This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Though the insects under consideration in this article have been well described and illustrated in the Agricultural Patent Office Report for 1854, I nevertheless copy from my own drawings and observations, for the benefit of those of your readers who may not be in possession of said report.
The family AEgeridse, or the Sesiades of Latreille, are interesting, both on account of the difficulties connected with their natural situation among Lepidopte-rous tribes, and their great resemblance to various Himenoptera and Diptera, owing to the elongate form of the body, and the transparency of the wings.
In their habits and transformations, they approach the Cossus among the Hepia-lidee, while the wings and antennae have a close analogy to some of the clear-winged Sphingidae.
About the 16th of July, by examining the gummy exudation at the base of peach-trees, you will often find an oblong, oval body like fine tan; this is the cocoon, made from the debris of the bark, which incloses the chrysalis and young AEgeria. Place this cocoon in a box - not too close - and, in about nine days thereafter, you may witness, as I have, the mode of egress from its double confinement. The chrysalis, or shell, surrounding the insect, is furnished with transverse rows of short, somewhat curved teeth on the abdominal segments, by means of which it wriggles its body forward (screw fashion) till two-thirds out of the cocoon, when it speedily splits into three segments, through which opening the insect escapes. Moist and rather feeble at first, in less than five minutes it acquires all its strength and activity, and is then truly beautiful to behold, in its pristine vigor and perfection. The female (A) has the anterior wings covered with a velvety, blue-black coat, as also its body, except a broad, yellow ring. The male (6) has both pair of wings transparent, yellow markings on the thorax, and collar and narrow rings on the abdomen. Both are of a wasp-like appearance.
To witness the transformation, affords food for contemplation, and imparts a useful lesson.
The larva of this beautifnl bnt pernicious insect, is a naked grab, found imbedded in the trunk and roots of the peach and other allied trees, which it often girdles and destroys; hence its specific name exi-tiosa, given by Mr. Say, who first described it in Vol. III. Journ. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia. It has six pectoral, eight ventral, and two anal feet; sixteen altogether. Fig. 1 is the cocoon and chrysalis after the insect has made its exit. Fig. 2, the grab, or larva. The sparred tiffia, and male (B) and female (A) heads, are also figured.
Dr. Harris, in his valuable " Treatise on the Insects of New England injurious to Vegetation," recommends the following remedy: - " Remove the earth around the base of the tree; crush and destroy the cocoons and borers which may be found in it and under the bark; cover the wounded parts with the common clay composition, and surround the trunk with a strip of sheathing paper eight or nine inches wide, which should extend two inches below the level of the soil, and be secured with strings of matting above. Fresh mortar should then be placed around the root, so as to confine the paper, and prevent access beneath it; and the remaining cavity may be filled with new or unexhausted loam. The operation should be performed in the spring, or during the month of June. In winter, the strings may be removed, and, the following spring, the trees should again be examined for any borers that may have escaped search before, and the protecting applications should be renewed."Coal-ashes, placed around the trunks, in the cavities, instead of mortar, is found useful, and also recommended.
On examining the gummy exudation at the base of a young peach-tree, I found maggot-like white worms imbedded in the bark. Fig. 1, natural size. Under the lens, Fig. 2. It has a pearly-white, transparent color; along the back, an opaque, white line. The first three rings have faint ochrous markings; the head is of a long, rounded, conelike shape; jaws, short, but strong; no signs of legs. There is a small black bug often found, in spring, among the roots of peach and other fruit-trees; a species of Saperda, perhaps.. The larvae are also borers, but I am not certain that the above is the larva, from want of sufficient evidence.