Our Common Insects Part 17

(Figure 237 represents the female, which is about one-third as large as a mosquito: _a_, the larva; _b_, the pupa; and _c_ represents the joint near the ground where the maggots live.) The same may be said of the Wheat midge (Cecidomyia tritici), which attacks the wheat in the ear, and which transforms an inch deep beneath the surface.

[Illustration: 237. Hessian Fly.]

[Illustration: 238. Turnip Butterfly.]

Among the butterflies which appear this month are the Turnip butterfly (Pontia oleracea, Fig. 238,) which lays its eggs the last of the month.

The eggs hatch in a week or ten days, and in about two weeks the larva changes to a chrysalis. Thanaos junevalis and T. Brizo fly late in May.

The caterpillars live on the pea and other papilionaceous plants. Thecla Auburniana, T. Niphon, and other species fly in dry, sunny fields, some in April. Argynnis Myrina flies from the last of May through June, and a second brood appears in August and September. Vanessa J-album and V.

interrogationis appear in May, and again in August and September. The caterpillars of the latter species live on the elm, lime and hop-vine.

Grapta comma also feeds on the hop. Alypia 8-maculata (Fig. 49) flies at this time, and in August its larva feeds on the grape. Sphinx gordius, S. 5-maculata (Fig. 239) and other Sphinges and Sesia (the Clear-winged moth), appear the last of May. Arctia Arge, A. virgo, A. phalerata and other species fly from the last of May through the summer. Hyphantria textor, the Fall-weaver, is found in May or June. The moth of the Salt-marsh caterpillar appears at this time, and various Cut worms (Agrotis, Fig. 240) abound, hiding in the daytime under stones and sticks, etc., while various Tineids and Tortrices, or Leaf-rolling caterpillars, begin to devour tender leaves and buds and opening blossoms of flowers and fruit trees.

[Illustration: 239. Sphinx 5-maculata, Larva and Pupa.]

[Illustration: 240. Cut Worm and Moth.]

The White-pine weevil flies about in warm days. We have found its burrows winding irregularly over the inner surface of the bark and leading into the sap-wood. Each cell, in which it hibernates, in the middle of March, contains the yellowish white footless grub. Early in April it changes to a pupa, and a month after the beetle appears, and in a few days deposits its egg under the bark of old pine trees. It also oviposits in the terminal shoots of pine saplings, dwarfing and permanently deforming the tree. Associated with this weevil we have found the smaller, rounder, more cylindrical, whitish grubs of the Hylurgus terebrans, which mines the inner layers of the bark, slightly grooving the sap-wood. Later in April it pupates, and its habits accord in general with those of Pissodes strobi. Another Pine weevil also abounds at this time, as well as Otiorhynchus picipes (Fig. 241), which injures beans, etc.

[Illustration: 241. Garden Weevil.]

Cylindrical bark-borers, which are little, round, weevil-like beetles, are now flying about fruit trees, to lay their eggs in the bark.

Associated with the Pissodes, we may find in April the galleries of Tomicus pini, branching out from a common centre. They are filled up with fine sawdust, and, according to Dr. Fitch, are notched in the sides "in which the eggs have been placed, where they would remain undisturbed by the beetle as it crawled backwards and forth through the gallery."

These little beetles have not the long snouts of the weevils, hence they cannot bore through the outer bark, but enter into the burrows made the preceding year, and distribute the eggs along the sides (Fitch). Another Tomicus, more dangerous than the preceding, feeds exclusively in the sap-wood, running solitary galleries for a distance of two inches towards the centre of the tree. We figure Tomicus xylographus Say (Fig.

242, enlarged). It is the most formidable enemy to the white pine in the North, and the yellow pine in the South that we have. It also flies in May. Ptinus fur (Fig. 243, much enlarged) is now found in out-houses, and is destructive to cloth, furs, etc., resembling the Larder-beetle (Dermestes) in its habits. It is fourteen hundredths of an inch in length.

[Illustration: 242. Pine Weevil.]

[Illustration: 243. Ptinus and Larva.]

_The Insects of June._

Early in the month the Parsnip butterfly (Papilio Asterias) may be seen flying about, preparatory to laying its eggs for the brood of caterpillars which appear in August. At the time of the flowering of the raspberry and blackberry, the young larva of Vanessa Antiopa, one of our most abundant butterflies, may be found living socially on the leaves of the willow; while the mature larva of another much smaller butterfly, the little Copper skipper (Chrysophanus Americans), so abundant at this time, may sometimes be found on the clover. It is a short, oval, greenish worm, with very short legs. The dun-colored skippers (Hesperia) abound towards the middle of the month, darting over the flowers of the blueberry and blackberry, in sunny openings in the forests.

