ePub 版
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

Chinese choose a valley for a cemetery, as that of the Vale of Tombs near the lake See Hoo. (fig. 95.) The Chinese burying-place near the Yellow River (fig. 97.) is a specimen of a cemetery on high ground.” (Encyc. of Gard., ed. 1834, p. 338.)

(To be continued.)

ART. IV. On the Hornet. By J. Wighton. Some persons doubt if the hornet mentioned in Holy Writ be the same kind as our hornet : they ground their doubt on the fact that hornets, like wasps, will seldom attack or sting any one without provocation. This, however, is groundless ; for He who sent the hornet as a scourge on the Canaanites would make them fulfil it; and, though we are not told of the fulfilment of the scourge, still we may conclude that it was fulfilled, and that too dreadfully. But be all this as it may, though the hornet be not the largest stinging insect we have, still it is the most formidable one. Fortunately hornets are not so numerous as their fellow species the wasps, otherwise they would strike terror, especially to those that startle at the sight of a wasp or a bee. I have conversed with several who have been stung by hornets, and they said the pain was great : I have been thrice stung by them myself, and, except in one, the pain was not much greater than I have felt from the sting of a wasp; and that was not enough to make me believe the old saying, that "nine hornets could sting a horse to death.” Some feel more pain from a sting than others; there are even instances of persons dying from the sting of a bee, but such are rare occurrences, such as that of a prick from a pin or thorn causing death. However, I wish none to be stung by hornets; my object is only to mention something about their habits. In doing this, I find I can glean but little from authors : they merely say that the hornet is a species of wasp, and their habits are similar. Professor Wilson, however, observes that the Véspa Cràbro (the hornet) has never appeared in Scotland.

Though the hornet is a species of wasp, indeed it may be called the king of the wasps, yet it differs a little from the wasp in its habits: for instance, the hornet rarely builds its nest in the ground, and we never find it suspended from a branch in the open air. A dry hollow tree, and somewhere under the roof of a shed or barn, are the favourite sites of the hornet. When in possession of either of the latter places, their nest may be seen fixed to a spar by several little props or pillars, having a large opening below : in this respect it differs from the wasps' nests, especially those seen upon a branch; they are closed below, except a small hole or two to enter at. The opening is to allow the excrement from the insects to pass through, it being far greater than from wasps ; so much so, that from a strong colony of hornets a filthy fuid is always dropping. In spring, the hornet, like the wasp, begins her nest alone. Both collect their materials from decayed wood, and the hornet chooses that which is more decayed. It seems doubtful if either use saliva or resin from trees in working up the materials. Hornets may be seen entering their nest with clear drops in their mouths, which differ neither in touch nor taste from water: whether this fluid is to carry on the structure, or to feed the brood, I cannot rightly say ; but I suspect it is for the former purpose. The materials, being so very dry, of course require moisture before they can be formed into paper, which is of a coarser texture than that formed by the wasp. Both rear their structures nearly alike, except that the hornets' cells are made larger ; viz. the combs are ranged horizontally, and form many distinct parallel stories, supported by many little pillars ; more are added as the weight increases, and they are sometimes attached to the cocoons of the insects while in their cells, and are cut through when they come forth. The mouths of the cells are downwards ; consequently the tops of the combs are

composed of the bases of the

cells, and form nearly a level floor, on which the insects can pass and repass. The spaces between the first-formed, or workers', combs in the hornet's nest are about half an inch high, in those of the queen 1 in.; but the spaces in both are reduced by the cocoons of the insects, especially that of the queen, which protrudes beyond the rest. Though hornets' cells are larger than those of wasps, still they are not so numerous, and of course their progeny is less, except the queens and drones, which are far greater, and are reared last in the colony: they amount to several hundreds ; indeed, the whole cells in autumn are occupied by them. The drones are principally in the workers' cells, but they are found also in those of the queen : those bred in the latter appear to be of a larger size. It is not so with the wasps ; among them the drones and queens are bred together in larger cells in the last-formed combs, and working wasps are reared until the colony disperse.

I have made these remarks from a hornet's nest taken from a hollow tree on the 25th of Sept. At that time the wasps were getting weak, and careless about their nests, while the hornets were in full vigour. The nest contained nine divisions of combs, full of eggs and brood ; even the last comb, or rather the embryo of one, being only five cells, just begun, contained eggs a little larger than wasps'; but, like theirs, deposited on one side, a little from the bottom of their cells. This affords room for the excrements from the grubs, which was the black substance found in the empty cells when the colony was upset. It contained more drones and queens than workers ; several hundreds more came forth. During a month nine kept the nest in a hothouse ; but, strange to say, not one worker, their cells being full of brood drones, as already noticed. I put one worker into the nest : though wingless, he foraged about, and, on the least alarm, he was always the first to appear. When pressed with hunger, he came with the rest and ate from my hand. I cannot say whether the drones or young queens take any part in the colony; the former quit in search of food"; they are larger than the workers, are known from them by their long dark feelers or horns, and by having no sting. The queens are larger ; I never saw them abroad in search of food ; probably they are fed by the workers, and before becoming torpid eat the dying larvæ. It

may be worthy of remark, that, though there were many males and females in the nest alluded to, I could not discern them meeting to insure a future increase; as the drones and workers perish at the end of the season, it must take place before then. The queens , like those of the wasp, hide themselves during winter amongst dry moss, &c., in a torpid state, until the warmth of spring calls them forth to begin fresh colonies.

