« PreviousContinue »
inmates of our dwellings, which depend on man for food and raiment, that is, converting our clothing into food and lodging for themselves. Among these, the clothes moth, the carpet moth, the fur moth, and the hair moth, stand preeminent. They lay their eggs in May and June, and die when they have provided for the succession of their race. The eggs are hatched in about a fortnight, and the little grubs forthwith proceed to gnaw the substance on which they rest, making of the fragments a case for themselves, which they line with silk, enlarging it according to their growth, by lengthening it at the two ends, and setting in gores at the sides.
This case is their house for the summer ; they carry it with them as they move along their destructive way. In the autumn they cease to eat, and, fastening their cases to the cloth, they remain quiet during the winter ; but in the next spring they change to chrysalids within their cases, and after twenty days reappear with wings. When prepared to lay their eggs they slip through cracks into closets, chests, and drawers, under the edges of carpets and the folds of curtains, showing a particular affection for woollen garments, and there lay the foundations of new tribes of similar destroyers.
As the readers of our journal, however worthy and enlightened, are not exempt from the usual doom, it may be well to direct their attention to the precautions which Dr. Harris recommends. Early in June it will be advisable to beat up their quarters, throwing open wardrobes, closets, chests, and drawers, and exposing garments, bedding, carpeis, curtains, fur, and feathers, to the heat of the sun, since the moths are great lovers of darkness, like all other creatures whose deeds are evil. But other remedies must be vigorously applied, such as shaking, beating, and brushing, which will dislodge and destroy the eggs. In old houses, cracks in the floors and wainscots, and around the walls and shelves of closets, should be brushed with spirits of turpentine. Sheets of paper sprinkled with it, camphor in coarse powder, and leaves of tobacco, should be placed among the clothes when they are laid aside for the summer. Such articles as furs and plumes should be pasted up in bags of coarse paper, with leaves of tobacco interposed. Dr. Harris also says, that linings of carriages may be effectually guarded by sponging them on both sides with a solution of corrosive sublimate of mercury, made just strong enough not to leave a black stain on a white feather. Moths
can be killed by fumigating the article that contains them with tobacco smoke or sulphur, by enclosing them in a tight vessel, and plunging it in boiling water; or by putting it into an oven heated to one hundred and fifty degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer.
The bee-moth is another of these nuisances, sufficiently well known to those who have undertaken to supply themselves with honey. It had the honor or the infamy, whichever it may be, of being commemorated by Virgil in ancient times, and has often, in later ages, received benedictions from the husbandman, less poetical,
perhaps, but equally significant. This pest was brought from Europe with the common hivebees, — the old straw hive, which was formerly common there, affording it an excellent shelter. The male and female moth differ so much in size, that Linnæus and other naturalists supposed them to be distinct species, and gave them two different names. The female is much larger and darker colored than the male. There are two broods in the course of
Some of the first appear in their winged uniform at the last of April, or early in May ; those of the second abound most in the month of August ; but they are found in less numbers through the whole of the summer, and require the proprietor to be always on his guard. By day they remain quiet in the crevices, or on the sides, of the beehouse ; but in the evening, when the bees have entered, they hover round the hive, and take the opportunity to steal in at the door and lay their eggs. Those which cannot get in, lay their eggs on the outside, or on the stand; and the little caterpillars either creep in at the cracks, or make a passage under the edges. Were the bees to discover them, the air of the hive would not be good for their constitutions; but they show wonderful consciousness and skill in stealing through the waxen passages, which they break down and destroy. They are sometimes called the wax-moth, and this is more descriptive than the common name, because wax is their only food. They prefer the old to the new comb, and are therefore most abundant always in the upper part of the hive, in the oldest of the comb. Very vigorous powers of digestion must they have to thrive upon such food ; but they eat it with as much appetite as if it were the greatest luxury that ever was concocted. As soon as they are hatched, they begin to spin ; and each one makes for itself a strong tube of silk, in
which it can turn and move round at pleasure. In this it remains concealed during the day, and comes out at night when it cannot be seen by the bees. This case is enlarged as the grub increases in size, and for greater security is covered with grains of wax and rubbish, to protect the enclosed animal from the sting. Thus shielded, they move through the hive, consuming the wax, and filling the vacancy with their filthy webs, till at last the patience of the bees is worn out, and they desert the abodes where their skill and industry are applied in vain.
Bees suffer most from the moth in warm and dry summers. Weak swarms are more infested than large ones. ence of the grubs is 'made known by the black grains and fragments of wax scattered over the door. As soon as this appearance is discovered, the caterpillars and chrysalids must be sought out, and all the webs and cocoons, with the insects in them, must be carefully removed. This would better be done once a week ; but at any rate should be done early in September, when the cocoons are most abundant. The winged moths may be destroyed by setting shallow vessels, containing a mixture of honey or sugar with vinegar and water, near the hives in the evening ; great numbers will get into it and be destroyed. Hives of various construction are offered to the public as a security against the wax moth ; but which is most efficient, we have not as yet had an opportunity to determine.
