Front Cover
 Title Page

Group Title: Bulletin New series no.
Title: Termites and other household pests
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00089082/00001
 Material Information
Title: Termites and other household pests
Series Title: Bulletin New series no.
Physical Description: 35 p. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida -- Dept. of Agriculture
Publisher: Florida Department of Agriculture
Place of Publication: Tallahassee Fla
Publication Date: 1938
Subject: Termites -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Insect pests -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Household pests -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: compiled by the Federal Writers' Project of Florida
General Note: "Oct., 1938."
General Note: Cover title: Termites and other insect pests in Florida.
General Note: Running title: Termites and other pests in Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00089082
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - AKD9633
oclc - 28552168
alephbibnum - 001962956

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Full Text

No. 89 New Series Oct., 1938



Other Household Pests

Harry L. Hopkins. Administrator
Ellen S. Woodward. Assistant Administrator
Henry G. Alsberg. Director of the Federal Writers' Project


Published by
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner
Tallahassee, Florida

October, 1938

Compiled by


The damage of the destructive termite, apparently great-
est in the Southern states is centered upon those buildings
which were constructed without thought of termite invasion.
There is a great need to equip the farmer and the city resi-
dent alike with the proper weapons to combat this formida-
ble foe, and to advance methods of stamping out the pest
through the proper construction of buildings.


Termites represent an important group of social insects,
other groups being ants, bees, and wasps. While resembling
true ants, termites belong to an entirely distinct order of
insects, and are closely related to the Blattidae, or roaches.
Termites occur in numerous forms throughout the world but
in greatest abundance in subtropical and tropical countries.
For our immediate purpose, however, we are concerned only
with termites which may occasion serious damage to wood-
work of buildings or to stored articles, including furniture,
books or other articles of plant origin. The common type
of destructive house termite of North America includes
ground-nesting forms that cannot live without moisture,
which they get from the earth. There is also a type of dry-
wood termite, which does not live in the ground but may at-
tack directly at any point in a building, gaining access
through windows or doors. In the United States this type is
restricted in distribution to the Atlantic coast from Norfolk,
Va., south, and up the Pacific coast to northern California.
These termites occur practically throughout the United
States, but serious damage to buildings and contents is more
apt to be experienced in the Southern states.
Termites feed almost exclusively on dead vegetable sub-
stance and all the wood eaters that have been studied have
been found to contain numerous symbiotic infusorians in
their food canal which prepare the "dry-as-dust" food. In-
fusorians are generally regarded as the most highly or-
ganized of the protozoans; the form is definite; there are
usually special places for the ingestion of food and exit of


excrement, and the processes for locomotion are often high-
ly developed. By slightly raising the temperature it is easy
to kill the partner infusorians without injuring the termites
and, in this way, it has been proved that the symbiosis is
indispensable. In the cases that have been studied, the ter-
mites cannot utilize the masticated wood unless the Infu-
sorians first work on it. Although termites are in many
places very common and their ant hills or termitarie very
conspicuous, the insects themselves are not seen as often
as the true ants, for they have usually a great dislike for the
light of day and therefore hide their pale thin-skinned wing-
less bodies in covered galleries and tunnels. The dark-
skinned sexual forms are winged, but fly about for only a
very short while.
The young termites that hatch out from the eggs are not
very different from the adults in size. In other words, there
is little or no metamorphosis. The termite's brain is rela-
tively small. Sounds are mechanically produced by work-
ing one part of the body against the other. These sounds
are probably means of communication.
Among the higher type termites, there may be hundreds
of thousands of individuals in a colony-sometimes millions.
But in primitive species, there may be only a few dozen or
less. In the great majority, there are five castes, three fer-
tile and two normally sterile. First, there are the "kings"
and "queens," the ordinary males and females, deeply pig-
mented with relatively large brains and eyes. After the
nuptial flight, they discard their wings and the female set-
tles down to extraordinary maternity. Second, there are
complemental or substitutional kings and queens, less pig-
mented, with small brain and eyes and with vestigal wings.
Third, there are peculiar, not very intelligible adults, scarce-
ly pigmented, entirely wingless and small-brained. Fourth,
there are the wingless, unpigmented, non-reproductive
workers, arrested individuals of both sexes, small-brained
and often blind. Fifth, there are the wingless, big-headed
and small brained, usually more or less blind soldiers, also
arrested individuals, that attain complete development. As
there are often two sizes of workers and three sizes of sol-
diers, there are 16 different kinds of individuals, though no
single colony may show them all.


It was once thought the differences were due to varia-
tions in nurture, but further investigation points to the con-
clusion that the differences are largely germinal, that is,
determined in the egg. Thus, in the youngest stage there
seems to be a distinct difference between the reproductive
and the sterile. Here it should be noted workers and soldiers
are occasionally fertile, apparently producing others like
themselves. The kings and queens can produce all of the
castes; the complementals give rise to complementals, erga-
toids, workers and soldiers; the ergatoids can give rise to
ergatoids, workers and soldiers.
The dark-colored kings and queens leave the nests in the
aerial swarm, but the association in couples occurs on the
ground after a short flight and after the wings are discarded.
A hole is dug by the young king and queen and this is the
beginning of the termitarium. Only after some construc-
tion is competed does the actual pairing occur, and the whole
colony is the progeny of the two.
In the higher termites, the queen's abdomen eventually
becomes extraordinarily swollen, even four inches long,
20,000 times the volme of the worker. According to the
Scientist Escherich, she may, for a long period, lay an egg
every few seconds, about 30,000 a day; 10 million may be laid
in a year and 100 million during her lifetime of about ten
The complementals or the ergatoids may take the places
of the king and queen if these should die. The workers
have to do with foraging, feeding, nursing, building and re-
pairing. The soldiers are defensive, but some with vestigal
jaws, known as nasuti, squirt drops of sticky fluid on their
assailants. The domestic economy includes feeding one
another with saliva, regurgitated food and faecal matter.
Moreover, all the castes form exudates which the others lick
off. This is most copious on the swollen queen, who is there-
fore much licked, and not always gently, by the workers.
The inter-relations of termites with other organisms are
many. No mixed colonies are known, but there are com-
pound nests whose galleries are tenanted by two or more
species. True ants often live in termitaries. Various in-
sects, the "termitaries," habitually live in association with


