Bringing Them All Back Home
As one with more than a casual interest in the refugee program in Southeast Texas,
I read “The Newest Americans” by Gene Lyons [TM, June 1976] with a great deal of anticipation. Mr. Lyons seems to have a particular empathy with the Vietnamese people in addition to all of the background research he did. The empathy and the hard work both show in his article. While the attitudes and goals of some of the Americans involved in the effort have changed, the Vietnamese remain steadfast in their goals.
I also enjoyed William Broyles’ comments in “Behind the Lines” in the same issue. He said much more eloquently the same things I wanted to say. It is the ordinary Vietnamese and Americans who will live with this problem long after politicians, faddists, and analysts have found something else to do.
I would like to clarify, however, one thing in Mr. Lyons’ article. We obviously did not give him enough information about the role of the American Red Cross. I personally found them to be a great help in the initial rush and confusion during the fall of South Viet Nam. They did a tremendous job of helping to locate lost relatives and friends. I saw them at Fort Chaffee working hard in the relief effort and locally they did everything I ever asked of them.
In twenty years we can all look back and see how we misguessed the Vietnamese this time.
Daniel Nisley, Executive Vice President
Goodwill Industries of Southeast Texas
I read with interest the article entitled “The Newest Americans.” The comments in the article regarding the participation of ENTEX in this program are quite misleading. If Mr. Lyons had investigated this matter more thoroughly with the diocesan office of the Beaumont diocese or with ENTEX, he would have found that ENTEX has in the past and is continuing to cooperate quite extensively in this program by offering grauitous services and the loan of equipment. We can find no evidence of any of our employees making the remarks attributed to them.
L A. Duffee, District Manager
[Editor’s Note: The account of ENTEX’s lack of cooperation in the matter of St. Anthony’s halfway house was based on first-hand reports by three independent sources.]
It’s Them or Us
Harry Hurt III has done it again! His article, “The World’s Most Despicable Bug” [TM, June 1976], will probably have most of your readers running to the local pharmacy to buy boric acid in order to wreak havoc on their local cockroach herd.
I am sure many readers will take issue with the 34 millimeter size figure. In fact, you will probably receive many specimens for entomological evaluation and certification as Periplaneta americana texanus enormicus, a new man-eating species seenby many college students in their apartmentsdoing an acrobatic act to open therefrigerator door.
Harry Hurt’s article on cockroaches reads like most lay-oriented accounts of these animals: it overextends their reputation. However, the real concern is not Hurt’s perpetuation of myths surrounding roaches, but rather his inaccurate reporting. For example, in several places one is led to believe that cockroaches regularly bite and on occasion attack humans. The documented evidence for these behavioral patterns is virtually nonexistent. Further, through several years of handling roaches at College Station, we have yet to be bitten, much less attacked, by any of the numerous roach specie we maintain in culture.
The medical importance of cockroaches in disease transmission is greatly exaggerated. Although roaches are known to carry several pathogens on their body parts, their actual role in transmitting or vectoring these same pathogens remains obscure in almost all reported cases. The point is, that carrying and transmitting disease-producing organisms are two entirely different phenomena. At present, roaches are generally regarded as only potentially capable of transmitting disease organisms.
The toxicity problem of boric acid should have been clarified. In technical terms, the acute oral LD 50 (the lethal dosage necessary to kill 50 per cent of the test animals) of this material is 2660 mg/ Kg for rats. For diazinon and dursban, the acute oral LD50 values are 66- 600 and 97- 276, respectively. This means that boric acid is about five times safer than diazinon and at least ten times safer than dursban.
Other aspects of Hurt’s article, including comments on insecticidal resistance, cockroach varietal differences, and information concerning roach biology and ecology, are grossly incorrect and/or misleading. Hurt’s article serves only to sensationalize the already misconceived notions about roaches. His piece was obviously designed to dazzle readers: this objective could easily have been accomplished by merely presenting factual material about these animals.
Gordon Frankie, Associate Professor
Department of Entomology
Texas A&M University
Mr. Hurt replies:
There is ample scientific support for the claims made in my article. Most of the information was obtained from The BioticAssociations of Cockroaches by Drs. Louis M. Roth and Edwin R. Willis, a U.S. Army study that researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have described as a seminal work. In that book and in an earlier 1957 research paper, Roth and Willis provide ample documentation of the biting and attacking behavior and an extended discussion of the cockroach’s disease carrying and transmitting capabilities. I do not at any time say that roaches “regularly” bite or attack humans, but that they have been known to do so.
I found Harry Hurt’s cockroach article very provocative. Although I have enjoyed practically every aspect of life here in Texas since I moved here in 1973, I am still shocked and disgusted by the appearance of these creatures. Monthly spraying by commercial exterminators only reduces their numbers.
However, I am curious as to Mr. Hurt’s source concerning the alleged reverence of the Finns for cockroaches. In the 27 years I lived in Finland, I never saw one. The only mention I can recall of cockroaches was in zoology class in school. While I