Probably the rose-bugs do not publish a morning paper, or they would learn that the lawn at Overlea is an unhealthy situation for their race, and that their unprecedented mortality in that region ought to be a warning to them. Certainly in the height of the season the hecatomb of victims amounts to a thousand a day, but the cry is still, They come.
We hoped that the long, cold, easterly storm of June would prove a discouragemerit to them, but the minute it stopped raining they reappeared, more numerous and hearty than ever, and made up nobly for lost time. They show a curious preference for old-fashioned Roses, and will devour them, leaving a bed of hybrids of modern varieties almost untouched, and they never are found here on the Tea Roses. They will eat the hardy Hydrangea voraciously, but do not affect the Weigelia. They spoil the Snowballs, but do not meddle with Lilacs. We have some young Canoe Birches that are struggling for existence, and I always imagine the departing caterpillar exchanging compliments with the arriving rose-bug, and recommending them to his particular attention, after the fashion of guzzling Jack and gorging Jimmy: -
Here's little Billee, he's young and tender, They 're old and tough, so let's eat he.
Positively, if, during three or four weeks of their stay, those insects were not fought tooth and nail, there would not be one leaf left upon those unhappy little trees. As it is, when the brutes depart, the or even upon the thrip, which whale-oil soap banishes for a long time. Therefore, I judge that the mixture clogs the wings, and interferes with the breathing of beetles, or, possibly, whatever virtue it possesses lies in the volatile essence which escapes from it, for the fresh mixture is much more deadly than that which has stood for some time.
But the sad thing about its use is, that the rose-bug is a being that draws no moral from any tale, and he is totally devoid of sentiment. I cannot find that the corpses of his relations take away from his appetite in the least. Possibly the numerous attendants we see at the funeral come for a wake, and they are full as hungry and thirsty as Conn the Shaugh-raun's cousins, on the same melancholy occasion.
Though I am disposed to think that the chafers may not be quite so ready to attack a bush or tree freshly anointed with the unsavory fluid, I am not sure but that the wish is father to the thought. In any case, it is not practicable to shower a bush every five minutes with anything, however deadly, so that it is almost as discouraging as hand-picking.
A distinguished horticultural authority, who takes very little stock in my new discoveries, declares that muscle is worth more than faith, and shows me perfect roses, as large as his fist, to prove it. This is all very well if you are lucky enough to have unlimited muscle at your command, as in an arboretum for instance, wher,e every rose-bug has a man to catch him, but both hand-picking and insecticides are alike failures in a private family with one factotum. What the world demands is a warning of some kind that the chafer who runs may read, a something to convey to his insect-mind or nostrils the information that "no rose-bug need apply," and whoso can make this discovery palpable to the enemy will have his fortune in his red right hand.
The legends connected with the rose-bug are numerous. They tell us that he will not molest a Grapevine or a Rose bush close against a house, though he will devour the Virginia-creeper against the lattice of your veranda. He is supposed to object to the dust of the road and to a sprinkling of coal-ashes; but on our own windy hill neither of these deterrents can be made to stick.