This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The annual meeting was held at London, Ontario. In his address President Saunders noted that " the Angoumois grain moth Butalis cerealella Oliv, is a small moth, the larva of which is very destructive to all sorts of grain. The female lays her eggs on the grain sometimes in the field before it is fully ripened, but more frequently in the bins of the granary. The eggs are of a bright, orange, red color, and in a few days there issue from them very minute whitish-colored worms, scarcely thicker than a hair, which bore into the grain and occupy it, one larva in each kernel. Each kernel contains sufficient food to support one occupant, until it reaches maturity, when it changes to a chrysalis within the grain, which, although hollowed and almost entirely consumed within, appears outwardly sound and plump. On pressing between the fingers the grain is found to be soft and yielding, and when dropped into water it floats on the surface. This insect is a native of the warmer parts of Europe, and has long been very destructive in France. It was introduced into the southern portion of the United States more than 100 years ago, where it has become fully naturalized.
It is often brought into New York in cargoes of grain, but the climate of the Northern United Stales and Canada appears to be too cold to permit it to thrive amongst us, or to permanently establish itself. It has never yet, to my knowledge, been found within the limits of our province."
Of the army worm he notes that "during this summer the moths (Leucania unipuncta), which are always present with us to a greater or less extent, have been unusually abundant in the western portion of our province. To the sugar-bait, employed by entomologists to attract night-flying moths, these insects have flocked by hundreds, and this has been observed not only in Ontario, but also in the Western States, showing that this moth has been unusually abundant over an extended district. Millions of their eggs must have been deposited on the leaves and stems of grasses, but the intense drought we have had has probably deprived the newly-hatched larvae of the food necessary to their existence, and we may hope that the evil we have suffered from in the way of drought has saved us, to a great extent, from serious invasions of army worms next year."
Concerning a new grass plague he says: "During the summer a small moth, well known to entomologists as a common insect throughout the Northern States and Canada, but never recorded as destructive anywhere, has invaded the pastures in some parts of northern New York, and inflicted great injury. It is a species of Cram-bus, Crambus vulgivagellu."
Of a corn enemy he says: "This is a small beetle closely allied to the common striped cucumber beetle, and known to entomologists under the name of Diabretica longicornis. In Illinois the damage caused by the larva of this insect has been considerable." It does not appear to have reached Canada.
The following concerning the potato beetle is curious: " It has been claimed, and I suppose correctly so, that this pest originally came from the canons in the Rocky Mountains, in the State of Colorado, where it is said to have fed on some wild species of Solanum growing there. It was my privilege, during the latter part of August of this year, to spend a week in this district, and while there I traveled fully one hundred miles through those canons. Several species of wild Solanum grew in abundance almost everywhere in the adjoining plains, as well as in the canons, and every opportunity was embraced of examining them, but in no instance could I detect any evidence of the presence of the Colorado potato beetle in any of its stages."
Our impression is, that they were supposed to belong to the plains of Colorado, and not the mountains. It seems to the writer that he saw some on the plains in eastern Colorado in 1871, but is not sure. At any rate it must have been somewhere about this region that Say first saw the insect and described it.
The following very interesting paragraph will explain many curious things in the life-history of insects, especially why the seventeen year locusts appear at different years in some parts of the country. In some districts in the past an area may have held over for a year or two.
"It is well known that the seeds of certain noxious weeds will sometimes lie dormant in the soil for almost any number of years awaiting a favorable opportunity for germinating, but it is not so generally known that the development of insect life is sometimes similarly retarded. It has many times been observed that a few individuals out of a large brood of moths will remain in the chrysalis state over one season and produce the perfect insect the following year, thus remaining a full year more in the dormant condition than is usual, and instances are on record where the perfect insects have escaped after three years spent in this condition of torpor. Recently, Prof. Riley, of Washington, has called attention to a very remarkable case of retarded development in the eggs of the destructive Rocky Mountain locust, Caloptenus spretus. These eggs were laid in 1876, on the grounds of the agricultural college at Manhattan, Kansas. While grading the ground around the chemical laboratory in the autumn, a quantity of the eggs were buried some ten inches below the surface, the covering material being clay, old mortar and bits of stone, and above this a plank sidewalk.
On removing and re-grading the soil last spring, a number of these eggs were disinterred, quite sound and fresh looking, and when exposed to normal influences they readily hatched, so that these locusts' eggs actually remained nearly four years and a half in the ground unhatched, or four years longer than is their wont. How much longer they would have retained their vitality, under favorable conditions of temperature and dryness, is unknown. This point has a very practical bearing and deserves further investigation, not only in reference to the eggs of this insect, but to those of all injurious species whose eggs are deposited on or under the soil."