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BY HAROLD KELLOCK
Author of “ Mr. Hobby," etc.
TERY quietly, without the call of the tion has ever occurred in Europe, Asia,
trumpet or the booming of guns, a and northern Africa, the native homes of strange and terrible warfare is being moths abroad. If they appeared in great waged in New England, in which the numbers in a certain part of the country casualties of a single summer day proba- one year, they would vanish the next. bly run into the millions. For several The gipsy-moth really arrived in the years Uncle Sam has unobtrusively been United States as early as 1869. Professor gathering his mercenaries for this struggle Leopold Trouvelot, an astronomer confrom all parts of the world. There are nected with Harvard University, had a warriors from France and from Germany, hobby for silkworms. He imported spinfrom Russia and from Japan, fighting, so ning caterpillars from all over the world, to speak, shoulder to shoulder, or, rather,
and studied them at his home in lledford, wing to wing. The martial host numbers Massachusetts. Among his specimens myriads.
were some egg clusters of the gipsy-moth, The enemies against which the struggle which he kept on a shrub under a net in is being waged are the gipsy- and the his dooryard. One night a sudden gale, brown-tailed moths, those terrible de- undoubtedly the costliest storm New Engstroyers that threatened totally to defoli- land ever experienced, tore the net and ate New England, and bade fair to spread scattered the insects. The frantic profestheir devastations far beyond its borders. sor dashed about the neighborhood deThe mercenary army is composed of in- stroying all the insects he could find. He sects the very existence of which is depen- wrote warning letters to the entomological dent upon their cunning effectiveness as journals. But the mischief was done. moth-slayers. The lives of these minute Not until twenty years later, however, warriors are consecrated to slaughter, and were the moths noticed. Then they apso well are they thriving at their sanguine peared in enormous swarms. task that, as far as the moths are con- after this the brown-tailed moth, which cerned, New England to-day is a sham- had come in on nursery stock imported bles. Last summer, in some regions, their
from France, made its appearance in numbers were reduced one half by the Somerville, Massachusetts. During remercenary invaders. This year's warfare cent years the Government and the New is expected to result in more extensive de- England States have been spending half struction. The government scientists who a million dollars annually to fight the have engineered this most tremendous of moths. all insect wars are confident that in a few But though hundreds of persons and years the moths will be under control. elaborate apparatus
were employed to There may thereafter be occasional spo- keep the moths in check, they increased by radic outbreaks of them, but they will no millions, and year by year the situation longer be a menace and a terror. No grew worse. They spread over the greater other nation has ever gathered an army of part of New England and threatened the alien insects to protect its fields and for- country. ests.
A study of moths in foreign countries The moths have been the most destruc- revealed that their existence was made tive insect scourges that ever visited our precarious by scores of varieties of other shores. They have caused damage to insects that preyed upon them. For these growing things that must be figured in winged parasites the moths were at once hundreds of millions of dollars. Nothing food and drink and home, and for the to compare with this wide-spread destruc- young grubs they were the nurse and the
A few years nursery. The creatures existed solely to stages of development were soon being slay moths. They devoured the
un- received from many lands at the comhatched moths in the egg; the fat and bined nursery and barracks established by helpless moth caterpillars, and even the the Government at Melrose Highlands, adult moths, fell victims to their rapacity. Massachusetts, for the rearing and study Through their relentless warfare the ranks of the insect army. of the foreign moths were constantly Of course the transportation of this sort thinned. Here we had got the moths of live stock was new, and the mortality
en route was often tremendous. The Oriental specimens traveled six thousand miles to get here. Most of them had to be carried in cold storage from the time they were gathered in the fields in Japan until they reached the laboratory in Massachusetts. Otherwise they grew to maturity, and either died or escaped before they reached our shores. The first results
were discouraging, but the 2
workers persisted. Since 3
1906, when the first big shipments arrived, 300,000 boxes and cases of moths and parasites have been received.
The reception of the shipments
was merely the beginning of Uncle Sam's troubles. The entomologists at Melrose Highlands soon found themselves envying the comparative leisure of the Old Woman Who Lived
in a Shoe. Their insect 1. COCOON; 2. MALE MOTH; 3. FEMALE MOTH;
children were appearing by the hundreds of thousands. Each package of
specimens received was a without the parasites, and, freed from Pandora's box of winged troubles. All their natural enemies, they had become a sorts of strange worms and Aies and grubs plague.
were popping out of the mass of material The government scientists therefore dumped into the laboratories. There were went abroad on a huge insect hunt. They insects that attacked the moths, and insearched Europe from end to end, wher- sects that ate one another, and strange inever moths were to be found. One man sects, with no apparent mission in life, that journeyed across the Pacific to Japan. no one had ever noticed before. They had Entomologists all over the world were to be sorted and watched. Before any of enlisted in the fight to save the forests them could be set at liberty, the scientists and crops of the United States from de- must determine whether they would really struction. As a result of this strange hunt, prove effective fighters against the pests. parasites and parasitized moths in all No real study had ever been made of moth
From a photograph
parasites, and the efficient ones bore no dent for their confidence. As far back as label.
the eighties, when the Auted-scale insect The diminutiveness of the little war- was killing the orange- and lemon-groves riors was an additional handicap. Some in California, a highly effective ladybird of them were too small to be discerned by had been imported from Australia to fight the naked eye.
the scale. When colonies of the ladybirds Sorting and examining hundreds of were liberated, they immediately pounced thousands of gipsy- and brown-tailed eggs upon the nearest scale insects and dewere only details of the search for parasites. Sorting over half a million hens' eggs would scarcely be a light task. The eggs of the brown-tailed moth, at their largest diameter, are somewhat smaller than the period that ends this sentence. But small as
3 they are, the microscope has revealed ten minute fly parasites grown to maturity within a single brown-tailed egg! The mother fly had deposited her own eggs within that little dot of albumen, and her offspring had found sufficient nourishment within to bring them to full flyhood. There they were,
4 when the glass caught them, with a full tally of legs and wings and bodily organs, ready to burst into the world for a brief three weeks of active life.
