All the fields which thou dost see, All the plants, belong to thee; All the summer hours produce. Fertile made with early juice. Man for thee doth sow and plow, Farmer he, and landlord thou I
BUT however much we New Eng-landers may love flowers, there are drawbacks to their cultiva-tion in the pests that beset them. Each plant has its enemy, and there is no interim between our summer visitors. No sooner is the trunk of the last caterpillar packed than the rose-bug arrives, bag and baggage, to take his place. The half-eaten leaves that have been rescued from the jaws of the web-worm are in a few hours riddled with the bites of these winged pests, which are even harder to destroy than their predecessors, for they hunt in couples and fly, and cannot be stamped out of existence.
An imperturbable imp is the rose-chafer, descendant on one side from the scarabaeus; and if his Egyptian ancestor was half as hard to kill as this other flying beetle, no wonder the ancients used him as an emblem of immortality.
This voracious summer boarder arrives with unpleasant punctuality upon the tenth of June, - that is to say, the advance-guard of the great army shows itself in the shape of a scout or two, who merely precede the main swarm, which comes in a cloud, and settles everywhere, and stays nearly four weeks.
The opening roses are their nominal prey, and are soon disfigured with their dingy yellow-brown carcasses; but that is not the worst of them. Grape blossoms are their dear delight, and nothing but the most unremitting attention will save the future bunches from their greedy depredations. There are at least two to every raceme of fragrant blossoms, and by the time one has disposed of that pair, another is flying about all ready to take their places.
Arsenical poisons have no more effect upon them than a cold shoulder on an office-seeker. They may kill the plant, but never the rose-bug, which will crawl undismayed over its ruins, seeking new worlds to conquer. Having no delicate sensibilities, they are undeterred by whaleoil soap, which disheartens most things, and even a dusting with hellebore does not even make them sneeze. The great unterrifled eat on, in spite of all you can do to them, and no sooner is one set slain than you find another in its place. They remind one of the Jesuit monks in Bolivia, whom the inhabitants finally regarded as supernatural beings, because, no matter how often one cowled and sandaled form was laid low, another succeeded it, till the natives came to believe that the friar was an immortal, whom they vainly sought to destroy.
As to the rose-bug, hand-picking into a bowl of kerosene or hot water, begun at morn, continued till noon, and not intermitted till dewy eve, is the safest resource against the marauders, which devour not only Grape blossoms and Roses, Spiraeas and Syringas, Peonies and Snowballs, but cover Birches, Oaks, Elms, and even Willows with their ugly little forms, and leave behind them a lacework of veins in place of leaves.
Nothing pleases them better than a Smoke bush in blossom, the future fringe of which they will completely destroy in a few hours. We tried the experiment this year of tying ours up in mosquito-netting, but it seemed to accomplish nothing better than the excitement of the curiosity of passers-by, who could not make out whether it was a ghost on the lawn, or a balloon waiting for a Fourth of July inflation. The indomitable chafers perched on the outside by the hundred, and chewed at the blossoms through the meshes, so that, what with their attacks and the confinement, the smoke came to nothing after all, for when the cover was removed nothing was to be seen of the fringe but a few bare green stems.