Prof. C.V. Riley, entomologist, announces that the Department of Agriculture, Washington, will purchase during the coming summer such quantities of silk worm eggs as may be deemed necessary for the distribution that it is proposed to make for the season of 1886. So far as found practicable, the eggs will be purchased of American producers. There are certain precautions, however, that must be taken to insure purchase. Eggs of improved races only (preferably of the French or Italian Yellow Races) will be bought, and the producer should send one or two samples of pierced cocoons with the eggs. In addition to this the producer must conform to certain rules to be hereafter explained, so that an examination may be made that will serve to show the degree of purity of the eggs. No silk culturist should use his crop for the production of eggs unless the worms have shown, until they began the spinning of their cocoons, every sign of perfect, robust health. Any indication of the disease called flacherie, from which the worms so often die after the fourth moult and turn black from putrefaction, or of any other disease from which silk worms suffer, should be considered as ample reason for not using the cocoons for the purpose in question. They should, on the other hand, be sold for the filature.
If the worms have all the indications of health until the spinning period, then the cocoons may be used for the production of eggs. The following brief instructions will prove of service to those who which to secure sound eggs:
For each ounce of eggs to be produced, about three-quarters of a pound of fresh cocoons from the finest and firmest in the lot should be chosen. These should be strung in sets upon a thread, care being taken not to pierce the chrysalis, and the strings hung in a cool, darkened room. The moths generally emerge from the cocoons early in the morning, and will be seen crawling about over these, the males being noticeable by their smaller abdomens, more robust antennae, and by their greater activity. The moths should be placed, regardless of sex, on a table, where they will soon find their mates and couple. As soon as formed, the couples should be removed to another table, that they may not be disturbed by the flutterings of the single moths.
There should be prepared for each ounce of eggs to be produced, about one hundred small bags of fine muslin, made in the following manner: Cut the cloth in pieces 3×6 inches. Then fold one end over so as to leave a single edge of about three-quarters of an inch, as shown in the accompanying cut. This should be sewn up into a bag with the upper end open, and then turned inside out, so that the seams will cause the sides to bulge. Thus completed they are called "cells." The cells should be strung on a cord stretched across the room.
The moths couple as a rule about eight o'clock in the morning. About four in the afternoon they should be separated by taking them by the wings and drawing them gently apart. Each female should now be placed by herself in a cell, which is then closed by a pin as shown in the figure. Here she will lay her eggs and in due time die. The males may as a rule be thrown away, but it is wise to keep a few of the more active ones, in case there should be a superabundance of females the following day.
When the females have finished laying their eggs, which operation occupies about thirty-six hours, they are ready to be shipped to this office. The cells, with their inclosed moths and eggs, should be placed in a strong box of wood or tin, being packed in such a manner that they will not be crushed, and mailed to the entomologist at the department. By using the inclosed return penalty slip, payment of postage may be avoided. The name of the sender should be placed in each box. The moths, as soon as received, will be examined microscopically, and the eggs of those which are found to be free from disease will be weighed and paid for at the rate of $2.50 per ounce of 25 grammes (about 6-7 of an ounce avoirdupois). Silk culturists are advised not to attempt the production of eggs unless they are adepts at the industry, and have had at least one season's experience. We would advise each person desiring to sell, to send a sample first, with a statement of the quantity offered.
Dr. Zintgraff of Bonn has taken a phonograph with him to Africa. He intends to bring home phonograms of the savage dialects which he will hire the natives to speak into the machine.