Dealing With Biting and Stinging Insects
by insects is a problem we will likely face in TEOTWAWKI. Americans
will spend more time outdoors in an effort to gather food and fuel
as well as hunt and guard their retreat and resources. Exposure
to insects will increase exponentially. Our defenses against pests
will diminish significantly as our homes and retreats have their
windows and doors left open more often. Also, the commonly available
pesticides will probably not be available as supplies (of all kinds)
decrease when TSHTF. We all know that insects have the potential
to spread disease as well as lower our quality of life.
insects have many beneficial roles in nature, this article will
focus on those that are considered biting or stinging pests, e.g.,
ants, mosquitoes, flies, chiggers, fleas, ticks, lice, bees, wasps,
and bedbugs. Certainly, there are many more insects that can
be considered pests. The brief descriptions here are intended to
familiarize the preparing reader with insects that may be a nuisance
when TEOTWAWKI comes and give some information on the dangers they
pose and some suggestions for their control when supplies may be
limited. Each of the listed insects below has a brief description,
their likely locations, the effect and treatment of their bite or
sting, as well as suggestions for their control when supplies may
Ants are found
on nearly every inhabited land mass of the planet. Most ants serve
beneficial roles in our ecosystem, but occasionally conflict with
humans. Examples of such conflict include, invading retreat larders
and foodstuffs, damage done to equipment by ant hills, and of course,
ant bites. There are many species of ants: the Black Ant is the
most common while the Fire Ant is the most feared. Ants may be nomadic
but most build nests that are made up of chewed vegetation and soil.
Their nests may be located on or underground, under stones or logs,
inside logs, hollow stems, or even acorns, in and on buildings in
walls, windows, and even electric appliances. Ants enter a home
to forage or seek shelter or both. Most ant bites cause brief pain,
but scratching at them can lead to skin infections. Fire Ants are
the only ant species that both bite and sting. The sting can be
painful for several hours. Multiple stings can cause anaphylaxis
and death to individuals that are highly allergic to insect stings.
Treatment for ant bite/sting consist of topical cortisone
cream and oral antihistamines such as Benadryl. Control of ants
is difficult. For ants found in the home, a bait that the ants carry
back to their nest is the most effective. Many commercial products
are on the market and a supply should be included in your preparations.
Other control methods are to be sure your home and retreat are tightly
sealed with caulking, screens, etc before TSHTF. There are many
folk remedies for repelling ants, many more than can be discussed
here, but I'll include citrus oil. Save any citrus peels,
boil them gently in a small amount of water for 10 minutes, strain,
and spray areas that need ant control. Boric Acid powder placed
where ants will walk through it clings to their exoskeleton and
dehydrates them or is ingested when they groom and kills them. Boric
acid can be effective for up to a year if kept dry. Please
investigate other remedies to determine what will store well, be
affordable, and perform to your satisfaction.
have been called by some "the most dangerous animal on Earth".
Mosquitoes are found everywhere, except Antarctica. Stagnant pools
of water are required for most mosquitoes to lay their eggs. The
water can be fresh or salty depending on the species of mosquito.
Both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar and other plant juices,
however, only the female of some mosquito species requires blood
protein for egg production. Besides the irritation of their bite
and possible allergic reactions, mosquitoes are known to transmit
West Nile virus, St. Louis Encephalitis and Eastern Equine Encephalitis
to humans. Use insect repellent containing DEET, citrus oils, or
diluted Skin So Soft (Avon) on exposed skin and/or clothing.
100% DEET have been shown to provide up to 12 hours of protection
while those with concentrations of 20% 30% DEET offer 3
6 hours of defense. DEET is very stable and is effective indefinitely
as a mosquito repellent. The repellent/insecticide permethrin
can be used on clothing to protect through several washes. Always
follow the directions on the package. Avon Skin-So-Soft (diluted
1:1 with water) sprayed on skin and clothing is an excellent, economical
repellent. Wear long sleeves and pants when weather permits. Have
secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. Limit
outdoor activity during peak mosquito feeding times such as early
morning and evening hours. Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by
emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, open barrels
and other containers. Make small holes in tire swings so water will
drain out. Children's wading pools should be kept empty and on their
sides when they aren't being used, as should similar containers.
comprises about 90% of the common flies. Not only is the Housefly
a nuisance, it spreads diseases as well. Houseflies lay their eggs
in decaying, organic material from which larvae (maggots) emerge
and develop into the adult. Houseflies serve as vectors of diseases
such as Amebiasis (amoebic dysentery), Giardiasis, Typhoid, Cholera,
bacterial dysentery, and intestinal viruses to name only a few.
Flyswatters may keep kids busy and provide temporary relief from
these pests, but other control measures are needed. Several commercial
fly sprays are available, use the one you are familiar with which
provides the control, price and availability you desire. In a TEOTWAWKI
situation, a DIY fly trap may be useful. Re-purposing a 2 Liter
(or similar) bottle with a funnel taped to the mouth (small opening
in the bottle). Use a little waste organic material or waste sweet
substance as bait. When full, remove the funnel, place the cap on
the bottle and pour on the compost pile. Start over again.. Remove
organic trash daily (or more frequently) to the compost pile, which
should be located well away from the residence and water source.
If Houseflies (or other flies) are a problem, look for the source
of decaying organic material and remove it. Wipe out waste receptacles,
rinse, and bleach weekly or as needed. Sanitation is the key to
Housefly control. Horsefly females inflict a painful bite. They
are present in nearly all of the United States. Control is difficult
relying on long sleeves and pants with DEET insect repellent.
