f I_ I- /
New Series No. 70
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Introduction ....................................... 5
A nts ............................................. 6
Bed ugs ............................ ...... ..... 10
Lice .............................................. 12
Chiggers .......................................... 14
Fleas .................... ....................... 15
Flies ........................ ................ 17
M osquitoes ........................................ 19
M oths ........................................... 21
Roaches ................................ .. .... 23
W eevils ............................ .. ......... 25
T rmites ......................................... 27
PESTIFEROUS INSECTS OF THE HOUSEHOLD
In no realm of animate creation has nature displayed such
diversity of design, form, mode of life, fecundity or persist-
ence as in the insect world. The zoologists place these ani-
mals in the class of insecta, of the phylum Arthropoda and
whose scientific study forms that branch of zoology termed
In this short treatise we are concerned only with a few of
the more pestiferous kind that infest dwelling hotises and
the contents of same. The number of the species of insects
that have been classified and named is approximately 300,000
-which is more than half the number of words in the Eng-
lish language-thou~sands more have been found but have
not been named.
The practical end of this discussion is not concerning the
structure, life habits, process of development or other bio-
logical features but HOW TO PREVENT AND DESTROY
THEM. In the limited space which we can use we shall
confine the subject to this in the main; other phases of the
subject will be referred to incidentally as circumstances
seem to require. It has been said by some very keen think-
ers that the last great struggle of the human, race for exist-
ence will be with the insects that prey on vegetable and
animal life and pathogenic bacteria. Any agency of destruc-
tion that can be marshalled against these formidable foes
will be for the advantage of humanity.
Scientific. investigation has discovered that houseflies
carry the germs of typhoid fever, cholera, cholera infantum,
tropical dysentery and other diseases. The germs are car-
ried on the feet, legs, and bodies and in the digestive tract
Other insects carry the germs of certain diseases on their
bodies, the insect being the host of the particular germ that
produces a particular disease. Yellow fever is caused by a
particular parasite carried by a particular mosquito. Malaria
is caused by a particular parasite carried by a particular
mosquito. Cattle fever is caused / by a particular parasite
carried by a particular tick. In each of these instances the
insect has to bite the victim before the parasite which he
carries can enter the person or animal that is bitten. The
parasite then enters the blood stream and multiplies by the
millions and produces the fever. It is not by this method
that the housefly carries the causes of diseases from one to
another. It is a scavenger and gets germs on its feet, legs,
body, and in its alimentary canal. No germ seems to bother
it that is pathogenic to other creatures.
The discovery of pathogenic germs placed the practice of
medicine on a scientific basis for the first time; prior to that
it had been empirical. The research of medical scientists
has proven that a great per cent of diseases are caused by
germs and that each disease has its particular germ. Not
all micro-organisms are detrimental, but the pathogenic
types are numerous and have wonderful powers of self-
preservation and perpetuation. Some diseases are thought
to be traceable to fungi, whereby vegetable growths fasten
themselves on animal tissues. Science is not yet through
with the task of isolating the causes of some diseases.
Insects and bacteria would not come under the same dis-
cussion but for the fact that insects carry bacteria to human
beings and to other animal or vegetable life. We have in-
cluded pests that have nothing to do with health. Insects
that annoy the household, destroying clothes, carpets,
books, food, the timbers of the home itself, etc., are a part
of the problem of keeping the home free from the depriva-
tions of the insect world.
"In the zoological sense ants are a very natural group of
insects which forms the superfamily Formicoidea of the
order Hymenoptera. They are easily recognized by the el-
bowed antennae, the conspicuous "waist" formed by a con-
striction of the abdomen where it unites with the thorax
and generally by the absence of wings. Ants live in socie-
Lies which inhabit nests of various kinds; each society con-1
sists of numerous wingless, sterile, worker individuals to-
gether with males and egg-laying females. The fertile males
and females are commonly winged and they eventually leave
the nest, often in great swarms; mating takes place in the
open, and the fertilized females (queens) cast their wings
and proceed to found new colonies. Ants exhibit a great
variety of food preference; many ants are carnivorous,
others feed upon nectar and honeydew, some gather in
seeds, etc., and some live on fungi which they cultivate."-
There are various kinds of ants which may inhabit the
household, or its surroundings. Chief among these are the
red ant, the black ant, the Argentine ant, and the, carpenter
ant. (This does not include the white ant or termite.)
The Red Ant-The red ant; is only about one sixteenth
of an inch long. Because of its very small size, it gets
into everything that is not almost hermetically sealed. It.
may come in great swarms to a source of food supply, and
it seems an almost hopeless task to get rid of them. Some
of their number will act as scouts to try to find food, and
as soon as they have discovered some, report to the com-
munity. The scout will then lead swarms of the workers
to the food, and together they will transport the food to
their nests for safekeeping.
The one redeeming feature of the red ants is that they
destroy bedbugs. It has benn suggested that these ants
might be introduced into dwelling houses for the purpose
of exterminating bedbugs. If the ants would leave after
they had done this, all would be well; but if they chose to
become permanent dwellers it would be a qtiestion whether
any gain had been made.
It is also known that red ants will kill grub-worms in the
soil. Perhaps we are more deeply indebted to them for
destroying these ground larvae than We realize.
The Small Black Ant-This ant is approximately the same-
size as the red ant, though he may be a trifle smaller.
However, it may be easily distinguished from the red ant
since it is very dark in color. The black ant is not strictly
a house ant, since it sometimes builds its nest under stones
in the yard, or even in the open. Their nests are marked
by small craters of soil around the entrance. It seldom
invades the household unless in search for food.