Thirty varieties of Aies were gathered from Eu
5 rope and Asia, and within the laboratory they in
From a photograph creased very rapidly.
I. MALE MOTH; 2. FEMALE MOTH; 3. MALE PUPA; There was one midget, a
4. FEMALE PUPA; 5. EGG CLUSTER Japanese specimen, that
The female gipsy-moth is so heavy that she flies with difficulty. Her for three years defied all
brown-tailed sister can negotiate great distances. efforts at importation by escaping or dying on the way. Finally, in voured them, and so completely did they 1909, eleven live specimens survived the do their work that the California orchards voyage. From these eleven have been pro- were cleared of the pest within two years. duced nine generations in seven months, at To this day the California State Board of the end of which time a census was taken, Horticulture maintains a barracks of these and the surviving family was found to doughty amazons in Sacramento, and number 1,300,000 Aies. There was de- whenever the scale appears, several regicidedly no race suicide there.
ments of the ladybirds are rushed to the By this time a huge fighting force infected orchards, and make short work hundreds of thousands of Aies—was being of the pest. placed in the field, and the scientists waited The moth Aies made no attempt to confidently for results. They had a prece- emulate the ladybirds. As soon as they
were released, they mysteriously vanished. The reason they had not been discovered The neighborhoods in which they were at first was because each and every one of colonized were searched over and again, the Aies was inspired with a passion for but no trace of them was found. The exercise. Their business in life was to scientists became very pessimistic about attack and devour moths. But they had those fies. The first of them had been no appetite for moths, in the immediate set free in 1907. By 1910 even the most neighborhood. Their instinct gave the enthusiastic entomologists were ready to strange little creatures an appetite for admit failure. Perhaps the fies had been moths a mile or more away! unable to withstand the rigors of a New One of the most effective Alies is the England winter in the open. Perhaps diminutive Japanese warrior, who, after they were homesick for Europe and Japan, his arrival, increased his numbers from
, and preferred starvation to life in a eleven to 1,300,000 in seven months. He strange land. The non-scientific govern- is of the Schedius genus and has been ment of Massachusetts, which was shar- christened K’uvanae in honor of Professor ing with the National Government the S. I. Kuwana of the Imperial Agricultuexpenses of the warfare against the moths, ral Station at Tokio, who sent us the first began to grumble about time and money specimens received alive. spent on parasites that did not parasitize. This Japanese midget prefers its caterAnd the overworked scientists really had pillars served in the egg. The Hon. Mrs. very little defense.
Schedius deposits her honorable egg within But a surprise awaited every one.
In the body of the unhatched gipsy-moth 1911 regiments of the fly armies were caterpillar. Within a few days the hon• found in remote parts of New England orable egg has become the honorable ' valiantly slaying the moths. Last sum- larva, a tiny grub with a passion for food. mer it was determined that they had in- No child in a fairy-tale who awoke in a creased to myriads, and some varieties had gingerbread house was ever better prospread over ten thousand square miles. vided for than this infant. It is entirely surrounded by breakfast. And it proceeds sleep before emerging into the world. to eat and eat and eat until nothing is left Three Schedius mothers, in rapid succesof that embryo caterpillar except the head sion, had Aown up and deposited eggs and claws and hair. By this time the hon- within the torpid body of the fat intruder. orable grub is ready to emerge and de- When the microscope revealed them, the velop into the honorable fly and establish three Schedius grubs were developing rapa new little honorable family of fifty or a idly within the Anastatus. Having dehundred in other gipsy-moth eggs. stroyed him, they were ready to engage in
But life is not always a fairy feast for a further struggle to determine which one the Schedius grub. Sometimes it has no of them would devour the others and live sooner waxed fat with feasting than an- to flyhood. For it is the law of the clan other sort of Ay mother will come along that only one shall emerge alive. Whether and deposit her eggs within the Schedius. the tiny grubs of the same family actually The new-comer will soon begin feasting engage in a struggle for supremacy, or on the gorged grub, which of course has whether the hardest eater devours his kinsno more chance than the original cater- men, who yield their bodies passively to pillar inhabitant of the moth egg. There superior strength and appetite, science has are several varieties of insects which prey not determined. A battle that takes place indiscriminately upon the gipsy-moth or within an area much smaller than a pinon one another, and according to the sci- head is not easy to observe. entists, four or more insects may succes- Another Japanese Ay inflicts upon the sively devour another internally immature moths a death of exquisite torwithin a single moth egg in the fields in It deposits its eggs within the body Japan. Of course great care was taken of the full-grown moth caterpillar. The to release no secondary parasites here. eggs hatch rapidly, and the larvæ feast for
The microscope revealed a curious two or three weeks before they force their triple tragedy of this character, in which way out through the skin of the still-livSchedius secured a terrible revenge upon ing caterpillar. A full-grown caterpillar another insect which commonly preys may harbor a hundred or more of these. upon it. The larva of this midge, which For its protection during further developthe scientists call Anastatus, had estab- ment, each of the newly emerged worms lished itself within the unhatched gipsy immediately spins a small white cocoon. caterpillar, had eaten the entire contents And the caterpillar, unable to leave the of the shell, and, after its indolent fash- spot, dies slowly, “surrounded by and ion, had settled down to ten months of seeming to brood over the cocoons."