termites just as true ants and in both cases the associates
may be grouped as injurious intruders, parasites, tolerated
guests and true guests. The last exude excretions which
are greedily devoured by the termites. In exchange they
sometimes receive regurgitated food. But they may also
help themselves to young termites. Most of the termito-
phites are beetles, but there are representatives of other
orders too, such as Diptera. Very remarkable is the de-
velopment of abnormalities among some of the guests, re-
sulting in abdominal enlargement, accumulation of fat,
blindness and winglessness, which has been: attributed to
confinement within narrow galleries and chambers, the very
limited supply of oxygen, the absence of light and the abun-
dance of carbohydrate food.

The normal habitat of these termites is in connection
with dead-wood, old stumps, etc., on which they feed, and
in such locations they may establish large colonies contain-
ing queens, wingless workers, and soldiers. In the spring,
and sometimes in the fall, males and females-white-winged
but with black or brown bodies-swarm from the outdoor
colonies, or in buildings to which their work has extended,
to seek favorable points out-doors for the establishment of
new colonies. These colored, winged forms should not be
confused with the narrow-waisted, true ants. These swarm-
ing, or flying, termites do not attack wood or other articles
in houses and must reach the open if they are to be success-
ful in founding new colonies. The descendants of these
winged migrants, the workers-cream-colored "white ants,"
are the wood-mining and destructive members of the colony.
These shun the light and are concealed in their runways or
behind a protecting shell of wood which is always left and
are seen only when wood in which they are working, or
their connecting runways over masonry, etc., are broken

The means of stopping termite injury in a building are
substantially the same as those to be employed in new con-
struction to prevent the entry of termites. Inasmuch as
contact with soil moisture is absolutely essential to the life


of ground-inhabiting termites, reconstruction of a type which
permanently breaks and makes impassable the ground con-
nections maintained between the parent soil colony, and any
building will result in the prompt death of any termites re-
maining in the woodwork or furniture or contents of the
building even if they have reached the second or third floors.
However, if through water leakage or other sources such
woodwork is kept more or less pertnanierily'troist, termites
cut off in the building may. continue to work as long: aathnis
condition lasts. This applies particularly to damp corneis
of basements or similar: conditions which may result from
leakages of water- pipes1i bathrooms, kitchens,, etc.


The most lasting and effective remedy is the replace-
ment of wood in or near the basement of the building with
concrete. Second in order of effectiveness and durability
is the replacement of such wood with treated wood or tim-
bers, and, in regions of excessive termite damage, the em-
ployment under both methods of protective shields. By this
means contact between colony and building is permanently
broken and relief from termite damage is assured. This
means that joists imbedded in concrete and the basement
floor and baseboards should be replaced with any type of
plain or ornamental concrete. In basement rooms so con-
structed, movable furniture of wood, and also built-in fur-
niture, particularly if resting on concrete footings, can be
employed with safety.


To give the capping and facing to basement walls of frame
buildings it is rarely necessary to jack up the building, but
usually it is possible to remove the upper tier of brick or
upper portion of the masonry unit in sections and replace it
with portland cement mortar and suitable capping of slate
or mortar.
Where poor grades of mortar have been used in masonry
walls below the ground, it may be advisable to coat the out-
side, and, if necessary, the inside of the wall, with portland
cement or concrete, to keep termites from boring through.


The termite shields of metal can easily be inserted over
or in the masonry foundation of buildings or around pillars,
supports, piping, etc., below the frame superstructure.
The possibility of stopping, for a temporary period at
least, termite work in buildings by means of soil poisons
placed about the foundations is indicated by experiments
which have been under way for several years by various
agencies interested in termite control. The use of such soil
poisons, is, however, still very much in the experimental
state and on present information cannot be recommended as
a permanent remedy. On the other hand, where termite re-
construction herein recommended is deemed by the owner
to be impracticable or too expensive, the following type of
soil poisoning may be used and should give temporary re-
The most promising of the soil poisons for such use is a
full strength of crude liquid orthodichlorobenzene. This
chemical should be applied after a trench has been dup 30
inches deep (in no case lower than the top of the footing) and
at least 12 inches wide at the top around the foundation
walls and piers supporting the main structure or porches,
etc. The soil at the bottom of the trench should be saturated
with full-strength orthodichlorobenzene at the rate of one
gallon per ten linear feet. The soil should then be replaced
to within three inches of the surface and the treatment re-
peated. Before making such application, all wood debris
should be removed from near the wall of the building and
any earthlike shelter tubes over the foundations, walls etc.,
should be broken off. This liquid can be obtained at a
reasonable price from wholesale chemists or manufacturers
of insecticides.
The cautions to be observed in the use of this chemical
are not to let it come in contact with the face and hands, as
it burns slightly, and is distinctly painful if it gets into the
eyes. In applying it to a closed space beneath the building,
the operator should not remain too long subject to the
fumes, and it is desirable to secure as good ventilation as
possible while applying the chemical.


Where there is danger of orthodichlorobenzene reaching
the roots of ornamental plants, etc., paradichlorobenzene in
the crystalline form may be used in the manner specified
above. This chemical may also injure vegetation but will
not spread as deeply as the liquid orthodichlorobenzene. In
the Northern states this crystal is ordinarily used during
warm weather, when soil temperatures are likely to be high.
Crystals should be used at the rate of approximately 5
pounds per 10 linear feet. Coal-tar creosote used alone or
diluted with three parts of petroleum oil is also effective as
a soil poison if applied at the same rate as orthodichloro-
benzene. Like the latter chemical, it is injurious to plant
The use of these and other soil poisons is especially appli-
cable to buildings raised on masonry pillars or partially
filled-in basements or porches, but as already indicated,
such treatments lack adequate proof of effectiveness and
Termite damage to the woodwork of buildings can be
remedied by the householder himself or by the employment
of an intelligent contractor. Common sense and not the
services of an expert are needed to put into effect the fol-
lowing recommendations. However, it is always advisable
to outline the scope of the work necessary in repairing the
various types of buildings damaged by termites. Indeed,
often it is well to have a contract drawn up. The following
suggestions are suitable for remedying the normal termite
damage in the average types of buildings and afford the
basis for such contracts. Sometimes, it is necessary to call
for expert advice on reconstruction based on a knowledge
of termites.

Where wooden floors, foundation timbers, architraves-
either upright or joists, sills, porches, steps, etc., are in con-
tact with the earth, sleepers laid on concrete are included.


Remove from basement or cellar the present wood floors,
sleepers, filling between sleepers, wood wainscot, wooden
thresholds, wooden subsills, window stools, partitions, base-
boards, stairs, and the coal bin.


Excavate or fill in basement, or cellar, where wood
floors are removed, as may be necessary to bring sub-grade
to depth of four inches below level of present floors.
Form cement coves, thresholds and bases where cement
paving is done and in other locations when hereinafter speci-
Remove all old wood forms where same are found still
remaining in place. All old boards, wood scraps, debris, and
any other materials that will attract termites, now located
throughout the basement and unexcavated areas under the
building, shall be entirely removed from the premises by
the contractor. Debris, specified to be removed from the
premises shall be carried to a dump and burned.
In basement, or cellar, shore up, if necessary for removal
of uprights, cut off bottom ends and replace on cast iron
bases. Cut off bottom of door jambs and architraves in

Cement shall be of an approved brand or a mortar com-
posed of one part Portland cement to three parts of sand
graded from fine to coarse, with no grains larger than will
pass through the No. 10 sieve, to which may be added 10 per
cent by weight of the cement or some workable agent, such
as hydrated lime.
Sand shall be clean and sharp, free from loam or vege-
table matter and preferably with grains varying in size.
Stone shall be hard and durable and broken so as not to
exceed two inches in any direction. Clean, washed gravel of
same size may be used instead of stone.
Remove partitions, stairs, floors and sleepers in base-
ment or cellar; excavate or fill, as may be necessary, to bring
earth to even surface of four inches below top of present
floor. Lay a paving base three and one-quarter inches thick,
composed of one part cement, three parts sand and six parts
broken stone or gravel. Before concrete base has set, apply
a smooth top dressing three-quarters of an inch thick, com-
posed of two parts of cement and three parts sand or fine
granite screenings (not dust). All expansion joints shall be
filled with coal tar pitch. All thresholds shall be formed of


top dressing mixture and troweled to a smooth surface.
Where plastered walls are furred or stripped, cut away
plaster, studs of stripping to a height of six inches above
floor and build a cement base tight against brick wall and
flush with face of plastering.
Cut off lower part of door jambs and casings six inches
above floor and replace with cement plinths. These plinths
shall project one-quarter inch beyond jambs and casings and
shall be offset so as to properly receive the architraves, sink
down strips of metal from woodwork into concrete.
All cement plinths, bases, etc., shall be reinforced with
heavy wire lath well anchored to walls.

Where wood wainscot and wood base are removed in
basement or cellar, patch if necessary, and white coat and
make a neat job where plastering joins new cement base;
patch with gypsum-two-coat work, to finish even with sur-
face of present work.
Baseboards, plinths or other concrete work shall be suit-
ably painted to match plaster or woodwork.

Where filled-in porches, steps, etc., are in contact with
the main building and joists from the main building pro-
ject into such earth filled areas; or where there are unexca-
vated areas under floors.

A few hundred dollars additional spent in the proper con-
struction of buildings may save thousands of dollars later
in repairs and replacements. It is much simpler and cheaper
to keep termites out of a building than to get rid of them
and repair the damage after they are once in, because nec-
essary repairs are involved which may be too costly for the
small householder. These suggestions for the prevention of
termite damage to buildings will probably add only one to
two percent to the initial cost of the buildings (mainly


chargeable to supervision), but they are a form of insurance,
not only to the householder, but to the persons financing
the buildings. Bankers have shown their understanding
of this point by their willingness to loan more money or
give a lower rate of interest to a home-owner constructing
a building in accordance with these provisions.

Where there is considerable damage by dry-wood ter-
mites, impregnation with standard preservatives of all wood-
work to be used in buildings is recommended as a further
precaution to persons who can afford this expense. But such
use of impregnated wood will increase the initial cost of
termite-proofing to approximately ten percent, which would
cover the additional cost of handling treated timbers.


In view of the fact that but few termite-resistant woods
occur in the world, it is in general, not recommended that
attempts be made to obtain such woods, but rather that com-
mercial woods grown in the United States be impregnated
with standard chemical wood preservatives.


Tests of mortars and concretes of various different chemi-
cal and physical combinations, as well as of mortars with
poisons included when mixed, have been conducted by the
Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine to determine
the most effective combinations for foundations below the
surface of the ground for the purpose of preventing pene-
tration by termites. Some termites, sub-terranean in habit,
are able to dissolve certain grades of lime mortar. The
amount of hydrated lime used in foundation walls should
not exceed ten percent by weight of the cement.


