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.
Few trees in our varied forest claim more deservedly our admiration than the Maples, for few have so much merit, or repay our care more satisfactorily. Unexceptionable as shade trees in the highway or grove, and beautiful in their gorgeous hues in autumn, the American turns to them with pride and pleasure, and unhesitatingly plants a Maple wherever a roof is to be sheltered. Hitherto the Maples have been free from the ravages of insects; but an enemy has now appeared that will mar their beauty, unless checked by the careful hand of the tree lover, who may, if warned in time, restrain its further progress, at least upon his own grounds, and perhaps his good example may induce the public to take care of the shade trees in our streets, and by a timely pruning, rid the trees of their enemy.
The Dryocampa rubicunda, heretofore known to science only in the winged state, proves to be the parent of a green worm, that appeared in numbers on many of the.
• As this is the most gigantic tree of our country it has been suggested to call it Washingtonia Gigantea, but we fear the name of Wellingtonia having been appropriated by the discoverer, we shall have to submit, and be contented with our Large share of the California gold found at its foot.
Maples near Philadelphia, in the summer of 1854, and most frequently on that valuable species Acer dasycarpum.
Early in June, a careful observer may see groups of insect's eggs glued to the underside of the leaves of the Maple, which soon hatch; the worms are without hair, and of a pale green color, with fine white lines extending the whole length of the worm, interrupted by the deep rings that mark the segments of the body; two black hair like spires grow, one on either side of the head, and when fully grown, the worms measure two inches in length; they feed in company, devouring the entire leaf, even to the naked rib and foot stalk; they feed at first on the tender leaves on the end of the branches, but as they grow older proceed downwards, until all the foliage on the branch is entirely consumed. They continue to feed in a family group until they have attained their full size, when they separate, and become very active for some days, crawling about without any apparent object, but in reality to accomplish a two-fold purpose, - first the loosening of their outer skins, which are to be cast off before their final change, and secondly to find a suitable place to enter the ground, where they are to pass their chrysalite existence.
When their active exertions have sufficiently loosened the outer skin to make it easy to cast it off, they enter the ground, and with muscular strength, that appears Herculean when compared with vertebrated animals, they make their way through the solid earth, leaving in their progress their outer skins, now useless to them; then, in common with the rest of their tribe, they throw out a liquid, and at the same time move their bodies rapidly around, forming in the moistened earth a commodious cell, with smoothly plastered walls, impervious to frost or moisture. There they lie, secure from all external injury, until the following spring, when from the last week in May to the middle of June, they rise from their death-like slumber, and appear in their perfect forms - moths of great beauty, clothed in down of the most delicate shades of pink and sulphur colors.
Now in this attractive form, we shrink from injuring a creature so beautiful; but the syren allures only to destroy, for she is on her way, insiduously to place the germs of blight on our fairest trees, and, unsuspected by her admirers, she is the mother of the hateful brood of green worms, that in July and August deform the Maples by their presence, and from which we shrink with disgust as they crawl Across our path, or drop upon us from the trees when least we expect such arrogance.
To protect these most valued shade trees from this disgusting pest, requires less care than is generally necessary when an insect tribe makes its appearance. The habit of feeding in numbers together soon exposes the family of the D. rubicunda to observation, and their situation on the ends of the branches, renders it easy for the gardener to take them off with a tree-pruner before they begin to wander; but after that time all care is vain, as they elude our search and disappear in the ground, there to remain until they rise again in the following spring to renew their ravages.