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.
For several years back I have been perplexed and annoyed by the appearance of my young cherry trees in the early part of summer; for on the sprining of the sap they would appear strong and healthy, and seem to promise an early and vigorous growth; but as the buds un. folded themselves, they would begin to shrivel and to lose force, and after straggling for a few days or weeks, would finally drop off entirely.
For a long time, I supposed it to be the effect of our very cold winters, and had almost abandoned the hope of rearing the finer varieties in these parts; but as there was occasionally a tree that did not show any such signs, although equally exposed to the weather, and would thrive exceedingly, I was led to believe it to be the work of some insect or animal, which had not yet been described as a tree destroying thing.
I was soon convinced that it did not commit its depredations in the day-time, for 1 watched closely for sometime, without discovering anything, and yet the trees continued their sickly appearance; but on watching by night, I readily discovered that the young leaves were eaten as fast as they shot out. by an enormous beetle-bug, that only gnawed by night. I also discovered that these same beetles rose from the ground immediately under the branches of the trees; and by further examination by day-light, I found that there were from one to fifty of these bugs under every tree, either in the mulching or in the mellow soil. Now, after having made this, (to me,) very important discovery, I proceeded at once and deliberately, to knock each one of these malicious beetles on their heads, until their jaws were broken, and they were thus incapacitated for doing any further injury to the cherry trees. My trees at once began to assume a fine foliage and to renew their health, and since then I have had no difficulty in giving them an early start.
My practice is now to visit each one of my small cherry trees, two or three times a week during the first weeks of their annual growth, and to hoe them carefully. In this way I keep a fine nest for the bugs directly around the trees, which they greatly prefer to any more distant, and then I can, as I hoe, pick them out and cripple them at my leisure. Now I am quite confident that Mr. Water's trouble is occasioned by this same great beetle, which is very common in this whole country.
It is a bug about three-fburths of an inch in length, of a dark red color, and with a smalt black head It iscommonly noticed when it gets into the house on a fine May or June morning - when, after having made a desperate pass at the nearest candle or lamp, it brings up against the opposing wall, and with scrambling vain efforts to regain its lost equilibrium, precipitates itself, sprawling, upon the floor. But seriously, the effects of this beetle upon my trees, before I found out its practice of eating the young leaves, was very pernicious. At least one tree in ten was destroyed; and those they did not destroy, they rendered spare and gaunt in their forms. Wm. R. Manly. Newport, Herkimer Co., N. Y., Feb., 1862. - Cult.