1904 Kalispell Ordinance: Fruit Pests
I recently found an online directory of Kalispell City ordinances and thought it’d be interesting to see what some of ordinances of the past were. So first, I went back to the very first entry in the online directory, which is from 1904. It’s ordinance number 169 so there are probably 168 ordinances that aren’t available online. So this post won’t cover the very first Kalispell ordinance which would have been fun, but it will cover the very first available online ordinance.
In June of 1904, Kalispell (and many areas of Montana) were dealing with a pest infestation that was resulting in infected fruit being sold in markets. The pests were Codling Moths, an insect that mainly impacts fruit trees such as apple and pear. The larvae doesn’t feed on leaves, but instead they enter the fruit through the sides, stem or other end of the fruit. They feed toward the core of the fruit, and leave a tunnel that leads to fruit rotting. Apparently, the moth larva are very hard to detect without cutting the fruit directly. By the way, these moths are still an issue today, but there are ways of treating them. (PS – photo is of larvae, but not necessarily the correct moth larvae.)
Back in 1904, the June 20th ordinance indicated every person in Kalispell who had apple or pear trees would have to spray those trees as directed but no more than four times per year. The Inspector of Fruit Pests had the responsibility to notify fruit tree owners when to spray them. If they did not spray within two days after notification, the Inspector would do so. He would also charge the fruit owners no more than 25 cents per tree for his work which was probably a lot at that time.
A question immediately popped into my mind and that was “what did they spray them with?” While there are non-chemical ways to handle these pests today, what was available in 1904? I couldn’t find any information specific to Kalispell, but I did find an article from the early 1900s in a different state that indicated lead and arsenate were often used to spray for these moths. So chances are, that’s what was used in Montana. Hopefully those apples and pears were washed well before eating!
So did the spraying work? It appears for the most part it did. In 1906 an article in the Lewistown MT Fergus County Democrat newspaper indicated the infestations were close to being eradicated. As this article states, there was “less than a hatful” of fruit remaining with issues.
And that’s it for the first online Kalispell Ordinance! I plan to pick one ordinance from each year to explore (if they are interesting enough). Stay tuned!
For more on Kalispell, check out this Kalispell link.
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