Swat the Fly, Wisconsin

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Jun 1, 1921

DO IT NOW

by Berton Braley

We must show no ruth or pity
To the fly!
In the country or the city,
He must die!
Do not cherish, do not pet him;
When you see him, go and get him,
Swat him quick and do not let him
Multiply!

Oh, he flits in all the breezes,
Does the fly,
Bringing various diseases;
That is why
We should slay him very quickly
Lest he swarm about us thickly
And we suddenly grow sickly —
And we die!

There’s not one redeeming feature
To the fly;
He’s an evil, loathsome creature,
None deny;
And the only way to treat him
Is to fight him when you meet him —
Smash, abolish, and delete him —
Swat the fly!

He’s a menace — we must pot him,
We must swat and swat and swat him,
While we shout our battle cry,
“Swat the Fly!”

(Copyright, 1921, by The Sheboygan Press.)

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Jun 1, 1921

FLITTING from dish to dish, taking his morning bath in baby’s milk, regaling himself in the butter and preening himself on the sugar bowl, the house fly again is with us. His feet covered with millions of disease germs, he goes on his way leaving death in many forms in his trail. Scientific experiments have shown that musca domestica, the ordinary house fly, is the most industrious and persistent spreader of contagion in the world. Countless thousands have been numbered among his victims and his toll of death among infants is appalling.

War to the death must be waged against this death-dealing insect. No other duty is so important to the housewife as the extermination of the fly. And the task is much easier now than it will be later when the breeding process has multiplied his numbers.

Swat the fly!

On of the most remarkable advances in modern medicine and sanitary science has come from the knowledge of the fact that many of the most murderous diseases of man and animals are caused by the bits of infected blood-sucking insects. The pioneers in this discovery were Theobald Smith and Kilborne, who showed a quarter of a century ago that the deadly Texas fever of cattle was caused by the bite of a fly — the Boophilus bovis, which had become infected by sucking the blood of affected cattle. This great discovery was soon followed by that of the relation of the mosquito to malaria and yellow fever, the relation of the tsetse fly to sleeping sickness and other forms of trypanosomiasis, the relation of the tick to tick fever, of the bug to relapsing fever, of numerous ticks to anaemic diseases in cattle causing vast economic losses.

In temperate climates it would appear that man is largely immune from blood-sucking infected insects. Recently, however, the house fly has been found to be a danger if in a manner somewhat different in so far as it is unable to penetrate the skin owing to the construction of its mouth apparatus. Whatever disease germs it carries it is a passive process, the chief danger being the contamination of foods by bacteria carried on the surface of its body or in its bowels. Of all insects the house fly is the most constant companion of man, tasting his food by day and frequenting his abode by night whether in the far north or the far south, whether on the land or on the steamers that ply on the great oceans. Its very name, Musca domestica, suggests its relation to man.

If the fly were a cleanly insect he might perhaps be tolerated, but from the double life he leads there is no question that he should be exterminated hip and thigh, for he spends half his day in the latrine or manure heap amid the most foul putridity that it is possible to imagine, amid dead, decaying and diseased matter, from which at intervals he comes to bathe in our mild jug or to poise himself on your pat of butter or your meat. Many of his habits have until recently been a riddle but are now becoming understood, and in consequence his presence is as much feared as many of his congeners who have forsaken the dunghill for a meal of good human or animal blood.

All modern experiments concur to show that the principal breeding place of the house fly is the moist, warm manure heap, cesspool, or latrine, although perhaps it must be admitted that some flies are more fastidious. If collections of filth were destroyed the fly plague would be kept largely in abeyance. As things are he can breed in countless numbers and at a great rate.

