« ZurückWeiter »
the shrubbery, and frisking about as if the business of generation was still going on. Hence it appears that these diptera (which by their sizes appear to be of different species) are not subject to a torpid state in the winter, as most winged insects are. At night, and in frosty weather, and when it rains and blows, they seem to retire into those trees. They often are out in a fog.
This I have also seen, and have frequently observed swarms of little winged insects playing up and down in the air in the middle of the winter, even when the ground has been covered with snow.
HUMMING IN THE AIR.—There is a natural occurrence to be met with upon the highest part of our down in hot summer days, which always amuses me much, without giving me any satisfaction with respect the cause of it; and that is, a loud audible humming of bees in the air, though not one insect is to be seen. This sound is to be heard distinctly the whole common through, from the Money-dells, to Mr. White’s avenue gate. Any person would suppose that a large swarm of bees was in motion, and playing about over his head. This noise was heard last week, on June 28th.
“Resounds the living surface of the ground,
CHAFFERS.—Cockchaffers * seldom abound oftener than once in three or four years; when they swarm, they deface the trees and hedges. Whole woods of oaks are stripped bare by them.
Chaffers are eaten by the turkey, the rook, and the housesparrow.t
* Farmers have told me that when chaffers abound, they fall from trees and hedges on the backs of the sheep, where, becoming entangled in the wool, they die, and being blown by flies, fill the sheep with maggots.—Ed.
+ Rooks destroy an immense number of chaffers, not only in the grub
The scarabeus solstitialis first appears about June 26th: they are very punctual in their coming out every year. They are a small species, about half the size of a May-chaffer, and are known in some parts by the name of the fern-chaffer.
A singular circumstance relative to the cockchaffer, or, as it is called here, the May-bug (scarabæus melolontha), happened this year (1800) :-My gardener, in digging some ground, found, about six inches under the surface, two of these insects alive and perfectly formed, so early as the 24th of March. When he brought them to me, they appeared to be as perfect and as much alive as in the midst of summer, crawling about as briskly as ever: yet I saw no more of this insect till the 22nd of May, when it began to make its appearance. How comes it, that though it was perfectly formed so early as the 24th of March,* it did not show itself above ground till nearly two months afterwards ?
PTINUS PECTINICORNIS.—Those maggots that make wormholes in tables, chairs, bed-posts, &c., and destroy wooden furniture, especially where there is any sap, are the larvæ of the ptinus pectinicornis. This insect, it is probable, deposits its eggs on the surface, and the worms eat their way in.
In their holes, they turn into their pupe state, and so come forth winged in July: eating their way through the
state, but when they have arrived at maturity, for I have frequently observed them in search of them on trees and hedges. Mr. White recommends that a rook should be shot weekly the year through, and its crop examined in order to discover whether upon the whole they do more harm or good, from the contents at various periods. Though his experiment might show that these birds occasionally injure corn and turnips, yet their continual consumption of grubs, and wire-worms, and other noxious insects would greatly preponderate in their favour. In fact, I believe rooks to be great friends to the farmer, and it is to be regretted that they are often so wantonly destroyed.-ED.
* I have often observed this fact, and also ascertained that the perfectly formed chaffer never comes forth till the leaves are on the trees, which they are not so early as the 24th of March. This is an interesting fact, and shows how kindly Providence has instilled even into insects the means of selfpreservation.-ED.
valances or curtains of a bed, or any other furniture that happens to obstruct their
passage. They seem to be most inclined to breed in beech ; hence beech will not make lasting utensils or furniture. If their eggs are deposited on the surface, frequent rubbing will preserve wooden furniture.
WHITE. BLATTA ORIENTALIS (COCKROACH).-A neighbour complained to me that her house was overrun with a kind of black beetle, or, as she expressed herself, with a kind of black-bob, which swarmed in her kitchen when they got up in the morning before daybreak.
