National Geographic : 1907 Dec
794 THE NATIONAL GE fully 9o per cent of the flaxseeds were found to have been stung by a certain species of parasite and to contain its de veloping larva. At this time a field of wheat near Sharpsburg, Maryland, was found to be infested by the fly and ex amination indicated the absence of para sites. On April 8 some thousands of the parasitized flaxseeds from Pennsylvania were brought to Maryland and placed in the field. On July 8 an examination of the Maryland field showed that the para sites had developed so rapidly as to bring about an almost total destruction of the fly. ENCOURAGING SILK CULTURE IN THE UNITED STATES Eighty-five ounces of tested silkworm eggs were imported from Italy and dis tributed to 343 applicants in the spring. About I ,ooo seedlings of the best white mulberry were also distributed. Cocoons were purchased from American growers at a rate varying from 90 cents to $1.15 per dry pound, and these cocoons were reeled at the department. The reeled silk on hand was sold during the year at $4 a pound, bringing in a return of $1,012. TRAFFIC IN CAGE BIRDS The Biological Survey has continued the work of educating the public, and es pecially the school children, regarding the economic value of birds as insect de stroyers, and the duty of protecting them. The fact that 400,000 cage birds, most of them canaries, are yearly imported into this country, and that the number is con stantly increasing, will surprise many. There seems to be no reason why most if not all the cage birds required in this country should not be raised here. The industry is very profitable in Germany and elsewhere abroad, where it is carried on by the women and children of indi vidual families, who, with comparatively little labor and trouble, add an interesting occupation to their ordinary household duties and secure satisfactory returns in cash. The mountain regions of the OGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Southern States, particularly, would seem to furnish almost ideal conditions for such an industry, which, besides being lucrative, possesses the added advantage of substituting domestic birds for such wild species as the mocking bird, cardi nal, and nonpareil, whose value to agri culture is too great to make it desirable to confine them in cages. DUCKS AND SHORE BIRDS In the past, one of the important food sources of the United States was its game, particularly its ducks, geese, and shore birds, thousands of which found their way to the markets of all our large cities, to be used for food by rich and poor. Unfortunately the natural supply of these birds was not wisely husbanded with an eye to the future, but, as in the case of the buffalo and wild pigeon, they were mercilessly pursued, till at the present time not a few species are threatened with speedy extinction. The subject is important, and it is ob vious that if the more desirable species of ducks and geese are to be preserved for the future, additional legislation is needed. The essential data to serve as a basis for legislative action are a knowl edge of the food supply and of the pair ing times of the several species of ducks, geese, and waders, and of the routes they pursue in migration. These subjects are now being carefully investigated. Our game birds are constantly dimin ishing in abundance, and the practice of introducing foreign birds as a substi tute grows in favor. Many species, serving both for food and sport, have already been more or less firmly estab lished in various parts of the country. During the year Illinois imported more than 1,000 European partridges, and. Kansas imported about 2,000 English pheasants. Capercailzie and black game of northern Europe, the former of which is nearly as large as wild turkey, have been imported successfully for liberation at various points, notably on Grand Isl and, Michigan, and in the Algonquin Park, Ontario.