Abbildungen der Seite

Alresford stream. The air was crowded with them, 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 many yards almost in a perpendicular line.


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 day when I observed them.


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



I have frequently seen the large bee-moth* (sphynx stel- ' latarum) 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.


WILD BEE.t-There is a sort of wild bee frequenting the garden-campion for the sake of its tomentum, which probably it turns to some purpose in the business of nidification. It

* This sphynx may almost be thought to be a link between the hummingbird and an insect. It is very wild and by no means common in my own neighbourhood.-E.

# The mention of bees reminds me of the following pleasing lines of Pope :

“ The happy bees that with the spring renew

Their flowery toil, and sip the fragrant dew,
When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky,
O'er dusky fields and shaded waters fly,
Or settling, seize the sweets the blossom yields
And a low murmur runs along the fields."-Ed.

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.*




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 eat flies, and suck the honey from flowers, from ivy-blossoms, and umbellated plants. They carry off also flesh from the butchers' shambles.


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 inforined.

In the spring, about the beginning of April, a single wasp is sometimes seen, which is of a larger size than usual.

* Mr. White had some cause for his apprehension, for these bees sting very severely.-ED.

This, I imagine, is the queen,* or female wasp, the mother of the future swarm.


Estrus CURVICAUDA.—This insect lays its nits, or eggs, on horses' legs, flanks, &c. 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.

NOSE FLY.—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 Country people call this insect the nose fly.



Is not this insect the destrus nasalis of Linnæus, so well described by Mr. Clark, in the third volume of the Linnæan Transactions, under the name of østrus veterinus ?


ICHNEUMON FLY.—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 backwards, 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.

* In Mr. White's MSS., he mentions that he used to give a reward to boys who brought him these female wasps in the spring, knowing that each of them would be the parent of a new colony.-Ed.

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.


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 larve; but none more remarkable than that of the ichneumon tipula, which pierces the tender body and deposits its eggs in the larva of the tipula tritici, an insect which, when it abounds greatly, is very prejudicial to the grains of wheat. This operation I have frequently seen it perform with wonder and delight.

MARKWICK. BOMBYLIUS MEDIUS.—The bombylius medius is much about in March and the beginning of April, and soon seems to retire. It is a hairy insect, like a humble-bee, but with only two wings, and a long straight beak, with which it sucks the early flowers. The female seems to lay its eggs as it poises on its wings, by striking its tail on the ground, and against the grass that stands in its way, in a quick manner, for several times together.

WHITE. I have often seen this insect fly with great velocity, stop on a sudden, hang in the air in a stationary position for some time, and then fly off again; but do not recollect having ever seen it strike its tail agaiust the ground, or any other substance.


MUSCE (FLIES.)*_In the decline of the year, when the

* Three species of English house-flies have now been introduced into

mornings and evenings become chilly, many species of flies (musce) retire into houses, and swarm in the windows.

At first they are very brisk and alert; but, as they grow more torpid, one cannot help observing that they move with difficulty, and are scarce able to lift their legs, which seem as if glued to the glass ; and, by degrees, many do actually stick on till they die in the place.

It has been observed that divers flies, besides their sharp hooked nails, have also skinny palms or flaps to their feet whereby they are enabled to stick on glass and other smooth bodies, and to walk on ceilings with their backs downward, by means of the pressure of the atmosphere on those flaps; the weight of which they easily overcome in warm weather, when they are brisk and alert. But, in the decline of the year, this resistance becomes too mighty for their diminished strength; and we see flies labouring along, and lugging their feet in windows, as if they stuck fast to the glass, and it is with the utmost difficulty they can draw one foot after another, and disengage their hollow caps from the slippery surface.

Upon the same principle that flies stick and support themselves, do boys, by way of play, carry heavy weights by only a piece of wet leather, at the end of a string, clapped close on the surface of a stone.


TIPULÆ, OR EMPEDES.—May.—Millions of empedes, or tipule, come forth at the close of day, and swarm to such a degree as to fill the air. At this juncture they sport and copulate ; as it grows more dark, they retire. All day they hide in the hedges. As they rise in a cloud, they appear like smoke.

I do not ever remember to have seen such swarms, except in the fens of the Isle of Ely. They appear most over grass grounds.


APHIDES.—On the first of August, about half an hour after three in the afternoon, the people of Selborne were

Australia, where they promise soon to be a complete pest. Nature does not appear to have made any provision to guard against this great increase of insects by means of insectivorous birds.-ED.

« ZurückWeiter »