Dr. Harris inclines to the belief that the European grain moth, tinea granella, is found in this country, but not generally observed, because confounded with the grain weevil. There is also another grain moth, which is very destructive in some parts of France, called the Angoumois moth, which he apprehends is the same with one which was described by Colonel Carter of Virginia as “ the fly weevil, that destroys wheat.” He has seen some wheat from New Haven, eaten by moths in the same manner as the Angoumois moth is said to consume it ; that is, a single grub lies concealed within a grain of the wheat, and thus devours in secret the mealy substance within the hull. Whatever the insect may be, it is ascertained that it can be destroyed by exposing the grain to a heat of one hundred and sixty-seven degrees of Fahrenheit, continued for twelve hours. A less degree of heat will answer, if applied for a longer time.
relations with these troublesome creatures, it is well to remember, that many of the evils of which we complain, are only our own carelessness, want of neatness, and other domestic iniquities, visited in this winged form upon ourselves. The young insects are fleshy grubs, advantageously known by the name of maggots, which go through their transformations within themselves, their skin hardening to supply the place of a cocoon, from which, in due time, they force their way, and proceed rejoicing to cultivate an acquaintance with men.
The common house fly is sufficiently troublesome; but we are told by Dr. Harris that they may be destroyed by a strong infusion of green tea, well sweetened, and that they may be excluded from apartments by a netting with threads half an inch or more apart, stretched over the windows on one side of the room. It appears that they will not attempt to fly between meshes or threads into a room, unless they see light shining through from other windows ; information which may be valuable to those, who live in the neighbourhood of fly nurseries, which they cannot escape or control. The common house-flies are simply annoying by their pertinacity and their numbers ; but,, toward the close of summer, the stable-flies, which resemble them in everything but their sharp proboscis, enter our dwellings at the approach of rain, and bite us through our stockings with a sting equal to that of the bee or hornet, save that it leaves no poison behind. If any one is curious to examine this pest, he may know it by its proboscis, long and slender, and projecting horizontally before its head. It is honored with the name of Stomoxys calcitrans, that is, sharp-mouthed kicking, — the one describing the cause, the other the effect. Animals are so tormented by their incessant persecution, that they become almost frantic under the visitation.
The meat fly is found through the summer about places where meat is kept, a large buzzing insect, not particularly pleasing to the smell. It is of a blue-black color, with a blue, broad, and hairy body. Its eggs are known by the name of fly.blows. They hatch in two or three hours, and the maggots proceeding from them get their growth in two or three days, after which they creep into some crevice, or the ground if they can reach it, and pass through the transformation which raises them to the dignity of flies in two or three days more. There is another smaller blue-green meat-fly, with
Mosquitoes, and Flies.
others remain till the following spring. Another species preys upon the leaves of the grape-vine ; and all require attention on the part of the cultivator to prevent their increasing in numbers. It is well known that the rose-bush is defiled and injured by an insect of this description. The best remedy is probably that of Mr. Haggerston, a mixture of two pounds of whale-oil soap with fifteen gallons of water. This has been found sufficient to destroy canker-worms, plant lice, and red spiders, and certainly deserves to be faithfully tried on all these troublesome enemies of the garden, which, if resisted, will flee, or, what is still better, will lose the power to flee and torment us again.
The most formidable of the saw flies is that which was described by Professor Peck, in his “Natural History of the Slug-worm." It lives on the cherry and the pear tree, eating away the upper surface of the leaves, and is sometimes so numerous that twenty or more collect on a single leaf. In the
year_1797, they were so abundant that they perfumed the air. Their operations were unsavory as their smell. The tree which was laid waste, was compelled to put forth new leaves in the summer, and thus exhaust its vital energy, and forestall its preparation for another year. Happily they have enemies to limit their numbers ; mice and birds feed upon them in various stages of their existence, and a small ichneumon-fly stings their eggs, and deposits in each so punctured an egg of 'its own. The maggot which proceeds from the latter feeds upon the larger egg in which it dwells, and of course prevents its coming to life. In this small way the ichneumon is ascertained to do great and praiseworthy execution.
Under the head of Diptera, or two-winged, are included races of insects with which most of our readers have an extensive personal acquaintance, and which are more familiar than welcome to those who know them. They divide the empire of day and night between them, the mosquitoes raging by night and the flies destroying our peace by day. It is some comfort to know that the number of these visitors we shall have, rests in part with ourselves, since they are born and cradled in filth, such as is found in the neighbourhood of barns. Heaps of manure are their foundling-hospitals ; and if these are not supplied to them by public or private charity, their reign is less joyful and triumphant. In fact, in all our No. 114.