The Pavement Ant-The pavement ant is not 'a native of
this country. It is widely distributed in Europe and is a
common meadow ant of that country. It is not known when
this ant was brought to this country. There are wide dif-
ferences in opinion as to the date.
It builds its nest under the pavement or under stones in
the yards of dwellings. From these places of vantage and
closeness to dwellings it has acquired the habit of entering
houses, and at times has become as much of a pest as the
The colonies of the pavement ant are usually very large,
and they may sometimes be found in masses of a quart or
more by lifting stones in the yard or by lifting flagging
in the paths.
Tha Large Black Carpenter Ant-The natural haunts
of the carpenter ant are decaying stumps or logs. -They
may often be found on the trunks of large trees, especially
oak. However, they have a habit of leaving this natural
environment and taking up their abode in dwelling houses.
Here they may do severe damage to rafters and beams.
The queen of this species of ant builds her own nest, and
has nothing to do with the others. Here she may be found
brooding over a few eggs, larvae, coocoons, and small
The Argentine Ant-The Argentine ant is not known to
exist in Florida. Therefore it will not be treated in this
bulletin. Suffice it to say that it is one of the most vicious
and destructive of all the species of ants.
METHODS OF CONTROLLING ANTS
Since no ant colony can be thoroughly exterminated as
long as the queen is alive, all methods for permanently
getting rid of them must be effective in killing the queen.
In the great majority of cases some liquid has proved to
be more effective than other agencies. The reason for its
great effectiveness, both against the queen and the colony
as a whole, is the fact that it is more penetrating. A solid
material will not easily reach the lover rooms of the ant
house, and a gas is both inconvenient and dangerous to the
There are several liquids which are effective in killing
ants. Probably the most effective of all substances is car-
bon bisulfide (CS2). The liquid itself is poisonous to ants,
but to add to its effectiveness, it vaporizes very quickly.
The gas thus liberated penetrates every nook and corner
of the ant house, killing practically all of them. Caution-
Although this substance may be used with perfect safety
in the open or away from fire, it must not under any con-
dition be brought near a flame while in the hands of the
user. It is very highly inflammable, and under certain
conditions is explosive. When being used in the yard or
in some place place where it could do no damage, it may
be purposely exploded by igniting it with a long pole.
A candle, torch, or other substance that will burn easily
may be used on the end of the pole to set fire to the car-
bon bisulfide. The operator should, however, always re-
member to keep at a safe distance. The explosion thus
obtained will serve to drive the fumes even further into
the ant house, providing a better chance of killing all the
Another substance which is very effective in killing ants
is gasoline. It may be used in exactly the same manner as
carbon bisulfide, which we have just discussed. However,
it will be found to be much cheaper than carbon bisulfide,
and will be almost a,s effective.
The reader may have noticed that the two preventive
thus far discussed are of such a nature that they would be
worthless for use inside the house, especially in the kitchen.
If taken into the body in any appreciable amounts, they are
both poisonous. Moreover, the danger of an explosion from
ignition by the kitchen stove would certainly be too great to
warrant their use there. Obviously, then, we must turn to
some other substance or substances for inside use.
A very effective method of controlling ants is to treat
sponges with some kind of syrup, honey, or other sweet sub-
stance, and place them in the house where the ants are most
numerous. If desired the sponges may be put in cans which
have had holes punched in them. The ants will readily
penetrate the pores of the sponges in order to get the food.
They may then be killed by dropping the sponges and all
into boiling water. The sponges may be recharged and the
process repeated as long as the ants persist in remaining, or
until they are all killed. Usually they are so bewildered
and discouraged by such great losses in numbers that they
abandon the house for good.
Various forms of arsenic poisoning have also proved very
successful in killing ants. In addition to this there are many
kinds of patented sprays and insecticides which may prove
satisfactory, at least in repelling the ants if not is killing
The bedbug is looked upon by many people in the upper
strata of society as a joke. Perhaps the reason for this atti-
tude is the fact that these people are seldom if ever molest-
ed by it.
Nobody knows when or where the first bedbug existed.
Apparently he has been man's bedmate as long as humans
have slept in beds. The reason for the name "bedbug" is
perfectly obvious, since man's bed is his favorite retreat. It
seems that there are several reasons why bedbugs prefer to
be in and around beds than any other place. First, they
are afforded a large amount of protection in the cracks and
crevices of the bedsteads. Second, they find that the var-
ious forms of bed-clothing offer excellent habitats for them.
The third and most important reason for their choice of a
bed as a retreat is based on one fact: the bedbug is a para-
site. He lives on human blood, just as the tick and various
insects can do. And what better place and time is there for
an insect to prey upon man than when he is asleep in bed?
In the daytime he would be quickly brushed aside when ap-
prehended or encountered, but at night he is at liberty to
bite when and where he pleases. The venom injected, and
the method of biting are such that a bite from one of these
insects is such that oftentimes the bite is not felt for some
time after it is made.
Judging from its size, the bedbug can inflict a terrible
bite. The so-called Mexican, or assassin bedbug is possibly
capable of inflicting a more severe bite than any other in-
sect. Its bite has been likened unto that of a rattlesnake-
in effect, though not in method. The resulting pain is in-
tense, and is felt in a considerable part of the body. Swell-
ing invariably results, and in severe cases such ill effects as
faintness or vomiting occur. The sickness may be prolonged
weeks or even months. It is believed that many of the poi-
sonous bites often attributed to spiders are really the work
of these bedbugs. Fortunately, however, these more fero-
cious varieties of bedbugs do not exist in anything like the
abundance of the smaller, and less harmful, varieties. It is
seldom that one of the large onQs is encountered, and the
important thing to remember in disposing of them is not
to pick them up, or even touch them.
