This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I send a few lines on the insect pests of Vancouver Island. When I arrived here nearly five years ago, my attention was attracted to a leafless apple orchard. I asked the farmer I was riding with what had killed all those fine young trees. He said they were not dead, but that caterpillars had eaten all the leaves off, because the owner was too lazy to destroy their tents on their early appearance. I saw afterward it was the same with a great many more trees. For two years caterpillars were very troublesome; then a worse enemy appeared, the Aphis or Green Fly. I noticed the orchards that suffered most with caterpillars were nearly all in grass, while those attacked by the Aphis were in nearly all cases under cultivation. A great many grubbed up their trees, for it was impossible to kill the pests on large trees, they were so numerous. The trees looked as if they had been dragged through a chimney - they were so black. The orchard that suffered most last summer is the best attended in the vicinity; the trees are washed every winter with some mixture that the owner prepares. My trees and seedlings are washed or syringed with tobacco water, which keeps down the enemy pretty well. The young pears that were budded last summer are affected this spring; but the apples are not so bad so far.
The black and the red currants are very bad with fly in some places. But now the worst scourge of all has made its appearance. I first noticed it in a bed of onions - about a quarter of an acre. I hoed them, and they were about two inches high, and looking splendid. Engaged in another part of my garden, I paid no more attention to them for three days, when, to my surprise, they had nearly all disappeared. I saw by the looseness of the soil and a few half dead plants that there was an enemy at work under the soil. Following up a row and scratching with my fingers, I found hundreds of little grubs, from an eighth of an inch to an inch and a half long. I then went to a spinach bed, and it was nearly all gone, except a small patch where the soil was a little wet. The next was a shallot bed; here I found from one to fourteen grubs around one plant. A great many of the grubs were large, some one and a quarter inches long, and more brown in color; the small ones were a dirty green. I then went all around the garden, which is about three and a half acres, and found everything gone or fast going, with the exception of peas. Even tomatoes, which I might state seldom ripen here, and only a few dozen plants are usually planted to take their chance, were eaten off just above the ground.
I have lost everything with the exception of peas and early cabbage. 1 am planting late peas and potatoes on the land that has been eaten off. I have made several inquiries, and I find all have lost more or less - some everything. The poor seedsman gets the blame by those who are not close observers of what is going on. Our local papers do not mention anything about it; but if some one finds a poor little mildewed rose bud struggling for existence about November or December, then the papers would be full of "What a glorious climate - roses in bloom in winter!" The grubs, after getting to maturity, crawl partly out of the ground in the evening, and a large fly creeps out, commonly known as daddy-longlegs.
[When the Editor was in Victoria it seemed to him the veriest Paradise of gardening. This letter shows that there is a serpent in every Paradise. Wherever the horticulturist goes, he must expect to find enemies to contend against. The insect sent in the letter was one of the crane flies - genus Tipula - and certainly not responsible for the troubles delineated by our correspondent. - Ed. G. M].