There was a time when the fly and the mosquito, those twin pests of the summer season, were regarded merely as common nuisances. As such they have caused great discomfort, even unutterable anguish at times, and added to the widespread use of the profane language.
Came the time when medical science added a new charge to the indictment against these twin pests. It was started when a young fellow connected with the Department of Agriculture at Washington discovered that the tick was responsible for the spread of "Texas fever" among cattle, this discovery causing medical science to conduct experiments with the mosquito and other insects as carriers of disease among human beings. In the process of these experiments heroes were made that the cause of health might be advanced, volunteers offering themselves as a sacrifice to the cause of science by exposing their bodies to the sting of insects that has been inoculated with disease by having bitten diseased persons.
Some insects are merely nuisances; some give much discomfort; and some are even dangerous. Because we are habitually careless with our refuse we are pestered with that general "goat getter," the common house fly. But even the common house fly may be even worse than a pest, as against it, too, there is a new indictment.
Perhaps no insect is more of a pest than the mosquito. While the fly is domesticated and sleeps at night, the mosquito is like most sinners in that he travels at night and prefers darkness for his revels. Its singing is a nuisance and music to no human ears, but its bite is much worse. Its long proboscis is plunged quickly into the skin for the purpose of drawing blood--in the process of which it brings torment to the victim. A poison is injected during the time of blood-sucking, hence small or large welts may be produced, depending upon the susceptibility of the individual. A single bite causes as much trouble to some people as a whole flock of them to some others. Several bites are very likely to cause nervousness, irritability, and restless sleep or insomnia. The effect upon children is apt to be considerably more severe than upon adults. Some people seem to just draw mosquitoes and other insects. Doubtless they do, for the more toxic the body the more pronounced the body odor, and this attracts insects. The more toxic one is the more severe the symptoms will be, also.
|Female Culex Mosquito|
Everyone knows something of bees, wasps and hornets, perhaps all of these. Anyone who inadvertently prods a hornet's nest or a bumble-bee ground nest and thereby provokes these winged minutemen to try the power of their sting and poison is most likely to walk a mile to prevent doing so again. Usually these winged sentinels do not molest one unless disturbed; but their very presence is disconcerting, for one never knows what innocent little act will be misinterpreted by them as a challenge or when he will be guilty of a faux pas. They are very touchy and unamenable to reason. So try to avoid letting wasps or hornets build their homes in the corners of your tent or cottage and do not erect your tent in the door-yard of a bees' home. A few stings from the vicious attacks of these, or "yellow jackets," will last one a lifetime.
Moths and butterflies are innocent enough any way you take them in their adult stage. But some of them are poisonous in their caterpillar or larval stages. Some of them produce itching eruptions like hives; some secrete a poisonous fluid; others have minute irritation spines that break off in the skin. In those forms that are at all harmful the spines usually have some fluid that causes an intense nettling sensation. Some of the moth larvae, especially those of the brown-tail moth, are extremely poisonous, though not fatally so. Their spines are particularly harmful if inhaled.
Some beetles are poisonous. Some merely exude a disgusting fluid, others have a fluid that raises blisters. The effect of this is much worse if there is sweating. This holds true of other poisonous insects, usually in somewhat less degree.
One would think that with these several pests there might be little pleasure obtainable while picnicking, camping or vacationing. But except for flies and mosquitoes the pests are fairly easily avoided. You might as well try to sweep back the waters of the Mississippi with a broom as to try to clear your vacationing spot of all pests. But you can do much to make your vacation pleasurable by keeping your surroundings as clean as is humanly possible. If everyone took nothing into and left nothing in camping places upon which insects could breed there would be more enjoyment for them and more comfort for the next occupants of the grounds. But just now we are interested in what to do if any of these insects go on the rampage and make their presence painfully known. Here are some remedies:
House flies don't bite. But "swat 'em" at every opportunity. And keep your place screened and your waste properly disposed of. Sticky fly-paper is as effective in camp as in the home. Make traps for the flies, also; but avoid poisonous baits, such as arsenical papers, for these are dangerous if children are around.
Mosquitoes, gnats, ticks, fleas, lice and the large flies dislike oils of eucalyptus, cinnamon and cloves and weak solutions of carbolic acid. They won't interfere when these are applied to the body; and the last named is a good remedy in case of their bites and stings. The pain of these may be relieved by beta-naphthol, one-half dram to an ounce of water, menthol or ammonia water. But boric acid compresses are as good as anything else for reducing inflammation. When mosquitoes are breeding in great numbers in small bodies of water there is such congestion that the mosquitoes are dwarfed. These may require very fine screening to exclude them. But screen there should be, against full-sized mosquitoes anyway. Also small pools should be drained or a tablespoonful of kerosene (coal oil) for each square yard of surface water should be poured on the pools and renewed every ten to fourteen days. Smudges, or body application of fish-oil or other repellant substance, is of advantage to deep off black flies and buffalo gnats, and may other insects, as well.
Jiggers are killed by some natives of tropical and semi-tropical countries by holding a lighted cigarette over the skin. Don't take to smoking, however, merely to have a cigarette handy for an invasion that probably won't take place. A better way is to remove the parasite with a sharp knife point, taking care not to break its skin, for its contents may produce distressing sores. When the parasite is removed the cavity may be cleansed with boric acid solution and covered with a boric acid compress or with antiseptic powder.
Woolen blankets make excellent traps for fleas, for they cannot jump from the wool.
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