One of the simplest, most effective, and practical means
of preventing termite infestation would be to modify the
building regulations or codes of cities, as has already been
done in many cities, so as to include in the mandatory sec-
tion a few simple specifications recommended by the Bureau
of Entomology and Plant Quarantine to protect buildings


from such damage by Termites. These suggestions, of course,
would have to be enforced or they would be worthless. Es-
sentially these specifications pertain to methods of keeping
termites from coming up from the ground, where they live
and obtain moisture, and from burrowing into the untreated
woodwork of buildings. Recommendations are as follows:

1. No untreated wood shall be used in foundations,
basements, or cellars.
2. Cement mortar shall be used in masonry founda-
3. All masonry foundations shall be capped with con-
crete or mortar and slate.
4. Metal mechanical barriers shall be placed over
5. Proper ventilation.
6. Screening of all ventilation openings and doors.
7. Earth shall not be used as a filler for the founda-
tions of porches or sun-parlors adjoining houses.

As has been explained, termites infesting beams or other
wood will dry up and die if the wood is disconnected from
the ground, even if they have penetrated to the third floor.
Knowledge of this fact will save time and expense, especial-
ly in the case of old frame buildings, where extensive re-
pairs would be unwarranted. Eaten timbers need not be
removed or replaced, unless seriously weakened structural-
Wooden floors laid directly on the ground, or on stringers
on the ground, or set in concrete, should be removed. There
should be a solid layer of concrete between the earth and the
wooden floor. Wooden sills and baseboards should be re-
moved if not on concrete.

The emergence of large numbers of the flying termites
is an indication as well as a warning that the woodwork is
infested, and the point of emergence indicates the approxi-
mate location of the infested timbers. Large numbers of


the dead winged adults or of the discarded wings will usual-
ly be found near infested timbers following swarming. Grass
and earth thrown out of crevices through which the insects
emerge are also evidences of their presence. Branching
shelter tubes of small diameter, made of earth mixed with
finely powdered wood, on foundation timbers or other wood-
work, or over the surface of stone, brick or other impene-
trable foundation material across which the insects travel
from the ground to the woodwork, is another aid in locating
In the case of the non-subterranean termites, which in-
fest wood directly, evidences that they are damaging wood
are the impressed pellets of excrement which are expelled
from the wood. Other evidences are the holes, similar in
size to BB shot, where the insects entered the wood.


When efforts are made to prevent further damage by
termites in buildings, it should be realized that the numbers
of these insects may be constantly recruited from some un-
discovered, outside, central colony. The destruction of the
winged colonizing adults at the time of emergence, although
beneficial in preventing the establishment of new colonies,
out of doors, will not eradicate the insects infesting the
woodwork. These winged adults are harmless indoors and
will soon die. Sweeping them up with a vacuum cleaner is
a simple method of getting rid of them. The most destruc-
tive forms are the white, wingless workers, which remain
within the wood.

While termites occur most commonly and in greatest
numbers of species in the tropics and subtropics, they are
also native in temperate countries, and are found from ap-
proximately latitude 50 degrees north to latitude 50 degrees
There are 1,997 different known species of termites in
the world, including 65 fossil species. In the United States
there are 56 living species and 9 fossil; the fossils occur in
rocks in the States of Washington, Colorado, and Tennessee.


The age of the rocks bearing termite fossils indicates that
termites were present on this continent at least 55 million
years ago, far earlier than man. Also, fossil termite pellets
have been found in Florida, in more recent formations.
In the United States termites have been found in all
states except North Dakota. Twenty-five species occur in
Arizona, twenty in Texas, nineteen in California, fifteen in
Florida, eight in Nevada; and other states have from one to
five species. Only five have been recorded from New Mexi-
co, doubtless because of lack of thorough investigation.


Termites cause occasional but serious injury to indi-
vidual living trees, shrubs, nursery stock, and grapevines.
In case of shade trees the infestation may start as local at
the base and extend more generally through the heart wood.
A wise preventive measure is the removal of all loose wood
which may afford them shelter, such as prunings, dead and
dying trees, and the like, and untreated fence posts and simi-
lar material.
Termites are also occasionally a pest in orchards, not only
in new orchards planted on freshly cleared land where there
is such debris, but also, because of neglect, in old orchards,
in both Florida and California.
Cleanliness in orchard and forest management is impor-
tant. Since termites in the Southern States render unmer-
chantable the forest trees that have been killed by insects,
fire or disease, all timber from such trees should be utilized
or removed as promptly as possible in areas where termites
are common.
In the case of the pecan it is recommended that two or
three cereal crops be grown on newly cleared land before
the young trees are set out.

In vineyards all dead or diseased vines should be re-
moved. All exposed areas left by pruning should be painted


with preservative coatings, and the prunings should be
burned promptly. Nearby stands of tree windbreaks should
be carefully tended and kept free from infestation by ter-
mites. Trellis posts should be cresoted.


Deep, late, fall plowing will be of value in breaking up
the galleries and nests of subterranean termites on ground
planted to field or truck crops. Irrigating the land, where
practicable, will be effective; this can be done before plant-
ing the crop.

Care should be taken not to plow under stubble which
will serve as food for termites; it should be burned. The
use of commercial fertilizers instead of animal manure is
also recommended where subterranean termites are com-
mon in the soil.

As a result of the frequent stirring of the soil, rotation
of crops will aid in preventing termites from injuring them.
Plowing and fallowing are more practical than the use of
insecticides in preparing the soil to prevent termite damage.


Termites injure a great variety of flowers in gardens, as
well as many plants grown under glass in greenhouses,
where the warm, moist atmosphere maintained throughout
the year promotes greatly the activity of the insects. Injury
from termites is especially common where the plants are
perennial and have woody stalks.


In flower gardens, especially those located near the
woodwork of buildings, commercial fertilizer should be sub-
stituted for stable manure in order to protect the buildings
and growing plants.

