April 17, 2014 at 3:07 am #9069
Just a few thoughts on bugs, from my observations and experience. We don’t pay much attention right now, since we live in secure, civilized homes for the most part. But if things go down, bugs will be a big issue. Not only do they bite, but they carry disease, and many of them attack stored food and growing gardens.
Inside the home: Cockroaches, crickets, ants, lice, fleas. Make sure you have tight screens to keep out gnats, mosquitoes and flies.
When we go to India, cockroaches are a “given” even in fairly upscale hotels–although we seldom go to upscale hotels, so we just ignore the skittering when we turn on the lights (assuming we have electricity at the moment.) We stayed once in a private home, not a poor one either, and the ants were torture. Always found their way into our bed and stung like fire all night. The hostess dusted the floor with a white powder which might have been borax, which helped a little. I know I used borax in Georgia along the baseboards to discourage cockroaches.
Fleas are not only a nuisance but they carry diseases like plague, which is still endemic in the Four Corners area of the US. (Hantavirus) The fleas infest prairie dogs, rats, etc. The problem is exacerbated by the fact there is very little water available in the more remote homes there…so count on this possibility when things go down.
Flies were probably responsible for my one case of “la turista” in India. Never want to be that sick again at both ends, for a full day, and weak the next. Drank tea from a roadside stand, assuming OK since it was boiled. But the cup was probably the recent resting place of a fly who had been enjoying the roadside drainage ditch… I remember old timey home economics books (yeah, I’m old) that constantly warned about flies getting into the house and on your food. Especially warned about making your outhouse fly-proof. If things go down, few people will even use outhouses, so flies will be disease vectors.
The book had a diagram of a homemade flytrap: Make a small hole in the middle of a slice of bread; spread jam on the bread; put it jam-side down over a glass about half full of water. The flies were supposed to crawl to the underside of the bread to obtain the jam, then fall into the water.
Outside: All of the above plus those that attack gardens. Don’t forget, those pretty butterflies make cute little HUNGRY caterpillars. Grasshoppers–(I wonder if you could put up a mist net and catch them to eat. I’ve eaten a few and they’re not bad.) And ticks–dog ticks carry Rocky Mtn Fever, and tiny deer ticks carry Lyme Disease.
I have a special hatred for mosquitos. First encountered their swarms in south NJ. The disease they carried was locally called “sleeping sickness”. Equine encephalitis, I think.
Then the Everglades of Florida. Found their way into our family travel trailer and kept me awake all night. Locals back then claimed there were still cases of malaria occurring. I know the general stores carried malaria pills.
One thing the tourist brochures do not mention, are the hordes of mosquitoes in Alaska. Fortunately up to this point, they do not carry disease, but an Armed Services study claims that if you are helpless and exposed, the 27 species of mosquito will be able to drain your blood in 3 to 4 hours. They used to swarm on our cabin screens and we could hear their whining 24/7 until the frost killed them. I could not walk outdoors without carrying a switch of willow leaves to swat at the black cloud surrounding my head. A man we knew, in the village of Bettles, north of The Circle, who would not venture from his home without a bee net. Deet is nicknamed “Eau d’Alaska”, the most common fragrance…
The numbers are minimal by comparison, but Idaho and Oklahoma (and many other places) have mosquitos carrying West Nile virus. During the 2 years we lived in Idaho, 9 people died from it and many more were hospitalized. One young lady (OK/TX) is permanently disabled and in a wheelchair–I met her father.
And then the tropics…India for example. I could not list all the various diseases from mosquitos. Malaria kills millions every year (we take highly toxic preventive pills while we are there and for weeks afterward.) Yellow fever, river fever (causes blindness), dengue fever (a huge outbreak occurred in Bangalore/Karnataka just as we were leaving and the monsoon was arriving.) In my experience, you seldom hear the whining that characterizes American mosquitos. I just wake up in the morning with huge welts on my body, so bad that my legs are sometimes swollen. Live with a tube of cortisone cream… Yes, Deet helps, but somehow they get through.
In my opinion, a good expedition-quality mosquito net will be in my luggage next trip. Never had a good one with me, and often no place to hang it from a concrete/stucco ceiling. It will also be in my BOB. Plus Deet. And cortisone cream.
