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Chinch Bug

( Originally Published 1915 )

The Chinch-bug.—The chinch-bug is, according to Professor Forbes, the worst insect pest that the farmer has to combat, especially in his small grain. The chinch-bug lives on any member of the grass family and some other plants. The chinch-bug passes the winter at the roots of tufted grasses such as timothy, under clods and stones, or among sticks, leaves and bark. From these winter quarters come, in the spring, the winged insects. The eggs are laid in April and May, and begin to hatch in May. By the last of June the old bugs are gone and by harvest time the young generation can be seen in numbers. Sometimes they appear early enough to do serious damage to the small grain. As the small grain ripens the chinch-bugs are forced from the field by their desire for green food. Corn offers the best pasture for them at this time and, if the weather be dry, they may strip a field of leaves and hence ruin the crop.

The teacher must remember that words about insects amount to very little. The child must be taught to identify and to do something to control them if he is to get the culture that the subject offers. There is hardly a farm in the mid-west where chinch-bugs cannot be found. One who is familiar with them detects their presence readily by their peculiar odor.

The first thing to do in gaining control of the chinch-bugs, in localities where they are doing great damage, is to destroy by plowing under or burning all rubbish where they hibernate during the winter. Weeds along the road, or along the edges of thickets or groves, unpastured meadows, corn stalks that are not pastured off, and patches of uncultivated land bordering ponds offer excellent protection to the bugs. Some claim that wheat-growing tends to encourage the multiplication of chinch-bugs. There is no foundation for this belief beyond the fact that wheat seems to be an ideal food, is green so early and lasts until the corn is large enough for the bugs. The bugs may be kept from going to the corn by plowing a strip ten or twelve feet wide, disking the strip and then pulverizing it with a brush or pulverizer until it has a garden mulch on top. Then a furrow is made with a short log or piece of timber about ten inches in diameter. The sides of this furrow should be as dusty and as steep as possible. It may be necessary to retouch the sides in some places in order to make them steep enough to keep the chinch-bugs from climbing up. Post holes may be dug at intervals of about twenty feet. The holes should be about two feet deep and the sides vertical, as one would make with a good auger. When the holes have trapped many insects these latter may be destroyed with kerosene and the holes cleaned with the auger, or filled and new ones made. A slender line of coal-tar may be made along the bottom of the furrow or, as some prefer, along a ridge just inside the furrow, toward the corn. At first the coal-tar will soak up, but it will soon make a ridge that catches the insects if they try to cross. This may seem expensive, but it is found to cost only about twenty-five cents a day for a line one hundred rods long and the insects would injure many times that amount each day. If by accident some of the insects enter the field they will collect on the outside rows where they may be seriously dealt with by spraying the rows with kerosene and soap-suds, known as the kerosene emulsion.

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