Blackcaps eat the berries of the honey-suckles. Mrs J. White, after long & severe campaign carried on against the Blattae molendinariae, which have of late invaded my house, & of which she has destroyed many thousands, finds that at intervals a fresh detachment of old ones arrives; & particularly during the hot season: for the windows being left open in the evenings, the males come flying in at the casements from the neighbouring houses, which swarm with them. How the females, that seem to have no perfect wings that they can use, can contrive to get form house to house, does not so readily appear. These, like many insects, when they find their present abodes over-stocked, have powers of migrating to fresh quarters. Since the Blattae have been so much kept under, the Crickets have greatly encreased in number.
When the servants are gone to bed, the kitchen-hearth swarms with minute crickets not so big as fleas. The Blattae are almost subdued by the persevering assiduity of Mrs J. W. who waged war with them for many months, & destroyed thousands: at first she killed some hundreds every night. The thermometer at George’s fields Surrey 82: on the 21, — 51. St foin fly, sphynx filipendulae, appears.
Timothy Turner cuts my grass for himself, a small crop. Scarabaeus solstitialis first appears in my brother’s outlet: they are very punctual in their coming-out every year. They are a small species, about half the size of the May chafer, & are known in some parts by the name fern-chafer.
Timothy Turner’s brew-house on fire: but much help coming in & pulling off the thatch, the fire was extinguished, without any farther damage than the loss of the roofing. The flames burst thro’ the thatch in many places. We are this day annoyed in the brown parlor by multitudes of flying ants, which come forth, as usual, from under the stairs.
The country people have a notion that the Fern-owl or Churn-owl, or Eve-jarr, which they also call a Puckeridge, is very injurious to weanling calves by inflicting, as it strikes at them, the fatal distemper known to cow-leeches as Puckeridge. Thus does this harmless, ill-fated bird fall under a double imputation, which it by no means deserves; in Italy, of sucking the teats of goats, whence it is called Caprimulgus; & with us, of communicating a deadly disorder to cattle. But the truth of the matter is, the malady above-mentioned is occasioned by the Oestrus bovis, a dipterous insect, which lays it’s eggs along the backs (chines) of kine, where the maggots, when hatched, eat their way thro’ the hide of the beast into the flesh, & grow to a very large size. I have just talked with a man, who says he has, more than once stripped calves who have died of the puckeridge; that the ail, or complaint lay along the chine, where the flesh was much swelled, & filled with purulent matter. Once myself I saw a large rough maggot of this sort taken (squeezed) out of the back of a cow. These maggots in Essex are called wornils. The least observation & attention would convince men, that these birds neither injure the goatherd, nor the grazier, but are perfectly harmless, & subsist alone, being night birds, on night-insects, such as scarabaei & phalaneae; thro’ the month of July mostly on the scarabaeus solstitialis, which in many districts abounds at that season. Those that we have opened, have always had their craws stuffed with large night-moths & their eggs, & pieces of chafers: nor does it anywise appear how they can, weak & unarmed as they are, inflict any harm upon kine, unless they possess the powers of animal magnetism, & can affect them by fluttering over them. Mr Churton informs me “that the disease along the chine of calves, or rather the maggots that cause them, are called by the graziers in Cheshire worry brees, & a single one worry-bree.” No doubt them mean a breese, or breeze, one name for the gad-fly or Oestrus, which is the parent of these maggots, & lays it’s eggs on the backs of kine. Dogs come into my garden at night, & eat my goose-berries. Levant weather.
My brother’s barley begins to come into ear. The squirrel is very fond of the cones of various trees. My niece Hannah’s squirrel is much delighted with the fruit of the coniferous trees, such as the pine, the fir, the larch, & the birch; & had it an opportunity would probably be pleased with the cones of alders. As to Scotch firs, Squirrels not only devour the cones, but they also bark large boughs, & gnaw off the tops of the leading shoots; so that the pine-groves belonging to Mr Beckford at Basing-park are much injured & defaced by those little mischievous quadroupeds, which are too subtile, & too nimble to be easily taken, or destroyed. The Cypress-trees, & passion-flowers mostly killed by the late hard winter.
Muscae domesticae swarm in every room. I have often heard my Brothers complain how much they were annoyed with flies at this place. They are destroyed by a poisonous water called fly-water, set in basons, & by bird-lime twigs laid across pans of water.