Зображення сторінки

curiosities are satisfied, retire to another part of the lake, perhaps to deposit their fætus in quiet; hence the sexes are found separate, except where generation is going on. From the multitude of minute young of all gradations of sizes, these insects seem without doubt to be viviparous.—WHITE.

PHALÆNA QUERCUS. Most of our oaks are naked of leaves, and even the Holt in general, having been ravaged by the caterpillars of a small phalana which is of a pale yellow colour. These insects, though a feeble race, yet, from their infinite numbers, are of wonderful effect, being able to destroy the foliage of whole forests and districts. At this season they leave their aurelia, and issue forth in their fly state, swarming and covering the trees and hedges.

In a field at Greatham I saw a flight of swifts busied in catching their prey near the ground; and found they were hawking after these phalænæ. The aurelio of this moth is shining and as black as jet; and lies wrapped up in a leaf of the tree, which is rolled round it, and secured at the ends by a web, to prevent the maggot from falling out. —WHITE.

I suspect that the insect here meant is not the phalona quercus, but the phalana viridata, concerning which I find the following note in my Naturalist's Calendar for the year 1785 :

About this time, and for a few days last past, I observed the leaves of almost all the oak-trees in Denn copse to be eaten and destroyed, and, on examining more narrowly, saw an infinite number of small, beautiful, pale green moths flying about the trees; the leaves of which that were not quite destroyed were curled up, and withinside were the exuvice, or remains of the chrysalis, from whence I suppose the moths had issued, and whose caterpillar had eaten the leaves.-MARKWICK.


June 10th, 1771. Myriads of May-flies appear for the first time on the Alresford stream. The air was crowded with then, and the surface of the water covered. Large trouts sucked them in as they lay struggling on the surface of the stream, unable to rise till their wings were dried.

This appearance reconciled me in some measure to the wonderful account that Scopoli gives of the quantities emerging from the rivers of Carniola. Their motions are very peculiar, up and down for so many yards almost in a perpendicular line.-WHITE.

I once saw a swarm of these insects playing up and down over the surface of a pond in Denn Park, exactly in the manner described by this accurate naturalist. It was late in the evening of a warm summer's day when I observed them.-MARKWICK.

SPHYNX OCELLATA. A vast insect appears after it is dusk, flying with a humming noise, and inserting its tongue into the bloom of the honey-suckle ; it scarcely settles upon the plants, but feeds on the wing in the manner of humming birds.—WHITE.

I have frequently seen the large bee moth, sphinx stellatarum, inserting its long tongue or proboscis into the centre of flowers, and feeding on their nectar, without settling on them, but keeping constantly on the wing. MARKWICK,


There is a sort of wild bee frequenting the gardencampion for the sake of its tomentum, which probably it turns to some purpose in the business of nidification. It is very pleasant to see with what address it strips off the pubes, running from the top to the bottom of a branch, and shaving it bare with all the dexterity of a hoop-shaver. When it has got a vast bundle, almost as large as itself, it flies away, holding it secure between its chin and its fore legs.

There is a remarkable hill on the downs near Lewes in Sussex, known by the name of Mount Carburn, which overlooks that town, and affords a most engaging prospect of all the country round, besides several views of the sea. On the very summit of this exalted promontory, and amidst the trenches of its Danish camp, there haunts a species of wild bee, making its nest in the chalky soil. When people approach the place, these insects begin to be alarmed, and, with a sharp and hostile sound, dash and strike round the heads and faces of intruders. I have often been interrupted myself while contemplating the grandeur of the scenery around me, and have thought myself in danger of being stung.– WHITE.

WASPS. Wasps abound in woody wild districts far from neighbourhoods ; they feed on flowers, and catch flies and caterpillars to carry to their young. Wasps make their nests with the raspings of sound timber; hornets, with what they gnaw from decayed : these particles of wood are kneaded up with a mixture of saliva from their bodies and moulded into combs.

When there is no fruit in the gardens, wasps cat flies,

and suck the honey from flowers, from ivy blossoms and umbellated plants; they carry off also flesh from butchers' shambles. — WHITE.

In the year 1775 wasps abounded so prodigiously in this neighbourhood, that, in the month of August, no less than seven or eight of their nests were ploughed up in one field : of which there were several instances, as I was informed.

In the spring, about the beginning of April, a single wasp is sometimes seen, which is of a larger size than usual ; this I imagine is the queen or female wasp, the mother of the future swarm.-MARKWICK.


This insect lays its nits or eggs on horses' legs, flanks, etc., each on a single hair. The maggots, when hatched, do not enter the horses' skins, but fall to the ground. It seems to abound most in moist, moorish places, though sometimes seen in the uplands.-WHITE.


About the beginning of July a species of fly (musca) obtains, which proves very tormenting to horses, trying still to enter their nostrils and ears, and actually laying their

eggs in the latter of those organs, or perhaps in both. When these abound, horses in woodland districts become very impatient at their work, continually tossing their heads, and rubbing their noses on each other, regardless of the driver, so that accidents often ensue. In the heat of the day, men are often obliged to desist from ploughing. Saddle-horses are also very troublesome at such seasons, Country people call this inscct the nose-fly.-WHITE.

Is not this insect the Oestris nasalis of Linnæus, so well described by Mr. Clark in the third volume of the Linnæan Transactions, under the

of Oestrus veterinus 1-MARKWICK.



I saw lately a small ichneumon fly attack a spider much larger than itself on a grass-walk. When the spider made any resistance, the ichneumon applied her tail to him and stung him with great vehemence, so that he soon became dead and motionless. The ichneumon then running backward, drew her prey very nimbly over the walk into the standing grass. This spider would be deposited in some hole where the ichneumon would lay some eggs ; and as soon as the eggs were hatched, the carcase would afford ready food for the maggots.

Perhaps some eggs might be injected into the body of the spider, in the act of stinging. Some ichneumons deposit their eggs in the aurelia of moths and butterflies.— WHITE.

In my Naturalist's Calendar for 1795, July 21st, I find the following note :

It is not uncommon for some of the species of ichneumon flies to deposit their eggs in the chrysalis of a butterfly ; some time ago I put two of the chrysales of a butterfly into a box, and covered it with gauze, to discover what species of butterfly they would produce; but instead of a butterfly, one of them produced a number of small ichneumon flies.

There are many instances of the great service these little insects are to mankind in reducing the number of noxious insects, by depositing their eggs in the soft bodies of their larvce; but none more remarkable than that of the

« НазадПродовжити »