A vision of opening the front door in the morning to find the house encased in an enormous web, under which the worms are feeding on the shingles, and glaring at you from under their silken canopy, besets the imagination. You seize your hat, a brisk young family drops out of it; your coat - there are a score of creeping things inside the sleeves. The breakfast-table is invaded by a squirming throng; others hang from the draperies and wander across the ceilings. Why may not the web-worms become as great a pest to us as the termites prove to the South African, if the apathetic public does not awake in time to the necessity of destroying them while they are yet in the minority?
Here in this town, where the neglect of certain farmers adds so greatly to the labors of their more thrifty neighbors, we have seen these loathsome creatures multiply in a few years to an alarming extent, and it seems as if the time had come to render it a penal offense to neglect to destroy the webs as fast as they appear. Unquestionably, the day is coming when some destructive measures will have to be adopted, and the sooner the matter is taken in hand the easier it will be for all concerned to get rid of the evil, and I should be glad if some more powerful pen than mine could be used to hurry this good end.
An evil, trifling in itself, becomes a menace if neglected, and the comparatively inoffensive character of this little brute seems to blind the public to the way in which he is multiplying. A committee to find out how much harm he does might serve as a preliminary to more strenuous measures, but if it were only in the interest of those lovely rustic roads, in which we take so much delight, it would be worth while to clear away so obtrusive an eyesore as these loathsome webs from the waysides, otherwise so beautiful with their wild vines and tangle of bushes.
Moreover, for the pedestrian the multiplication of caterpillars is a distress yearly more and more appalling. After the worm has eaten his fill he sets forth upon his peregrinations, to find a sheltered spot where he can become a hermit in a cell, until such time as his resurrection as a moth is in order, and you are obliged to meet him on his winding way at every turn in your path. Country sidewalks swarm with the wretches; verandas are their especial delight; you gather a flower, a caterpillar is crawling up the stem; examine your trees of all sorts, the brutes are making of their trunks a public promenade, up which they hurry at top speed to make a cocoon in the branches; would you rest yourself upon a bench, the caterpillar is there before you; if you wear a thin gown, you may have the pleasure of viewing through its meshes the wriggling, hairy form of your enemy, just where you cannot get at him. He makes himself at home amid the flowers of your bonnet, he swings down upon a silken thread within an inch of your nose. He arouses in the gentlest breast a desire to slay this future parent of thousands; he undermines the character by stirring up sentiments of virulent hostility in otherwise peaceable souls; he becomes a menace not only to existence, but to Christian character, by developing the savage instincts of our nature; and, therefore, on every ground, both physical and moral, he is an enemy of the public peace who should be taken in hand by the authorities and be doomed to extermination.
Should I be requested to provide my enemy with a more precise name than Web-worm, not being learned in entomology, the only term I dare to vouch for is Nasticrechia Krorluppia (to be pronounced English fashion).
To this family I am entirely sure he belongs, but one of the reports of the Department of Agriculture has a good deal to say about a certain Hyphantria cunea, which seems to correspond to him in some particulars, and the same report furnishes for him ten more synonymous names that apparently can be used if necessary.
From this abundance I have selected the above as the most euphonious and descriptive, for nothing could be more appropriate than the term "Shameless Weaver," which, I have been told, is the translation of these polysyllables. Should my particular web-worm require a more formal introduction to the public, it is to be hoped that some entomologist will kindly supply his real designation to those who seek further information concerning this unprincipled reptile.