METHODS OF CONTROL
There are, of course, various means of combating bedbugs.
It may be said that the task of bedbug eradication with the
modern beds of today is a much easier task than it was with
the old rope beds, or even the old slat beds of a few years
ago. In these old beds there were many more hiding places
for the bugs than there are in the new spring beds.
Probably the best way of killing bedbugs in the house is
by fumigation with hydrocyanic acid gas. This gas may be
obtained from either sodium or potassium cyanide. It may,
however, harm the paint on expensive furniture.
Another method of destroying bedbugs is with gasoline or
kerosene. However, these two agents are very likely to take
off the paint on the bedstead. They may be used freely be-
tween the joints and in the cracks to very good advantage.
A good way of getting the bugs out of the mattress is to
expose the mattress to the sun for a few hours. This will
not kill the bugs, but it will drive them off.
Still another method, which is quite often used, is to pour
boiling water on the bed frame, being careful to get the
water in all the cracks. Here, again, however, is the danger
of harming the paint, but if properly used this method is
Turpentine put into the cracks and crevices with a large
feather is effective.
There are three kinds of lice that infest the body of man.
Like the bedbugs, they are known to have existed as far
back as any history is kept. Herodotus and Aristotle re-
ferred to them in some of their writings, and so have many
other naturalists. These three types of lice are commonly
called the head louse, the body louse, and the crab louse.
As in the case of the bedbug, human lice are nothing more
than a loathsome thought to the vast majority of cleanly
people. Here again it is the dirtier class of people that is
Especially in time of war do men suffer from these pests.
Men are often forced to stay in trenches for extended per-
iods of time without a bath or a change of clothing. Since
the louse lays its eggs in the seams of the clothing and in
other places where they are hard to remove, the troops are
very greatly affected. Lice are also prevalent in prisons,
jail camps, laborers' camps, slums of cities, and other un-
All three kinds of lice are alike in that they all have ap-
proximately the same kind of mouth parts. These mouth
parts are not fully understood by anyone. They are drawn
back inside the head when not in use. This makes the task
of examining them a very difficult one. The mouths of all
three are the blood-sucking kind. No chewing lice have
ever been.discovered. The bites thus inflicted, though
scarcely noticeable at the time, becomes as annoying as fleas
and bedbugs. Scratching is inevitable, and the skin be-
comes rough and bronze-colored. However, the worst thing
about lice is that they are carriers of the three dreaded
fevers known as typhus fever, trench fever, and relapsing
fever. The first two of these were very prevalent during
the great World War. At this time the mortality of typhus
fever alone was usually between 50 and 70 per cent. The
other two were not quite this high.
METHODS OF CONTROL
Head lice are possibly more easily dealth with than the
others. They may be killed by soaking the hair in a 2 per
cent. solution of carbolic acid for a few minutes. The lice
and any eggs which they have laid may then be removed by
combing with a fine-tooth comb. At the end of the treat-
ment the head should be thoroughly washed with warm
soap and water. Another method of treatment for head
lice is to thoroughly shampoo the head with a solution of
equal parts of kerosene and olive oil. This also should be
washed out an hour or two after it is applied with warm
water and soap. In some instances it may be necessary to
clip the hair in order to remove all traces of lice and eggs.
It may be somewhat harder to get rid of body lice than
head lice. In the case of body lice it must be remembered
that such lice and eggs as may infesi the clothing must be
destroyed, as well as those on the body. Many methods for
accomplishing this have been devised. One of the best is to
heat the infested clothes in a steam oven for 20 minutes.
If a steam oven is not available a dry oven may be used.
Another way to kill lice in the clothes is by fumigation in a
tight box with carbon bisulfide or carbon tetrachloride. Dur-
ing this time the victim should bathe thoroughly with hot
water and soap, or with the kerosene and olive oil mixture.
Sleeping quarters should either be treated with live steam
or the same as in4 the case of bedbugs.
The crab louse is much harder to deal with than either of
the others. The reason for this is that it is so easily trans-
mitted from one person to another. It seems to infest only
that part of the body at the crotch of the legs and in the
armpits. For this reason it is likely to be deposited on. bath
room appliances, especially toilet seats. From these appli-
ances it may be transmitted to other people. The gener-
ally accepted remedy for crab lice is Mercurial ointment.
Herms advises a mixture of 10 parts mercuric oxide, 1 part
salicylic acid, and 89 parts of vaseline. Also, the application
of kerosene and vinegar followed by a bath in warm soapy
water has been found to give excellent results.
In case of a bite from any one of the three forms of lice,
zinc ointment will give a soothing effect on the skin.
CHIGGERS, OR RED BUGS
There seems to be some controversy as to what red bugs,
(or chiggers) really are. The best authorities say that
they are the immature forms of different kinds of mites. It
is noticeable, however, that red bugs have only three pairs
of legs while the mites have four. It is believed that the
extra pair of legs is formed when the chigger becomes the
adult mite. There is also some dispute as to how -the chig-
ger goes about biting his victim. Some think he bores in at
the root of a hair, some think he goes down the sweat pores,
and, still others think he makes his own hole and does not
bother with either hairs or pores. The best authorities
seem to cater to the last of these theories. However im-
portant these and other issues of debate may be, we will
not go into a lengthy discussion of them here. We know
that we have often been bothered with them as a result of
a picnic or a trip to the woods. Let us, therefore, turn di-
rectly to their treatment.
METHODS OF CONTROL
One of the best means of preventing red bugs from at-
tacking an individual is to dust powdered sulphur inside the
stockings and underwear. Of course this precaution can be
taken only when one knows that hei is going to a place which
is infested with redbugs. A hot bath immediately after a
visit to a place contaminated with -rdbugs will usually get
rid of them before they can do any damage.
