Insects in relation to national defense


Material Information

Insects in relation to national defense
Series Title:
Its Circular no. 1-23. Feb. 1941-Jan. 1944
Added title page title:
Insects in relation to national defense, circular
Physical Description:
24 nos. in 1 v. : ill., photos., map, plans, diagrs. ; 23 cm.
United States -- Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine
U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Beneficial insects   ( lcsh )
Insect pests   ( lcsh )
Insecticides   ( lcsh )
Fumigation   ( lcsh )
World War, 1939-1945 -- Health aspects   ( lcsh )
serial   ( sobekcm )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


General Note:
Reproduced from type-written copy.
General Note:
Includes bibliographical references.

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 029081698
oclc - 09471812
lcc - SB931 .U44
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Full Text




TO 0



Circular 15


August 1943

Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2013




Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

Table of Contents


Introduction ......

#*0 g 0 0 * e **e#. *

Ants of Importance .........
Breeding Places ..........
Control .................
Preventive Measures ....
Repellents and Barriers
Fumigants ..............
Poisoned Baits .........
References ...............
Bees and Wasps .............
Solitary Kinds ...........
Social Kinds .............
Control ..................
References ..............
Venomous Caterpillars ......
Control ..................
Treatment of Skin Irritati
Mites ... .. ............. .
The Tropical Rat Mite ....
Character of Attack on M

* @ *


* *



Control ... ..............................
The Straw or Grain Mite .................
Control .................................
The Clover Mite ...........................
Control .............................e...
The Itch or Scab Mite .....................
Control ........................ ......g.


Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

Spiders .... .... ..... ..................... 23
The Black Widow .................. ......... 23
Distribution and Habits ............... 23
Appearance andSize ....................23
Control T t t re....................... 24
First'-Aid Treatment for Bites ....'...... 24

House Spiders ...
Control ........
Tarantulas .......
Control ........
References ......
Scorpions ..........
Control ..........
References .......
Centipedes .........
Control ..........
References .......
Millipedes .........
Control ...,...
References .......

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Of this miscellaneous group of insects and
related pests only the rat mrlite and the itch, or
scab mite nre known to be directly involved in the
causation of disease; however, the great numbers
and the voracious habits of some of the other
arthropods discussed in this circular make them
nuisances about army camps and to soldiers in the
field, particularly in tropical countries and in
the warmer regions of the temperate zones. The
bites and stings of many ants, bees, wasps,
scorpions, some caterpillars, and the black widow
spider are painful and may even have serious effects;
and certain forms may invade and contaminate --
sometimes even destroy -- food supplies. Some kinds
of ants are destructive to clothing and others dam-
age the rubber insulation of telephone lines.


Circular 15 Ants, Wasps and Other Insects

Although spiders, scorpions, and centi-
pedes are universally feared, no doubt because
of their ability to kill insects by introducing
a paralyzing venom with the bite, it is never-
theless true that of the thousands of species
which are included in these groups, only a very
few are actually dangerous to man. For example,
the evil reputation of the tarantulas is wide-
spread, but there seems to be little foundation
for it.


In the United States some small ants
like the fire ants (Solenopsis spp.) and the
large harvester ants (Pgomrmex spp.) are
vicious stingers. The frer are found mostly
in the extreme South and the latter mainly in
the West. Many of the larger biting aits (spe-
cies of Formica and Camponotus) aggravate their
bites by excreting formic acid into the wounds
caused by their sharp jaws. This irritant is
ejected from the end of the ant's abcomIen. The
American tropics swarm with biting and stinging
ants. The sting of one (Paraponera clavata)
is not only exceedingly painful but sometimes
causes temporary paralysis, a swelling of the
lymphatic glands, and accompanied by a fever.
The large and aggressive bulldog ants of Australia
(1yrmecia spp.) are noted for their vicious bites
and stings.

The driver, or army ants, of Africa
(Dorylus spp.) move in masses of hundreds of
thousands, devouring every animal, large or small,
in their path which cannot escape. The legionary
ants (Eciton spp.) of the American tropics behave
in a similar fashion. These fearsome creatures,
however, are not an unmixed evil, for when they
have passed through a dwelling it is cleared of
all its vermin.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects 4

One of the worst pests throughout the
southern part of the United States and in
portions of California is the small, slender,
brown Argentine ant (Iridomyrmex humilis)
(fig. 1). This is essentially an urban rather

Fig. l.-The Argentine ant; left, wingless female;
right, worker.

than a rural species. WNhen it becomes estab-
lished, it occurs in countless numbers, infests
buildings continuously except in freezing weather,
is drawn to all kinds of foodstuffs, especially
meats, sugar, cake and sweetened bread, and swarms
everywhere. One sign of its presence, besides
its unusual numbers, is the absence of native ants
which it exterminates as it spreads. It is nor-
mally an outdoor nesting species.

The fire ant (Solenopsis xyloni) will gnaw
holes in clothing of silt', wool, or cotton, and
it, as well as some of the acrobatic ants
(Cre9atogaster spp.) have been known to remove
the rubber insulation from telephone or light
wires, thus causing short circuits and fire hazards.

