Bird Study – Plagues Of Insects

Every now and then we read of great plagues of insects which literally lay waste a whole section of country. History tells of these calamities which have troubled the civilized world from the days of Pharaoh to the present time. During the summer of 1912 there was a great outbreak of army worms in South Carolina. In innumerable millions they marched across the country, destroying vegetation like a consuming fire. In the year 1900 Hessian flies appeared in great numbers in Ohio and Indiana, and before they subsided they had destroyed absolutely two and one-half million acres of the finest wheat to be found in the Middle West, and wheat land dropped 40 per cent. in value.

Closing this Year Book, with its long tables of discouraging statements, we may find more cheerful reading if we turn to another Agricultural Department publication entitled, “Some Common Birds and Their Relation to Agriculture; Farmers Bulletin number Fifty-four.” We need peruse only a few pages to become impressed with the fact that our Government Biological Survey has made an exhaustive and exceedingly thorough investigation of the feeding habits of the wild birds that frequent the fields and forests. The reports of the economic ornithologists herein given are almost as surprising as the sad records given by the entomologists in the Year Book. We learn that birds, as a class, constitute a great natural check on the undue increase of harmful insects, and furthermore that the capacity for food of the average bird is decidedly greater in proportion than that of any other vertebrate.