PRESS BULLETIN No. 315
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
CONTROLLING POULTRY LICE
By J. R. WATSON
The season for setting the hen that is to hatch early pullets
for next fall's egg production is approaching. Eggs and feed are
high priced, making it important that the conditions surrounding
the sitting hen be such as to insure the largest possible hatch.
Good business demands that neither food nor eggs be wasted.
To have the hen desert the eggs or fail to cover them properly
will entail a greater loss this year than usual. A common cause
for such desertion is the chicken louse.
The louse is one of the most annoying pests of poultry. It is
a biting insect which feeds around the bases of the feathers, on
scales and other refuse matter from the skin of the chicken, and
should not be confused with the blood-sucking mite. Unlike the
mite, the chicken louse lives on the fowl constantly. It injures
the chicken chiefly by irritation as it crawls over the skin. It is
particularly injurious to young chickens unable to dust them-
selves thoroly, and to the sitting hen which should not be forced
to leave the nest for that purpose.
Even if the lousy hen does not desert the nest she is liable to
become restless and break the eggs, or spend much of her time
standing and chill them. Altho more likely to become abundant
on the sitting hen, chicken lice often become so annoying on lay-
ing hens as to reduce seriously the output of eggs.
SODIUM FLUORIDE IS EFFECTIVE
Pyrethrum or Persian insect powder, an old, much used
remedy, loses its effectiveness quickly when exposed to the air
and much of it is of poor quality even when freshly bought. Per-
haps the best powder to use as a dust is sodium fluoride. Its
value for this purpose was first recognized by the Bureau of
Entomology, U. S. Department of Agriculture. The powder has
been tried by the writer and found effective. It may be used
alone on the hen, or may be mixed with flour to lessen the amount
required. Altho rather expensive, about 50 cents a pound, the
amount needed is so little that the cost per hen is small. The sub-
stance keeps well in a dry place, and a pound will answer the
needs of a small flock for many months. Any surplus may be
December 13, 1919
dusted into the corners of the pantry or cupboard to kill roaches
Sodium fluoride is most economically applied to fowls by the
pinch method; that is, a pinch of the powder is dusted on the
head, one under each wing, one on each thigh, one around the
vent, one around the breast, and two on the back.
OTHER GOOD REMEDIES
Another remedy which the writer has found effective was
developed by the Connecticut Station. It is a mixture of 1 part
of mercurial ointment, also called "blue ointment", and 1 or 2
parts of vaseline. These are mixed thoroly, and a bit the size of
a pea is rubbed onto the fowl under the wings and about the vent.
It is not necessary, nor even desirable, to rub it over the entire
fowl as the chicken lice are restless insects and in crawling over
the fowl are sure to get into the mixture. This remedy is cheap,
efficient, and easily applied.
Another good mixture for killing lice is called Lawry lice
powder. It consists of 2 parts gasoline mixed with 1 part crude
carbolic acid. Plaster of paris is then worked in until all the
liquid is absorbed. This is allowed to dry and is then rubbed onto
To destroy lice in the poultry house, spray with kerosene or,
better, crude petroleum. Make three applications about a week
apart, and follow with air-slaked lime.
DUSTS ARE IMPORTANT
One important condition in controlling chicken lice is to give
the fowls abundant opportunity to dust themselves. For this
purpose, dust, air-slaked lime, ashes, or any light, dusty material
is suitable. Fresh, slightly damp (but not wet) earth in which
to scratch or dust should always be available.
SEVERAL KINDS OF LICE AFFECT CHICKENS
Of the several kinds of lice that commonly attack chickens,
one crawls over the skin, especially under the wings and on the
posterior part of the body, but seldom gets onto the feathers.
Another is particularly a feather mite and is somewhat smaller
than the body louse. Another common louse that is particularly
injurious to young chickens attacks the head and is called the
head louse. It is best controlled perhaps by greasing the head
liberally with lard.
Chicken mites, which are sucking parasites, may be killed
by a liberal use of flowers of sulphur on the fowls and about the
house. Stick-tight fleas, also sucking pests, may be killed by a
liberal application of one part of carbolic acid in five parts of
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