Horseflies are known to transmit many blood borne pathogens between
humans and Tularemia from rabbits to humans in the western US. They
also transmit Equine Encephalomyelitis to horses.
Red Bugs) are found worldwide and are present in the United States.
They are common in the Southeast and Midwest but rare in the northern
areas, deserts, and mountain terrain. A Chigger is a mite that lives
in forests, grasslands, low, damp, marshy areas and appears to be
more active in early summer. They seem to thrive in hot humid climes.
Chigger larvae attach to human (and several other animal) skin.
These larvae form a hole in the skin (not a bite) and inject digestive
enzymes through this hole. The Chigger larvae then ingest the cellular
contents and after 3-5 days on its host they drop off. The redness,
itching, and irritation of a Chigger "bite" are not usually
noticed until more than 24 hours after their digestive juices are
injected. Chiggers are not known for transmitting serious
disease in the U.S., however serious cellulitis and secondary bacterial
infections are common. Over the counter topical corticosteroids
and/or topical/oral antihistamines are often used to treat Chigger
"bites". Cool or warm baths have both been described as
bringing relief for Trombiculiasis (Chigger "bite"s).
Fingernail polish applied to the "bite" does not suffocate
the Chigger as is commonly believed. Control methods include wearing
long pants/long sleeved shirts when possibly entering an area Chiggers
are known to infest. Use a DEET or permethrin pesticide before
engaging in activity near Chigger infested areas. Wash clothes in
hot water or leave them out in the hot sun for an extended period
will clear the Chigger larvae from the clothes. Widespread or spot/area
pesticide treatment of areas known to have chigger infestations
is probably not practical in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.
is Louse) are small insects that are very species specific. Human
lice affect only humans, while different animal lice affect only
their host specie, i.e. cattle louse for cattle, dog louse for dog,
etc. Lice are spread by direct contact and there are three types
of human lice. These are head lice, body lice and pubic lice. Head
lice are spread by direct head to head contact, sharing combs and
hair adornments (hats, caps, etc.). They are very common among children,
but also spread by child-parent contact. Body lice are also spread
by direct contact as well as by sharing clothing and like articles
from an infested person. Pubic lice are spread by direct contact,
sexual contact, and/or shared towels, bedding, and clothes. All
three types of human lice feed on blood, but do not burrow under
the skin. The body louse has been known to spread diseases such
as typhus. All lice cause itching, redness and the possibility
of secondary bacterial skin infections due to the intense itching.
Head lice are treated most effectively with a combination
of lice combs to remove the nits (louse eggs attached to hairs)
and wet combing every 3-7 days until the infestation is cleared.
Hot air blow drying until the nits are dehydrated is effective,
but not against newly hatched larvae. Several other treatments
are described, but may not be available when TSHTF. Prevention
is directed at preventing contact with affected persons and scrupulous
hygiene when an infestation of head lice is occurring. Body lice
are more easily treated by improving personal hygiene and washing
clothing, towels, and bedding in hot water greater than 130 degrees
F. Leaving clothes unwashed, but unworn for greater than a week
will also kill the lice and prevent lice eggs from hatching.
Pubic Lice (aka Crabs) require clothing and bedding to be laundered
and topical treatment by a physician using a permethrin or lindane
product. Sexual or other direct (or indirect) contact should be
avoided until the infestation is cleared. The take home message
about lice is not to let an infestation get started in a TEOTWAWKI
situation. There's enough to worry about. Be careful of sexual,
direct, or indirect contact (by group or family members) with new
additions to your group until sure they are healthy to prevent pediculosis
(louse infestation) as well as other health problems.
Bed bugs are
insects that feed exclusively on blood. The name "bed bug"
comes from its preferred habitat: inside of or near beds or bedding
in warm houses. Bed bugs are mainly active at night. They usually
feed on their hosts
without being noticed. Many adverse health effects may result
from bed bug bites, including skin
rashes, psychological effects, and allergic
symptoms. Diagnosis involves both finding bed bugs and the occurrence
of compatible symptoms. Bed bugs are bloodsucking insects. They
are attracted to humans mainly by carbon
dioxide and body heat. Their bites
are not usually noticed at the time. Itchy welts develop slowly
and may take weeks to go away. Bed bugs prefer to bite exposed skin,
especially the face, neck and arms of a sleeping individual. It
takes between five to ten minutes for a bed bug to become completely
engorged with blood and then it returns to its hiding place. Bed
bugs can live for a year without feeding; they normally try to feed
every five to ten days. When it's cold, bed bugs live for about
a year while at warmer temperatures they survive about five months.
carried to new locations on clothing, luggage, visiting pets, and
transfer of furniture and/or on the human body. They may also travel
between connected dwellings through duct work or false ceilings.
Elimination of bed bugs is difficult. They are beginning to enjoy
resistance to many pesticides. The active ingredient Lambda-Cyhalothrin
found in Hot Shot Spider Killer has been found to be effective,
but not appealing to use around human sleeping areas. Vacuuming,
heat treating mattresses and bedding as well as wrapping mattresses
must be included in any attempt to exterminate bed bugs, here again,
be careful what you bring into your home or retreat. Bed bugs are
hard to find and usually move only at night. They usually stay unnoticed
in dark crevices, and their eggs can be found in fabric seams. Aside
from bite symptoms, signs include fecal spots, blood smears on sheets,
and molts. Bed bugs can be seen alone, but often congregate once
established. They usually remain close to hosts, commonly in or
near beds or couches. Bed bugs can also be detected by a unique
smell described as that of rotting raspberries.
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