The family of Hawk moths (Sphinges) now appear in greater abundance, hovering at twilight over flower-beds, and, during this time, deposit their eggs on the leaves of various fruit-trees. The American Tent caterpillar makes its cocoon, and assumes the pupa state. The caterpillar passes several days within the cocoon, in what may be called the semi-pupa states during which period the chrysalis skin is forming beneath the contracted and loosened larva skin. We once experimented on a larva which had just completed its cocoon, to learn how much silk it could produce. On removing its cocoon it made another of the same thickness; but on destroying this second one it spun a third but frail web, scarcely concealing its form. A minute Ichneumon parasite, allied to Platygaster, lays its eggs within those of this moth, as we once detected one under a bunch of eggs, and afterwards reared a few from the same lot of eggs. A still more minute egg-parasite (Fig. 244) we have seen ovipositing in the early spring, in the eggs of the Canker-worm.

[Illustration: 244. Canker worm Egg-parasite.]

Among that beautiful family of moths, the Phalaenidae, comprising the Geometers, Loopers, or Span-worms, are two formidable foes to fruit growers. The habits of the Canker worm should be well known. With proper care and well-directed energy, we believe their attacks can be in a great measure prevented. The English sparrow, doves and other insectivorous birds, if there are any others that eat them, should be domesticated in order to reduce the number of these pests. More care than has yet been taken should be devoted to destroying the eggs laid in the autumn, and also the wingless females, as they crawl up the trees in the spring and autumn to lay their eggs. The evil is usually done before the farmer is well aware that the calamity has fallen upon him. As soon as, and even before the trees have fairly leafed out, they should be visited morning, noon and night, shaken and thoroughly examined and cleared of the caterpillars. By well-concerted action among agriculturists, who should form a Board of Destruction, numbering every man, woman and child on the farm, this fearful scourge may be abated by the simplest means, as the cholera or any epidemic disease can in a great measure be averted by taking proper sanitary precautions. The Canker worms hatch out during the early part of May, from eggs laid in the fall and spring, on the branches of various fruit-trees. Just as the buds unfold, the young caterpillars make little holes through the tender leaves, eating the pulpy portions, not touching the veins and midribs.

When four weeks old they creep to the ground, or let themselves down by spinning a silken thread, and burrow from two to six inches in the soil, where they change to chrysalids in a day or two, and in this state live till late in the fall, or until the early spring, when they assume the imago or moth form. The sexes then unite, and the eggs are deposited for the next generation.

The Canker worm is widely distributed, though its ravages used to be confined mostly to the immediate vicinity of Boston. We have seen specimens of the moth from Illinois. Riley has found it in Missouri.

[Illustration: 245. Abraxas ribearia.]

The Abraxas ribearia of Fitch (Fig. 245, moth), the well-known Currant worm, defoliates whole rows of currant bushes. This pretty caterpillar may be easily known by its body being of a deep golden color, spotted with black. The bushes should be visited morning, noon and night, and thoroughly shaken (killing the caterpillars) and sprinkled with ashes.

[Illustration: 246. May Beetle and Young.]

Among multitudes of beetles (Coleoptera) injurious to the crops, are the May beetle (Lachnosterna fusca, Fig. 246), whose larva, a large white grub, is injurious to the roots of grass and to strawberry vines. The Rose beetle appears about the time of the blossoming of the rose. The Fire-flies now show their light during mild evenings, and on hot sultry days the shrill rasping song of the male Cicada, for "they all have voiceless wives," cuts the air: The Chinch-bug, that fell destroyer of our wheat crops, appears, according to Harris, in the middle of the month, and "may be seen in their various stages of growth on all kinds of grain, on corn and herds-grass during the whole summer." So widely spread is this insect at present, that we have even detected it in August on the summit of Mount Washington.

[Illustration: 247. Pemphigus.]

The Diptera, or two-winged flies, contain hosts of noxious insects, such as the various Cecidomyians, or two-winged Gall flies, which now sting the culms of the wheat and grasses, and various grains, and leaves of trees, producing gall-like excrescences of varying form. Legions of these delicate minute flies fill the air at twilight, hovering over wheat fields and shrubbery. A strong north west wind, at such times, is of incalculable value to the farmer. Moreover, minute flies, allied to the house fly, such as Tephritis, Oscinis, etc., now attack the young cereals, doing immense injury to grain.

