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ENTOMOLOGY. By Entomologist. THE CHINCH BUG., Otago Witness, Issue 1910, 18 September 1890
ENTOMOLOGY. By Entomologist. THE CHINCH BUG.
This insect has figured aa one of the moat destructive of known ineeot scourges. Fortunately its ravages have not been so general as those of some others which from being more generally distributed have become better known. It belongs to an older and olasa of insects which live by sucking juices, sometimes from insects and somoUinea from vegetables, and which are therefore at some limea exceedingly injurious, and at others benoißcial. This o»ie, howavor, seems to be an unmitigated evil. It is found in Missouri and other of the United States of America, and it preys upon a great variety of plants of eoonoinic value, such aa millet, sorghuii, mnizo, oats, and grasses (especially timothy grass), clover, and in fact it may almost be called omnivorous, and it is also wonderfully prolific. A gentleman describing what he saw of this insect in Missouri, says that it is enough to " make the heart aick." That they were running in a restless manner among the roots of all the crops by thousands. " as if they bad been let loose on the earth like anew Egyptian plague," "They seem," ha continues, "to be actuated by the same principle as * She,' in Rider Haggard's novel, and intend to ' blast ' their way to success. If anyone wishes to live by farming the whole system will have to ba revised, and a complete change of crops will have to ba made." It was thought by renouncing such crops as this pest had hitherto destroyed, it might ke starved out, but on laying down to grass it was found that the bugs Bwarmed upon and destroyed that as much as lb« others. A correspondent of the Division of Entomology writes that he was barrifiod to see the manner in which the bugs swarmed upon too timothy grass meadow, "running back and forth over the ground like excited ants when their nests are disturbed." There is an infested region called %c chinch bug territory, which includes the states of Winconsin, Minnesota, lowa, Missouri, South, Carolina, and Kins» c.c '. \p. vwp] i-> fcb-- TJ. : '.crl fl-a*--** v/.'"-"i .my iaued. to o"!i.m; juu-.ii iU"i, rt-jjnw'uou «„« bon
to these States, because a wise Government knows how necessary it ia to save the resources of the country from being wasted by an inßect like this, which will cost an infinite number of timeo the amount of the expense of that assistance needed to get rid of it, and the result not only shows the very curious manner in which Nature so often interposes to prevent certain animals from being starved out, by preserving the balance of power, but the great benefit of employing expert agents to take advantage of, and apply, what chances Providence gives them, to the good of their fellow-mßn. In thia case, Profesßor Forbes, of Champaign, Iliiuois, and Professor Otto Lugger, of the University of Minnesota, were entrusted with tb.6 mission. Some holes ■were dug along the fences of a field badly infested with the bugs, and large numbers bhat had been killed were thrown therein (thia was in Minnesota). By and bye the dead bugs were attacked by a white mould or fungoid growth, which rose to tho tops of the holes and spread thence to the field, where, meeting with tho Bwarms of live bugs, it Beemed to take hold of them and destroy them, all their activity availing them nothing against this singul&r enemy. So rapid was the action of this f ungua (an Entomophthora) that it spread at once to some extensive fields of oats and wheat, which had a dense growth of red clover at the bottom Bwarmiug with the bugs, and in a week's time the fungus had spread over the entire farm, killing the chinch bugs, which otherwise would have destroyed the entire crops. Professor Forbes in de-rcibing tho scene writes that " the entomophthora Bprinkles tho ground bo thickly in some fiolds with the dead bugs that it makca one think of a flurry of enow " These gentlemen at onca collected large quantities of the diseased bu^a and mailed them by post all through the Slates afflicted by the bugs, and Professor Lugger aftarwards going to vhsit the places to which the packages had b6en sent, found that this curious remedy had so routed the enemy that ha now apprehends very little mischief in the future from its attack. Professor S. A. Forbes also atatr-s that at the saroa time a - microbe (or as he ex pressea it, " a bacterial affection ") attacked the unfortunate chinch bugs as if to hurry them off thefacsof the eaith, and which seems to bo even moro destructive to the bugs although less conspicuous. Professor Lugger is about to try experiments with th3Be fungi, which attack various insects of whioh there are a great number, with a view to applying them to other prolific inßect poßts, and also with bac teria. In fact, he intends, as he expreseeß himEolf, to " start a cholera farm." If he carries out his intention he will wield two moßt powerful and at