Baking soda, a weak solution of ammonia, alcohol, and
camphor are also useful in removing or lessening pain in-
flicted by redbugs.
Redbugs may be removed from lawns by dragging a piece
if cloth which has been soaked in kerosene over the infested
area. Tall grass and weeds must be kept cut to insure that
they will not harbor redbugs.
Kerosene (coal oil) and gasoline are both effective in
killing redbugs. They may be applied directly to the skin
where redbugs are, which is easily determined. Mercurial
ointment or zinc oxide ointment are soothing to the bites,
and will kill the bugs also.
Fleas are harmful to man in two ways. Firot, they are
the carriers of the germ which causes the dreaded bubonic
plague, and second, they may inflict bites which are very
painful and annoying even though they are not poisonous.
There are three kinds of fleas that are prevalent in this
country. They are the human flea, the dog flea, and the cat
flea. However, any of these species will readily attack man.
In the case of most household pests, when a victim is found,
the pest hangs on for dear life, sometimes even burying a
part of its body in the skin. This, however, is not true of
the flea. He will readily go from one person to another, or
from one animal to another. The chief animals which are
subject to attack by fleas are man, dogs, cats, rabbits,
skunks, hogs, rats, mice. Bubonic plague, which he carries,
occurs in man, rats, mice certain ground squirrels, and some
The flea has piercing mouth parts with which he takes
blood to and from his body. Should he bite a person having
bubonic plague, he would suck some of the victim's blood
into his stomach. Here the disease germs would be multi-
plied, and expelled into the blood of the next victim.
One of the most interesting things to notice about fleas.
is the remarkable power which they have in their small legs,
especially the hind ones. It is estimated that a flea can
jump more than 200 times his own length. In comparison
to this a man could easily jump over the United States Cap-
itol building in Washington. And the walls of jails would
have to be a quarter of a mile high. Fleas may easily jump
a distance of 12 to 14 inches in one jump, and they may
jump as high as 7 or 8 inches.
METHODS OF CONTROL
It is evident that in ridding a house of pests, the first
thing to be done is to remove the source of the pests. In
the case of fleas this source will nearly always be found to
be a cat, dog, or other pet. Such pets should not be allowed
to stay in the house, for if they are, sooner or later the
house will become infested with fleas. Pets should be pro-
vided with mats to sleep on, and the mats should be cleaned
out at least once a week. The pets themselves should be
kept as clean as possible by washing them in a solution of
creolin made by adding two to four teaspoons of creolin to
each gallon of water, or by frequently dousing them with
powdered pyrethrum. When using this latter method, the
fleas that fall off should be caught on a paper or cloth and
burned. Another method of ridding pets of fleas is to bathe
them in certain miscible oils or creosote dips.
The problem of ridding a house of fleas is much harder
than that of ridding pets of them. One of the best ways to
treat an infested house is to fumigate it with hydrocyanic
acid gas. The fumigation should be started about 8 o'clock
P. M., and left until the next morning. The windows should
be opened from the outside, and the house should not be
entered for at least two hours after it has been opened up.
Burning sulphur may also be used for fumigation instead of
cyanide. Both of these methods are injurious to paint and
Another method of killing is to sprinkle napthalene flakes
on the floor of the rooms and close all the doors tightly for
several hours. This is a very excellent way.
The author has achieved excellent results by spraying creo-
sote dip over an area infested with fleas. This method was
used under a house to rid the ground of them, and might
be harmful to furniture if used to any extent on the inside.
In ridding a house of fleas it may be necessary to take
up all the carpets, and thoroughly wash all the floor space
with hot water and soap. This is for the purpose of getting
them out of the cracks of the floor, and other places where
they might be hiding. In extreme cases it may be neces-
sary to replace the carpets with rugs. There is no better
place for the larvae of fleas to develop than in the thick
matting of a carpet. It not only affords protection to the
insect during its various stages of development, but it will
probably contain enough dust containing organic matterfor
the insects to feed upon.
Sometimes fleas may be driven out by the persistent use
of pyrethrum. The material should be sifted in the carpets,
along the base boards, and in any cracks between boards of
the floor. However, in some cases this treatment has utter-
Another method which has been used successfully is to
sprinkle benzine on the carpets and floor. However, in do-
ing this it should be remembered that benzine is highly
inflammable, and care should be taken not get it near a fire.
Even fly paper has been successfully used in ridding a
large room of fleas. In one instance the fly paper was tied
around a man's legs, and as he walked about the room hun-
dreds of fleas became stuck fast as they jumped on the paper.
It has been said that oil of pennyroyal will drive fleas out
of a room if it is sprayed thoroughly therein.
There is probably no household pest known that is more
annoying and more dangerous to man than the common
house fly. To begin with, the fly is filthy. He much prefers
to be in a pile of manure or other filthy place, than in a clean
place. Also--the fly has various habits and features about
him that make him very adapted to carrying various kinds
of bacteria. For example; when a fly lights on a surface
he immediately sets to work with his proboscis to rub the
surface. When he has rubbed it slightly rough, and has got
some of the surface into solution with his saliva, he proceeds
to suck it up into his body. Thus any germs which happen
to be on the surface would be sucked into, his body also.
