Mampe: On Head Lice, Beetles and Floor Age, Book Lice and Vole Baiting


October 1, 2001

By: Dr. Doug Mampe

Head Lice Treatment Up to Homeowner

Q: A homeowner has children with head lice. The school sent them home, and advised the homeowner to have the house treated. What should I use, and how should it be applied? Is there anything else the homeowner or I should do?B.T.

A: Under normal circumstances, louse management does not require treatment of the premises. Lice do not survive long once off the human body. They usually die within a few hours.

Lice treatment usually includes having the infected individual use a prescription shampoo and launder clothing in hot water. Clothing that will not be laundered immediately should be placed in a plastic bag, which is then sealed until laundry day. Normal, hot laundry water kills all forms of lice.

Again, treating the premises is unnecessary. It may cause the homeowner to believe that is all that is necessary, and he or she will ignore the important steps in lice management.
Floor Age Factors into Beetle Problem

Q: A customer has a powderpost beetle problem in hardwood flooring. He doesn’t want to spend the money on fumigation. Are there effective alternatives? What are they, and how effective are they? D.L.

A: You didn’t tell me whether the infestation is caused by an annobiid or a lyctid. This can make a difference for alternative treatments. Fumigation works on either.

You also didn’t tell me whether the flooring is new or old. If the flooring is relatively new (less than five years old), the infestation will probably take care of itself. No treatment is necessary. The wood was infested when it was installed, and it’s now too dry to support reinfestation. However, if the customer wants the infestation to cease immediately, fumigation is the best answer in this case.

If the flooring is more than five years old, then reinfestation is taking place. This also suggests that there is a moisture problem present in the flooring. Annobiid will not reinfest if the moisture content is below 14 percent. Lyctid will reinfest drier wood, but won’t reinfest if there is a surface sealant on the wood. If the flooring is more than five years old, I would guess you have an annobiid infestation and a moisture problem.

Eliminate the moisture problem, and the infestation will die out. To speed up the process, strip the finish on the flooring and treat the wood with a borate. Make sure you don’t use too much water, because warping may occur. After treatment, refinish the flooring.

A borate treatment will eliminate the infestation, but be aware that a stray adult might emerge next year.
Heat Gun Will Workfor Book Lice Infestation

Q: I have a psocid (book lice) problem in a hospital patient area. These patients cannot be easily moved, so any treatment will probably have to be done while they are present. That rules out most pesticides. The psocids are apparently harboring behind baseboards that are not fitted securely. Is there a way to approach this problem without pesticides? E.B.

A: Yes. Get a heat gun and gently heat the areas behind the baseboards. Temperatures above 115 degrees Fahrenheit are lethal within a few minutes. After the heat kills what is there, seal off the openings or have the baseboards replaced. Any stray psocids on the walls will either die within a few days or can be removed by wiping down the walls with a weak sanitizing agent.
Bait for Voles During Winter Months

Q: A large apartment complex has had a vole infestation during this past winter, and now the damage is apparent. What is registered for voles? I need some help. M.G.

A: I am unaware of any product registered for voles. In most states, however, you may use any product registered for other animals if the appropriate application site is on the label directions. Make sure your state accepts this use.

Voles are primarily vegetarians, and will not accept most rodent baits readily. I have had good results during winter months, however, by using bait blocks containing a single-dose rodenticide. Voles will accept them when vegetation is scarce. You can stuff the block down burrows-which are difficult to locate-or use bait stations.

During the summer months, I’ve never had success using any rodent bait. Burrows can be dusted with a tracking powder registered for rats. You can also apply an animal repellent to the base of shrubs to prevent vole feeding. You will achieve best results, though, by baiting during the winter.


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