Heavily manured flower beds are sources of infestation


to the stems of the flowers, as well as to the woodwork
of buildings near by, if suitable protection is lacking. Ter-
mites can obtain food from the animal manure. Untreated
wooden stakes used as supports of plants often become in-
fested, and in time the insects attack the plants. Where
greenhouses have already been built and termite damage is
due to poor construction, termites often attack old label
sticks, the wooden uprights supporting wooden benches set
on or in the ground, and the wooden bench bottoms and
plant pots, and later attack the growing plants. The insects
come up through the ground and form dirt galleries over
the supports, or burrow up through the wooden bench legs
and run galleries the full length of the benches. They enter
the soil in the pots through the drainage holes and eat out
the main stalk of the root, killing the plant very quickly.


Either carbon disulphide or carbon tetrachloride can be
used to kill termites in the soil if it is moist and not com-
pact. These gases should not be used too near the infested
plants, or the plants should be removed temporarily until
the soil has been treated. Small holes should be made near
the infested plants, and a small quantity of the liquid chosen
poured in and the holes immediately closed tightly with
earth. Calcium Cynide has also been found effective, but
it should not be placed near living plants; it mixes readily
with and enriches the soil giving 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 five percent kerosene emulsion. If the
greenhouse benches are infested, but for any reason cannot
be replaced, they should be soaked thoroughly with this
emulsion, 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 treated area,
thus giving access to another section. Potted heliotropes
and geraniums have been treated directly with the five 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 shodld.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 impor-
tant to remove all infested pots from the bench as soon as
the infestation is noticed and to destroy the termites with
kerosene emulsion.

It is estimated that termites cause a loss of 40 million
dollars annually in the United States. From 2,000 to 2,500
cases of termite damage to the woodwork of buildings are
reported annually to the United States Department ot Agri-
culture and, of course, this represents but a small portion
of the actual damage. From November 1930 to August 15,
1931, 1,840 cases of termite damage were reported to the
Termite Investigations Committee of the University of Cali-
fornia as having occurred in Los Angeles County alone.
There are at present no accurate figures of the extent of in-
festation or money losses for the entire country. In many
cases of infested buildings, actual damage is but slight and
can be easily remedied.

By man's disturbance of the balance of nature in felling
and clearing forests and woodlands, his cultivation of the
fields, and the encroachment of civilization, evidenced by
more extensive buildings operations, drainage, and irriga-
tion, termites have been forced from their natural habitats
and have been driven to the status of termites from the role
of scavengers to that of pests.

Ninety-five percent of termite damage in the world is
caused by the subterranean type. Practically all damage
can be avoided by proper construction. Termites are selec-
tive feeders and choose the most suitable species of wood,
etc., for food. Much damage by termites to materials such
as shoes, lead-sheathed cable, and other substances not con-
taining cellulose is due to the fact that these materials were
in the way. Damage to rifles, razor blades, and other im-
penetrable materials is caused by the corrosive action of
moisture brought up by subterranean termites with the
earth and excreated wood with which they build tunnels or
runways over these metals.



Without desire to minimize the damage that may be oc-
casioned to buildings and their contents by termite attack,
especially if long continued, it should nevertheless be point-
ed out that serious termite injury to buildings, particularly
in the more northern parts of the Temperate Zone, is rela-
tively infrequent; and that termite work may go on for
years without involving the necessity for extensive repairs
or reconstruction of foundation timbers and flooring. Many
instances could be cited of old houses, dating back to Colo-
nial times, in which the presence of termites has been
known for 50 years, probably for two or three times that
period, without radical injury resulting. Such immunity is
due, in part, to the more massive timbers used in these old-
er types of houses, the foundation beams of which were
often of large size and hewn from the mature centers of
hardwood trees.
Once having invaded a building, however, termites will
continue their work and extend their damage slowly or
rapidly, unless and until their means of entrance from the
outside has been removed by effective reconstruction. With
the breaking of the connection between the building and the
external soil moisture, all the subterranean termites in the
building promptly die and injury ceases.
While, therefore, the risk of sudden collapse of any fair-
ly well-constructed building, solely from termite injury, can
be dismissed as very rare in the United States, the discov-
ery of termites in a building, as shown either by swarming
or by yielding flooring and timbers, certainly indicates the
desirability of having an examination made to determine
what means should be taken to stop damage.


Bedbugs are sucking insects. Their mouth parts are
modified to form an elongated sharp beak which can be
thrust into the skin and through which blood can be drawn.
It requires a well-grown bedbug from three to five minutes
to become engorged with blood if its feeding is unmolested.
Once filled to capacity, the bug withdraws its beak and
quickly crawls to its hiding place where it remains for sever-
al days digesting its meal, seemingly indifferent to its host.
When hunger finally reasserts itself, the bedbug seeks out
its host for another meal.


The food of bedbugs is the blood of warm-blooded ani-
mals, principally of man. Sometimes bedbugs become very
abundant in hen houses, where they feed upon poultry at
night. Rabbits, guinea pigs, white rats, canaries, and other
pets may be weakened by loss of blood due to bedbug
Many believe that bedbugs develop in trees and can sub-
sist on sap, or on dried juices of seasoned wood in houses,
but there is no evidence that this is true. Moreover, bed-
bugs cannot eke out a subsistence from dirt in floor cracks
and other places in buildings. A very persistent belief that
is without foundation is that old pine wood breeds bedbugs.


Bedbugs are normally nocturnal. When the lights are
out they emerge from their daytime hiding places and seek
to feed upon their host. Sometimes, when very hungry,
they will feed during the daytime in subdued light. Their
normally nocturnal habit is modified necessarily 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 some places bedbugs often
bite persons during the day.



When bedbugs bite, they inject a fluid into the skin of
their host which assists them in securing blood. In many in-
stances the bite results in no irritation and many persons
are blissfully unaware that they have been bitten. Only
too often, however, the skin is greatly irritated by the bit-
ing process and inflammation and welts develop, accompanied
by much itching.