These germs are more than likely to be deposited on the
next surface which the fly lights on. In many cases he may
light on food, dishes, various kitchen and eating utensils,
etc. Consequently, the fly is excellently adapted to carrying
disease germs in his alimentary canal. In addition to this
he is provided with microscopic hairs on the bottoms of his
feet and on the sides of his legs. These hairs, especially
the ones on the feet, are constantly kept sticky with a solu-
tion excreted by the fly for the purpose of aiding him to
walk upside down without falling. Unfortunately, also, it is
very effective in catching and holding disease germs which
it may come in contact with.
The disturbing thing about the fly is that he can carry so
many different kinds of disease germs. It is known to carry
the germs which cause typhoid fever, tuberculosis, cholera,
dysentery, infantile diarrhea, leprosy, anthrax, tapeworms,
hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, opthalmia, yaws, ery-
sipelas, gonorrhoea, septicaemia, absesses and gangrene.
It is the fly's unending curiosity that makes him so great
a disease carrier. He seems actually to get into everything.
This is why he is so likely to come in contact with such a
great variety of germs.
METHODS OF CONTROL
The best way to get rid of flies is not to allow any more to
hatch. The favorite place for flies to lay their eggs is in
manure (preferably horse manure.) For this reason all
stables and barns should be kept as clean as possible. Where
they have floors other than dirt they should be scrubbed
at least once a week. If a pile of manure is left standing
for over a week, in the summer time, it may, on some oc-
casions, be found to be full of the larvae of flies (maggots.)
In a short time these larvae become pupa and will event-
ually become adult flies. It has been thought in the past
that flies in the larvae stage would eat up enough filth to
make up-for any damage they might do when they become
adults. However, since it has been found that flies carry,
so many disease germs this theory has been proven to be
wrohig many, many times.
Another precaution which should be taken against.flies is:
that all dwelling houses should be screened. Of course this
will not destroy any flies, but at least it will keep them from
entering the house and going about at will.
In cases where fly paper is used it is better to use sticky
paper than poisoned paper. There is always the danger that
poisoned paper will come in contact with something that it
should not, and sticky paper is just as effective. This paper
should be hung in strips where the flies are most numerous,
and any fly that touches it will become stuck fast. When
the paper is covered with flies it should be disposed of and
replaced by fresh paper.
There are, of course, various patented insecticides which
may be effective against flies. But in most cases it will be
found they act as repellants rather than destructive.
It is also true that various kinds of devices have been
made for the trapping of flies. This may prove effective
when used over a garbage can or other small place frequent-
ed by flies, but usually it will prove very futile since so many
more flies can be hatched. A pound of manure can produce
about 1200 flies, and this is considerably more than a trap
could catch in a long time.
Another important item in controlling flies is to do away
with open privies wherever it is possible. These provide
very excellent breeding places for flies and are also more
than likely to contain some disease germs. If it is not pos-
sible to have adequate sewerage disposal as in the cities, the
privy should be placed over a creek or river. If this is not
possible it should be built away from the house, and if the
household is dependent on a well for its water supply the
privy should not be near this well because it will contamin-
ate the water. Moreover, if a privy must be built away
from running water, it should be disinfected regularly with
some disinfectant such as lime or chloride of lime. The
disinfectant should be provided in a convenient box, and a
paddle ,r small scoop or large spoon should accompany it
so that some of the disinfectant can be scooped into the pit
It is important that everyone should know how to prevent
and kill mosquitoes. For these small insects are the only
carriers of the germs which cause four very serious diseases.
In addition to being disease carriers they can inflict a very
painful bite. Of the diseases the mosquito can transmit, the
one most dangerous and most familiar to the majority of
people is malaria fever (sometimes known as chills and fev-
er). The germ which causes this disease must undergo a
certain stage of its development while in the body of the
mosquito. The other stages can take place in the human
body. Thus we see that if there were no mosquitoes there
could be no malaria. To narrow the subject down still more
we may say that there would be no malaria if we could
stamp out even one species of mosquito-the one known as
the malaria mosquito. The other diseases transmitted by
mosquitoes, known as yellow fever, filariasis, and dengue or
breakbone fever, could in the same way be wiped out if we
could rid ourselves of mosquitoes.
There are more than 350 different species of mosquitoes
known to exist in North America. The three most common
of these types are the Culex (common), Anopheles (malar-
ial), and the Aedes (yellow fever.) All mosquitoes pass
through a complete metamorphosis, ,nd to do this they
must have water that is not in rapid motion; stagnant water
is better. With this fact in mind we turn to preventive
METHODS OF CONTROL
Since mosquitoes cannot reach the adult stage without
having had water in which to breed, the best method of
combating them is to not permit water to stand stagnant.
If this water cannot be disposed of, it may be rendered
unfit for mosquitoes either by pouring oil on the surface or
by using chemicals in dust form, such as paris green or
In some cities and towns a mosquito inspection force is
maintained by the city government. In such instances every
house and lot in the city limits is inspected regularly for the
larvae of mosquitoes (wiggle tails). It is also the duty of
this force to turn over any receptacle which contains water
or which might contain water after a rain. In the case of
barrels full of water that have been set aside for use in an
emergency such as fire, it is the duty of the inspector to see
to it that some preventive be placed on the water surface
for this purpose. This method of mosquito prevention is
indeed very effective when carried out efficiently.
One method of preventing mosquitoes on larger bodies of
water is by the introduction of top-feeding fish or minnows.
These fish will feed on the larvae of the mosquitoes.
Another precaution which should be taken against mos-
quitoes is the screening of all houses. This should be done
carefully and completely, since the mosquitoes are so small
that they can enter through very small cracks.
Mosquitoes may be cleaned out of a house by means of
pyrethrum sprays, certain commercial oils, or by fumigants.
When one must be exposed to mosquitoes gloves, netting,
and repelling oils will prove effective. Of all the mixtures
and compounds that have been developed for repelling mos-
quitoes probably the best one is oil of citronella.