[Illustration: 248. Apple Bark Louse.]

Millions of Aphides, or Plant lice, now infest our shade and fruit trees, crowding every green leaf, into which they insert their tiny beaks, sucking in the sap, causing the leaves to curl up and wither.

They also attack the stems and even the roots of plants, though these latter (Pemphigus, Fig. 247) differ generically from the true Plant lice. Fruit trees should be again washed and rubbed to kill off the young Bark lice, of which the common apple Bark louse (Aspidiotus conchiformis, Fig. 248), whose oyster-shaped scales may be found in myriads on neglected trees, is a too familiar example. Another pest of apple trees is the woolly Blight (Eriosoma lanigera). These insects secrete from the surface of the body a downy, cottony substance which conceals the animal, and when they are, as usual, grouped together on the trees, makes them look like patches of mould. The natural insect enemies of the Plant lice now abound; such are the Lady bugs (Coccinella, Fig. 249); the larva of the Syrphus fly (Fig. 76), which devours immense quantities, and the larva of the Golden-eyed, Lace-winged fly (Chrysopa, Fig. 256).

[Illustration: 249. Coccinella and Young.]

The last days of June are literally the heyday and jubilee of insect life. The entomological world holds high carnival, though in this country they are, perhaps, more given to mass-meetings and caucuses. The earth, the air, and the water teem with insect life. The insects of mid-summer, now appear. Among the butterflies, the Wood Satyrus (Neonympha Eurythris) skips in its low flight through the pines. The larva of Grapta Progne appears on the currants, and feeds beneath the leaves on hot sunny days. The larva of Cynthia cardui may be found on the hollyhocks; the pupa state lasts twelve days, the butterfly appearing in the middle or last of July. The Hyphantria textor now lays its smooth, spherical eggs in broad patches on the under side of the leaves of the apple, which the caterpillar will ravage in August; and its ally, the Halesidota caryae, we have found ovipositing the last week in the month on the leaves of the butternut. The Squash bug, Coreus (Gonocerus) tristis (Fig. 250) is now very abundant, gathering about the roots of the squash vines, often in immense numbers, blackening the stems with their dark, blackish-brown bodies. This insect is easily distinguished from the yellow striped Squash beetle previously mentioned, by its much greater size, and its entirely different structure and habits. It is a true bug (Hemipter, of which the bed-bug is an example), piercing the leaves and stalks, and drawing out the sap with its long sucker.

[Illustration: 250. Squash Bug.]

In June, also, we have found that beautiful butterfly, Militaea Phaeton rising from the low, cold swamps. Its larva transforms early in June or the last week in May, into a beautiful chrysalis. The larva hibernates through the winter, and may be found early in spring feeding on the leaves of the aster, the Viburnum dentatum and hazel. It is black and deep orange-red, with long, thick-set, black spines.

The Currant borer, Trochilium tipuliforme (Fig. 251), a beautiful, slender, agile, deep blue moth, with transparent wings, flies the last of the month about currant bushes, and its chrysalids may be found in May in the stems. Among moths, that of the American Tent caterpillar flies during the last of June and July, and its white cocoons can be detected under bark, and in sheltered parts of fences and out-houses.

Among others of the interesting group of Silk worms (Bombycidae) are Lithosa, Crocota and allies, which fly in the daytime, and the different species of Arctia, and the white Arctians, Spilosoma, and Leucarctia, the parent of the Salt-marsh Caterpillar.

[Illustration: 251. Currant Moth.]

Many Leaf rollers, Tortrices, are rolling up leaves in various ways for their habitations, and to conceal them from too prying birds; and hosts of young Tineans are now mining leaves, and excavating the interior of seeds and various fruits. Grape-growers should guard against the attacks of a species of Tortrix (Penthina vitivorana) which rolls the leaves of the grape, and, according to Mr. M. C. Reed, of Hudson, Ohio, "in mid-summer deposits its eggs in the grape; a single egg in a grape. Its presence is soon indicated by a reddish color on that side of the yet green grape, and on opening it, the winding channel opened by the larva in the pulp is seen, and the minute worm, which is white, with a dark head, is found at the end of the channel. It continues to feed upon the pulp of the fruit, and when it reaches the seeds, eats out their interior; and if the supply from one grape is extinguished before its growth is completed, it fastens this to an adjoining grape with a web, and burrows into it. It finally grows to about one-half of an inch in length, becomes brown, almost black, the head retaining its cinnamon color. When it leaves the grape it is very active, and has the power of letting itself down by a thread of silk. All my efforts to obtain the cocoons failed until I placed fresh grape leaves in the jar containing the grapes. The larvae immediately betook themselves to these, and, cutting a curved line through the leaf thus), sometimes two lines thus (), folded the edge or edges over, and in the fold assumed the chrysalis form. From specimens saved, I shall hope to obtain the perfect insect this season, and perhaps obtain information which will aid in checking its increase. Already it is so abundant that it is necessary to examine every branch of ripe grapes, and clip out the infested berries before sending them to the table. A rapid increase in its numbers would interfere seriously with the cultivation of the grape in this locality."

