網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Ć H A P. XIII.

Op THE CARE WHICH INSÉCTS TAKE OF

THEIR EGGS, AND THEIR YOUNG.

The natural instinct which determines the infect race to take care of their cggs and of their young is fo remarkable, that I think proper to treat of it, in a Chapter apart. They are neicher hatched like birds, nor suckled like quadrupeds. The Sun alone by its heat brings thein forth, and no sooner do they quit the thell, than they are in a capacity to chuse food and to eat it. The whole foresight of the mother is confined to the depositing of her eggs in places where the heat of the Sun may easily reach them, and where the young may at once find the food that is convenient for them; at least till they are in a condition to go in quest of it theinselves. It is for this purpose they are seen choosing the places where, their eggs may be protected from the inclemency of the weather. Some depolit in these places the things necessary for their young; and fonie carry them from one place to another, when they find them exposed to accidents.

The choice which insects make of the places in which they deposit their eggs, is as remarkable as the diversities in their manner of life. Each chufes for that end the substance which is the proper food of

the

the young insect. Such as live in the water lay their eggs in that element; but as there is a great difference in the quality of water, each chuses that which is most suited to its nature. Some deposit their eggs in pure water, as gnats; others in ftagnano pools, as the Tipula phalanoides, &c. while others prefer fluids composed by art, fuch as beer, &c. Some deposit them under the surface of the earth, where they are defended from the injuries both of heat and cold. Some which live on plants and fruirs, deposite theirs either within these, or on their surface. Hence we find them on the stalk, and on the leaves of plants, fometimes on the trunks of trees, and under the bark, where they are defended from the heat of the Sun, and from rain: they are found also both in dry and green wood. Those which require a greater degree of heat to bring them forth or which feed on the fluids of other animals, lay their eggs on the body, and even within it, of those which are their proper food. For this reason we find them in other insects, under the scales of fishes, and in their flesh, on the feathers of birds, among the hairs of quadrupeds, in the nostrils, and in the flesh of animals.

In chusing a place, they are much determined by its furnishing them with food. Almost all of them chuse a fituation in which their young will not be incommoded by bad weather ; but besides this, some fix their eggs with a sort of gluten, which retains them, and prevents their being washed off by the rain. This glutinous matter sometimes becomes so hard, that no external force can penetrate to the eggs and break them, Others, to fhun the cold, coyer them with the hairs of their own body, or weave a web around them, and wrap them up as in a cloak. If any happen to deposit their eggs in places where the young cannot find food, they provide it themfelves, that nothing may be wanting after their exclu. 'fion. Many sorts of ichneumons kill caterpillars and carry them to their nests where they keep them with great care, that they may serve for food to their . young when hatched. The care of their brood with some is carried to such a length that they carry their eggs always about with them, or at least, in care of danger, transport them from one place to another, Lastly, some after having deposited their eggs in safe places, defend them by various ways from the injuries of their enemies.

: The instinct which leads them to use so many pre. cautions, must proceed either from the animal it. self, or from some other being eudowed with reason and intelligence. It cannot come from the animal it. self, which being devoid of the faculty of reason, is incapable of thar foresight and wisdom, of which all these cares are the result. Who then is the Being that directs them to make use of all those astonishing precautions which I have detailed? The answer is easy. We know of no being but God who is capable of it. It is he who hath taught them to lay their eggs in places the most proper for their convenient and safe exclusion ; it is he who among so many fi. tuations equally proper, teaches them to choose ihat where the young will find, at issuing from the egg, the food most convenient for them. Indeed who else but he could inspire them with such affc dionate solicitude ? Who could teach them to provide suste. nance to their young when the eggs are deposited in places where it is not to be found ? From whom

have they learnt that prudent practice of removing - their eggs from a place where they are exposed to

danger ? To whom can such wonderful effects be attributed, if not to the Creator and Preserver of all things, whose goodness is equal to his power and his infinite wisdom ?

It is not anong infects alone, that this parental care is to be leen. Quadrupeds are pofleired of it in an equal degree. The ferocious lion, and irnplacable tyger, the ravenous wolf, and voracious dor, the venomous ferpent, and cruel dragon, love Their young, provide for their neceffries, and never bort them. The prophet Jeremiah seems to allude to this, when he says that " the fea-monsters draw “ out the brealt; and give fuck to their young ones:") LAMENT. iv. 3. Man is endowed with this instinct like animals. It is on this affection for our child. dren that Si Paul founds his argument when he fays “ that no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but « nourisheth and chierisheria it.”. Eph. V. 29.6 Can a woman forget her sucking child, says Ilaiah, " and not have compassion on the loni of her womb?" CH. xlix. 15.

However natural this instinct may appear, yet there are persons to be found who seem to have lost it entirely. They deprive their children of neceffaries, and cruclly use them, and take no care either of their soul or their body. This is not all: there are women who, that there may be no living witness of their iniquity; pitilessly expose the fruit of their womb, wthout caring whether they perish for want, are devoured by bealls, or are carried off by persons charitable enough to do so. There are even some, (can it be conceived without horror!) who are barbarous enough to imbrue their hands in the blood of their little innocents, formed in their womb; and nourished with their blood! The most ravenous beast is incapable of such cruelty : nor is there any iling similar to be seen amon: inleds, the vileit of creatures.

CH A P. XIV.

OF THE SAGACITY OF INSECTS

That man should display wisdom in his economy is not surprising. God hath endowed him with a rational foul, by the assistance of which he thinks, judges, reasons, and is induced to conduct himself agreeably to the inductions which flow from his just principles : but that animals deprived of the use of reason, and all insects, should exhibit fo much of it in their whole economy is what surpasses our com. prehension. I have already remarked a vast number of instances of this kind which authorize us to con-clude that infects act according to the rules of wil. dom ;, but as the subject is exceedingly interesting, I shall collect in this Chapter, the principal proofs of their sagacity.

The Akill of birds in constructing their nests is so great, that the most ingenious artist could not ex ceed it. With what neatnes do they not combine pieces of wood, and stra'w, and moss and clay toge: ther, in the formation of their nests! What art is conspicuous in the arrangement and difpofition of each of the parts which compofe them? What pre. cautions to defend ihen and their young from cold ! The inside of the nest is always lined with hair,

with

« 上一頁繼續 »