Circular 15 Ants. Wasps, and Other Insects

Breeding Places

A few ants, lice the tiny red Pharaoh
ant (Monomorium pharaonis) (fig. 2) and the

l pFig. 2.--Pharaoh ant; worker

little black ant (M. minimum) breed indoors,
beneath floors, in wall spaces, or in partially
decayed wood, and usually only in old buildings;
but most ants breed out-of-doors in nests in the
ground or in rotting wood and invade buildings
only to get food. The Pharaoh ant is essentially
an indoor ant in the cooler parts of the temper-
ate zones. It breeds the year round, is very
prolific, occurs throughout the world, and is
especially active and abundant where quantities
of food are stored or handled. It often infests
hospitals and warehouses.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

The nests of some ants remain in the same
locality for many years. Others are temporary
affairs. Their size and depth in the soil vary
greatly, depending upon the species involved.
Some are shallow, scarcely penetrating the ground.
Others may extend to a depth of from one or two
feet to six or eight feet.


Because of the diversified feeding and
nesting habits of ants, it is necessary to know
the species involved before intelligent control
can be practiced. If there is any doubt about
the identity of the species, either dead or live
specimens should be placed in a vial containing
70 percent alcohol, the container carefully
-.-'.rnpped to prevent breakage or loss in transit,
and sent to the Bureau of Entomology and Plant
u.rnintine, Washington, D. C. for identification.
Any available information on the feeding habits,
date and place of collection, and possible nesting
places should accompany the specimens.

Preventive measures.--Since many infesta-
tions of antS, such as the Argentine ant, Pharaoh
ant, and other species, are due to direct trans-
portation by man in his food, building materials,
or plants, these articles should always be care-
fully examined for ants before they reach their
final destination. If ants are found, they should
be destroyed with an oil spray similar to various
fly sprays that are on the market. Cleanliness
is an important item in ant control. Food con-
tainers should be kept closed, and shelves, tables,
and floors clean. Garbage should be kept in tight
containers and removed as quickly as possible.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

Repe*llents and barriers.--Repellents
are less desirable than baits or fumiig.-ints
because they afford only temporary relief
and have to be usea frequently. Tie three
most common repellents employed against ants
are pyrethrum, sodium fluoride, and derris
or cube. These are unsi-htly, and the sodium
fluoride is -oisonous; accordingly they are
not ordinarily recom!rended except under the
technical advice of an entomologist. Derris
powder has, however, been found very effective
in controlling several kinds of ants when
dusted around the entrances to their nests in
the ground, or in wood, and along their runways.

To keep ants off tables, refrigerators,
or movable furniture, these articles should have
no contact with other objects, and the legs of
the furniture should be set in pans of oil or
kerosene. The oil or kerosene should be changed
frequently to prevent the ants from crossing on
the dust film that often forms on the surface
of the liquid. Sometimes ant tapes are used for
this purpose. These are prepared by boiling
cotton tape in a saturated solution of bichloride
of mercury (corrosive subli:nate), drying, and
then tacking twvo or more windings of the treated
tape securely around the legs of tables or other
furniture so as to block the ants from crossing
anywhere without contacting the tape. Caution:
Bichloride of mercury is a dangerous poison and
should be used with caution.

Fumi c-ants.--,When ant nests in the soil
can be located and are accessible for treatment,
a fumigant can be very effectively employed.
Either of two common chemicals is used for such
treatment; carbon disulphide or a solution maade
by dissolving one ounce of cyanide in a gallon
of water. The chemicals can best be injected
into the holes of a nest by the use of a funnel
with or without a couple of feet of small rubber
hosing attached. If the entrances to the ant
nests are large, numerous, and well spaced, it

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

is not necessary to make holes for applying the
chemicals, otherwise holes about an inch in diam-
eter, two to three feet apart and one and one-
half to three feet deep, should be driven into
the nest. A pint of the cyanide solution or
from one to two ounces of carbon disulphide,
should then be injected into each hole. These
should be closed as they are treated, and the
entire surface of the ant nest wet thoroughly
with water, which will form a blanket to prevent
escape of gas. If the nest is shallow, the
cyanide solution will probably be most effective;
if deep, the carbon disulphide. Calcium cyanide
dust may also be used. Caution: Cyanide is a
violent poison in all fors whether solid,-Ti'uid,
or gas. It shoTd-T' used wth great care and
only by persons trained in its use. The carbon
disulphide is about as inflammable as high test
gasoline and must be handled with the same are.
Shallow nests can be destroyed by spading up and
saturating the soil and ants with oil diluted
with kerosene.

Poisoned baits.--For ants that prefer
sweets, a bait with a sugar sirup base should
be used, and into this should be incorporated
any one of the following poisons: Sodium
arsenite, tartar emetic, thallium sulphate in
accordance with one of the formulae given below.

Formula 1. Dissolve 4 ounces of sugar
in 1 quart of water and stir in one-half ounce
of tartar emetic.

Formula 2. Dissolve one-half pound of
sugar in one pint of hot water and add one-seventh
ounce (62.5 grains) of sodium arsenite: bring to
a slow boil.