The Rose beetle (Macrodactyla subspinosa) appears in great abundance.

The various species of Buprestis are abundant; among them are the Peach-borer (Dicerca divaricata), which may be now found flying about peach and cherry trees; and Chrysobothris fulvogutta, and C. Harrisii, about white pines. A large weevil (Arrhenodes septentrionalis), which lives under the bark of the white oak, appears in June and July. The Chinch bug begins its terrible ravages in the wheat fields. The various species of Chrysopa or Lace-winged flies, appear during this month.

_The Insects of July._

During mid-summer the bees and wasps are very busy building their nests and rearing their young. The Humble bees, late in June and the first of this month, send out their first broods of workers, and about the middle of the month the second lot of eggs are laid, which produce the smaller-sized females and males, while eggs laid late in the month and early in August, produce the larger-sized queens, which soon hatch.

These hibernate. The habits of their peculiar parasite, Apathus, an insect which closely resembles the Humble bee, are still unknown.

[Illustration: 252. White-faced Wasp.]

The Leaf-cutter bee (Megachile) may be seen flying about with pieces of rose-leaf, with which she builds, for a period of twenty days, her cells, often thirty in number, using for this purpose, according to Mr.

F. W. Putnam's estimate,[32] at least one thousand pieces! The bees referred to "worked so diligently that they ruined five or six rose-bushes, not leaving a single unblighted leaf uncut, and were then forced to take the leaves of a locust tree as a substitute."

The Paper-making wasps, of which Vespa maculata (Fig. 252), the "White-faced wasp," is our largest species, are now completing their nests, and feeding their young with flies. The Solitary wasp (Odynerus albophaleratus) fills its earthen cells with minute caterpillars, which it paralyzes with its poisonous sting. A group of mud-cells, each stored with food for the single larva within, we once found concealed in a deserted nest of the American Tent caterpillar. Numerous species of Wood wasps (Crabronidae) are engaged in tunnelling the stems of the blackberry, the elder, and syringa, and enlarging and refitting old nail holes, and burrowing in rotten wood, storing their cells with flies, caterpillars, aphides and spiders, according to the habit of each species. Eumenes fraterna, which attaches its single, large, thin-walled cell of mud to the stems of plants, is, according to Dr. T. W. Harris, known to store it with Canker worms. Pelopaeus, the Mud-dauber, is now building its earthen cells, plastering them on old rafters and stone walls.

The Saw flies (Tenthredo), etc., abound in our gardens this month. The Selandria vitis attacks the vine, while Selandria rosae, the Rose slug, injures the rose. The disgusting Pear slug-worm (S. cerasi), often live twenty to thirty on a leaf, eating the parenchyma, or softer tissues, leaving the blighted leaf. The leaves should be sprinkled with a mixture of whale-oil soap and water, in the proportion of two pounds of soap to fifteen gallons of water.

[Illustration: 253. Imported Cabbage Butterfly.]

Among the butterflies, Melitaea Ismeria, in the south, and M. Harrisii, in the north, are sometimes seen. A second brood of Colias Philodice, the common sulphur-yellow butterfly, appears, and Pieris oleracea visits turnip-patches. It lays its eggs in June on the leaves, and the full-grown, dark-green, hairy larva may be found in August. The Pieria rapae, or imported cabbage butterfly (Fig. 253, male) is now also abundant. Its green hairy larva is fearfully prevalent about Boston and New York. The last of the month a new brood of Grapta comma appears, and a second brood of the larva of Chrysophanus Americanus may be found on the sorrel.

The larvae of Pyrrarctia Isabella hatch out the first week in July, and the snuff-colored moth enters our windows at night, in company with a host of night-flying moths. These large moths, many of which are injurious to crops, are commonly thought to feed on clothes and carpets.

The true carpet and clothes moths are minute species, which flutter noiselessly about our apartments. Their narrow, feathery wings are edged with long silken fringes, and almost the slightest touch kills them.

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