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Jn the number of singular qualities belonging to infects i put the smallness of some of them, which, not only in comparison with other animals are excessively mii-'ute, but even in comparison with one another. There is a species of scorpion, one eight of a yard long, and Bufbequius assures us that he saw in Turks y an ant from the East Indies as big as a middle sized dog. These insects are very large in comparison with most others, and especially with those whicTi a:e no larger than a grain of millet, the point of a needle or which are even so minute as to be imperceptible, txccpt with tie assistance of a microscope. Wha' can the naked eve take in less than the cheese mitt? An-i \et rhisin'ect has a head, joints, mi'T1!' , antennae, hairs, intestines, &c. Those parts of cheese which it feeds on, must be still more minute. How sine must be the nutritive juice, which circulate* in tha veins of so small an animal! Fronj this circumstance alone we might infer the infinite divisibility of matter.
Some insects shine in the night like fire. Nature hath produced certain bodies endowed with an innate pr.-oerty of giving light. This ti^ht is lively and brilliant in some, as it is seen in sunshine. In others it is weaker, and shines only during night, the great fight of day effacing all the rays it is able to fefid out. Thus the hairs of horses and of cats especially of such as are black, if they are rubbed in the dark, give out sparks, or a small evanescent light. The rotten wood of the willow, fifli, and some other substance* likewise Ihine in the dark. Thus too certain infects, whose light is not sensible during the day, but when night comes they shine like burning coals, stars, or sighted matches. The light of some is so clear that it serves instead of a candle in some places, as in Brazil, by the help of two or three of them the people' can fee to sow* spin, and even to read. By their assistance also persons travel by night, they are a flambeau that (hews them the way, and prevents them from wandering.
The greater part of insects afe dumb; however many have , organs proper for making a kind of? noise, or producing a certain sound. There is as much variety observable in this noise and this found, as there is in the voices of different animals. ftrneng birds, the nightingale sings sweetly, the croWcroaks, the swallow twitters, the owl shrieks, the turtle cooes, the magpie chatters, and the quail and the snipe have each their particular note. The same difference takes place among quadrupeds: the lion roars, the ass brays, the horse neighs, the ox bellowsy &c. the fame is observable among insects. Those which gnaw wood produce a found similar to that of; the movement: of a watch. The different strokes they give are so justly measured, and are heard one after another, at intervals so equal, that one Would almost take it for a clock; and some have the tinkling sound of a cymbal, or the stroke of a bow givenbehind the bridge of a violin t others sing, hum, give a sharp acute tone, &c. All however da not' produce this found in the fame way; some make it by rubbing, the nape of the neck against the thorax,, rax, ethers by the clapping of their wings against' each other, or against the back, as the Scarabæus Fullo; nature has furnished the wings with very strong nerves for this purpose. Lastly, some produce a sound merely by rubbing their head, and the extremities of their wings with their Ion"- le^s.
This found is often very strong, especially when many insects fly together. That however is not always necessary; there are feme infects whose voice is so sonorous and piercing, as not only to awaken people a-fleep, but tom^-ke itself be heard at a distance, even though they be unc!er ground, as the Gryllotalpa, or at a pretty considerable depth in water, as a species of Dytiscus.
This faculty is bestowed on insects fof different purposes; many males use \r as an invitation to the females and therefore, it \z often a mark, bv which the males may be distinguished, as I think I have already observed. This rule, however, is net without exception, for the females of the Cimex peifonatus, and Scarabæus Fullo, likewise utter a found. The noise which some insects make, likewise serves to denote anger, sorrow, or pleasure. Some use it to inspire their enemies with terror, and to frighten them' away. Lastly, it is often a mark, by which other animals discover their enemy, who, when they hear his voice, avoid him and escape.
Many insects discharge a sensible smell. This is sometimes so offensive, that, in approaching them, one is sometimes obliged to stop ones nose, but there are also some whose smell is very agreeable. The musk beetle takes its name from this circumstance. In so;ne, the smell is natural to the insect, in others it is adventitious, and arises from the substances they feed on. Seme do not perpetually give out thi* v smell}' smell; to make them yield it, they must be squeezed, and the odorous particles, as it were, forced out of them. Some lose, at the instant of death, the smell they had while alive.
This quality is of special service to them at the time of pairing; by it they can discover one another at a distance, and can more easily meet. Like deer and cats, they discharge much more of the odorous effluvia, at this time, than at any other. Some use it to disgust their pursuers, in the fame manner as the Indian animal does, called Yzquiepatl, (Viverra vulpecula.)
It has been observed, that insects stain the leaves of trees, walls, and water. In the month of May, and other summer months, we often perceive a scum or green fibTous pellicle on stagnant waters. This is a fort ©f web, made by small maggots like eels, which the wind has driven from the sides of the pond. These small animals are exceedingly laborious, for this small pellicle is no sooner removed, than they immediately weave another. There is a small water insect, (Monoculus Pulcx,) which multiplies during summer, and its progeny are often so numerous, that they make the surface of the water quite red. This observation is of use; for the vulgar imagine, that the Water is then turned into blood, and that it is an omen of some approaching calamity. There are other insects that give occasion to similar superstitions. They discharge drops of a red juice, which assume different figures, and sometimes that of a cross. This is enough to alarm the ignorant, and to make them believe, that it has rained blood, whence they form all sorts of disastrous presages. But persons more attentive, and less prejudiced, have made experiments; and demonstrated that the appearance proceeds from certain specie* of butterflies.
Pelresc, if I am not mistaken, was she first wh<» took the trouble of examining into this phenomenon. In the nrnth of July 1608, a report wasspread, that a shower of blood had failen: this struck him, and determined him to neglect nothing, ki order to clear up a circumstance so extraordinary. He made the people (how him those large drops of blood, and found them on the wall of the cemetery of the great church, and on those of the houses of the common people and peasantry of the whole district, for a mile round. He considered them attentively, heard all that was sau-i on the subject, and, after mature deliberation he concluded that the shower of blood was an illusion. He had not, however, discovered she true cause of it, but an accident soon discovered it to him. He had enclosed, in a box, 9 large and beauti ul chrysalis, and hearing one day a> noise in'it, he opened the box, and there immediately flew out, a butterfly, (Pap'.lio C. album ) leaving at the bottom of the box, a pretty large red drop. There had appeared at the beginning of the month of July, a great number of these butterflies\ whence Peiresc concluded, that the red spots, which appeared on the walls, were nothing but the excrements of those insects. He was 'confirmed in his conjecture, upon examining the holes in which that species generally nestles. He observed besides, that on the walls of the houses, in the middle of the town, where these butterflies never come, there were none of those spots, nor on any but such as were next the country, where it is probable they might have lodged. Lastly, he remarked, that no spots were to be seen on, the tops of the houses, but only from the middle story downwards, the height to which these butterflies generally rife.
Other curious enquners have made the fame observation since his time. Among these is Dr Beckman-,