Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/11

This page has been validated.




MAY, 1874.

By CHAS. V. RILEY, M. A., Ph. D.

THIS is an insect which is attracting much attention just now, and which has held a very prominent place in economic entomological literature during the past five years. It has occurred to me that it would not be uninteresting to the many readers of The Popular Science Monthly to have the facts now known about it laid before them in a popular form, and with as little of the nomenclature of science as is consistent with precision. I therefore transmit the following advance matter from the forthcoming sixth "Entomological Report of Missouri," very slightly modified to adapt it to the pages of the Monthly.

To many the term "Phylloxera" is void of meaning, so that it may not be amiss to say, at the outset, that it is a term derived from the Greek (øύλλον and ξηρός), meaning withered-leaf, and founded many years ago,[1] by Boyer de Fonscolombe, to designate a peculiar genus of plant-lice. It was originally erected for a species (Phylloxera quercus) quite common in Europe on the under side of oak-leaves, which, in consequence of its punctures, wear a withered appearance. The genus now comprises several species, none of them affecting man's interests except the species under consideration (vastatrix Planchon). This, on account of its injurious work, has acquired such prominence that the generic term has come to be used in a broader sense, and to indicate at once the insect and the disease it produces; just as in botany the term oidium, though originally referring only to a genus of cryptogamic plants, is now popularly employed to designate the mildew on grape-vines, caused by Oidium Tuckeri.


The first published reference to this insect was made in the year 1856,[2] by Dr. Asa Fitch, the State Entomologist of New York, who

  1. "Annales de la Société Entomologique de France," tome iii., p. 222.
  2. "New York Entomological Reports," vol. i., p. 158.