網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

fight of day effacing all therays,itis able to send out.
Thus the hairs of hmses and of cats especially of such
as are black, if they are rubbed in the dark, give out
sparks, or a small evanescent right. The rotten -
wood of the willow, sish, and some other substance*
likewise sbine in the dark. Thus too certain insects,
whose light is not sensible during the day, but when
night comes they fliine like burning coals, stars, or
Bghted matches. The light of some is so clear that,
it serves instead of a candle in some places, as in Bra-
zil, by the help of two or three of them the people;
can see to sow, spin, and even to read. By their
assistance also persons travel by night j they are a
flambeau that shews them the way, and prevents
them from wandering.

The greater part of insects are dumb; however many have organs proper tor making a kind ofj noiser or producing a certain sound. There is a» much variety observable in this noise and this sounds as there is in the voices of different animals. Among birds, the nightingale sings sweetly, the crow croaks, 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 bellows* , &c. the fame is observable among insects; Those which gnaw wood produce a found similar to that o£• the movement of a watch. The different strokesthey 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 th? stroke of a bow givei* behind the bridge of a violin : others sing, hum, give a sharp acute tone, &c. All however do not produce this sound in the fame way; some make it by rubbing the nape of the neck against the tho- •

ra.r,

*

rax, others by the dapping of their wings against each other, or against the back, as the Scarabæus ; nature has furnished the wings with very strong nerves for this purpose. Lrstly, some produce a sound merely by rubbing their head, and the extremities of their wings with their long legs.

This found is often very strong, especially when mary insects fly together. That however is not always necessary; there are some infects whose voice is so sonorous and piercing, as not only to awaken people a sleep, but to make itself be heard at a distance, even though they be under ground, as the Gryllotalpa, or at a pretty considerable depth in water, as a species of Dytiscus.

This faculty is bestowed on insects for different purpose?; many males use if as an invitation to the females, and therefore, it is often a mark, bv which the males may be distinguished, as 1 think I have already observed. This rule, however, is not without exception, for the females ot the Cimex personatus, and Scarabæus Fullo, likewise utter a sound. The noise which some insects make, likewise serves to denote an^er, 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, aveid him and escape.

Many insects discharge a sensible smell. This is sometimes so offensive, that, in approaching them, one is smaetimes obliged to stop ones nose, but there aTe also some whose smell is very agreeable. The musk beetle takes its name from this circumstance. In some, 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 this

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 fibrous pellicle on stagnant waters. This is a fort ef 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 Pulex.J 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 forts of disastrous presages. But persons more attentive, and less prejudiced, have made experiments, and demonstrated that the appearance proceeds from certain species of butterflies.

Z Peiresc,

Peiresc, if T am not mistaken, was the first who took the trouble of examining into this phenomenon. In the mnnth of July 1608, a report was" spread, that a shower of blood had fallen: this" struck him, and determined him to neglect nothing, in order to clear up a circumstance so extraordinary. He made the people show him those large diops 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 prrstVintry of the whole district, for a mile round. He considered them attentively, heard all that was said on the subject, and, after mature deliberation, he concluded that the shower of blood was.an illusion. He had not, however,discovered the true cause of.it, but an accident soon discovered it to him. He had enclosed, in a box, a large and btautiiul chrysalis, and hearing one day a noise in it, he opened the box, and there immediately flew out, a bufter'fl'y, sPapiUo C. album J 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 coiist'ined in his conjecture, upon examining the holes in which that species generally nestles. He observed' besides, that ori 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 remarks*[rat ito spots were to be seen on the tops of the houses,xbut only from the middle story downwards the height to which these butterflics generally rise.

Other Cumous enqnii ers have made the fame observation since his time. Among these is Dr^Bcck

man, man, prosessor at Frankfort on the Oder. In the month of July, i665, being at Ochsenfurt, he remarked, that many butterflies discharged similar red drops when they were merely touched with the nand. Mr Linke of Leipsig insorms me he has observed the same thing.

Insects make war on one another, and some, even on individuals of their own species. The large reddish yellow spiders eat one another, w en pur together under a glass. Grasshoppers are mortal enemies. The male lives apart irom the semale, except at pairing time: if the semale meets the male by chance, she maims him, breaks his legs, or kills him outright. There is open and declared war among some species j the ichneumons, for instance, and spiders massacre each other reciprocally, with merciiels fury. If grasshoppers are put in the fame place with the house cricket, the former eagerly pursue the latter and kiU them.

Besides natural antipathy, other reasons may be luggested for this barbarity. Insects, for whom {he Creator has destined others as their sood, lay snares for them, in order to satisfy their appetite. They therefore behave like a hunter, who endeavours to entrap the game he is in quest of; and, when they have seized their prey, they kill and devour iu Wasps, for instance, make war upon bees, by the fame instinct which induces the wolf to attack the lamb, the cat the mouse, or the stork the frog. The .want of other food induces insects to make war on one another, and puts ihem under the tiilmal uceflity of devuurin,; their own species. I have often made the experiment with ortain caterpillars; they never attacked others, till they were emirely deprived of every sou ot food, she horrors of famine {Irove them to do what men have sometimes done in

X % iimhr

« 上一頁繼續 »