become frantic and
rush madly from their feed or rest to the protection of shade, mud, or water.
Sometimes the fright is sufficient to cause a stampede. The heavy loss in
milk production immediately resulting is well known by dairymen.


The materials required for making the wash are derris or cube powder,
neutral soap, and rain water or other soft water.

The Powders

Powdered root of cube i
obtained with cube powder than m
has been approximately equal.
expensive, it should be used.
percent of rotenone and should
pass through a 200-mesh screen.
in the powders.

.s recommended. Better results have been
rith derris powder when the rotenone content
Therefore, unless cube powder is the more
The powder should contain not less than 5
be so finely ground that 90 percent will
Rotenone is the principal toxic ingredient

Cube containing 5 percent of rotenone can be obtained at about 25.
to 40 cents per pound; and derris is usually slightly higher in price. For
the convenience of users the following list of manufacturers and dealers in
cube and derris powder is given. No claim is made that the list is complete,-
nor is any guarantee here expressed or implied for the products of the com-
panies listed.

Chipman Chemical Company, Bound Brook, N. J.
W. J. Dennis, 1540 Tenth St., Des Moines, Iowa.
Derris, Incorporated, 79 Wall St., New York, N. Y.
L. W. Dumont & Co., 50 E. 42nd St., New York, N. Y.
Hammond Paint and Chemical Co., Inc., Beacon, N. Y.
McCormick and Co., Baltimore, Md.
R. J. Prentiss and Co., Inc., 100 Gold St., New York, N. Y.
S. B. Penick and Co., 132 Nassau St., New York, N.-Y.
Sherwin-Williams Co., Chicago, Ill.

Stanco, Inc., 2 Park Ave., New York, N. Y.
Gihman's Diug Store, E27 Pennsylvania Ave., N. W., Washington, D. C.
Ma:-well Fnd Tennyson, 1726, 1801, and 1835 I St., N. W., Washington, D. C.
John Powell & Co., Inc., 114 E. 32nd St., New York, N.Y. (also Dallas, Tex.).
Scutlhwestein D-ug Company, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

The Soap

Neutral soap, such as is employed in soft water to wash woolen
articles, shculd he used. It has been found that hard-water soap or home-
made lye soap is alkaline and makes the rotenone in the powder less effec-
tive. Flaked or granulated soap dissolves in the water more readily than
'er soap. AIrarcntly bar soap is just as effective, however, and it can be
used where time for dissolving it is available.

The Water

It is important to use soft water. Hard waters contain certain
salts that precipitate some of the soap and make the wash less effective.
Usually rain water is satisfactory. Where rain water is not available,
crystal-softened water, which can be obtained from laundries or from ice-
manufacturing plants, may be used.

Quantities of Materials Needed

The powder, soap, and water are mixed in the following proportions:

Water .................................... 1 gallon
Cube or derris powder .... 12 ounces
Soap ...................................... 2 ounces

One gallon of the wash is sufficient to treat the backs of from 12
to 16 head of adult cattle, depending on how long and how thick the hair is.
For example, 1 gallon was sufficient to treat 16 head of cattle in King
County, Tex., in January, while in Colorado during the same month 1 gallon
was sufficient for only 12 head of cattle with heavier coats. It is c-zen-
tial that enough be applied to saturate the hair and wet the skin.


Warm water should be used in order to dissolve the soap rapidly and
to aid in good penetration of the hair. To save time, the cube or derris
Dcwder should he weighed out in paper bags ahead of time. When a large
number of cattle are being treated it has been found expedient to dissolve
24 ounces of soap in 12 quarts of water heated in a large bucket over a wood
fire. After the soap has all dissolved, each of the 12 quarts contains 2
ounces of soap. One quart of this soapy concentrate is added to 3 quarts of
waim water to make each gallon of wash.


The powder is first dumped from the paper bag into.the bottom of a,
pail, the soap-water mixture is then added slowly while the powder is worked,
into a smooth paste, and finally the rest of the. measured soapy water is
added and thoroughly stirred.


A stiff brush and a dipper or a glass fruit jar with perforated top
are needed by each person applying the wash. -The brush should be one with
stiff fibers.. The short-handled type used for scrubbing the under surfaces
of automobiles. is satisfactory. The fibers are of palmetto and do not soften
so do those of the ordinary white-fibered brushes. These brushes
may be obtained at about 25 cents each at hardware stores or at stores
specializing in automobile accessories.

As often as the brush becomes.matted with hair it should be cleaned.
This can be done quickly by means of a multiple-pronged ice chipper or a
board containing many nails driven at a slant.

A dipper may be used for pouring the wash over the backs of the
cattle. The bowl of the dipper should be dented on one side, at about the
level of one-half pint, so that the operator can judge about how much wash.
he has taken.

If the cattle are treated in a chute and the chute is high so that
the operator has to climb over the top, a glass.jar with a perforated metal
top is convenient. Ten or twelve holes are made with a nail in the metal
top of a 1-quart .fruit jar. The jar is inverted and shaken over the back
until about one-fourth of the quart is used.

The wash should be thoroughly stirred in the pail each time a dipper
or jar is filled. The stirring can be done with the dipper or with a paddle.

As the. wash is.poured slowly over the back, the brush is used vig-
orously to distribute the wash and to rub it deeply into the hair, and also
to remove the scabs from the grub holes. Vigorous and continued rubbing is
required for best results. Where the coats. of. he cattle are extremely
thick the best results are obtained by laying the brush aside after the wash
is distributed over the back and. continuing the rubbing for 1 minute with the
fingers of both hands, The object is to have the wash reach each warble
opening in the skin. .

It is wasteful to apply so much of the wash to the-back that it runs/
off, but it is important-to apply all that will stay in the hair.

Wire brushes should not be used, since they may injure the skin o0
the animal.

-5 -


The wash should be applied before any of the grubs drop from the
back. The grubs become almost black before they drop; therefore, when a few
of the grubs are be of a dark shade the first application of the
wash should be made at once.

The cattle grub season varies greatly with the latitude. In King
County, Tex., in 1S38, the first application of the wash was made about the
middle of October. In the southeastern part of Colorado a few grubs have
been found ready to drop about December 15; in the central part of Iowa,
about February 20; in North Dakota, about March 15. The second and third
applications should be made at 30-day intervals. This is important because
some grubs continue to arrive at the back and are not affected by the
earlier treatments.

It is not considered advisable to treat the cattle on a very cold
day unless they are stabled, because it takes the backs an hour or more to
dry. The water and the evaporation intensify the cold.

In some localities the county agricultural agents have aided in
organizing cooperative efforts among farmers or ranchers, and in such cases
more effective control can be expected. On individual ranches in Texas,
however, it was found that the abundance of grubs and heel flies was greatly
reduced by individual efforts.


The cost of che materials is approximately 2 cents per head per
treatment. One man can apply the wash to aboit 30 head of cattle in an
hour. Of course the total cost is affected by the time required to round
up all animals and to put them through the chute.


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