The offensive odor associated with heavy bedbug in-
festations of considerable standing is the result of an oily
liquid emitted by the insect from two scent glands. These
glands open by two separate orifices on the under side of
the thorax between the bases of the second and the third
pair of legs on each side.


Bedbugs are distributed in many ways. They crawl
freely between their victims and their hiding places but
do not migrate from room to room or from house to house
as freely as many have believed. Probably clothing, bag-
gage of travelers and visitors, secondhand furniture, and
laundry done in private homes are the chief means of
spread. Operators of public gathering places find it neces-
sary to guard their furnishings from bedbug infestations
brought unwittingly to their establishment by patrons.


The mature female bedbug, under favorable conditions,
is said to live from six to eight months, and may lay as many
as 541 eggs, although 200 eggs is probably a fair average.
When temperature and food conditions are favorable these
are laid at an average rate of three or four a day. No eggs
are laid at temperatures lower than 500 F. and very few
between 503 and 60, while maximum oviposition occurs
only above 700 and when the female has ample opportunity
to feed. Starved females soon stop laying eggs.
At temperatures above 70 F. the eggs hatch in six 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 figure four, and at first
are coated with a mucilaginous substance which forthwith
dries, sticking them to the object upon which they are de-
posited. The unhatched eggs and the milk-white eggshells
are seen singly or in clusters about the crevices or hiding
places where bedbugs congregate.
The newly h a t c h e d translucent and nearly colorless
young bedbug feeds at the first opportunity. During growth
the young bedbug closely resembles the parent insect. It
molts or sheds its skin five 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 spaces about window and door frames or in the
cracks where bedbugs hide. Full nymphal growth requires
from four to six weeks during warm summer weather or in
houses continuously heated. One bedbug that hatched on
January 30, 1937, was kept in a room in which the temper-
ature was above 70 F. It was given an opportunity to feed
on human blood each day. It fed on January 30, and Feb-
ruary 4, 9, 15, and 23. It molted on February 3, 8, 12, 19, and
28. After becoming mature through its molt on February
28, it did not feed until March 17. This individual record
is probably typical of the development of young bedbugs
under ideal temperature and food conditions and agrees
closely with the growth of other specimens hatching at the
same time. There may be three or four generations, or
even more, a year in the average house. Owing to varia-
tions in the period of development, even among bedbugs
hatching at the same time, the generations become hope-
lessly confused and all stages are present at all seasons of
the year, except in unheated rooms, in which the insects
over winter mostly as adults.

Much interest centers upon the length of time bedbugs
can live, especially without food, because of the bearing
this information has upon the survival of infestations in
unoccupied houses and the insect's ability to remain alive
without food in situations where it may be carried acci-
dentally but where it finds no food. It has been stated


that bedbugs can survive at least one year under starvation
conditions. When normally fed and laying eggs, individual
bedbugs have lived from 54 to 316 days. It is common for
older bedbugs to go two weeks to two months without food.
At 820 to 89 F. newly hatched bedbugs have survived unfed
up to 18 days, while at 60 to 65" they have lived 136 days
unfed and nine months when given a chance to engorge once.
Young mature bedbugs kept at 71.60 F. under starvation
conditions have lived 20 to 38 days. Evidently there is great
difference in individual hardiness, and the chances for long
life are influenced much by opportunity to feed. Growth,
when food is available, is greatly prolonged by periods of
adverse temperature. It is said that bedbugs are able to
live throughout a severe winter in unheated structures.

In combating bedbugs, first find where they are secret-
ing themselves during the daytime. When first established
in a room they are apt to hide about the tufts or seams of
the mattress or day bed and later in the cracks and crevices
of the bedstead. Upon becoming more numerous or after
the housewife has been fighting them in a haphazard man-
ner, the bugs usually become scattered and establish them-
selves behind baseboards, window and door casings, pic-
tures, picture moldings, and loosened wallpaper, or in
cracks in the plaster. Partitions of composition board or
sheathing are ideal for bedbugs, for usually there are many
cracks about the unions in which bugs can hide. Bedbugs
do not crawl into the wall spaces for hiding to any great
extent. They hide usually on a flat surface just away from
the bright light. Bedbugs seem to develop a shrewdness
in finding openings in which to elude the housewife, and
she, in her search, should look with suspicion upon all cracks
and openings as possible and likely places of concealment
and egg laying.
Habitual hiding places of bedbugs are usually made evi-
dent by the disfiguring spots that stain surfaces upon which
the bugs rest. These black or brown spots of irregular shape
are the dried excrement of the bugs, and they always indi-
cate that bedbugs are, or have been, present in that place.
The daytime congregating places of bedbugs are usually


close to the victim's sleeping quarters and are easily de-

There is no better way to stamp out an infestation quick-
ly than by fumigation. A fumigation of 12 hours or more
is desirable, although in rooming houses, or in homes that
cannot be vacated for 12 hours, excellent results have fol-
lowed fumigation of only two to four hours. Of the fumi-
gants now commercially available, hydrocyanic acid gas is
particularly effective when used in detached vacated build-
ings. Because it is so deadly to human beings it should be
used only by a well-informed person, preferably by a profes-
sional fumigator or exterminator working under a license
issued by the local health department. In the hands of such a
person, short fumigations in auto camps, trailers, rooms, etc.,
can be effectively done with little interference with busi-
ness or inconvenience to householders, and there is no dis-
agreeable odor or the necessity for exasperating and fre-
quently repeated applications of smelly liquids. There are
safer fumigants than hydrocyanic acid gas, but none are
available that kill so effectively in the average none-too-
tightly constructed dwelling.
Professional insect exterminators can fumigate, with
safety, individual rooms in congested areas with one of the
reasonably safe mixtures of carbon dioxide with ethylene
oxide, methyl format, or methyl bromide, provided certain
precautions are taken; these carbon dioxide mixtures can
be used in treating an infested apartment without the evacu-
ation of the entire building. Fumigation with sulphur di-
oxide, liberated during the burning of two pounds of sul-
phur for each 1,000 cubic feet of space treated, is easily avail-
able to anyone; however, it will tarnish all metals not re-
moved or coated with vaseline, and is apt to bleach delicate
colors in fabrics and wallpaper that it should not be em-
ployed unless these possibilities of injury are taken into
consideration. The Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quar-
antine will give information regarding fumigants suitable to
any situation, provided local conditions are explained clear-
ly in correspondence.
The advantage that effective fumigation has over the ap-
plication of sprays and liquids is that the vapors enter the


