Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/395

This page has been validated.



should ever fail. And the supply does begin to fail (1863), fail rapidly. It is known that 1,200,000 lbs. of Peruvian (or cinchona) bark are annually imported into England; and it is estimated that no less than 3,000,000 lbs., and probably a much greater quantity, are consumed every year throughout the world. The demand is daily increasing, and the drain upon the forests of New Granada, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, has now been going on for two centuries.

"Thus, what with the excessive and unceasing demand for bark, and the reckless manner of collecting it, large tracts of country, formerly famous for their abundant yield, are now entirely denuded of almost every trace of cinchona-vegetation."

The Caterpillar Nuisance in Philadelphia.—For several years the measuring-worm preyed on the leaves of the trees in Philadelphia to such an extent that, early in the summer, scarcely any foliage would be left remaining. The English sparrow was introduced to counteract the destroyer, and performed its work so effectually that after a year or two no more measuring-worms were to be seen. But now, according to the Medical Times, another enemy of the trees has made its appearance, the caterpillar of the Orgygia leucostigma moth. As long as the measuring-worm was left unmolested, the caterpillar, which comes late in the season, found the struggle for existence a sharp one, its natural provision having been previously consumed by the worm. Now, however, it finds abundance of food, and is consequently prospering and rapidly multiplying. The sparrows will not attack it, protected as it is by its hairy coat. Perhaps some other feathered exterminator can be found to destroy the tribe; but, inasmuch as the sparrow is a very stubborn and pugnacious little fellow, it is a question whether he will allow any other bird to trespass on his domain. Meanwhile, the caterpillar pest is assuming formidable proportions, as witness the following passage from our medical contemporary: "At present, very many trees in this city have again put on the familiar, woe-begone look of old, hiding their misery with the merest tatters and shreds of leaves, 'But the new-comer doesn't drop on you!' Doesn't he though? If he does not drop he crawls, or gets on some way or other; and the man who has felt his long hairs tickling his neck, struck for a fly, and found in his hand a bare and bursted carcass, on his shirt-collar a stain, and down his back a bunch of tickling hairs, will vote the 'survival of the fittest,' in its latest form, an unmitigated nuisance."

Eating Alcohol.—It has been generally supposed that the alcohol formed in the primary fermentation of bread was all expelled by the process of baking. Mr. Thomas Bolas, of London, has communicated to the Chemical News the result of some experiments on this point. He shows that when about two ounces of ordinary bread is mixed with water and distilled, and the distillate is afterward purified, a perceptible quantity of alcohol may be obtained. He made quantitative analyses of six samples of fresh bread, obtained in so many shops in London, which gave of alcohol an average of 0.314 per cent. So that, when a man has eaten 100 pounds of fresh bread, he has consumed with it a little more than five ounces of pure alcohol.

The Grape-vine Blight.—M. Planchon, of the French Academy, an eminent botanist and entomologist, visited this country last summer to study the habits of the phylloxera, an insect which is ravaging the vineyards of France. Prof. Planchon was the first to discover that the blight of the grape-vine is the work of the Phylloxera vastatrix; and then Prof. Riley, State entomologist of Missouri, proved the American origin of the redoubtable ravager.

M. Planchon's investigations in this country fully corroborate Prof. Riley's observations as to the identity of the European and American insect, and as to the comparative immunity of certain American grape-vines. The Missouri entomologist's discovery of a species of acarus, which is the deadly enemy of the phylloxera, has attracted much attention abroad, and M. Planchon takes a supply of acari back with him to France, hoping by their aid to check the career of the destroying insect.

For five years, every remedy that imagination could suggest, under the stimulus of a reward of 20,000 francs, has been tried