The evolution of the house fly is complex, for from the moment that the female deposits her eggs in warm purtrefying manure the young go through various stages of development. Within a matter of hours the egg splits and a minute grub creeps out. At the end of twenty-four hours it moults and passes into the second larval stage, which in a day or two moults again and finally becomes a sort of chrysalis. At the end of three or four days of chrysalis life the case opens and the fly emerges to commence its life work. Within ten days or a fortnight it may be sexually mature and commence to lay great batches of eggs. As a rule breeding goes on rapidly between June and October, although under certain circumstances it may go on all the year round. It is a common observation that flies seem to disappear in winter. This must be explained by their ability to hibernate, the first warm day waking them from their slumbers.

It is a fortunate circumstance that they are liable to various forms of destruction, for apart from the magnificent work carried out by the bird, by the spider, and other insects, the fly is subject to devastating diseases, particularly an infective condition set up by a fungus, the Empusa muscae. This plant, in the form of a spore, lights on the surface of the fly and begins to grow, throwing out a slender process which makes its way between the fly’s scales, and thus gains entrance to its body. In the course of a few days the fungus has invaded all its organs and tissues, and now sick unto death the fly may be easily caught or may drop dead where it has alighted.

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Apr 21, 1915

As was said above the chief danger of the fly is that it may be a carrier of foul putrefactive or disease germs to articles of diet consumed by man. This is not a figment of the brain of the medical scientist; it is a proved fact. Indeed, long before accurate experiments proved this to be the case it was already supposed that the fly stood in some relation to typhoid fever, especially the typhoid of military stations and camps. There seems to be no doubt that much of the typhoid in the Spanish-American and South African wars were explicable on no other theory. In America this belief became so current that it was spoken of as “the typhoid fly.”

Accurate experiments carried out in this country and elsewhere have demonstrated the disease-carrying propensities of the Musca domestica. Typhoid germs have been recovered from its body days after it was infected. In the case of some germs it has actually been found that where the larva is infected the infection may persist throughout the moultings and be present in the adult or imago stage as late as nineteen days. Not only as a typhoid-carrier, the fly is also believed to carry the disease germs of tuberculosis, cholera, dysentery, and summer diarrhea of children, a disease which sweeps away vast numbers of bottle-fed children in every civilized community at the present day.

The necessity of removing or destroying all putrid organic matter and filth comes home to us when we remember that the fly is capable of long and rapid flights. In actual experiments marked flies were released and were captured half a mile away within forty-five minutes. That flies carry filth on their bodies can be readily shown by taking one from any place and allowing it to walk over the surface of a sterile nutrient jelly. Within a day or two masses of bacteria will have grown wherever its feet have touched. Picture to the mind the gross contamination which will occur when a fly weary with its half-mile flight from a dunghill takes its morning bath in your jug of milk at breakfast. This will bring the problem home to all, and by concerted effort the doom of the house fly will be sealed.

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Jul 3, 1912

The fly-swatting crusade has been taken up seriously by a number of large cities, either officially or by self-constituted committees of public-spirited citizens. In Cleveland a two-weeks campaign against the fly has just been closed. The warfare was conducted under the direction of a citizens’ committee of fifty-five. A scale of prices was arranged to be regulated by the supply. The market opened at 10 cents a hundred and went down to 10 cents a quart when the swatters got to going right.

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Jul 8, 1912

The artistic fly swatter was guaranteed a profitable market under this scale of prices, while 10 cents a hundred as the top limit made it impossible for a Napoleon of fly fiances to fill the cold storage warehouse with flies and ever after have champagne for breakfast. As it takes 10,000 flies to make a quart, the price per quart ranged from 10 cents to $10. A similar range in price in stocks within two weeks would set the country by the ears. The Cleveland plan gives the gambler chance enough, and the rights of the consumer and producer are safeguarded.

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Sep 27, 1911

Ten cents a quart was the price established in Washington two years ago, but hat was a September price. One female crawling out of a warm corner in the month of April will start a family tree which, without casualties, would have a September membership of about three trillions.

A decrease in the price of flies from $10 a quart, the May figure, to ten cents. the September figure may seem great, but we must remember that the supply may have increased three trillion times.

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Jun 3, 1912

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) May 15, 1912

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