Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/55

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
49
THE HOUSE FLY

Indian bedbug, Cimex rotundatus.[1] Our bedbug, Cimex lectularius, which has always been in disrepute, though constantly appearing in the best society, is now under suspicion. It is not only possible, but quite probable, that in the near future further discoveries will show that some other infectious diseases, like infantile paralysis, and possibly smallpox and scarlet fever, may be transmitted through the bites of some of the common insect parasites of man.

Pestilences were formerly considered as visitations of Providence to punish man for his wickedness. People were powerless to save their own lives or the lives of their friends. Ignorance and superstition are hard to overcome, but in the light of our present knowledge these scourges which I have mentioned are all preventable by controlling the little insects which carry the germs. Is it not therefore a crime to allow them to be repeated?

If the exact history of the world could be written and the truth revealed, it would be interesting to learn whether the decline of Greece was due largely to malaria, as Dr. Ross has suggested,[2] and also to find out how important a part these seemingly insignificant insects have played in shaping the destinies of the nations.

  1. R. W. Doane, "Insects and Disease," p. 173.
  2. L. O. Howard, Bureau of Entomology, Bull. 78, p. 36.