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Wisconsin State Horticultural Society / The Wisconsin horticulturist
Vol. III, No. 9 (November 1898)

Kitchen, J. M. W.
Hydrocyanic acid as an insecticide--a warning,   pp. 29-31 PDF (729.7 KB)


Page 30


30    THE WISCONSIN HORTICULTURIST.
handled by any but the most skilled hands. Even with an
exceptionable degree of knowledge of general chemistry,
and with a special knowledge of the physiological action
of poisons, and using the utmost possible personal care in
my methods, I have had several narrow escapes in my ex-
perimenting. In inexpert hands, the danger is vastly in-
creased. A little of the dust from the cyanide powder, if
inhaled direct in using it, or if it get on the hands or cloth-
ing, may result seriously. A moderate whiff of the gas if
incautiously inhaled stuns one like as if it were a severe
blow in the face by a club. Amounts of the gas dangerous
to breathe may be inhaled without directly noticeable effect
to dull, or even ordinary, perception, the first perceptible
effect being a dizziness in the bead followed by a slight
peach-pit like flavor at the back of the nose and mouth in
the upper pharynx. So very diffusive is the gas that one
long breath of a very dilute solution may thus be perceived
at the back of the mouth fifteen hours after inhalation. I
have been made very dizzy by a quick walk of 25 feet to the
ventilating apparatus in a house at 9 A. M. in which the
gas had been generated at 5 o'clock the previous afternoon.
One is liable to be burned by the handling of the sulphuric
acid alone, as well as suffer danger to clothing, adjacent
plants and structures, during the generation of the gas, or
the subsequent clearing up after. the process.. The wbple
method is dangerous, inconvenient and entirely too costly
for general use.
Formalin gas is safer and as effective both as an in-
secticide and as a disinfectant. It, too, is caustic in its ef-
fects on plants; but is a splendid disinfectant for empty
houses, and can be used without danger for that purpose.
It may be of interest for your readers to know that as a re-
sult of our experimentation at Willowmead Gardens, we
have produced an insecticidal agent that apparently is as
effective as hydrocyanic acid gas in destroying all insect
life, that can be used without danger; and so far as we have
gone seems to be non-injurious to plants. Its cost is, how-'
ever, as great as that of hydrocyanic acid gas. Further ex-


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