cracks and crevices and kill the bedbugs and their eggs. In
reasonably well-constructed rooms, one fumigation usually
destroys all the insects. When fumigation is out of the ques-
tion-and a very large percentage of the population are pre-
vented from fumigating because of their location or because
of prohibitive costs dependence must be placed upon
liquids or sprays and heat.
Heating rooms and even entire buildings to a temper-
ature of 120 to 1250 F. for several hours will completely
eliminate bedbug infestations. Superheating has been re-
sorted to repeatedly with success during hot summer weath-
er when advantage can be taken of the normally prevailing
high temperatures. In summer, most home heating equip-
ment is sufficient to raise the temperature of infested rooms
to 120 to 1250 F., if not higher, without harm to furnishings.
It is well to place thermometers in various parts of the room
or rooms in order to note the temperature obtained. The
temperature in the cracks where the bugs are secreted must
be held as high as 1200 F. for several hours. In loosely con-
structed frame buildings it may not be possible to secure
a killing temperature at points close to wall spaces. Some
institutions, such as colleges operating dormitories, find the
heat treatment effective and cheap.
Ordinary fly sprays (which can be home-made or pur-
chased at stores), consisting largely of high-grade, water-
white kerosene, partically stainless with small additions of
pyrethrum extract, are dependable for the destruction of
bedbugs and their eggs. They must, however, be brought
into contact with the bugs, and to accomplish this nothing
is better than power sprayers operated by professional in-
sect exterminators. The ordinary hand sprayer, such as
can be purchased at stores for about 25 cents, is useful in
applying solutions, but the force behind such applications
is not equal to the driving force generated by the power
sprayer operated by an experienced person. Vaporizing
machines which fill rooms with a mist or fog of insecticide
are not ordinarily dependable for quickly stamping out bed-
bug infestations.



When no equipment for applying sprays is at hand much
good can be accomplished by using a large feather dr small
brush to apply kerosene, turpentine, benzene, or gasoline
to cracks of bedsteads and other hiding places of the bugs.
While these hand applications are tedious and .smelly and
call for persistence and intelligence, they can be made
thoroughly effective at practically no expense aside from
the cost of the liquids. When using these liquids, keep the
windows open and all fire away during the period of appli-
cation, otherwise fire or explosions may occur. A good bed-
bug solution for home application, in use for years, can be
made as follows: One ounce of corrosive sublimate (mercury
bichloride) dissolved in one pint of alcohol, to which is ad-
ded one-fourth pint of turpentine. Corrosive sublimate is
a poison; it should be used with care and never applied to
substances which might be chewed by children or pets.


Infested overstuffed furniture can best be rid of bedbugs
by fumigation, either in connection with a general fumiga-
tion of the house or in the vault of a dependable storage
concern or insect exterminator. Such vault-fumigation ser-
vices are available at reasonable rates in most cities. If such
services are not available, the furniture should be placed
on an open porch or in a shed and the parts affected, treated
with liberal applications of clear gasoline. Very frequently
the early elimination of bedbugs from upholstered furni-
ture, where they have become established after having been
brought into the home on clothing prevents room infesta-

If city dwellers living in apartment or row houses could
realize what a protection a general fumigation of the entire
building or row, or a specially safeguarded fumigation of
any particular apartment or house, is to surrounding occu-
pants, the bedbug problem could be solved satisfactorily by
fumigations. The haphazard treatments given by many,
and the indifference of others even to heavy infestations,


make possible the spread of bedbugs to adjoining houses
and apartments. Apartment operators are often placed at
a disadvantage in control work by the lack of cooperation
of all apartment dwellers. Many do not realize that the de-
struction of insects in one apartment is to the advantage of
all other apartments in a building. The bedbug nuisance
could be greatly abated by community effort.


Cockroaches, notoriously troublesome in the kitchens
and pantries of houses, restaurants, stores, etc., can become
destructive to any establishment. Not only is it the food
and other possessions, such as bookbindings and fine fab-
rics, which they eat or disfigure that make them important
enemies to man, but the pollution of foods over which they
run places them in the role of disease carriers. Of the large
sums spent for pest-control, a very large proportion is for
cockroach suppression.
Five kinds of cockroaches are frequently found in Amer-
ican homes. The American cockroach, the largest, is from
one and one-half to two inches long when full-grown. It
is light brown. All of the adults have long powerful red-
dish-brown wings. The Australian cockroach resembles very
closely the American cockroach but is seldom more than
one and one-fourth inches long and is easily identified by
a bright yellow heavy line on the outer edge of the basal
half of the wing.
The oriental cockroach, or "black beetle," is entirely
black, or deep brownish black, attains a length of about
one and one-fourth inches, is the most sluggish in its move-
ments, and thrives best in very damp places. The female
is almost wingless and cannot fly.
The German cockroach, crotonn bug," or "water bug,"
never more than five-eighths of an inch long, is one of the
smallest roaches. It is light brown and marked on the back
between the head and wings with two dark parallel stripes.
The wings are of a uniform light-brown color.
The tropical cockroach, a more recent pest of cities in
the Gulf coast region, is slightly smaller than the German
cockroach, many females being only three-eighths of an
inch long, whereas the males are about one-half inch long.
The females have bodies much broader than the males and
wings that are reddish brown; the wings of the males are


much lighter. Both sexes are distinguished from the Ger-
man cockroach by two cross bands of light yellow, one at
the base of the wings and the other about one-sixteenth of
an inch farther back.