Moths are different from most insects that bother man
in that they attack property instead of man himself. There
are any number of different kinds of moths, and each spe-
cies attacks a different kind of property. Some moths feed
on clothing and may cause considerable damage in this way.
Others feed on certain crops such as grain, grapes, berries,
peas, potatoes, etc. Of course it would not be possible to
discuss each species of moth which is known, but is is in-
teresting to note that in every case where damage has been
done by moths it is the moth in the larval stage that does
the damage. It is also interesting to note that practically
all moths except the clothing moth are attracted by light.
At night hundreds of them may be seen flying around a
light bulb if it is possible for them to gain access to it.
METHODS OF CONTROL
Clothes Moth-Clothing that is in daily use is rarely at-
tacked by moths if ever. But when clothes are packed
away for a season they are in great danger of an attack by
moths if not properly packed. The method which is most
commonly in use and which is probably as good as any
other for protecting clothes that are packed away is to
sprinkle napthalene flakes over the goods at the rate of one
pound to 10 cubic feet of space. Clothing should be thor-
oughly shaken and brushed before it is packed. This may
get rid of any moths or eggs that infest it. Another sub-
stance that will give complete protection from moths and
will kill all stages of insect is paradichlorobenzine. It is
used in the same way as napthalene.
Infested clothes may be freed from moths by fumigation
with carbon bisulfide. This also will kill all stages of the
Cedar chests are effective in keeping adult moths out of
clothing, and will kill any larvae that hatch out in the cloth-
ing, but if larvae are introduced into cedar chests after
they have developed to any extent, they will eventually ma-
ture into adult moths.
Heating will kill all stages of the moth, and clothes will
not be damaged by moths if they are kept in cold storage.
(45 degrees F. or colder.)
Other Types of Moth-The most effective method of kill-
ing moths other than the clothes moth is by spraying. It
has been found that spraying with lead arsenate will give al-
most complete control of this insect. Three pounds of this
chemical to 50 gallons of Bordeaux mixture is a very good
The Silver Fish Moth-A second kind of moth that is very
destructive to books, etc., is called the silver fish moth. This
moth has no wings and its body is only about 1-3 of an inch
long. Books that are packed away in dark, damp rooms are
almost certain to be attacked. This suggests that any valu-
able books or papers should be stored in light, airy rooms.
The frequent use of powdered pyrethrum on the books and
on the shelves about them will give added protection. This
powder must be renewed often because it loses its strength.
In badly infested houses this moth may even attack starched
clothes, stiffened silks, and similar fabrics which remain
packed away for any length of time. Another way of com-
bating the fish moth is to put a mixture of white arsenic and
paste on pieces of cardboard and place them where the
moths can easily get to them.
Roaches are undesirable from the mere fact of their pres-
ence and their disgusting tendency to get into everything.
Under certain conditions they may make themselves more
annoying than any other pest. It has been said that persons
in the household have no adequate notion of the roach as a
pest. Indeed, it is in large hotels and restaurants, on board
ships, and about bakeries that they become serious as pests.
Roaches seem to like anything that has any kind of paste
in it. It is this liking that leads them to deface books by
eating patches off the binding. They also will destroy wall
paper at times for this same reason. In Jamaica they have
been known to eat such leather articles as harness, saddles,
gloves, boots, shoes, etc. Many times on board ships they
have devoured the ship's whole supply of biscuits. They
are also very fond of cake. In one case they were known to
ruin 300 cases of cheese which had been stored on a ship.
Roaches have been known to eat the corks from bottled
wine, cider, and porter, and one instance is recorded where
they actually ate the eyebrows of several children. They
also attack the toe nails and finger nails of sleeping persons.
Thus we see that they are not in any wise very particular
about the kind of food that they eat. The one thing they
have a great dislike for is castor oil. For this reason castor
oil is sometimes used on leather articles as a preventive.
There are four kinds of roaches that are prevalent in this
country. They are commonly called the Australian roach,
the German roach (Crotonbug), the Oriental roach, and the
American roach. As we would gather from their names, the
American roach is the only one that is native of this coun-
try. The other three were brought over here on ships. They
have all gradually spread until today they are as plentiful
as the American roach. All of these roaches seem to be mi-
gratory, especially the German roach. An army of them
was once seen marching across a street in a rain. They were
intent upon entering a building there, and were stopped
on'y by coals of fire.
METHODS OF CONTROL
It is often a very difficult task to rid a house of roaches.
Their flat bodies enable them to hide in cracks and crevices
where it is almost impossible to reach them. This suggests
some type of fumigation.
Hydrocyanic Acid Gas-Hydrocyanic acid gas can always
be used as a fumigant. It will kill any animal life with
which it comes into contact. It must be remembered,
however, that all valuable furniture should be removed from
it, since there is danger of harming the paint.
Carbon Bisulfide-Carbon bisulfide is also effective in
killing most forms of animal life, but it is not nearly so
dangerous to handle as cyanide. If a room is to be fum-
igated with carbon bisulfide, the liquid should be poured
into shallow vessels and allowed to remain for 36 to 48
hours. During this time it will evaporate and penetrate all
parts of the room. The room should be kept closed as tight-
ly as possible. Caution.-Carbon bisulfide is aboslutely safe
to handle as long as it is kept away from fire. But neither
the liquid nor the gas should in any way be brought near to
a flame. They are highly inflammable and under certain
conditions they are more explosive than gasoline.
Pyrethrum-Powdered pyrethrum may be dusted liberal-
ly in places where roaches are with some degree of success
in killing them, but it has been found that this substance
is more effective when moistened and molded into cones.