Circular 15 4..- ., i Othi-r Insects 9

Formula (1) ,. '.f ^ rjnulated
sugar, 6 grams .cf ,j .t i- -. t.ti-ic acid, and
8.4 grams of benz,. te ,-f s:'la in 9 pints of water;
boll the mixture ;lo.'l i r.::iLutes ind allow
it to cool. (2) Di:iO1... 15 'rafs of sodiura
arsenite (C.P.) .1- .--! r ,rt ;.f hot water and
allow it to cool. Ad.' (2) (1) and stir well,
then add 1* pound.' '-, tri. i l ;ney and mix

Formula 4. -An excellent bait is prepared
by mixing 1 pint of vater, 1 0-ound of granulated
sugar, 27 grains of thallium ij.lphate, and 3 ounces
of honey. After mixing thoroughly, bring to a
slow boil and allow to cool. Caution: Thallium
sulphate is a dangerous poison and should be
handle -wTh special care., Do not breathe'The
vapors given off whil tHe mTTt--re is beinWg heated.
Ant baits con tari-nTng thgal-ins sulhate should be
used only under the technical supervision of an

Formula 5. For anus that will not eat
sweets b.ut prefer grease and meat, work small
quantities or tartar emetic into grease or pieces
of bacon rind.

Formula 2 is rec-.-,:r.ended for most of the
ants that eat sweets and especially for the Argentine
ant. Fire ants can omaetiqes be effectively con-
trolled with the ti.-Illiw., sulpii*te bait described
in formula 4.

For distributing the poison baits, pill
boxes lined with p3rarafin and provided with holes
allowing the ants to enter, or metal cans (fig.3)
may be employed. Holes may be made in the metal
cans above the siru-ip line or the top may be in-
dented on both sides with pliers. All containers
should have tops to prevent evaporation of the
poison or loss by rain.

-V, 'cps, and Other Insects

i' ^^ '* 1 Fig. 3.--Tin can
._-- > .. -_-.- container for ant
,S __^' '- 'poison sirups.

-^ : b .

K .2.

I:; .,- -. re coming into the building
from the 31--.t, it is advisable to locate the
containers of -,oion bait so that they will be
interpose,- - the ant nests and the point
of infes. -iti t. e buildings. If the ants
are nest rni-, .- he house, the containers can
be distributed *.*;rjerever the ants are encountered.
In order t I..-.I evaporation the containers
should n.t :-, l:- cec in the sun if this can be
avoided. e :c'.r.- ,--ts seem to shun the poison when
it thic.'en ,1.- ", result of evaporation.


Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects


Back, B. A. 1937. House Ants.
Leaflet 147.

U. S. Dept. Agr.

Back, E. A. 1938. Thallium as an Ant Poison.
U. S. Dept. Agr., Bur. of Entomology
and Plant Quarantine. E-440


E. R. 1925. (Revised)
as a Household Pest.
Farrers' Bul. 1101.

The Argentine Ant
U. S. Dept. Agr.

Cotton, R. T. and Ellington, G. W. 1930. A
Simple and Effective Ant Trap for
Household Use. Jour. Eoon. Ent.
23: 463.

Eckert, J. E. and Mallis, A. 1937. Ants and
Their Control in California. Calif.
Univ. Expt. Sta. Cir. 342.

Flint, W. P. and McCauley, W. E. 1936. Ants -
How to Combat Thela. Ill. Univ., Cir.

Smith, M. R. 1936. Distribution of the Argentine
Ant in the United States and Suggestions
for Its Control and Eradication. U. S.
Dept. Agr.-Cir. 387.

Smith, Roger C. 1934. A Summary of Published
Information about Pharaoh's Ant, with
Observations on the Species in Kansas.
Kans. Acad. Sci. Trans. 37: 139.

Walter, E. V. and Mathewson, A. A. 1938. The
Texas Leaf Cutting Ant and Its Control.
U. S. Dept. Agr. Cir. 494.

Weber, N. A. 1937. The Sting of an Ant.
Jour. Trop. Med. 17: 765.


Wildermuth, V. L. and Davis, E. G. 1931. The Red
Harvester Ant and How to Subdue It.
U. S. Dept. Agr. Farmers' Bul. 1668.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Cther Insects


On the basis of their habits bees and wasps
divide into two distinct classes; (1) the solitary
bees and wasps, which live alone and are shy and
retiring, and (2) the social bees and wasps, such
as the honeybees, bumblebees, hornets, and yellow
jackets, which live in large communities and are
very aggressive, particularly htien their nests
are disturbed.

Solitary Kinds

The solitary bees and wasps nest in a
variety of situations. Many species are miners,
constructing their nests in the ground; others
are carpenters which tunnel in pithy st.ns or
even in hardwood; some are masons and construct-
mud or clay nests; while still others utilize
natural crevices or old nests of other species.

The solitary wasps most likely to cause
trouble are the mason species which construct
clay nests in and around habitations. These
nests may be removed by scraping them from their
supports. If the site of the nest is then sprayed
with cresol or fly sprays, the return of the mother
wasp will be prevented.

Certain solitary wcasps comprising the family
Mutillidae, or velvet ants, are parasitic on other
bees and wasps, and have very painful stings. The
adult females are wingless and ant-like in appear-
ance, but are readily distinguished from true ants
by being more robust and by the dense, rather long
hair covering the body. Many of the species are
conspicuously marked with red, yellow, or white
hairs. Some of the Pruvian species, known
locally as "isoula", have been reported to have
such powerful stings that natives who have been
stung have been incapacitated for a day or two.
Inasmuch as the stinging females are usually
found crawling on the ground, a stout pair of
shoes is the best defense.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

Social Kinds

The social bees include the true honey-
bees which have a world-wide distribution, the
bumblebees which are most common in the north
temperate regions, and the so-called stingless
honeybees of -the tropics. The social bees
nearly always build their nests in sheltered
situations such as cavities in trees, under
the siding of houses, or in the ground.

