Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 12, 1879
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1. “Notes on a Disease among Sheep in the Waikato District,” by Major W. G. Mair.

In mid-summer, 1877–8, sheep in Upper Waikato were affected by a disease hitherto unknown to sheep-breeders in the district. The symptoms were described as being not unlike those caused by eating ergotized grass, viz., throwing up the head, jerking it suddenly to one side, then staggering back and falling. These symptoms suggested an affection of the brain, and upon some of the sheep being killed for examination, one or more maggots were, in every instance, found apparently eating through the substance of the brain; in some cases smaller maggots were found in the nasal passages, indicating that it was by the nostril that the parasite found its way into the sheep's head! In one instance, an unusually large maggot was found under the base of the tongue. I could not ascertain whether any sheep had died from this disease, and many well-conditioned animals were found, upon being slaughtered, to be infested by these parasites. The maggots are in some instances fully three-quarters of an inch in length by half an inch in breadth; the colour is a dirty white, with two triangular black spots at the nether extremity.

When placed upon a smooth surface they travel with a brisk undulating motion like that of the caterpillar, and they are very retentive of life, being quite lively after three days' imprisonment in a match-box. I have no idea what the perfect insect may be like, but there was a fly common about sheep yards at the time when these observations were made, and as it appears to be new, it is possible that it may be the one which deposits the maggots, either in the sheeps' nostrils, or in their food.

I am indebted to Messrs. Kirk and Connell, of the Armed Constabulary, for the greater part of my information.

Several members pointed out that the disease described by the author was due to the œstrus, or Gad-fly, which appears to be increasing in numbers in New Zealand.

2. “On the Occurrence of the Genus Sporadanthus in New Zealand,” by T. F. Cheesman, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 324.)

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3. “On the Habits of Prionoplus reticularis, with Diagnoses of the Larva and Pupa,” by Capt. T. Broun. (Transactions, p. 284.)

Mr. Cheeseman exhibited, on behalf of Capt. Broun, specimens of the larva and pupa of Prionoplus, and pieces of timber perforated by the larva.