I’m thinking of stocking up on roach traps, flea sprays and lice shampoos. Never had lice, but I know that many schoolchildren get it these days, and saw many women sitting in India, combing through each others hair…
If anyone has comments or suggestions, or has been addressing these bug issues, please post.April 17, 2014 at 4:08 am #9077
A little trick that seems to work for keeping from getting lice is to use hair spray. Not sure what it is they don’t like about it but they will not stay in your hair if you have it on.April 17, 2014 at 4:10 am #9078
Other less civilized tropical countries still use DDT regularly, to great effect.
Maybe they have something there.
Around here, skeeters are few and far between thankfully.
But ticks, we got ‘em. And they like me a little too much.
Last couple of years, I’ve been using a soap loaded with lemon-eucalyptus oil that my wife makes.
It’s seemed to help quite a bit, at least for the flies and skeeters.
I keep a fair number of bug bombs in storage, and a fair amount of DEET (100%) liquid on hand, as you can guess, bugs are a pet peeve of mine.April 17, 2014 at 4:25 am #9083
Thanks for the hair spray tip, Matt76. A lady on another forum claimed that she removed lice nits (eggs) from her children’s hair by using hair conditioner as a solvent for the “glue” that attaches them. And I should try soap with lemon/eucalyptus, whirlybird. Sounds like it smells good and fresh, too.
An additional note: I’ve seen people in India with elephantiasis–huge swollen legs with thickened skin. Caused by worms in the lymph system–also spread by mosquitoes. Ugh! Another reason to hate mosquitos…
I should mention mosquito coils, which almost everyone burns in Alaska. Not 100% protection, but cuts down on the numbers from thousands to mere hundreds…;)April 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm #9144
wildartist, This will be a problem that many will not think about till a SHTF. Here in South Florida with the Everglades just miles away and all the trash that will be around when a SHTF there will be a lot of bugs and rats, wild cats and wild dogs that people will let go since they will not have food for them.
We all do not think of this. Many will die not of hunger but of many other things. Mosquitos will be all over the South with the hot weather and no control. People will not have a way to clean there pools, there will be trash all over the streets, dogs and cats that will have infections and rats every were. We maybe killed by this and not by someone with a gun!April 17, 2014 at 2:20 pm #9166
We have Malaria and Dengue fever in our area. The good news is that our mosquitos mostly stick to their working hours, so the three hours around dawn and dusk are the worst.
For both Malaria and Dengue you need quite dense populations of hosts (whether animals or humans). We are a bit away from a national park and most cases of Malaria affect the people living right next or within the national park in our area. Of course if I go hiking or running I do this during the day and not in the main biting times for those little pests.
Here is a bad little fact I heard from a biology professor… if all mosquitos would suddenly die and disappear it would not harm the ecological balance. Basically it means it wouldnt screw up nature and just improve life for many creatures. So the idea that mosquitoes have their place to keep the ecological system in balance is not valid…
but an Armed Services study claims that if you are helpless and exposed, the 27 species of mosquito will be able to drain your blood in 3 to 4 hours.
I heard how bad mosquitoes are in Alaska and parts of Canda but this… wow!
Alea iacta est ("The die has been cast")April 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm #9172
I remember lot of bugs that made problems to us, but I think that worst were flies, because all city services were down junk and filth simply were everywhere, so flies were everywhere too.
And yes, there were huge number of bad diarrhea and vomiting cases, almost everyone gone trough that.
Until SHTF it is hard to believe how dirty can be.April 17, 2014 at 2:54 pm #9176
Selco, I think not many of us preppers think of this problem, how bad trash all over the cities will be. Two to three months there will be a lot of sick people and some will die of this. Many are not ready for this.April 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm #9250
GREAT info! Thanks so much wildartist.
Always love hearing from you in the forums.April 17, 2014 at 6:52 pm #9252
Thank you for your input and replies, everyone. freedom is right, it may be disease that brings us down, not a bullet. Remember the Plague of Europe…thousands died because of rats and their fleas carrying it in unsanitary conditions.
And I think typhoid can be spread by flies carrying it from exposed sewage/waste–and by drinking polluted water. My grandfather had it in the early 1900s here in the US. Came home from the hospital a skeleton…my Dad, as a toddler, was afraid of him. But he did survive. Few will these days.
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