The cones should be thoroughly dried in an oven, anid'then
they should be set fire to at the top. They will burn slowly
and the fumes are effective in killing roaches. However,
this substance must be obtained fresh if it is to be of any
Sodium Fluoride-Sodium fluoride is rapidly coming into
use in the killing of roaches. It is used in powdered form
and may be obtained from any drug store. It should be
dusted in the cracks and crevices and other places where the
roaches are likely to be. It is, however, somewhat danger-
ous to man, and should not be breathed or allowed to come
in contact with the skin.
Traps-There have been various kinds of traps devised
for the catching of roaches. The most effective one seems
to be some kind of g'ass jar or other vessel with very
smooth walls, several small boards leaning from the top
of the jar to the floor, and some kind of bait on the inside
such as moist bread or cake. The roaches will walk up the
boards and fall in the jar in order to get the food, but they
will not be able to climb back out. They may be killed by
Borax-Borax has been used very successfully in the kill-
ing of roaches. It should be sprinkled about exactly as
powdered pyrethrum. It must be used persistently and
generously. In this way whole premises have been suc-
cessfully freed of the pests.
There are countless varieties of weevils that feed on grain
and other crops in the field. But, however, since this bul-
letin deals only with such pests as come in and immediately
ground the house, these field weevils will not be treated
here. It is only those weevils that attack household goods
that we are interested in.
The Granary Weevil-These weevils lay their eggs in a
small hole which they make in a grain of wheat bean or
corn. When the egg hatches the young weevil feeds on
inside of the grain. However, they will usually make their
appearance in the finished product. They have been found
in shredded wheat biscuits, and even on Pullman dining
cars, where one pays for the very best quality of food. The
corn and bean or pea weevil are the ones that most concern
the people of Florida.
The rice weevil is the second one that enters the house-
hold. It and the granary weevil are really the only two
that come under this classification. As one would suppose,
it gets its name from the fact that it was first found in rice.
The rice weevil is supposed to have originated in India, and
from there it has spread all over the world. It is the most
harmful of the two that inhabit this country, but it is not
as widely distributed as the other.
The rice weevil feeds upon the grains of rice and often
invades boxes of crackers, cakes, and other bread-stuffs,
and is found in barre's of flour and sacks of meal. In the
summer it may remain in the field, but in the winter it will
retreat to barns, houses, or any other place where grain is
METHODS OF CONTROL
The most effective method of combating weevils is with
carbon bisulfide. This liquid should be used at the rate of 2
or three pounds to every 1000 cubic feet of space.
A good way to keep weevils from infesting various kinds
of seed is to store the seeds in tight dry goods boxes. The
boxes should be filled to within 3 or 4 inches of the top. If
weevils should infest them they'should be treated with car-
bon bisulfide. Caution.-No form of fire whatsoever should
be brought near the carbon bisulfide until the fumes have
thoroughly dissipated in the surrounding atmosphere.
The best thing to do with any small box of cereal, crack-
ers or other food that has become infested with weevils is
to throw it away entirely.
All stages of weevils will be killed if a temperature of
about 130 degrees can be maintained for several hours.
PREVENTING DAMAGE BY TERMITES OR
Ty T. E. SNYDER, Senior Entomologist, Division of Forest Insects,
Bureau of Entomology
Farmers' Bulletin 1472
Revised to June, 1930
TERMITES AND THEIR HABITS
DISTRIBUTION AND FORMS
Termites, or "white ants," are destructive native insects
.i which 44 species occur in the United States. They are
Distributed throughout the country, although in the south-
ern, southwestern, and Pacific coast regions, where both
the subterranean and nonsubterranean kinds occur, they
are more numerous and injurious than elsewhere.
These so-called white ants are not true ants, although
they are superficially antlike and live in colonies made up
of different forms or castes. In these nests or colonies both
wingless and winged mature individuals are produced. The
brownish or blackish, elongate, slender, antlike colonizing,
sexual adults with long white wings, unlike the other forms,
have functional eyes and their bodies are able to endure
full sunlight. These migratory males and females appear
normally once a year during a short period. There are
three stages in the life of white ants. The egg, the imma-
ture form (nymph), and the mature individual (including
sterile workers, soldiers, and the various fertile reproduc-
LOCATION OF COLONIES OR NESTS
The nests of some species of termites are in the earth and
in dead and decaying wood. These species are of subterran-
ean habit, timber and trees being attacked by the workers
only through the ground. The nests of some species, how-
ever, are excavated in wood and trees by the winged forms,
there being no workers and no underground life.
With the clearing of land and the consequent destruction
of their natural breeding places in the dead trees, decaying
stumps, and logs of the forests, termites become increas-
ingly destructive to the woodwork and contents of build-
ings, telephone poles, fences, or any timber in contact with
the ground, as well as to living vegetation, including not
only fruit and shade trees, shrubs, and flowers, but also
truck and field crops and, in California, grapevines. The
principal food of termites is cellulose, which they obtain
from either dead or living vegetation.
Termites in the United States are mainly species of sub-
terranean or wood-boring habit and are not so spectacular
or common as the mound-making or tree-nesting termites
of the Tropics. Very few termites in this country have
habits which make them conspicuous, or come above ground
into the sunlight, except during the annual colonizing
swarm; hence they largely escape notice until they become
TERMITES WHICH ARE SUBTERRANEAN IN HABIT
Subterranean termites live in forests, building their nests
in the wood of standing timber, logs, or stumps, in cleared
land, any wood in contact with the ground or, in the plains,
in a labyrinth of underground passages in the earth, usually
underneath wood or vegetation.
