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.
You were right in pronouncing the attacking insect an Aphis. It is a species J am unacquainted with. I have given no special study to this particular group, and without it they are hard to determine, without having the several forms, living, particularly the winged form. I think that the species is the Myzus persicae, Sulzer, introduced from Europe.
When upon the branches the Aphides can be killed by spraying them with kerosene emulsified with milk, or mixed with soft soap, after the directions which have been given at different times in the Entomological Reports of the Department of Agriculture, at Washington. The same species at times infests both the roots and leaves as the well-known Phylloxera.
The underground form is more difficult of course, as you know, to destroy. Hot water poured upon them, removing some of the ground from above the roots, has at times been successful, as also the application of leached ashes and sulphur.
Bisulphide of carbon in a small quantity poured into a hole made in the ground among the roots and quickly covered up, has proved efficient against the phylloxera, and against other root-inhabiting species in this country.
The sulpho-carbonates have been very highly recommended, as superior to the above, and in consideration of the serious nature of the aphis at ack upon your trees, and the pecuniary loss resulting, I have transcribed some statements made by high authority in regard to these substances, :hinking that you would find it to your interest to test their efficacy.
I would also recommend to you the use of 'Soluble Phenyle,"which can be procured of T. W. Lawford, 298 E. Chase st., Baltimore, Md., and probably also of some of your druggists. I would also suggest that you remove the soil partially from above the roots, and water with the kerosene and soft soap mixture, combined as in the publications referred.
I found no ants. I found among the material two larvae of a lady-bug, and one image of the same, which had undoubtedly been rendering good service in destroying the aphids.
I notice the articles on this insect in Sept. No. of the Monthly, and am surpised that it should be considered new. I think very few observing Peach growers, especially nurserymen who grow young trees, would call it new, - it has committed such damage to young trees that all ought to remember it. I have for years past in favorable seasons seen more or less of it on the roots of young trees; they are brown or black, and cluster on the small roots of the trees, and wherever a cluster of them forms on the roots, they suck out the sap and life of each individual root that they may be on, and it will die, and others be alive that are free from the aphis. When in sufficient numbers, they kill the tree outright - they often infest the top of the tree also - both in the dormant and growing state. I have often seen them in such numbers on young trees, as to look as if the trees had been hurt badly by frost, or some such cause. Two years ago I visited a nurseryman, and in looking over his nursery, he called my attention to a lot of young Peach trees, saying that a previous cold storm had injured them badly.
As soon as I saw the trees, I explained the cause, and upon examination we found millions of this aphis which had infested the roots the previous year, and in the Spring had come up on the tops, and in favorable weather had increased wonderfully. It-is easy to destroy when on the top by tobacco water or dust, but hard to get at when on the roots. It infests the small fiber roots of larger trees also and gradually saps the vitality of the trees, which turn yellow, and eventually die; and the so called yellow is often caused by the ravages of this little underground robber.
It is more prevalent in cold backward seasons, and on sandy soils, and it is almost impossible to raise small seedling trees in the vicinity of old trees, as it prefers the young roots, and kills the young tree in a single season.
I am satisfied that it comes up from the roots to the top, and that it is propagated from the full grown aphis, and not a winged insect. This fact I have learned by experience in growing Peaches under glass. We put our trees in our house in Dec. without a sign of an aphis on the tops; in a few days I find full grown ones on the trees, and in a short time there are myriads of them. We kill them by fumigation, and only a few of the strongest survive, which under the greenhouse temperature multiply very rapidly. We never see the winged insect, so common among most aphides. If any one seeing this article is conversant with this class of insects and wishes to investigate the matter, I will try to send sample from the root, and also the tops. We can generally find them on the roots in the Autumn, say November, and at any time during the Winter in our orchard house.
Hightstown, N. J.
Mr. Lorin Blodget sends the following note: "Mr. Charles Black's letter fully confirms my idea of the bad character of the Black root Aphis. It has killed every seedling peach in my grounds, and works away at the roots yet. But Mr. Black does not give us a scientific distinction or name, nor does he give dates for its first appearance. So we cannot yet say whether Prof. Lintner is right in tracing it to France. It eats the bark, and is much more persistent than any other Aphis.
" I have no report from the Agricultural Department at Washington, and no reply to my inquiry of Dr. Horn, of the Academy of Natural Sciences".