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The little gnat, in beauties, may compare
And bis pearled eyes with liveliest graces charm. The feet of the hippobosca, or horse-fly, are armed with a number of nails or crotchets : in some species, the wings cross each other; in others, they are open. The horse-flies frequent woods and marshy grounds, and are extremely incommodious to birds and quadrupeds, whose blood is the only food of these insects.
Nature's great works no distance can obscure,
We've learned the curious sight to press
Into the privatest recess
We've learned to read her smallest hand,
In this order both males and females are destitute of wings: it comprehends a great number of insects, many of which are very offensive and noxious to the human species. The genera are:-1. Podura, springtail.-2. Pediculus, louse.-3. Pulex, flea, chigger. -4. Acarus, tick, mite.-5. Aranea, spiders.-6. Scorpio, scorpion.—7. Cancer, crab, lobster, craw
With what ingenuity has she furnished it with a weapou to perforate the skin; and has made that weapon at once sharp for piercing and hollow for sucking up? We admire the turret-bearing shoulders of the elephant, the neck of the bull, and its power of tossing aloft with fury its enemy, the ravages of the tiger, and the mane of the lion. But it is not in these instances that Nature appears most admirable. Her wisdonı is nowhere more conspicuous than in her miputest works.'
fish, shrimp.-8. Monoculus, water-flea.-9. Oniscus, wood-louse.-10. Scolopendra, centipede.
The pulex, or flea, has six legs, the articulations of which are so exceedingly elastic, that the animal is enabled by their means to spring to a surprising distance. It has two fine eyes, and its body is covered with crustaceous scales. The flea is the only insect belonging to this order which undergoes a transformation similar to that of the former orders : all the other wingless insects are produced in a perfect state, either by the mother or from eggs. The caterpillars of the flea have forked tails, and are very small and lively. They may be nourished in boxes, and fed with flies, which they greedily devour. Beforo ohanging into the chrysalis state, they live fourteen or fifteen days in the form of caterpillars.
God, to punish our pride (observes St. Augustin), has subjected us to suffer pain from the smallest and meanest insect. Man, who in his pride boasts himself against his Maker, feels pain from the sting of a fea. Why art thou so puffed up and elated ? A flea shall deprive thee of sleep. Know better who thou art. For even to quell that pride and arrogance of thine, those offensive insects were perhaps called into existence. God by means of bears, and of the nobler animals, might have subdued the haughty Egyptians. But he employed flies and frogs, that he might quell their pride, even by the meanest of his creatures. All was created for Him, and without Him was nothing brought into being".'
· Galen, speaking of the art and wisdom displayed by God in the creation of insects, observes, 'the smaller the body, the greater the admiration will its structure excite; jast as the elaborate work of an artist upon the minutest substance; as for example that of the sculptor, who cut for a ring the figure of Phaeton drawn by four horses, in which one might observe the bridle, the mouth, and the fore-teeth of each of the horses.' And then having taken notice, that the legs were no bigger than those of a gnat, he shows that their make did not come
The genus called aranea, or spider, comprehends a great many species. The spider has eight feet, and an equal number of immoveable eyes. The chief prey of the spider is flies, animals whose motions are extremely quick and desultory. To enable the spider to observe their movements in every direction, it is furnished with eight eyes, the position of which merits attention : two of them are placed on the top of the head, other two on the front, and two on each side. The mouth is armed with two hooks or fangs, by which it seizes and kills its prey. The spider is also possessed of several muscular instruments, each of which contains about a thousand tubes or outlets for threads so extremely minute, that many hundreds of them must be united before they form one of those visible ropes of which its web is co . The figure of the web varies according to the species or the situation which the animal chooses for its abode. After the web is completed, some species reside in the centre, and others occupy the extremity of their habitations, where they lie in ambush, with astonishing patience, till a fly is accidentally entangled. The spider, from the vibration of the threads, perceives his prey, rushes forth from his cell, instantly seizes it with his fangs, devours its vitals, and afterward rejects the exhausted oarcase. Spiders prey upon all weaker insects, and even upon their own species:
But chief to heedless flies the window proves
up to those of the gnat ; as also, saith he, . How much greater must
Near the dire cell the dreadless wanderer oft
And ask the helping, hospitable hand. THOMSON'. The scorpion is a venomous insect, and a native of warmer climates than those of the north of Europe. It has eight feet, and two claws, the last of which are situate on the forepart of the head. Like the spider, the scorpion has eight eyes, three of which are placed on each side of the breast, and the other two on the back. The tail is long, jointed, and terminates in a sharp crooked sting. The venom of the scorpion is more destructive than that of any other insect, and is sometimes fatal in Africa and other hot regions.
The two genera cancer and monoculus are crustaceous, or have a hard shelly covering. The crabs and lobsters cast their skins annually, the body shrinking before the change, and enabling them easily to draw out their limbs from the shell. The larger kind of crabs possess the extraordinary power of casting off at pleasure any limb which may be accidentally maimed or bruised, and a new limb is gradually formed. Like some of the crabs, lobsters are said to be attached to particular parts of the sea.
In shelly armour wrapt, the lobsters seek
See a Sonnet to the Spider in Time's Telescope for 1817, p. 117; an account of the garden-spider and descriptive lines in pp. 301, 302; some curious particulars respecting spiders' webs in T. 1. for 1816, pp. 305-307; and on the gossamer appearance in T. T. for 1814, p. 27%, for 1817, pp. 298-301, and the present volume, pp. 263-264.
Thongh cruel bands the bapished wretch expel,
Egg State and Transformation.
Insects are, in general, oviparous, producing eggs which are gradually quickened into life by the joint influence of the heat of the sun, and of those warm substances which constitute their nidus. Bonnet mentions some instances in the order diptera, in which the parent insect produces living young. The genus aphis exhibits a singular phænomenon also in this respect: during summer, being viviparous, but oviparous towards winter; the mode of birth being determined by the nature of the season.
The nide in which the eggs of insects are deposited is generally chosen with admirable skill; and adapted equally to the security, warmth, and subsistence of the larves that are to be reared in it. Some construct their nests in the earth with great labour; others deposit their eggs upon those plants, the leaves of which are to supply food for the nascent brood; a third kind, as various species of the musca, bury their eggs in the body of the chrysalids of other insects, upon the juices of which the young are nourished at the expense of the defenceless animal which they devour. The skin, the nostrils, viscera, &c. of quadrupeds, furnish a receptacle for other insects; and here nature directs the parent animal to deposit its eggs. Instinct is the sole guide, and almost always an unerring one.
In the Lapland Alps there is an insect called the rein-deer gad-fly (oestrus tarandi), the attacks of which are greatly dreaded by the rein-deer. It hovers all day over these animals, who betray every mark of fear; their legs tremble under them; they