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Notes of Observations of Injurious Insects

Notes of Observations of Injurious Insects

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Excerpt from Notes of Observations of Injurious Insects: Report, 1879

At Sparham, near Norwich, the lowest temperature of the winter was 3° in the low-lying part of the parish, and 10° on the high ground, on December 25th. At my own station at Isleworth the lowest temperature was 10°.5; the lowest observed on grass was 9°.8 on January 12th. The earth temperatures at one foot deep sank to between 32° and 33° from December 24th to the 29th, and also from January 12th to February 6th.

An idea being prevalent that "cold kills the grubs," I took the opportunity whilst the great cold tasted of examining the state of all larv? and pup? I could find fully exposed to its influence, whether unsheltered, under bark, or in frozen ground, and found that in all eases, even where the earth was frozen so hard that the mass had to he broken up with a hammer, and the larv? or pup? were perfectly rigid, that on thawing they did not appear to be in any way injured; and in the case of the larv? of the Cabbago Weevil (which was the only instance in which any immediate action was to be expected) they continued the operation of making their earth-cases for pupation (as is usual with this grub on disturbance from the gall) as if nothing had happened. Of these observations I give the details under the headings of the respective insects.

In other respects the extreme severity of the winter was favourable to insect preservation, as large numbers were secured from bird attack under the snow or in the frost-bound ground; and also the excessive cold (as shown by the Phonological Report of the Meteorological Society) caused an almost unprecedented mortality amongst the birds; this especially noted amongst tho Turdid? and Starlings. The cold and wet spring subsequently retarded the nesting season, and further diminished the ordinary amount by the great numbers of eggs that were addled.

The general returns do not show that any kind of injurious insect has been lessened in amount of appearance by the winter cold, excepting (possibly) the Turnip Fly. This has been little prevalent, but (conjecturally) this is rather owing to failure of the Turnip crops than direct weather influence, as noted in the return :"No Turnips, therefore no Fly."

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