The Zoologist/4th series, vol 6 (1902)/Issue 736/Editorial Gleanings
San Pete County, Utah, offers a rich market for Grasshoppers, for, as the 'New York Times' observes, men, women, and children are engaged from daylight until dark in collecting the pests and shipping them to the cities. The market price is one dollar a bushel, and there seems to be no limit to either the supply or demand. Millions of the insects darken the sun and hover over the gardens and fields, threatening destruction to everything in their pathway. An area comprising 1,800 square miles, in the centre of the richest agricultural section of Utah, is infested by the Grasshoppers. Sections of soil under microscopic test show seventy-six Grasshopper eggs deposited in a piece only two inches square. This is the situation in an entire mountain-walled valley, including fifteen prosperous towns, having a combined population of 20,000 people. The insects are everywhere that they can crawl or fly, and have destroyed the wheat and oat fields, and will soon strip the grasses and trees of every sign of vegetation. The average daily harvest of men and women ranges about thirty bushels of the insects. These are held in "gunny sacks," and measured or guessed as to quantity, and the money paid without a murmur. Business men and farmers have contributed to a fund for the extermination of the Grasshoppers, and have all the people they can secure at work picking them from the grain fields. When a collection of sacks is made the mass is burned on the streets amid the shouts of young and old gathered about the bonfires.—St. James's Gazette.
The little Scottish town of Cromarty has recently celebrated the centenary of the birth of Hugh Miller, son of a Cromarty fisherman, by early profession himself a stone-mason. The observation he had exercised as a stone-mason, and the attention which he had since devoted to geological studies, were embodied in 1841 in 'The Old Red Sandstone, or New Walks in an Old Field,' a book which may fairly be said to have made a deep impression in both the scientific and literary worlds. Written in a stately, lucid style, with vivid passages which proved an eye-to-eye acquaintance with his subject, its conclusions bore witness to the originality of its author's researches. The work was illustrated by drawings from his own hand. "The more I study the fishes of the 'Old Red,'" wrote Huxley twenty years after, "the more I am struck with the patience and sagacity manifested in Hugh Miller's researches, and by the natural insight, which in his case seems to have supplied the place of special anatomical knowledge."
In a centenary address, Sir A. Geikie remarked: "Hugh Miller's researches among the fishes of the Old Red Sandstone showed him to be a naturalist and palaeontologist. It was Hugh Miller's 'Old Red Sandstone' that first revealed to him (Sir A. Geikie) the meaning in the commonest stones beneath his feet."
Our contributor Mr. W. Ruskin Butterfield has recently communicated a letter to the 'Times' on the subject of "The Preservation of our rarer mammals." The following is an extract:—Certain of our native mammals are so rapidly approaching extinction that for some time it has been a matter of the gravest concern to those who are interested in their survival. Unfortunately, in seeking the attention of those to whom, directly or indirectly, the blame attaches, one labours under an obvious disadvantage. On estates where the production of large quantities of game is the "be-all and the end-all," any but a very sparing admixture of carnivorous mammals is out of the question. It by no means follows, however, that the total extirpation of these animals is necessary. I believe a small admixture to be not inconsistent with the best results. In dealing with vermin, game preservers too often lose sight of the zoological aspect of the question. There can be no doubt that carnivores play an important part in the economy of nature. When an admixture of animals (no matter of what class) is subjected to the rapacious attacks of other animals, the tendency must always be for the former to become more vigorous, since those individuals best able to withstand attack survive. I hope this point, which has been insisted upon by many naturalists, will have some weight in the right quarters.
Bavarian officers, experimenting with a balloon some 6,000 ft. aloft, noticed a little black speck which seemed to accompany them, and which they thought was one of the cards which they carry for throwing out reports, and that the dropping of the balloon drew it along, but on looking at the barometer they found the balloon was rising, and not dropping. Suddenly, however, a loud chirping showed that it was a Lark, which, flying at this extraordinary height, had been frightened by the balloon.—Westminster Gazette.
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