This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
As the knowledge of the destructive beetle, Aramigus Fulleri, was early made known through the medium of the Gardener's Monthly, we are anxious to keep a full record of its history in our pages, and give therefore the following from the Scientific American :
"Within the last five or six years frequent complaints have been made of the failure of tea roses, the cultivation of which has become a very important and lucrative branch of flower culture. This failure has recently been ascertained to be due to the larva of a little gray snout beetle, belonging to the family Otiorhyn-chidae, and shown in its different stages in the accompanying figure.
"Mr. Peter Henderson, of Jersey City Heights, N. J., has himself suffered very much from the work of this insect, and I have had considerable correspondence with him during the Winter upon the subject. The following quotation is from one of my letters replying to his inquiries:
" 'The first knowledge which I obtained of this insect was through our mutual friend, Mr. A. S. Fuller, who sent me specimens in 1875, the species being then undescribed. In 1876 it was described under the name of Aramigus Fulleri, by Dr. G. H. Horn, in the proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. xv., page 94. Mr. Fuller had found it in greenhouses, and somewhat injurious to camellias. It seems to be quite widespread, occuring from the Atlantic at least as far West as Montana, and its habit of injurously affecting roses and other greenhouse plants must be looked upon as a comparatively recent acquirement. Such instances of newly formed habits are constantly presenting themselves to me in my studies of insects. The beetle seems to be purely American, and the genus Aramigus was, in fact, erected for it and another species (Aramigus tessella-tus) of about the same size, but of a silvery white color, with faint green hue, which I have found in Kansas upon the well known 'resin weed.' The beetle belongs to the same family and is pretty closely allied to a well known European beetle (Otiorhynchus sulcatus, Fabr.), which is larger and darker in color, and is also very injurious to greenhouse plants, as well as to some grown out of doors.
This species also occurs in this country, as I have specimens that were taken in Massachusetts. It is the habit of all these beetles, so far as their habits are known, to work in the roots of plants while in the larva state, just as your Aramigus does. The eggs are doubtless laid upon the roots by the female beetle, which burrows into the ground for this purpose. Upon inquiry I find that what is evidently this same beetle has been more or less injurious to roses in and* about Washington, and that Mr. A. Jardin was obliged to give up the growth of tea roses here, a number of years ago, on account of its injuries.'
"In Bennet's excellent essay on ' Rose Growing in Winter,' he fails to mention this insect among the ' causes of failure.' Mr. Henderson does not hesitate, in a recent number of the Gardener's Monthly, after a thorough investigation of the subject, and a correspondence with some of the best rose growers in six different States of the Union, to express his belief that in a large majority of cases failure is due to this insect alone.
"The only remedy that has been employed hitherto is to persistently catch and destroy the perfect insects, and the experience of Mr. John May, who has for five years been fighting it in this way at Madson, N. J., is to the effect that no substance will destroy the insect in its larva state without at the same time injuring the plant.
"A study of the habits of this insect, which I have been able to make through the courtesy of Mr. Henderson, who sent me abundant material, enables me to add to his excellent account some facts that are both interesting and of a practical value. The most serious injury is done by the larvae, which feed principally upon the more tender rootlets, and thus attack the plant in its most essential parts. This work being underground, is so insidious as to easily account for the fact that it has been generally overlooked.
"I have had a quite healthy rose bush totally destroyed in three weeks' time by about three dozen of the. larvae, which were placed in the pot containing it. The symptoms that are manifest above ground when the grub is at work are partial stagnation of growth, weak pale shoots, and generally barren flower buds; and when these symptoms manifest themselves strongly a number of the grubs will be found if the plant be dug up and shaken. The parent beetles, like most other snout beetles, live for a considerable time, as I have kept them in confinement for nearly three months. They are nocturnal in habit, being quite active and feeding only after dusk. They shun the light during the daytime, and hide under the leaves or cling tightly to the branches or in some fork near the base of the plant, always in such position as not easily to be observed. Upon disturbance they drop to the ground, draw up their legs, and ' play 'possom,' remaining motionless for some time, and looking very much like a small lump of dry earth, the color adding greatly to the resemblance.
"This habit of simulating death upon disturbance is common to many other insects of this family. They feed upon the leaves, but do more injury by severing them than by the amount of foliage consumed. The eggs are laid in flattened batches, consisting of several contiguous rows, and each batch containing from ten to sixty. The individual egg is smooth, yellow, ovoid, and about one mm. in length. The a, larva; 6, pupa; c, beetle, side vew; d, same, dorsal view, the outline between showing natural size; e, eggs, enlarged and natural size; f, left maxilla of larva, with palpus; g, underside of head; h, upper side of same, enlarged (after Riley.) female shows a confirmed habit of secreting her eggs, which are thrust between the loose bark and the stem, especially at the base just above the ground. In the twenty odd batches which I have examined they have invariably been thrust either between the loose bark and as above described, or into any other crevice that could be found; as, for instance, that formed.by some paper around the edge of the bell glass in which some of my experiments were made. More rarely they are laid between the earth and the main stem just at the surface of the ground.
The eggs are so firmly glued together and to the place of deposit that they are not easily seen, and are with extreme difficulty detached. It is for this reason that they have escaped the notice of rose culturists.
"These eggs require about a month to hatch, and the new born larva, which is of a pale yellowish color, with light brown mouth parts, is quite active, and immediately burrows into the ground, and acquires, very soon after, a bluish hue. Just how long this larva requires to attain full growth, I have not been able to ascertain, but, in all probability, it remains at least one month, and probably several more, in the ground, where the pupa state is finally assumed.
"As the injury of this, insect has been mostly to roses under glass, there will be found no great regularity in the periods of its transformation under such circumstances. In point of fact it is found in all stages during the Winter and early Spring months. Yet that, in a more general way, there are cycles of development, is proved by the fact that during a visit to Mr. Henderson, which I made last May, neither beetles nor eggs were to be found, though egg shells under the loose bark at the base of the plants were common.
"While the destruction of the parent beetles, when persistently followed up, is an excellent preventive of the injuries of the larva, and strongly to be recommended, yet when roses are extensively grown, some beetles are sure to escape detection. It is evident from the facts here set forth in relation to the eggs, that we have still another and more effectual preventive measure within our reach, namely, the destruction of the eggs before they hatch. For this purpose I would recommend the tying of a few thicknesses of tape or of narrow pieces of rag, or even stiff paper, around the butt of the plant, the bandages to be examined every three weeks and detached and burned if eggs are found in them. Where the number of plants is large, this destruction of the eggs might be expedited by the employment of traps, consisting of small stakes, around which such layers of cloth or paper are tied. These should be thrust into the ground near the main stem of the plant, and can be collected once every three weeks, thrown into a tub of hot water, subsequently dried, and used again without untying the bandages.
Or, again, the materials always at hand in a florist's establishment may be employed, for I doubt not but that a few folds of oil paper placed in a slit made in an ordinary wooden label, and this stuck into the ground at the base of each plant, would form an excellent lure to the female in ovipositing".