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red in North America, is thus noticed in a recent letter. • Within the last four or five days the fly has appeared, a non-descript, perhaps, in natural history, and covered the face of the whole earth, obscuring the sun, moon, and stars. The heavens are darkened by them, as in a dense cloudy day; as far as the eye can discern, they fill the air in every direction, as closely as a swarm of bees. Corn-fields, &c. are prostrated with the clouds that settle upon them; trees are covered, and the branches bent and broken down. The barracks and buildings in the vicinity, at the ends and sides not exposed to the sun, are entirely black, the insects piled one upon another. These creatures, with the feelers that protrude from head and tail, are about three inches in length, slough their skins daily; and in performing this operation, and in dying by millions every hour, so infect the atmosphere, as to render it unfit for respiration. Cattle, swine, and Indians, are said to feed and fatten upon them. The Frenchmen call them mosquito-hawks, because they make their appearance when mosquitos are most numerous, and, as is supposed, prey upon and drive them away. The flies themselves remain but six or seven days.'-Letter from Green Bay, Mich. Territory, United States, July 19, 1819.
In our own country the turnip-fly', the butterfly, and the goosberry worm, have long committed depredations in the fields and gardens, which no invention has hitherto been able to guard against. Watering the bushes, however, with an infusion of tobacco, has been found to possess some efficacy in the last case, by killing the insect in its larva state.
Another object highly worthy the attention of the Entomologist, is the means of preserving corn from the invasion of insects, after it is collected into granaries. This sort of sustenance, in almost every
See Mr. Coke's method of providing for this insect, at
stage of its progress, is constantly exposed to the intrusions of these enemies of human industry. Flour, biscuit, and almost every kind of farinaceous food, even after it is barrelled up for exportation, is liable to be devoured, or rendered useless, by the depredations of the most hideous animals. The patriotism of statesmen, and their zeal for the good of mankind, could not receive a nobler or more useful direction than in holding out rewards to such as might discover the most effectual means of preventing the ravages of those animalcules, which, by the most destructive activity, are continually converting large stores of provisions into so many masses of corruption.
May it not be hoped, that, by a careful study of the nature of insects, some means may be discovered of preventing them from penetrating into the joists of buildings, and thereby reducing them into dust, and effecting the destruction of the most costly edifices ? How often do we find wooden furniture destroyed by insects, which might otherwise have answered its purposes for ages? How many accidents are occasioned at sea by those formidable worms, whose heads are armed with hard shells, and who are hereby enabled to gnaw through the thickest planks, and make perforations under the water? The alarms they have frequently occasioned in Holland, by introducing themselves and multiplying among those wooden stakes which support their dikes, are universally known. The naturalist who should discover a mode of preventing such devastations would certainly deserve well of his country and of mankind, and could not be too highly rewarded.
The tar extracted from coal is an efficacions remedy in many cases. It not only penetrates so deeply into wood that it cannot be washed away, but is of so acrid a substance, as inevitably to de
See an account of the destruction occasioned among the woods of America by the larvæ of certain insects, at pp. 65, 66.
stroy the grub: but the intolerable effluvia which it emits, will, for ever, prevent its application in the case of household furniture.
The moth tribe makes still nearer approaches to man in the hostilities which it commits. No person is ignorant of the destructive quality of these insects to woollen cloths, and all kinds of fur and wearing 'apparel. The instinct of these animals, in providing a proper receptacle for their eggs, and food for their young, is astonishing; and it has been one of the chief objects of Reaumur, and other Entomologists, to devise methods for preventing their depredations.
Of such vast extent are the mischiefs occasioned by the insect tribes upon the various objects of human industry, and the necessaries of life; all these, however, dwindle into nothing when we reflect on their dangerous effects upon the human body, and call to mind that thousands of them are continually entering into the lungs by breathing. During the whole of the summer months, the atmosphere teems with myriads of minute and viewless insects, and particularly in the months of July and August: and the excessive numbers that are conveyed into the stomach and lungs are probably one cause of those epidemic disorders for which this season of the year is so remarkable. In other cases these sources of evil are more obvious and apparent. What an uncomfortable life must be that of the poor Laplander at certain seasons of the year, in which the number of insects that surround him is so great, that a candle is no sooner lighted than the flaine is extinguished by the multitudes that flock to it; where, after millions are destroyed, famished millions succeed, and renew the unceasing combat.
During the rainy season in India, we are told, insects of all descriptions are so incredibly numerous, and so busy every where, that it is often absolutely necessary to remove the lights from the suppertable; were this not done, moths, flies, bugs, beetles, and the like, would be attracted in such numbers as to extinguish them entirely. When the lights are retained on the table, in some places they are put into glass cylinders, which St. Pierre tells us is the custom in the Island of Mauritius; in others the candlesticks are placed in soup-plates, into which the insects are precipitated and drowned. Nothing çan exceed the irritation caused by the stinking bugs when they get into the hair or between the linen and the body; and if they be bruised upon it, the skin comes off
: To use the language of a poet of the Indies, from whom some of the above facts are selected,
On every dish the booming beetle falls,
The laugh how empty, and how forced the smile'! Even in Britain, which is happily free from these unrelenting invaders, 'much inconvenience is often felt from the bug, the hornet, the wasp, the bee, and a great variety of other tribes. Curiosity, however, is perhaps, after all, the leading stimulus of the entomologist: yet, are not objects of curiosity often nearly allied to those of utility ? While we amuse ourselves with the former, we are frequently led to the discovery of the latter. Hence the origin of many of the most important discoveries in philosophy, as well as in natural history; and had mankind been deprived of this powerful incentive, the European world would have been as ignorant and barbarous at the present hour as the savages of Africa or America.
See more on this subject in Kirby and Spence's Entomology, vol. i, p. 227,
And Sensations of Insects.
The laws of life, we call to mind,
From the extraordinary instincts evinced by many insects, the whole class has been supposed by some entomologists to possess more intelligence than animals of any other kind; yet it is highly probable, that, instead of more, they possess less than any animals, except the worm tribes. While various other animals are capable of some sort of education, these have but one invariable mode of operata ing, which no art can either alter or improve. The dog may be taught to carry; the bird to whistle a tune; fishes to obey a summons, and eat out of the hand; but those insects which may be considered as most perfectly domesticated, can by no invention be turned from their instinct. The silk-worm completes its labours, and the spider constructs its web, invariably in the same manner. An existence which continues but a single season, seems too short for the purposes of instruction. Hence insects are not only of a rank inferior to most other animals, but some of them seem more nearly allied to plants than to the classes above them. Many are attached to a single vegetable, some to a single leaf, where the period of their lives is completed in a few weeks, or