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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/181

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177
FUTURE OF ECONOMIC ENTOMOLOGY

and more intelligent generation, better educated by our colleges and by training in agriculture in the elementary schools. Many a farmer today, however, would gladly spray or otherwise treat his crops if he knew how, but the details of the processes as usually printed serve only to confuse him, and the necessity for handling and mixing chemicals accurately he feels to be beyond his powers. To help this large class it would seem desirable for each state to organize a traveling force which should go from place to place and at each show how to prepare and apply the different materials most commonly used, together with the different kinds of apparatus for different purposes, thus enabling any one to see for himself how to make and apply the treatments needed.

It is very possible that this plan may fail to accomplish the desired results, for farmers as a class are notoriously slow to accept new ideas and new methods. Still it is one which has many elements of promise and should receive a thorough trial in all parts of the country before being rejected.

But where does the economic entomologist stand if this plan fails? For years he has urged, taught and demonstrated spraying methods as effective, and he knows that he is correct. But when his advice is for years persistently rejected by a large proportion of the people, as is still the case, it is certain that the time has now come to place economic entomology on a broader and more scientific foundation.

To accomplish this other lines of work are possible, none of which have as yet been given sufficient consideration. The entomologist who would be successful must soon study more fundamental problems rather than questions of petty detail, for if the fundamental principles are once correctly enunciated the details will then become merely individual examples and can be quickly and easily solved.

If man can not be relied upon to combat his insect foes, it is not improbable that nature may be induced to take up the warfare. In some cases it seems probable that careful plant breeding will result in the production of varieties resistant to the attacks of insects, and along this line experimental research promises much. The development of new plant forms which has been made so prominent recently by the experiments of Burbank and others is very suggestive, and the possibility of producing varieties not attacked by insects seems to have already been demonstrated in one or two cases to some extent.

In the case of insects having numerous food plants this method becomes less feasible, and here a scientific study of what may be termed entomological parasitology may prove useful. We must recognize that parasitic protection is never more than partial, but even a partial destruction of insect pests is of great value. The problem is beset with difficulties because of the existence of parasites on the parasites and by many other factors, and a single wrong conclusion such as the recent