The honeybees and some bumblebees are
vicious stingers when their nests are molested.
The stingless honeybees have a vestigial, non-
functional sting, but some of the species will
spread a caustic secretion on the skin which
burns severely. The barbed sting of the honey-
bee and the poison glands attached to it are
left behind in the wound. Care must be exer-
cised in the removal of the sting lest addi-
tional venom be squeezed into the wound. The
sting should be scraped out with the finger-
nail or knife blade.

The social wasps include the yellow
j.-ckets and hornets which occur in the north
temperate and oriental regions, the paper
wasps (Polistes and Vespa) which are world
wide in distribution, and numerous kinds of
tropical social wasps (Polybiinae). They build
their nests of gray paper-like material in a
variety of shapes and situations. Hornets con-
struct the familiar ovoid nests which are usually
suspended from eaves, tree branches, or in bushes.
Yellow jackets build the same type of nest, but
it is usually placed beneath the surface of the
ground or behind the siding of houses.

Nearly all social wasps are aggressive
when their nests are disturbed, and the danger
arises from the fact that most nests have such
a large number of adult inhabitants. One

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, ana Other Insects

Polybiirle, Synoeca, a large steel-blue South
American form, has a barbed sting which re-
mains in the wound and the same precautions
should be observed in the removal of the
stings as for the honeybee. So far as known,
the other social wasps do not lose their
stings when using them.


The control of social bees and wasps
must be based on the type ana accessibility of
the nest and is best carried on at night when
the adults have returned to the nest and are
drowsy. In the case of exposed nests covered
by an envelope (i.e., hornets and most Poly-
biinae) the nest openings should be plugged
with a wad of cotton soaked with benzol or
chloroform. After several minutes the nest
is carefully removed from its support and
placed in a closed container with additional

In the case of nests having an exposed
comb with no envelope, the nest should be cut
off and permitted to fall into a container
which can be tightly closed, and which has in
it a wad of cotton soaked with an anesthetic.
The former site of the nest may then be sprayed
with cresol or fly spray to discourage the re-
turn of and the reconstruction of' nests by
those wasps which have escaped. A fly spray
may also be applied directly to the nest with
a compressed air sprayer; if the nest is kept
well enveloped in a fine mist or droplet spray,
very few wasps will escape.

In the case of nests which are relatively
inaccessible, such as those behind the siding
of a house, the site should be closely observed
to determine the location of all openings. At
night these openings should be plugged with
cotton or clay, the main opening being left un-
til last and tightly plugged after a'quantity of
carbon tetrachloride has been poured into it.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

Subterranean nests may be destroyed by
pouring about a teacupful of carbon tetrachloride
or carbon disulphide in the holes and covering
with earth, wet sacks, or a stone.


Anon. 1935. The Destruction of Wasps and Yellow
Jackets or Hornets. U. S. Dept. Agr.,
Bur. of Entomology and Plant Quarantine.

Riley, W. A. & Johannsen, 0. A. 1938. Medical


There are in this country a number of
caterpillars that, upon being accidentally
pressed against the skin, produce painful irri-
tations due to the barbed hairs or spines on
their bodies. In other instances, the hairs of
molt skins left by hordes of caterpillars feeding
on foliage may cause severe reactions, including
skin eruption, irritated eyes, bronchial irrita-
tion, and coughing. The brown-tail moth Nygmia
phaeorrhoea (Donov.), which occurs in the New
iEngland States, is one of the chief causes of
this latter type of injury.

The irritation from loose hairs and from
contact with the caterpillars is due to poison
in the hair shafts which is secreted by the
glands in the skin at the base of the hairs or

Among the caterpillars that bear poison-
ous or nettling hairs are those of the nun moth,
gypsy moth, io moth, and flannel moths. The
flannel moths, Megalopyge crispata (Pack.) and
puss caterpillars, M. opercularis (A. & S.) are
probably the most important. The latter is a

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

very abundant species, especially in the South
and Southwest, and the irritations produced
are very severe. This and a number of related
species are widely distributed in the tropics.

The puss caterpillars (fig. 4) are
about an inch in length when full grown and the
body is covered with long hair with a sort of
a tail at the rear end. The color varies from -
pale grey through yellow shares to dark brown.
The moths (fig. 5) are bro'.'rnish in color and
rather sluggish. The caterpillars feed upon
various species of plants, particularly hack-
berry, elm trees, and rose bushes. When full
grown, they seek protected places on tree
trunks or elsewhere and spin elongate cocoons
with a trap door (fig. 6) through which the
moths escape. There are usually two or three
generations a year and at least one is often
greatly reduced in number by parasitic flies
that attack the full-grown larvae.


