U.S. Military vs The Enemy!

Jan 16, 2015 | Uncategorized

During WWII the Military had a real problem with pest infestations, especially bed bugs and lice! In 1943 at Camp Lee (now Ft. Lee) in Virginia, the barracks of the military were infested with bed bugs! They were literally everywhere. This created a real morale concern for the Military and families.  It was so bad that many families went to their congressional representatives for help! Even the gas masks and helmets that the men were issued were found to be severely infested, as was every crack and crevice of the barracks.   It was an all out war with these invaders. The wood framed bunks were replaced with metal that could be steam cleaned easily in high pressure chambers. The cracks in the barracks were all sealed with putty and the buildings were treated with “Hydrogen Cyanide Fumigation”.  That just sounds dangerous not only to the pests but to the humans alike!


Being a major problem in the military, education became an important part of the program to gain the upper hand on the bed bugs. There were interesting and humorous posters found everywhere. It was at this time that DDT became widely used in the military and then released for public use. It was deemed to be safer and more cost effective than the prior treatments.  Bed bug insecticides were as toxic to people as they were to the bed bugs! Some of the things used prior to DDT were, arsenic or mercury concoctions that the druggist would mix up. Also used was turpentine, kerosene and gasoline; but these only killed the bed bugs that they came into contact with, as they did not offer any residual effects. To make matters even worse, these treatments were highly flammable, so if a match was struck soon after treatment, poof … fire!


With the widespread use of DDT, bed bugs were nearly eradicated, but there are some species emerging that are tolerant to DDT. Interestingly the treatment and control of bed bugs has changed little from the 1940’s …

* Early detection

* Follow up

* Education

* Monitor and de-clutter homes, minimizing areas to hide

* Clean. This was the meaning of spring cleaning


There are serious concerns about a reemergence of wide spread bed bug infestations. With all the comforts that we enjoy in our homes; carpets, pillows, soft furniture, wall paper, etc are a haven for bed bugs. Always check things that are brought into your home, especially if you take frequent trips for business or pleasure. Another concern is college dorms … so when your child comes home for a visit with ALL their dirty laundry for mom to wash … beware!!!!

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