Cockroaches lay their eggs in leathery capsules, which
the mother roach carries for some days partly extruded
from her body. She often glues these capsules finally to
some object, but sometimes merely drops them unattached
about the places she frequents. The capsules of the croton
bug and of the tropical cockroach, which are hardly one-
fourth of an inch long, often contain from 25 to 30 eggs.
Roaches of all species are very small when hatched but so
resemble the broad and flattened shape of the parent insect
that they can be identified easily as cockroaches. It is only
after they reach maturity that the wings are well developed
(except in the adult female oriental roach, which has only
short wing pads). Cockroaches develop rather slowly and
are capable of subsisting under unfavorable food conditions
for long periods. As a result, roaches in all stages of growth
are usually present at the same time. The German roach
may pass through two or three generations a year, but most
roaches require about one year to become mature.


Cockroaches are nocturnal in habit, hiding during the
day in sheltered, darkened places, where they congregate
in large masses. In the home they usually hide near the
sink and the trim of doors and windows, etc. They forage
at night, when all is still and dark. If disturbed, they run
rapidly for shelter and disappear through cracks, through
holes in wall plaster, down along water or steam pipes, and
through similar openings. After dark, when they have come
out to feed, enter the room suddenly, turn on the light, and
watch them run for their hiding places. Knowledge of
where they conceal themselves is a key to their control.


The offensive, sickening, or fetid odor associated with
cockroaches is due largely to an oily liquid secreted by


scent glands. This oil leaves the characteristic roachy odor
wherever the insects are abundant. Food is ruined by it,
and dishes over which cockroaches run may seem appar-
ently 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 liquid emitted by roaches
from their mouths, contribute to the development of the
nauseating odor.

Cockroach elimination is not difficult if the sources of
infestation can be controlled. In loosely constructed build-
ings or where a mild climate permits roaches to develop
outdoors, houses are constantly being reinfested from out-
side by crawling and flying roaches. No control will keep
a house free from roaches continuously if sources of rein-
festation exist.
One of the best ways to prevent roaches from becoming
established in a home is to watch carefully all baskets or
boxes of food supplies and laundry brought into the house.
Roaches hide among packages and about clothing and are
frequently carried from place to place. Kill these stray
roaches with a fly swatter, or, if they are encountered un-
expectedly and no weapon is at hand, crush them under-
foot. Trade at roach-free stores.

For the immediate elimination of roaches in tight rooms
there is nothing better than a thorough fumigation by a
professional fumigator. Fumigations are expensive, how-
ever, and in congested areas, where reinfestation is apt to
take place quickly, the expense is seldom warranted. In
more loosely constructed buildings the fumigant usually
escapes so fast that the eggs of roaches, protected in the
egg capsules, are not killed, and a second fumigation about
three or four weeks later may be necessary.

Crack fillers, such as putty, plastic wood, or plaster of
paris, can be used effectively in closing many openings used.


by roaches as avenues of escape to hiding places. These
cracks and openings can be located by watching the roaches
run for concealment. Fill all cracks about water and steam
pipes passing through floors, cracks leading to spaces behind
baseboards, door and window trim, etc. This is particularly
important if roaches are coming into the room from ad-
joining apartments, through wall spaces, along the plumb-
ing, or beneath doors.

Sodium fluoride powder is the best all-around cockroach
remedy. It is poisonous to man if taken internally in suffi-
cient amounts, and should be kept out of food and away
from children and pets, but if used carefully in roach con-
trol, no harm will follow. It may be applied with a small
duster or bellows, or, better, with 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, drainboards, etc., where roaches run most fre-
quently, but dusting the hiding or congregating places af-
fects more roaches at one time, and they die rapidly when
the powder is blown directly upon them. However, when
the powder is placed where the roaches run over it, it kills
chiefly as a stomach poison. It sticks to their bodies, and
in cleaning themselves 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 indefinitely in dry situations but in
very damp places it may cake over and become useless.
Application of the powder in the evening is advised, and
it is best not to clean it up for two or three days. The
application should be repeated at intervals of a week or
two until all roaches disappear. Usually one or two thor-
ough treatments are sufficient.

Pyrethrum powder, used in the same way as sodium
fluoride, is excellent when thoroughly 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, 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.


Phosphorus pastes, obtainable at drug stores, are excel-
lent for the control of roaches, particularly the larger spe-
cies and the tropical roach. They are ideal when roaches
are not numerous. If the paste is spread on a small piece
of flexible cardboard, which is then rolled into a cylinder
with the paste on the inside, 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 frame-work or springs of up-
holstered furniture, or in other situations where they will
not be seen. They are especially effective in very damp

Sprays consisting largely of kerosene oil and pyrethrum
extract 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 ap-
plied to isolated specimens. 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 intro-
duced into hiding places more effectively with a power

There are on the market today various makes of ma-
chines operated by electricity, which break up oil-pyreth-
rum 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 re-
peated applications roaches can be controlled by the spray
from these machines in modern tight rooms. Vaporizers
have a tendency to drive roaches into surrounding rooms;
hence, before using them, all openings to the exterior should
be closed so that the roaches cannot escape from the room
under treatment. When loosely constructed rooms are in-
fested, many roaches are in the surrounding wall spaces,
and the irritating vapors penetrate these only sufficiently
to annoy the roaches and drive many to parts of the
building to which they normally would not spread, thus
complicating the problem of control.


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