The most important step is to reduce
the chance of irritations by destroying the
caterpillars while they are feeding. To do
this the trees and other food plants should
be sprayed with calcilua arsenate or lead
arsenate at the rate (in powder form) of 3/4
pound of the former or one pound of the latter
in 50 gallons of water. This treatment requires
a power sprayer (see Circular 20 of this series)
and is only applicable to more or less permanent
camps. The cocoons, especially of the early
generations, should be destroyed by scraping
the trunks of infested trees.

i'. '-, .?*;l:d ('Ith r. Insects

i?- ':." ... . .. % ".

.... :,... . ... .. *..::*
::!j i. :. o ":o : V

1. ". .

[I.... .

::... ..! ..

Fig. 4.-


* ..j

Fig. 6.--Cocoon of puss
caterpillar (about natural


Fig. 5.--

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

Treatment of Skin Irritations

Avoidance of caterpillars with poisonous
or nettling hairs is most important. Local
applications of a weak solution of ammonia or
a moist pack of baking soda tothe affected skin
gives some relief. The use of a proprietary mix-
ture known as campho-phenique has also been recom-
mended. The following formula applied for an
hour or two as a moist pack has been found bene-

Carbolic acid - 1/2 gram
Zinc oxide - - 1/2 ounce
Lime water - - 8 ounces


The Tropical Rat Mite

The blood-sucking mite of the rat,
Liponyssus bacoti (Hfirst), one of the mites
most troublesome to man, often invades barracks,
warehouses, stores and homes. When hungry, the
mites crawl about freely during day and night in
search of food. The scattering of the mites is
often caused by the destruction of their normal
hosts, the rats; however, mites are sometimes
found in great numbers where rats are abundant
and have not been disturbed. The nymphs and
adults are very active and readily leave the
nests of their natural hosts and travel freely
for long distances. In many instances mites
have been observed to drop from the infested
ceiling of a room. They have been found also
to pass from one floor of a building to another
along pipes extending through the floor.

From observations in infested premises,
it appears that the mites are not very long lived
in any stage when no food is available. The
greatest longevity noted was ten days, but it
seems to be greater when the mites are allowed
to remain in their natural environment in a

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

Character of attack on man.--Both the
nymphs and adults attack man freely. All crawl
rather actively and frequently, do much running
about over the body, biting here and there. No
particular region of the body is chosen by the
mites to the exclusion of others, although they
seem to prefer tender skin.

The bite is distinctly painful at the time
the mouth parts are inserted. The duration of the
irritation from the bite varies with the individual
The haemorrhagic spots at the point of attack sel-
dom persist more than two days. There is also
much variation among individuals as regards fre-
quency of bites, their after effects, and the
general annqyance produced by their presence.
Some claim to have been made ill through the
attack of many mites, and to have had some fever
as well as a feeling of general discomfort. This
condition appears not to be due to a specific
disease organism; however, endemic typhus may be
transmitted through the bites of this mite.

Control.--The control of the tropical rat
mite appears to be essentially a problem of rat
control. In the absence of warm-blooded animals,
the mites perish after ten days or two weeks.
Floors, cabinets, desks, files, and shelves should
be sprayed with kerosene or a kerosene-pyrethrum
spray to give relief, The mites hit by the spray
are killed and the others are apparently repelled
for a short time. A generous application of naph-
thalene flakes is also helpful in reducing Ihe
numbers of rat mites on floors, in attics, and
storage spaces. In warehouses a more lasting
effect can be had by spraying the floors with
a fine mist of creosote oil. This material is
caustic and will stain and it should therefore
be used with care.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

The Straw or Grain Mite*

The straw or grain mite, Pediculoides
ventricosus (Newport), is a predaceous species
which sometimes attacks man, although it ordina-
rily preys upon the larvae of insects. It is
capable of producing a very disagreeable derma-
titis commonly called "straw itch," Severe
infestations are common in certain localities
around flour mills and where infested straw is
used in mattresses.

Control.--Finely divided sulfur is highly
effective when brought in contact with these soft-
bodied mites, and it may be applied with a common
dust gun. Individuals who are exposed to infesta-
tions should derive some protection from the use
of sulfur on their bodies and clothing. If the
dermatitis occurs about food establishments, one
would suspect "grocer's itch", and would fumigate
the infested material or expose it to tempera-
tures of 125F. for three hours or longer.

The Clover Mite

The clover mite, Bryobia praetiosa (Koch),
frequently invades habitations during the spring,
but their invasions are usually of short duration.
They enter buildings either when migrating from
protective places about walls and foundations
after hibernation in the adult stage, or as a
result of the cutting of clover and other plants
upon which they have been feeding. They do not
attack man.

*For a discussion of harvest mites or chiggers
(red bugs) see Circular No. 14 of this series.

Circular 15 .'ts, s Ct.-r Insects

Control.-- l -i :te.7 ire found' to
be very abund-t .ro..:. !.. :- of barracks
or other buildin4.-, -n-: '.-: .' ,ay be sprayed
:ith nicotine-su' T.1h-te, 1 rt to 200 parts of
rater, witn i f .f'.icict of soap to make
he solution rii,', in r nce. The ordinary
householdd sprays, w'"hi-.h -. sist essentially of
3rosene extract -.' ," t:. j. are fairly effective
or destroying "ites :. .-i- 7 cce7s to buildings.

