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A Triumph in Entomology

Mr John West, the Victorian Government expert on irrigation, who is in California reporting on the method of cutivating, preserving, and packing fruit, has just forwarded a report to the Victorian Minister of Agriculture, in which he says: — . t One of the most interesting studies which the development of the fruit industry in California affords is in regard to the losses the growers have suffered and been threatened with by the ravages of insect pests, and the splendid efforts that have been made to combat them. Southern California has witnessed one of the greatest triumphs of economic entomology that has perhaps ever been recorded. In an evil hour the cottony cushion scale (Icerya Purchasi) was introduced on some orange trees imported from Sydney. The insect soon spread from tree to tree and grove to »rove with alarming rapidity. No one knew anything of its life history, and it was not until after it had obtained a firm footing that it was found to be injurious. Then every possible remedy was tried to get rid of it, but without avail. It completely destroyed hundreds of acres of orange trees, Valuable groves that were turning in £100 per acre were grubbed out and cut into firewood ; many others were rendered unprofitable, and the whole orange industry in the South was threatened" with extinction. The corporation Of LoS Angelos offered a thousand dollan to any man who would take one orange tree in an infected grove and permanently rid it of the pest. Several tried but no one claimed the reward. At last the State Board of Horticulture, which had taken a very active interest in conductin* experiments with the pest resolved to'send Professor Kebele, a distinguished entomologist, to Australia to try and find a parasite that would prey upon it and keep it in check. The professor went out with Mr M'Coppin, who had charge of the United States exhibits at the last Melbourne Exhibition, and travelled over the greater part of Australia and New Zealand in prosecuting his mission. He did not find the scale numerous, and could get little information as to whether it was kept in check by parasites, Finally he discovered a ladybird (Vedalia cardinalis) preying upon it in great numbers at Napier, New Zeahnd. He shipped several colonies of these to Los Angelcw, where they were located in infected trees. Very soon they began to work, and breed with astonishing rapidity, and in less than 12 months they completely cleared Southern California of a pest that had previously defied all human efforts to even check its dreadful ravages. So complete has been the work of the Uttle ladybird th?it the growers now dread that, its natural aliment having be*m exhausted, the ladybird will perish', too, and the State Board of Horticulture has actually set to work to breed a small but regular supply of the scale, in order to preserve the ladybird for future contingencies. They are also sending out colonies of the ladybird to the Sandwich Islands and South Africa, in order to subdue the scale there. As may readily be supposed, the great success which has attended the introduction of this little benefactor has opened up quite a new field in the methods of subduing injurious fruit pests, and that is to find out and locate their natural parasites where they can prey upon them. .... A scale which is giving great trouble here in the red oraye soale, This also came from Australia, and Professor Kebele is to be again sent out to try and hunt up a parasite for this.

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Bibliographic details

A Triumph in Entomology, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2514, 10 September 1890

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A Triumph in Entomology Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2514, 10 September 1890