PREVENTING DAMAGE BY TERMITES OR WHITE ANTS
Termites are soft-bodied and always conceal themselves
within wood, in the earth, or within their earthlike carton
shelter tubes. The grayish-white, soft-bodied, wingless,
sterile "workers" are in reality the destructive form. These
workers make the excavations occupied by the colony and
enlarge and extend them as the colony increases. They
live underground or within the wood, are blind, and shun
the light; as a result they are rarely seen. In burrowing
through wood the workers often completely honeycomb it,
usually following the grain and eating out the softer, thin-
walled, larger-celled spring or new wood. They are able to
penetrate the hardest of woods, provided they have access
to moisture in the ground. In extending their galleries in
wood and vegetation, subterranean species carry moisture
with them by means of moist excrement mixed with earth.
TERMITES WHICH ARE NONSUBTERRANEAN IN HABIT
The nonsubterranean termites which are injurious, at-
tack wood directly; but, instead of following the grain con-
tinuously they excavate through it longitudinal chambers
of limited length. The sexual adults, after they have lost
their wings, and the young or nymphs, are the destructive
forms. Their pellets of excrement are regularly impressed,
and sometimes completely fill or block up the burrows in
a compact mass; they are often expelled as dry droppings
from the infested wood. These termites are destructive
to the woodwork and furniture in buildings, as well as to
living trees. Apparently they can exist without the great
amount of moisture necessary to the life of termites which
are subterranean in habit.
Insecticides.-Either carbondisulphide or carbon tetra-
chloride can be used to kill termites in the soil if it is moist
and not compact. Small holes should be made near the in-
fested plants and a small quantity of the liquid chosen
poured in and the holes immediately closed tightly with
earth. Calcium cyanide15 has also been found effective,
but it should not be placed near living plants; it mixes read-
ily with and enriches soil and gives off an insecticidal gas
which should not be inhaled as it is poisonous.
An effective control may be found in the use of kerosene
nicotine oleate or a 5 per cent kerosene emulsion.G1 If
the greenhouse benches are infested, but for any
reason cannot be replaced, they should be thoroughly soaked
with this r alsion, as should also the ashes and sand under
the pots on the benches. This may be done by removing
the potted plants from a section of the bench, spraying that
section, and moving the pots on the bench to cover the treat-
ed area, thus giving access to another section. Potted helio-
tropes and geraniums have been treated directly with the 5
per cent kerosene emulsion without injury to the plants, and
the white ants in the soil of the pots were all killed. The
soil should be wet down before this spray is used. This
treatment should be given late in the afternoon and be fol-
lowed early the next morning with a thorough syringing of
the soil with water to wash out the surplus oil. It is: import-
ant to remove all infested pots from the bench as soon,as the
infestation is noticed and to destroy the termites with kero-
Damage by termites or "white ants" is serious to many
classes of crude and finished forest products and is occas-
ionally serious to living trees and other plants. These in-
sects are'especially injurious to foundation timbers, the
woodwork of buildings, and material stored in buildings to
which they have gained entrance. Damage to timber in
contact with the ground is especially serious in the South-
ern, Central and Pacific Coast States, and the tropical pos-
sessions of the United States.
The woodwork of buildings can be protected from the at-
tack of termites by proper construction and by use of wood
treated with preservatives. These insects can be eliminated
where already established in buildings by removing wood in
contact with the ground and replacing it with wood chemi-
To construct buildings so that they will be white-ant proof,
make their foundations, where possible, entirely of stone,
brick or concrete, including stone or metal columns or pil-
lars in the basement to support the floor above; make con-
crete walls and flooring in basement or cellar, and lay con-
crete floors on a gravel base. Where stone or concrete foun-
dations are impracticable, use timber impregnated with
Lay basement window sills and frames over concrete, and
do not allow woodwork to come in contact with the ground.
Never sink untreated timber in the ground or in moist con-
Complete dryness of the foundation and of the basement
walls and flooring is an important means of rendering build-
ings safe from attack. Provide for air spaces between the
ground and wooden flooring and lay concrete floors on a
In regions where nonsubterranean termites are common,
woodwork should be treated with preservatives.
To eliminate termites already established in buildings, ex-
amine the foundation timbers and other woodwork in the
basement to determine the approximate point of entrance
and the extent of damage already accomplished. After re-
moving the damaged wood, drench the ground with insecti-
cides or poisonous solutions. Then replace the damaged
timber with rock, brick, concrete, or metal work, or substi-
tute, for the foundation, timbers impregnated with coal tar
Since subterranean termites always require access to
damp earth, shut off this source of moisture. The insects
will then be unable to extend their galleries farther and will
Nonsubterranean termites can be killed in infested wood
by the use of insecticides.
Injury to living vegetation is occasionally serious, espec-
ially in the Southern states, the Southwest, and the Pacific
Coast States. It can be prevented by clean cultural meth-
ods, deep fall plowing and the use of insecticides.
1 Genera Reticulitermes Holmgren, Leucotermes Silvestri, Amiter-
mes Silvestri, etc.
2 Genera Termopsis Heer, .Kalotermes Hagen, Neotermes Holmgren,
Cryptotermes Banks, etc.
15 Two ounces of calcium cyanide to 1 square yard of ground is rec-
16 Kerosene emulsion is made as follows: Kerosene, 2 gallons; fish-
oil soap, one-half pound; water, 1 gallon. .Dissolv- the soap in hot
water and pour in the oil slowly, with constant stirring to emulsify.
Dilution: If 37 gallons of water be added to the above stock emul-
sion it will give 40 gallons of 5 per cent. kerosene emulsion.
terrnes Silvestri, etc.