The Itch or Scab :Iite

The itch .'Ite att-c-inr man, Sarcoptes
scabiei (Deg.), preiers tho thin skin between
the fingers, the ur.:1r side cf the knee and
elbow, althouTh the- octen infest other parts
of the body as well. :'.s -:pecies produces
severe itching bec 'ue of its toxic secretions
and burrowing habits. The.*e :Aites burrow in
the epidermis and c- t..e forl-tion of tiny
vesicles and a-wi> .t rfce. The in-
festation may be ). b e scratching of
these and other r-rt- of '.e body and this
scratching may induce sec.-:>c'-Lry infection. In-
festation is incre-3ze- tv c'rect contact such as
hand shaking and by the use of infested clothing,
bedding, and to.vr.l-

Control. -- 're remedy is applied,
the skin should b- .--ene by washing with
green soap and hot water. The best formula
known to us consists of 10 benzyl benzoate,
...2 grams dinitro. 1 ; 20- pyrethrum con-
centrate (0.2. pyret'.ri;), 0.5 IN-930, with
sufficient 95' eTI-1: co,:lhol to make 100 cc.
This formula h.s '- r. :: ':':-. ?s a control for
head lice and -t,_,actory. Sulfur
ointments have .-l"' -oo1 results when
applied at inter *I;-" of 3 or 4 days, and colloidal
sulfur soap has '-1 found effective.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

All clothing and bed linens which have
come in contact with infested parts should be
sterilized by steam, boiling water, or baking.



Nathan 1915. The Acarina or Mites.
U. S. Dept. Agr., Bur. of Entomology
Report, No. 108, 153 pp.

Bishopp, F. C. 1923. The Rat Mite Attacking Man.
U. S. Dept. Agr. Cir. 294. 4 pp.

Dove, W. E. and Shelmire, B. 1932. Some Obser-
vations on Tropical Rate Mites and
Endemic Typhus. Jour. Parasit. vol.
18, no. 3, 9 PP., 3 plates

Ewing, H.

E. 1929.

A Manual of External
C. C. Thomas, Publisher.
225 pp., 96 figs.

Goldberger, J. and Schamberg, J. F. 1909. Epi-
demic of an Urticaroid Dermatitis Due
to a Small Mite (Pediculoides ventri-
cosus) in the Straw of Matresses. 1?.
S. Public Health Report, vol. 25,
no. 28.



Leslie 1941-42. Derris Root Treatment
of Scabies. British Med. Jour. No. 4190,
pp. 624-625; no. 4229, 2 pp.

B. and Dove, W. E. 1931. The Tropical
Rat Mite, Liponyssus bacoti (Hirst),
1914. Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc. vol. 96,
5 PP.

Warburton, Cecil 1920. Sarcoptic Scabies in
Man and Animals. Parasitology,
vol. 12, no. 2, 35 PP.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

The Black Widow

This is really the only serious, poisonous
spider within the United States, and although
painful and acute systemic disturbances may re-
sult. from its bite, very few authentic cases of
death have been recorded. This spider is not
aggressive, and it is often difficult to get it
to bite for experimental purposes. The bite is
inflicted by two stout jaws which work sidewise.
The tip of each of these is provided with an
incurved, needle-like tooth through which the
poison is injected.

Distribution and. habits.--The black widow
spider is to be found in practically all parts
of the country, although it is more prevalent in
the Southern States than in the North. It sel-
dom enters houses, but it frequents wood piles,
garages, out-toilets, manholes, culverts, and
similar places. It is also found under rocks,
bridges, and hollow logs. It feeds normally on
insects and other small creatures.

The web of this spider is loosely woven
and irregular. Three hundred to four hundred
eggs are laid at a time in a dense, whitish web
ball, the size of a large pea. The eggs hatch
in 3 to 4 weeks, and the young spiders scatter
over the web. They are very cannibalistic,
and probably many of the young are devoured
before they reach maturity.

Appearance and size.--The female black
widow spider is shining,metallic, blue-black on
the upper surface of the body. On its under
side it has one or more brick-red spots above
the spinnerets near the tip of the abdomen and
another red mark shaped like an hourglass. The
abdomen is globose, having somewhat the appear-
ance of a black shoe button. The young spiders
and the adult males usually have yellowish
markings on the upper side of the abdomen. Full-
grown females may measure one-half inch from head
to tip of abdomen, with a much longer reach of the
legs and feet. The males are smaller and do not

Circular 15 A n s, Wasps, and Other Insects 24

Control.--In lcslities where black
widow spiders coT'Tonl nccur, removal, from
around barracks :.nd buildings, of
materials which harbor spiders is recommended.
Piles of brick, tile, wood, and old boards,
are common breeding places for it. Creosote
oil is recommended for k-illing this spider
where it is likely to be founa. Outdoor
latrines, especially the under side of the
seat, and rock piles should be treated if
spiders are found. This is best done by
applying the oil v.rith a bucket pump or com-
pressed air sprayer.

Men who are exposed to the attack of
these spiders in the course of their work should
wear leather gloves.