the Bame time two most dangerous woapone. " Playing with fire " or dynamite will be but a trifling and safe amusement compared with experimenting with such nice litfclo things as these, the germs of which might possibly enter into the system of some of our useful animals or ourselves, and cause incalculable loss. But there is a difficulty in the way from the local Board of Health in Minnesota State, which seems to demur at granting permission to the making of these experiments, and tho objection has yat to be overcome. I confess to having looked forward with great interest to enterprise in this direction. EELWORMSIN FLORIDA. The Hon. Mr Busk, Secretary of Agriculture for the United States of America, has been kind enough to transmit an account of the state of these most destructive and greatly to be dreaded pests in Florida, and a bulletin published by his orders by a gentleman who was sent to investigate the matter. The papers contain muoh very interesting matter, and it is proposed to give some acoount of it in next week's issue. THE PRATING MANTIS. This is an insect which has always been very abundant in the raoßt northern portions of New Zealand, and seems of later years to have become very prevalent in the Middle Island. More than one letter has been received lately asking whether the insect should be regarded as a peat or a friend to the fruit-grower and farmer. One correspondent writes the name "preying" instead of " praying " mantis, and in one respect he certainly is correct, as the insect is one of the most rapacious of all insects of prey. The term " praying mantis " nan been given to it on account of a peculiar bent formation in the fore legs, whioh gives the idea of their baing bent in a position usual ip devotional exercises. The scientific name is Mantis religioßa. They are insectß of the ordor Orthoptera (straight winged), and are classed with crickets, locusts, and other insectß whose wingß are similarly formed ; but whereas the bulk of the family are vegetable feeders, a lew are omnivorous, and the mantis, with only one or two more, are carnivorous, and as such useful to man in some respects. There is no insect more rapacious and more quarrelsome and bloodthirsty than the mantis. The female, which is much larger than the male, is one oi those insects which, wisely takes steps to prevent marriage from becoming " a failure " by devouring her smaller half after a very short period of happiness ; and the larvae, if confined together, will attack and dovour each other with the greatest rapacity. They approach each other, and j aising themselves on the hinder legs commence a deadly struggle, whose object is to devour (.he head, each of the other. It is a common practice in many European countries to capture these insects and set them to fight in pairs. la France they go by several namea, such as " the nun," "the preacher," 'Prega Dion," &c, all founded on the formation of the knee ; but the fact is that tho knee bo, bent and armed as it is with strong spines, form?, when they are pressed together, very powerf uljmeans of seizing and retaining their prey, whilst they devour it alive. In their predatory habits they resemble much more closely the order Neuroptera (gauze winga) than their own, but they rather lie in wait for prey than pursue it. A mantis may be seen lying close to the bark or leaf concealed by the green colour of its outer wings and b.dy, and when a fly or other insect settles near it, it will advance so gently and cautiously that its motions can hardly be perceived until within reach, when darting l>ke lightning on its helpless victim, it ia seized between the powerful kneee. The mantis then sits up, raises its struggling victim, turns it round until the head iB uppermost, and deliberately eata it alive, beginning with the head. One could imsgine that it takes a pleasure in the agony of its victim by the decorate manner in which it coolly takes off piace after piece, and this too even with its lover of a few hours before.
So far as being an in=e t destroyer, this abomins-Kls insect in U3eful to man, but like tbe dragon fly and too many other insects, it attacks without discrimination all classes of inaeotg that como within its reach, and in co doing no doubt devours many of our fiiends. However, it is infinitely more deadly to twowinged flies, mothf, caterpillars, &c, than to carnivorous b%etles, ichneumonide flies, whioh indeed, together with most rapacious iusectß, "carry too many puns for it." It is apt to do much more good than harm, and I would therefore advise fruitgrowers and farmers to leave
it alone. Probably the greater part o r their food is derived from dipterous fließ which frequent flowers and loaves of trees, and do neither good nor harm, but they destroy many fließ whose larvas attack the stems of wheat and other plants and sometimes fruits.
ENTOMOLOGY. By Entomologist. THE CHINCH BUG., Otago Witness, Issue 1910, 18 September 1890
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