Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Lice

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Question
Does woodsmoke kill or repel lice? I am writing a novel about the Comanche. It occurred to me that the Indians might just close off a tipi with the fire smoking, to delouse their clothing and bedding? Any chance that would work?

Answer
Glenn,

I think the carbon dioxide in the smoke might be effective. Carbon dioxide is a very effective fumigant against insects, it is even used in by cut flower growers to fumigate boxes of plants before shipment. But, in terms of body lice (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/body_lice.html for info) simple washing of clothes is enough to get rid of them and for head lice (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/headlice.html for info) the infested person would have to be inside the tipi so obviously that would not work. This "method" might work for bedding and clothes in storage, however. It might also work for bed bugs (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/bed_bug.html for info). Good luck with your novel.

Jack DeAngelis

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.

Experience

20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

Publications
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Entomology

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