The Rearing and Maintenance of a Laboratory Colony of the Body Louse

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  • United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Administration, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine

The body louse (Pediculus humanus corporis Degeer) has been reared in large numbers in the laboratory at Orlando, Fla., for use in investigations of control measures for this insect. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the methods and technique used in rearing and maintaining a large colony of lice. Precise data on the biology of the body louse are not included, since this phase of the work is still in progress and will be reported later. A daily average of approximately 1,200 lice and 875 eggs, or a total of approximately 1,325,000 lice and eggs, have been used in the experiments on control measures during the period of May 1942 to October 1943.

From a small number of lice that were collected from healthy individuals and were fed upon the blood of men that had shown no evidence of disease, it was possible to develop a colony of lice that were free of infection.

Author Notes

Grateful appreciation is expressed to R. C. Bushland, who established and maintained the original stock, some obtained by him in Orlando, and the majority collected by W. E. Dove in Washington, D. C. G. W. Eddy was responsible for the louse colony during March and April 1942. N. B. Carson assisted materially by feeding and maintaining the louse colony from June to November 1942.

The data included in this were obtained in connection with investigations conducted at Orlando, Fla., under a contract, recommended by the Committee on Medical Research, between the Office of Scientific Research and Development and the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine.