Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mr. RAWSON. They attack nearly all trees, although they are more common on apple trees. They will go into any kind of a tree that has got a hole in it, and lay their eggs in the hole, and we cannot get at them until they come out in the spring. We are stopping the holes up at the present time with cement. The gypsy moths came from Germany nineteen years ago. The gentleman who brought them over thought he might improve the silk worm by cross breeding with this creature. He did not succeed, and they escaped from him. That was in the eastern part of Medford, and the territory near where he lived has been entirely stripped of leaves for the last four or five years. . A gentleman who lived in the next house to the man who brought the gypsy moths here told me that he had not had a leaf on his trees for five years past, but this year his trees were covered with leaves, and bore a fair crop of fruit. We sprayed his trees three times.

The CHAIRMAN. Will Mr. Rawson describe the gypsy moths, so that we can know them when they are in our midst ?

Mr. Rawson. The caterpillar is about two inches long, and half an inch thick when it attains to its full size. It has a brown color, with five red spots on the spine of the back, and it has sixteen feet or legs. They crawl something like the canker-worm, only they do not arch their backs up quite so much. The female moth is light colored, the male is a dark brown and has two horns. The females only live from twelve to twenty-four hours after they come out from the shell. They do not fly about, but lay their eggs and then die. The males fly and seek the females. The eggs are just about as large as the head of a pin. There are from three to five hundred of them in every nest.

QUESTION. What is the size of the moth that does the mischief?

Mr. Rawson. The caterpillar is the one that does the eating. The moth does not eat at all. I should

say

the size of the moth was about an inch long, and when the wings are spread out it is about an inch and a half across. Mr. Fitch. When are the

eggs

laid?

Mr. Rawson. The eggs are laid probably from the 20th of July to the 1st of September.

Mr. Fitch. How long before they hatch?

Mr. Rawson. They will hatch as soon as the weather gets warm enough the next spring. The first day of May is the earliest time, so far as we have been able to ascertain.

Mr. Fitch. How long before they go into the chrysalis form?

Mr. Rawson. They begin about the 20th of June, and continue from that time until about the 20th of July. They come out in the form of moths in about one month.

Mr. FITCH. Then we are to look for them from the first of May until the 20th of June as caterpillars?

Mr. Rawson. Yes, sir. We shall make quite an extended report, which will be published, and which any one can get by going or sending to the State House. This report will explain the work from beginning to end, as far as we have

gone.

The commission commenced their work the eighteenth day of March, and we met every day from that time until the 1st of August. It required a great deal more work than we expected.

Secretary SESSIONS. It seems to me that this question of the gypsy moth is a serious one, and ought not to be clouded by any ridicule that may be cast upon it by interested parties or by those who have no interest in the question. It is a question cither of stamping out this moth or allowing it to spread over the State of Massachusetts and the whole country. The consequence of its spreading over the country will be that every man who has a fruit tree and desires fruit will get it only at the end of a hard contest with the gypsy moth, just as we raise potatoes now at the end of a contest with the potato bug; only this will be worse than that, because the gypsy moth eats almost anything in the shape of a leaf.

Now, it may be said that the commissioners have wasted money. I do not doubt that there has been a great deal of money spent that the commissioners, if they had known by experience how to do the work when it was committed to them, would not have spent; but, as the chairman of the commission has said, the work was entirely experimental at

4

the beginning; they had no guide whatever to go by, and the only thing the commissioners could do was to fight the moths as best they could. When they were discovered in this limited territory to which reference has been made, it was believed by the friends of agriculture and by naturalists that it was possible to stamp them out and save the enormous expenditure of money which would be required to keep them in check if they were allowed to spread over the country.

Now, what I desire to have impressed upon you as members of the Board of Agriculture and as farmers of Massachusetts, is the fact that, although the whole of this $30,000 which has been expended has not, perhaps, been spent in the wisest and most judicious way, or as it would have been spent if the commissioners could have been guided in their work by the experience of others, yet, as the chairman of the commission has told you, they have learned a good deal about the habits of these moths, they have prevented their spreading over any more ground, and are now in a position to fight them more effectively next year than they have done this. I hope the sentiment of the community will be made manifest to the Legislature, that we want the campaign continued, and want it continued in the best possible manner. This is a big fight; it is no holiday affair. If this moth gets away from us, the whole country must suffer. There is nothing gained by attempting to disguise that fact. I spoke of the work of the commission having been experimental. I understand their largest expenditure has been caused by spraying the trees with Paris green. They gathered from the experience of the different experiment stations in the country the fact that Paris green applied in this way had proved effectual in the destruction of all leaf-eating insects upon which it had been tried. It had not been tried upon the gypsy moth; but they had reason to believe, and they were advised by entomologists, that in all probability the same treatment would kill these caterpillars. Now, there are those who claim that that has not been effectual. There are some who ridicule the idea of spraying with Paris green, and say they do not believe it has done any good. Then there are others who say that after the creature has reached a certain stage they do not believe it will kill him. Now, the commission have had their eyes open, and they are convinced that Paris green does do good in certain stages of the existence of the caterpillar; and they are confident that, if the matter is left in their hands another year, they will be able to do still more effective work. They will not limit their efforts to the use of Paris green, but they will resort to any other method which seems likely to produce the desired result in the destruction of these pests. They adopt the motto of the Irishman in a fight, " Wherever you see a head, hit it.” That is the only way they can do.

If they can keep the moth within its present bounds, they believe that, with the help of the investigations of science and of experience, they will soon find a way by which they can exterminate him. It may take a few years, and may cost considerable money; but, if it costs one, two, three or five millions of dollars, it will be money well expended for the State of Massachusetts. I do not believe it will cost anywhere near these sums; but, even if it should, it would be money well expended.

Mr. RawSON. I would like to say, in connection with what the secretary has said, that we have had considerable fun made of us for keeping men upon the road with feather dusters to brush off the tops of wagons and carriages. That was an idea of mine. The commissioners found that certain teams were constantly going through this infested territory and stopping at a certain place, and there they found the gypsy moth. The only place where we have found them, outside of the limits where we first found them, is in the brick yards in North Cambridge, where the brick teams that went to Medford with brick had taken them; and all through the summer we made the owner of every brick team and every manure team provide a canvas cover for his wagon, so that it could be brushed off after passing through the infected district.

In that way we have stopped the spread of the moths, and it was the only way we could do it. Of course people found fault, and complained of us. I do not think that we have wasted a great deal of money this year, because, just as soon as we found that we were not using our money judiciously, we changed our methods. I think next year we shall not spray three times as we did this year. You know it rained most of the time in May, and when we sprayed a tree one day the rain would come the next day and wash it all off, so that we had to spray again. If we could get two weeks without any rain one spraying would be sufficient.

Mr. Fitch. I move that a committee of three be appointed by the chairman and secretary to consider and report to this convention a resolution in regard to the action of this commission.

Mr. EVERETT. I second the motion.

Mr. BOWKER. I would suggest an amendment to the motion, that the committee report upon the advisability of the passage of such a resolution.

Mr. Fitch. I accept the amendment.

The question was put on the motion, as amended, and it was carried.

The chairman announced, as the committee to report upon the advisability of passing a resolution in regard to the action of the gypsy moth commission, the following gentlemen: W. H. Bowker, F. H. Appleton and E. W. Wood.

The committee appointed to consider and report to the convention in regard to the action of the gypsy moth commission, by their chairman submitted the following report:

Inasmuch as the gypsy moth commission has not yet completed its work or published its first report concerning the same, your committee deem it premature for the Board at this time to officially give expression in any manner touching the character of the work so far performed; but your committee, believing that progress has been made, recommend that the commission be heartily supported and encouraged, and that, if required, further reasonable appropriation should be made by the State for the continued and successful prosecution of the work.

The report of the committee was unanimously accepted and adopted.

Adjourned to 7.30.

« PreviousContinue »