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.
We find in all the eastern journals accounts of a caterpillar, or worm, that has rarely before made its appearance. It is much more destructive and difficult to destroy than the common caterpillar. A correspondent of the Tribune, writing from Maine, says:
Fears are entertained that the crop of apples, and other fruit which ripens late in the summer and in the autumn, will be entirely cut off, from the ravages of bugs and caterpillars of an entirely new kind These caterpillars infest fruit trees, and even forest trees in swarms, feeding upon the leaves, and in some instances almost riddling the trees of the leaves, which must injure them very much, if it does not destroy them. I have inquired of the farmers here about these caterpillars, and no one has ever seen anything of the kind, though-perhaps others have. Each caterpillar, unlike those commonly infesting Apple trees, attacks a leaf by himself; and when the tree is struck, they will suddenly drop two or three feet from every part of the tree in thousands, there hang by lines apparently of their own spinning. These caterpillars are from half an inch to three-quarters of an inch in length, and seem very spiteful in defending their rights: a person can hardly go into an orchard without finding himself becoming nervous from a crawling sensation.
There is also a bug attacking the Apple trees, resembling the so-called ligntning bag; in some orchards I have found from two to a half dozen of these upon every apple that I examined, and they eat into heart of the apple so as to destroy it"
The Maine Farmer says:
" We have just done battling the common caterpillar, in the orchards, and begun to think that the apples had nothing more to do now than to grow and get ripe for our use as soon as they could, when lo! and behold! another little great scourge has come in large numbers in the shape of a slender worm about half an inch long. This little nuisance attaches itself to the leaves, and to the apples, and all about the buds, eating away the soft or pulpy part of the leaves, leaving the hard ribs or woody part. It is somewhat striped, with alternate greenish-white and dark stripes. If you strike or jar the limbs, they will spin down and hang suspended by a fine web. They are doing much mischief They somewhat resemble the canker worm, but they are not that insect We have never seen the veritable canker worm, in Maine, but if we recollect right, the canker worm is a 'span worm' - that is, moves by pushing out one end at a time, and then drawing the other end up to it, thereby humping up its body in the shape of a bow; but this fellow goes straight' along, at pretty good speed.
We do not know how to get clear of it If shook off, and the webs broken by sweeping a pole or stick through the air, between the worm and the limb, they will be thrown to the ground, but whether they know enough to ascend the tree again, we have not ascertained.
"P. S. Since the above was put in type, we have received a communication from O. S. H., of Limerick, which gives a description of the same worm, infesting the orchards in his neighborhood".
The Connecticut Valley Farm says:
"Insects seem to be more numerous and voracious than they ordinarily are; and the fruit may be regarded as yet in doubt How far the depredations of the worm tribe have gone, can not be ascertained at present The prospect for fruit is far from being as favorable as it was a month ago. We never have known so large a visitation of 'insects injurious to vegetation' in any former year, with the exception of the rose-bug, which, this year, is wonderfully modest and retiring".
This insect has, we believe, appeared in large numbers in some of the western counties of this State, and destroyed the apple crop. We have seen a very few in our own grounds, but they have done no injury of any consequence. Prof. Harris informs us that it is not, as many seem to suppose, a new insect - that it is described as "the palmer worm" in Dr. Deane's New England Farmer, and an account given of its ravages in Cumberland county, Me., in 1791. We have not this work to refer to.