Home >> The-farmer's-and-planter's-encyclopaedia-of-rural-affairs >> Or Land Ditching to Poppy >> Pea Bug or Beetle

Pea-Bug or Beetle


PEA-BUG or BEETLE. In the sprius of the year we often find, among seed-peas, many that have holes in them ; and, if the peas have not been exposed to the light and air, we see a little insect peeping out of each of these holes, and waiting apparently for an opportunity to come forth and make its escape. If IN,: turn out the creature from its cell, we perceive it to be a small oval beetle, rather more than one tenth of an inch long, of a rusty black colour, with a white spot on the hinder part of the thorax, 4 or 5 white dots behind the middle of each wing-cover, and a white spot, shaped like the letter T, on the exposed extremity of the body. This little insect is the Bruchus Pisi of Linnmus, the pea-Bruchus, or pea-weevil• better known in America by the incorrec name of pea-bug. The original meaning of 4 E 877 the word Bruchus is a devourer, and the insects to which it is applied well deserve this name, for, in the larva state, they devour the interior of seeds, often leaving but little more than the bull untouched. They belong to a family of the great weevil tribe called Bruchidce, and are distinguished from other weevils by the follow ing characters. The body is oval, and slightly convex ; the head is bent downwards, so that the broad muzzle, when the insects are not eating, rests upon the breast.

The habits of the Bruchians and their larva' are similar to those of the pea-weevil, which remain to be described. It may be well, how ever, to state here that these beetles frequent the leguminous or pod-bearing plants, such as the pea, Gleditsia, Robinia, Mimosa, Cassia, &c., during and immediately after the flowering season ; they pierce the tender pods of these plants, and commonly lay only one egg in each seed, the pulp of which suffices for the food of the little maggot-like grub hatched therein.

Few persons, while indulging in the luxury of early green peas, are aware how many in sects they unconsciously swallow. When the pods are carefully examined, small, discoloured *pots may be seen within them, each one cor responding to a similar spot on the opposite pea. If this spot in the pea be opened, a minute whitish grub, destitute of feet, will be found therein. It is the weevil in its larva form, which liVes upon the marrow of the pea, and arrives at its full size by the time that the pea becomes dry. This larva or grub then bores a round hole from the hollow in the centre of the pea quite to the hull, but leaves the latter and generally the germ of the future sprout un touched. Hence, these buggy peas, as they are called by seedsmen and gardeners, will fre quently sprout and grow when planted. The grub is changed to a pupa within its hole in the in the autumn, and before the spring casts its skin again, becomes a beetle, and gnaws a hole through the thin hull in order to make its escape into the air, which frequently does not happen before the peas are planted for an early crop. After the pea-vines have flowered, and while the pods are young and tender, and the peas within them are just beginning to swell, the beetles gather upon them, pierce the pods, and deposit their tiny eggs in the punctures. This is done only during the night, or in cloudy weather. Each egg is always placed opposite to a pea; the grubs, as soon as they are hatched, penetrate the pod and bury themselves in the peas ; and the holes through which they pass are so fine as hardly to be perceived, and are soon closed. Sometimes every pea in d pod will be found to contain a weevil-grub ; and so great has been the injury to the crop in some parts of the country, that the inhabitants have been obliged to give up the cultivation of this vegetable. These insects, as Mr. Deane has lbserved, diminish the weight of the peas in which they lodge nearly one-half, and their leavings are fit only for the fetid of swine. This occasions a great loss, where peas are raised for feeding stock or for family use, as they are in many places. Those persons 6rho eat whole peas in the winter after they are raised, run the risk of eating the weevils also; 878 but if the peas are kept till they are a year old, the insects will entirely leave them.

The pea-weevil is supposed to be a native of the United States. It seems to have been first noticed in Pennsylvania, many years ago and has gradually spread from thence to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. It is yet rare in New Hampshire, and I believe has not appeared in the eastern parts of Maine. It is unknown in the north of Europe, as we learn from the interesting account given of it by Kalm, the Swedish traveller, who tells us of the fear with which he was filled, on finding some of these weevils in a parcel of peas which he had car ried home from America, having in view the whole damage which his beloved country would have suffered, if only two or three of these noxious insects had escaped him. They are now common in the south of Europe and in England, whither they may have been car ried from this country. As the cultivated pea was not originally a native of America, it would be interesting to ascertain what plants the pea-weevil formerly inhabited. That it should have preferred the prolific exotic pea to any of our indigenous and less productive pulse, is not a matter of surprise, analogous facts being of common occurrence ; but that for so many years a rational method for check ing its ravages should not have been practised, is somewhat remarkable. An exceedingly simple one is recommended by Deane, but to be successful it should be universally adopted. It consists merely in keeping seed-peas in tight vessels over one year before planting them. Latreille and others recommend putting them, just before they are to be planted, into hot water for a minute or two, by which means the weevils will be killed, and the sprouting of the peas will be quickened. The insect is limited to a certain period for depositing its eggs ; late sown peas therefore escape its attack. The late Colonel Pickering observed that those sown in Pennsylvania as late as the 20th of May, were entirely free from weevils ; and Colonel Worthington, of Rensselaer county, New York, who sowed his peas on the 10th of June, 6 years in succession, never found an insect in them during that period. (Harris.)

peas, pea, insects, weevils, spot, grub and larva