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.
If we look around at the various remedies that have from time to time been proposed for the Curculio, we will find that they are almost as numerous as those found in the pharmacopoeia of the quack medicine venders for the cure of consumption, or any other incurable disease. Such being the case, and a new one in the hands of a committee for investigation, which it is confidently expected will prove successful, it may perhaps be considered superfluous to add any more to the list; but as we are not to have the benefit of the new discovery the present season, and as it may prove, like most of the horticultural novelties that we have lately received, rather expensive for these "hard times," it may be well to examine the subject a little, and see if anything can be denetoward saving our crop for the time. However, I believe that all will concede that an effectual, inexpensive, and easily applied remedy for the attacks of this troublesome insect, is worth a handsome reward.
Premising thus far, I will mention a few instances, which may not be generally known, where the Curculio has been more or less successfully combatted. An acquaintance, an amateur horticulturist, who had planted his Plum trees in a yard by themselves, for the purpose of allowing the hogs and chickens to ran at large among the trees, and not finding the plan quite satisfactory, covered the ground with fresh horse manure when the fruit was beginning to form; and the experiment was attended with success. This covering is now continued every season, and he informs me that he is rewarded with good crops for his trouble. I do not remember whether he told me to what depth he covered the ground. Perhaps six inches would be sufficient; a larger quantity might induce fermentation, and be injurious to the trees.
Visiting a friend in the interior of the State, I observed a Plum tree that stood alongside a privy, which was bearing a very large crop of fruity while the other trees in the garden had little or nothing on them, all being claimed by the Curculio, with the exception named.
I have been told of others who have succeeded in saving their Plums, by hanging bottles of pyrolignous acid, creosote, chloride of lime, etc, in the trees. From this we are led to infer that strong, pungent odors are not agreeable to the apparently sensitive olfactories of the insect The only difficulty that appears here, is that preparations of this character are very volatile in their nature, and soon become exhausted, and it is troublesome and expensive to renew them often. This objection, however, I think is obviated in the following plan, which has proved eminently successful the past season, and which I would recommend a pretty extensive trial of the present season. It is this: As soon as the fruit is as large as Peas, take a common paint-brush, or any other brash, or a woolen rag, and some fish oil, and cover all of the principal branches and trunk of the tree, with the oil. It is the same that is in common use among curriers, harness-makers, etc. This application is cheap, and it only requires to be done once in the season.
I had the pleasure of examining several trees of the best leading varieties which had been served in this manner, the past season, and the result far exceeded my expectations; the trees had to be propped up to prevent their breaking down with the weight of fruit If the "little turk" had appropriated one-half of the crop to his own use, it would have been a positive benefit to what remained. But he is not satisfied with a share - he takes the whole, if he is not well watched.
Should this remedy prove as successful with all who may try it as it was in the case above noted, we need not despair of Plums - we shall have plenty of them. The dis-coveiy (if it is new) is not mine - others may have tried it; but as I have not seen it published, it is herewith presented to you.
[Covering with fresh manure (or old manure) strikes us most favorably as being likely to prevent the Curculio from escaping from his winter quarters in the ground. - Ed].
The Valley Farmer publishes the manner which Messrs. Ellwanger & Barry, of Rochester, take to rid their fruit-trees of this enemy. They employ two men, whose regular business it is to carry out the operation. A light wooden frame is made, on which canvas or cheap muslin is stretched, made large enough to cover the space under the branches of one-half of the tree. Also a similar one to occupy the remaining space. A branch of the tree has been previously sawed off, thus leaving a stump three or four inches long. After the "curculio catchers " are placed beneath the branches, which can be quickly done, one of the men with a mallet strikes the stump a sharp, quick blow. The " little Turks " drop, and are immediately removed from the "catchers," and the men proceed to the next tree. Many hundred trees can thus be gone over in a few hours.