First-aid treatment for bites.--In case
one is bitten, the making of an incision exactly
through the bite or puncture with a safety razor
blade or equally sharp instrument is suggested,
the object being to induce free bleeding. The
application of suction with the mouth or prefer-
ably a suction cup as in snar:e-bite treatment,
is also recommended. Following this, a dis-
infectant should be applied. A doctor should
be called without waiting for fArther develop-

House Spiders

A number of different species of spiders
are found within living quarters of man, and
sometimes they become so numerous a to cause
annoyance and cis.ust. The young of the common
house spider readily rain access to living
quarters through screens or loose-fitting doors
and windows. The close -roxinity to barracks of
trash, old lumber, brick, and other debris,
favors the breedinc- o-L spiders and increases the
number which enter the habitations of man. The
space under barrac.:s is -n idgirable breeding
place, and the trtt-ieent of such places is an
important step in. their control.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

As a class, spiders are considered bene-
ficial because they prey upon flies and other
noxious insects. Few of them will bite; in
fact, most of the spiders that frequent houses
do not have jaws powerful enough to pierce- the
skin, nor are they provided with active poison

Control.--Spiders in outbuildings and
beneath barracks may be killed and their
breeding in such places checked for some time
by spraying with creosote oil. This material
has an objectionable odor, and it stains paint
and kills plant life; therefore, it must be
used with caution. Careful screening of build-
ings, particularly basements, will do much to
keep spiders out, and by keeping out flies and
other insects which serve as food for spiders,
the spiders are not encouraged to enter.

In most cases the webs can be brushed
down, and the spiders crushed on the floor
immediately, and the walls sprayed heavily
with one of the standard fly sprays. Especial
attention should be given to the crushing of
the white egg cocoons which, if not destroyed,
will soon give rise to large numbers of small
spiders. Sometimes it is necessary to repeat
this treatment at weekly intervals, as the
spiders keep coming inside if they can do so.
Wall-cleaning attachments on vacuum cleaners
are useful in removing webs and in destroying
the spiders.


Certain tarantulas are of such great
size that they attract attention and frequently
they are greatly feared because of their for-
midable appearance. Those that live in the
South and southwestern part of the United States
are harmless, however, and frequently are cap-
tured as curiosities. They are nocturnal and
usually come forth in the evening and lie in wait
for their prey.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

The .American species of tarantulas
are found usually under debris, loose stones,
in decayed trees and logs, or in holes which
they make in the ground. Some of the burrow-
ing species dig tunnels, the openings of which
can be closed by a lid.

Control.--Thiey can be controlled by a
general cleaning up of loose rubbish and the
killing of individuals by crushing them under
foot when encountered.


Baerg, W.

Baerg, W.


Ewing, H.

Ewing, H.

Herms, 'NW.

J. 1923. Some Poisonous Arthropods
of North and Central America. IV.
International Cong. of Entouology,
Ithaca, vol. II.

J. 1912. Cocoon-making by the
Tarantula. Reprinted from Ann. Ent.
Soc. Amer., vol. XXII, no. 2. 4 pp.

J. H. 1912. The Spider Book.
Doubleday Page & Co.

E. 1928. Observations on the Habits
and the Injury Caused by the Bites or
Stinrs of Sone Common North American
Arthropods. (U. S. Bureau of Entomology)
Amer. Jour. Trop. Med., vol. VIII, no. 1

E. 1933. Afield with the Spiders.
National Ceorraphic 1Iagazine. vol. 64,
no. 2, 31 pp.

B., Bailey, S. F. and Mclvor, Barbara
1935. The Black Widow Spider. Univ.
Calif. Bul. 591.

Miller, Mrs. Nevrton, Jr. 1935. Experimental
Studies on Latrodectus. Dept. Ent. &
Zoo., Pomona Coll., vol. 27, no. 4,
Claremont,. Calif.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects

Mote, Don C. and Gray, Kenneth 1935. The
Black Widow Spider. Ore. State
Agr. Col. Expt. Sta. Cir. 112.
Corvallis, Ore.

Rogen, Emil 1926. Arachnidis:a (Spider
Poisoning). Calif. MTed. Assoc. Prize
Essay. Reprinted from Archives of
Internal .Iedicine, vol. 38, pp. 623-


There are a great number and variety of
scorpions and most of themni can be easily recog-
nized by their more or less crab-like appearance.
Another identifying characteristic is a long,
slender, 5-segmented, tail-like postabdomen which
terminates in a bulbous sac and a prominent
stinging spine. After the young are born, they
are carried about by the mother to whom they
cling with their pincers.

Scorpions are common only in tropical
and subtropical climates. They feed upon in-
sects and spiders and remain hidden during
the day beneath debris, lumber, stones, and
under tent floors.

The sting of most scorpions is sharply
painful, but, as a rule, its effects disappear
in a short time without serious consequences.

One of the common scorpions of the
southern United States is the common striped
scorpion, Centruroides vittatus (Say). Although
this scorpion is fearedI by many, it is harmless,
and its bite is comparable to only a slight pin
prick. The "whip scorpions", or vinegerones,
as they are commonly called, occur in Florida
and southern California. These species cannot
sting but can bite. When handled, vinegerones

Circular 15 Ants. Wasps, and Other Insects

give off a repellent fluid whichhas the odor
of vinegar. Some irritation by this fluid may
be experienced by persons having a tender skin.
The Durango scorpion, Centruroides suffusus
Pocook, is a common species in the State of
Durango, Mexico, and certain parts of Arizona.
This species has the reputation of having
caused over 1,500 deaths during a period of
36 years in Durango alone. The majority of
fatalities, however, were children.