Since the above was written, Dr. Neill, who is well known as a naturalist as well as a horticulturist, sent me word that he has never met with the Vespa Cràbro in Scotland. I cannot do better than give his own words on this subject : _“I sent the hornets to the Rev. J. Duncan, in whose rich collection they will have a place. He writes me thus : 'I have no hesitation in saying that you may assure your correspondent that the hornet does not occur in Scotland. I have stated this as my belief in a paper on the Wasp, in the 12th volume of the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture. I never saw a hornet in this country, nor ever heard of one occurring. It extends much farther north on the Continent; but we cannot infer from that that it should likewise be found here. It is so conspicuous and formidable an insect, that, had it existed here, it is not likely it would have been overlooked.' From such evidences, especially the Rev. J. Duncan's, who may be styled the Scottish Kirby, we may conclude there are no hornets in Scotland ; and it is very natural for us to ask why. Want of proper food cannot be the cause, for wasps find nourishment there. The wet and cold variable springs in Scotland may have something to do with it, by arousing the insects at an improper time ; but not all, for the hornet can endure, perhaps, more cold than the wasp, they are often abroad both night and day after the wasps disappear. I may add, that I once exposed hornets abroad during a cold night ; in the morning

they were covered with rime frost, and dead to appearance; but when placed in the warmth they soon began to hum. Perhaps the cause may be owing to something peculiar in the insect for local districts; for instance, it is said that the hornet is not found in Cambridge or Lincolnshire: the fact that they abound in Norfolk, an adjoining county, is in favour of this. There is one thing, however, much against it ; that is, hornets are never so numerous as wasps ; yet there are more queens reared in their nests than in those of wasps. This argues in favour of the climate and food being more against their increase. The hornet may be considered more an inhabitant of woods than the wasp ; and, as regards food, though they visit the garden and orchard in search of it, still their greatest supply is from the forest. They will unbark the young shoots of trees ; for instance, the ash: frequently the shoots appear as if they had been eaten by rabbits. This shows they have great power in their mandibles; and it is a curious fact, that, like some other insects when in confinement, in a pill-box for instance, they do not attempt to escape by cutting through it, which they could do in a few minutes.”

Hornets have been very numerous during the last season. I have assisted in destroying many of their nests, which gave me an opportunity of observing their manner of defence. If their nests had not been previously disturbed, they might be approached with safety; if otherwise, not. At first, when the attack is made, those that issue from the nest show bold resistance, yet seldom sting without giving notice of their intention, by whizzing with great force close by one's ear; but, for all their strength and courage, they sooner give way than their weaker fellows the wasps : these are waspish to the last, while the hornets that escape hum off in the distance.

Coseey Gardens, April 4. 1843.

Art. V. Some Account of the Insects which attack the Raspberry.

By J. O. Westwood, F.L.S, Secretary to the Entomological So

ciety of London. THERE are but few species of insects which materially injure the leaves or fruit of the raspberry. This plant, like most vegetables, has, of course, its aphis and its lepidopterous caterpillars which gnaw the leaves ; but the obnoxious species may be considered as consisting only of the grub of a moth which attacks the bud, and that of a beetle which attacks the fruit. Of the former, the individuals are produced in the preceding autumn, and are thus of a considerable size when the spring developes the buds, into the base of which they burrow and penetrate to the heart, consuming the embryo flowers and leaves in the same manner as I have described in my account of the caterpillar of the apricot moth. The buds thus attacked may be easily known by their faded appearance, and should be hand-picked and destroyed.

The other insect above mentioned does not commence its attacks until the fruit approaches maturity. Many of the berries may now be perceived more or less shriveled, with the seed-vessels dried up. If one of these be opened, the central core of the fruit will be found more or less burrowed, as well as the fruit, the seeds of which are left bare and dry, especially at the top, the remainder not being full-sized, and generally prematurely ripe and discoloured. This is done by a whitish grub, of about a quarter of an inch long, and rather cylindric in figure; with the under side of the body and sides, and articulations of the segments, dirty white; the head and a dorsal plate on each ring brownish buff, with the sides and a central longitudinal line on each plate brown, thus giving the appearance of three dorsal lines of brown. The head is

Fig. 98 The Raspberry Beetle. horny, and furnished

a, Full-grown raspberry. 6, Raspberry attacked by the larva, and with horny jaws and

not arrived at the full growth; many of the seed-cells dried up.

c, The same opened, to show the larva on the core, into which it short feelers, as well

burrows. d, The larva. e, The perfect insect Aying, of the as with the various membranous parts usually present, composing the under portions of the mouth of the larvæ of Coleoptera. The grub is also furnished with six short scaly articulated feet. It has also two short scaly horns on the upper side of the extremity of the body; the under side being furnished with a fleshy retractile tubercle, which the insect uses as a seventh foot. When full grown it descends to the earth, where it buries itself to a considerable depth, forming for itself a small oval cocoon of earth, with the inner surface quite smooth. Here it assumes the ordinary pupa state to which all coleopterous insects are subject. Some individuals which I reared did not arrive at the perfect state till the following spring, when they produced the Bytùrus tomentosus, a small buff or slaty brown coloured oval beetle, with knobbed antennæ, which is to be seen flying about the raspberry plants in the spring and summer, and which is also very partial to the hawthorn and blackberry.

I am the more desirous of stating the result of my own observations, because Mr. Curtis, in his account of this beetle, appears to be in some doubt whether the maggots found in the fruit of the raspberry are those of this insect; whilst Messrs.


natural size.

« 上一頁繼續 »