The Garden Guide

Book: The Principles of Landscape Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 1: Entomology as Applied to Gardens

Species of moths most injurious to the gardener

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1648. Among the species of moths most injurious to the gardener and the agriculturist, we shall notice the following: � The caterpillar of the silver Y moth (Noctua gamma F.), in certain seasons, and in particular countries, is one of the most universal depredators. Although common with us, it is seldom the cause of more than trivial injury in Britain; but in France, during the year 1735, it was so incredibly multiplied, as to infest the whole country. Vast numbers, according to Reaumur, were seen traversing the public roads in all directions, to pass from field to field; they particularly attacked kitchen-gardens, where they devoured every thing. The credulous inhabitants affirmed them to be poisonous; and this idle report gained such general credit, 'that herbs were banished for several weeks from the soups of Paris.' An alarm somewhat similar, but caused by a different insect, was felt by the inhabitants of the vicinity of London in 1782, when vast multitudes of the brown-tailed moth (Porthesia auriflua), in their larva state, stripped the hawthorn hedges for miles of every green leaf: rewards were offered for collecting the caterpillars, and the churchwardens and overseers attended to see them burnt by bushels.