Scorpions may be effectively reduced in
numbers by a thorough cleaning up of hiding
places such as loose boards, stones, bark, and
other debris lying on damp ground. Creosote
sprays have some repellent effect and can be
used where the odor of creosote is not objection-


Baerg, W.

Ewing, H.

Ewing, H.


J. 1929. Some Poibjnous Arthropods
of North and Central America. IV.
Internat'l Cong. of Ent., vol. 2,
pp. 418-438. Ithaca. 1928.

E. 1928. Observations on the Habits
and the Injury Caused by the Bites and
Stings of Some Common North American
Arthropods. Amer. Jour. Trop. Med.,
vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 39-62.

E. 1928. The Scorpions of the Western
Part of the United States, with Notes
on Those Occurring in Northern Mexico.
Proc. U. S. Nat'l. Mus., vol. 73,
art. 9, 24 pp.
J. A. 1938. Some Notes on Scorpion
Poisoning in Trinidad. Trans. Roy.
Soc. Trop. Med. & Hyg., vol. 31, no. 6,
pp. 607-624.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects 29


Centipedes are normally outdoor creatures
that feed upon insects and other small animals.
They do not injure plants or house furnishings;
and were it not for their habit of coming into
living quarters, centipedes would be of little
concern to man.

Centipedes are feared by many because
they look dangerous. They have poison glands
in the claws of the first pair of leg-like
appendages. The poison injected into insects
and other tiny creatures when they are bitten
by a centipede usually causes immediate death
or paralysis.

Most centipedes throughout the North are
comparatively small and rarely, if ever, enter
habitations or bite man. In the Southern States,
however, there are two species -- Scolopendra
heros Girard and S. morsitans L. which ca
inflict a painful bite if they are pinched when
a person puts on or handles clothing in the folds
of which centipedes happen to be hiding. These
species have 21 pairs of moderately long legs,
and may become 4 to 6 inches long. Certin tropical
centipedes are reputed to be very poisonous.

The house centipede, Scutigera forceps Raf.,
is capable of reproducing within barracks and
living quarters, but this habit does not seem
to be true of other centipedes in this country.
This species has 15 pairs of long legs, and, in
the female, the last pair is more than twice the
length of the body, which.when full grown is
about an inch long. According to popular belief,
the house centipede is poisonous, but it is doubt-
ful if it ever deliberately bites man. The jaws
are so weak that it is hard for them to penetrate
the skin, and bites inflicted by them are few and
the symptoms not severe. This centipede can run
very rapidly and tries to Fet out or sight when

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, and Other Insects 30

Centipedes are generally considered
beneficial, for, being carnivorous, they feed
upon cockruacnes, flies, moths, spiders, and
other small creatures.


There is no satisfactory control for
centipedes. Sprays and powders are not prac-
tical, for usually they are not numerous and
their location is not predictable. Debris
and piles of rubbish should not be left be-
neath or about barracks raised on concrete
posts or other blocks, for this encourages
the increase of centipedes. In severely
infested areas, it is well to examine and
shake out clothing before wearing it in the
morning. Barracks raised from the ground on
piers may be given some protection by spray-
ing the picrs and the soil beneath the bar-
racks with creosote oil. If bitten, ammonia
or moist baking soda may be applied to re-
lieve the pain, and this followed by a mild
germicide as a protection against secondary


Millipedes are normally outdoor
creatures. They are not carnivorous but feed
upon decaying vegetable matter in damp soil and
on decaying wood, and often eat the tender roots
of plants and even green leaves that touch the
ground. They are slow-crawling, dark-colored
creatures with cylindrical, many-jointed bodies.
If touched when crawling, they curl up. They,
have two pairs of very short legs on each body
segment after the first three segments, which
have only one pair each. Most of our native
millipedes are less than one inch long but some
tropical and subtropical forms attain a length
of several inches.

Circular 15 Ants, Wasps, -nd Other Insects

The species Par ajulus impressus Say, P.
venustus Wood, and splrobolus marginatus Say
are common in the United States and mos fre-
quently annoying to man.

At certain times millipedes become rest-
less for some reason, an, then leave the soil
and crawl into habitations, sometimes swarming
over basements and first floors. They shun
the sun, are most abundant on the shaded side
of buildings, crawl during the evening, and
hide during the daytime in the soil or beneath
stones and boards or in other darkened and damp
places. Dryness destroys them.

Millipedes do not bite man, do not harm
furnishings, and do not eat sound wood.


When present in small numbers, millipedes
can be controlled by placing slices of raw po-
tatoes, apples, or turnips, lightly dusted with
Paris green, where they can feed upon them.
Creosote oil, sprayed on the outside of founda-
tion walls and on the soil beneath is distaste-
ful to millipedes. Scattering naphthalene flakes
or paradichlorobenzene crystals about foundations
and working them slightly into the soil aids in
controlling millipedes, as does also liberal
dusting with air-slacked lime. Liberal appli-
cations of kerosene-pyreth"u.a'i fly spray will
help to control them when they are migrating
from place to pla'e in large numbers. Removing
materials such as debris, boards, and brick from
around barracks tends to prevent these creatures
from accumulating.


Back, E. A. 1939. Centipedes and Millipedes
in the House. U. S. Dept. of Agr.
Leaflet 192.

3 1262 09315 0182




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