Soon after this account, I observed an unusual insect in one of my dark chimney closets, and find since, that in the night they swarm also in my kitchen. On examination, I soon ascertained the species to be the blatta orientalis of Linnæus, and the blatta molendinaria of Mouffet. The male is winged; the female is not, but shows somewhat like the rudiments of wings, as if in the pupa state.
These insects belonged originally to the warmer parts of America, and were conveyed from thence by shipping to the East Indies; and, by means of commerce, begin to prevail in the more northern parts of Europe, as Russia, Sweden, &c. How long they have abounded in England I cannot say ; but have never observed them in my house till lately.
They love warmth, and haunt chimney closets and the backs of ovens. Poda
that these and house-crickets will not associate together ; but he is mistaken in that assertion, as Linnæus suspected he was. They are altogether nightinsects, lucifuge, never coming forth till the rooms are dark and still, and escaping away nimbly at the approach of a candle. Their antennæ are remarkably long, slender, and flexile.
October, 1790.—After the servants are gone to bed, the kitchen hearth swarms with young crickets, and
blatte molendinariæ of all sizes, from the most minute growth to their full proportions. They seem to live in a friendly manner together, and not to prey the one on the other.
August, 1792.-After the destruction of many thousands of blattæ molendinaria, we find that at intervals a fresh detachment of old ones arrives, and particularly during this
hot season; for, the windows being left open in the evenings, the males come flying in at the casements from the neighbouring houses, which swarm with them. How the females, that seem to have no perfect wings that they can use, can contrive to get from house to house, does not so readily appear. These, like many insects, when they find their present abodes overstocked, have powers of migrating to fresh quarters. Since the blatte have been so much kept under, the crickets have greatly increased in number. WHITE.
GRYLLUS DOMESTICUS (HOUSE CRICKET).—November. After the servants are gone to bed, the kitchen hearth swarms with minute crickets, not so large as fleas, which must have been lately hatched. So that these domestic insects, cherished by the influence of a constant large fire, regard not the season of the year, but produce their young at a time when their congeners are either dead or laid up for the winter, to pass away the uncomfortable inonths in the profoundest slumbers, and a state of torpidity.
When house-crickets are out and running about in a room in the night, if surprised by a candle, they give two or three shrill notes, as it were for å signal to their fellows, that they may escape to their crannies and lurking holes, to avoid danger.
CIMEX LINEARIS.*-August 12, 1775.-Cimices lineares are now in high copulation on ponds and pools. The females, who vastly exceed the males in bulk, dart and shoot along on the surface of the water with the males on their backs. When a female chooses to be disengaged, she rears, and jumps, and plunges like an unruly colt; the lover, thus dismounted, soon finds a new mate. The females, as fast as their curiosities are satisfied, retire to another part of the lake, perhaps to deposit their fætus in quiet; hence the sexes are found
* The egg of the long water-bug, Mr. Bennett informs us, has been sufficiently known for many years. It is armed at one end with two bristles, and is inserted into the stem of an aquatic plant, generally of a club-rush, in which it is so deeply immersed by the aid of the lengthened ovipositor of the insect, as to be entirely hidden froin view; the bristles alone project from the place of concealment. The object of this curious arrangement is amony the nost beautiful and beneficent of the provisions of Nature,
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.
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 near Greatham I saw a flight of swifts busied in matching their prey near the ground; and found they were hawking after these phalæne. The aurelia 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 phalæna 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 exuviæ, or remains of the chrysalis, from whence I suppose the moths had issued, and whose caterpillar had eaten the leaves.
EPHEMERA Cauda BISETA (May Fly).*_June 10, 1771. Myriads of May flies appeared for the first time on the
* The most extraordinary appearance of May flies I ever witnessed was on the Colne at Denham near Uxbridge, the hospitable seat of the late John Drummond, Esq. The air was full of them, and the water covered by them. The whole scene was equally beautiful and surprising, and I have no doubt but that my old angling-friend, Richard Penn, Esq., will recollect the day aud the occurrence.-ED.