« PreviousContinue »
seize on the bodies, and, along with them, would swallow the grubs of the Beetles.
OF THE COCCINELLA OR LADY-BUG TRIBE.
The principal food of these insects consists of aphides or plant-lice, by destroying which, in immense numbers, they render a most important service to mankind.
Their antennæ are club-shaped, and the club is solid. The thorax and elytra are margined. The body is hemispherical, and the abdomen flat. The larvæ or grubs of some of the species, have their bodies covered with scaly plates; others have hairs on the upper parts of the body, and on the sides; and there are others still different.
THE SEVEN-SPOTTED* AND TWO-SPOTTED
Few insects are either more common or better known than these. They are usually found on plants, where they repose with the legs concealed under their body, and their antennæ beneath the head. In winter they hide themselves and become torpid, and they again appear abroad in the spring.
The females deposit their eggs on such plants as abound with aphides or plant-lice. The larvæ have each six feet, and a conical body divided into twelve
* DESCRIPTION. The wing-cases are red, and marked with seven black dots.
SYNONYMS. Coccinella septem-punctata. Linn. La Coccinelle sept points. Tigny.-Lady Cow, Lady Bird, and Cow Lady, in several parts of England.
+ DESCRIPTION. The wing-cases are red, and marked with two black dots.
SYNONYMS. Coccinella bi-punctata. Linn.-La Coccinelle biponctuée. Tigny.
rings. At the extremity of the posterior ring, there is a kind of fleshy teat, by which they are able to adhere to solid bodies, and firmly to support themselves while employed in seizing and devouring their food. They are so extremely voracious, that when other food is scarce, they will sometimes eat even their own species.
In order to change into the pupa state, they attach themselves by their fleshy feet, to the leaves or branches of trees. Here they drop a small quantity of glutinous liquor, which fixes them to the spot, and, in a position contrary to that of the plane to which they adhere. Little by little their body contracts, and at the end of two or three days they undergo their transformation. In freeing themselves from their skin, they make it pass towards the hinder part of their body, where it continues like a little pellet.
The pupa are beautifully spotted with black and other colours. The only motion observable in them, is that of alternately elevating and depressing their body, particularly if touched. They finally quit their envelope in about six days after this last change. When they first come into the world as perfect insects, their wing-cases are of a yellowish white colour, soft and flexible. These soon harden by their contact with the external air; and shortly afterwards assume their proper spots and colours.
Lady Bugs have in France the name of Bête à Dieu, Vache-à-Dieu, and Bête de la Vierge.
OF THE CURCULIO OR WEEVIL TRIBE*.
The larva of the Weevils, like those of other coleopterous insects, have each six legs and a scaly head.
The Weevils have clavate antennæ seated on the snout, which is horny and prominent. They have also four threadshaped feelers.
They have a resemblance to oblong soft worms.
Some of them infest granaries, where, from their numbers and voracity, they often commit great ravages among the corn: some live in fruits, the insides of artichokes, thistles, and other plants; and others devour the leaves of trees and vegetables.
One division of the Weevils feed on trees and shrubs, inserting their beaks into the tender branches, and by this means extracting their juices. The Curculio alliaria has been observed with its beak plunged into the twig of a crab-tree, as far as the place whence the antennæ arise. Another division feed solely on plants. Others live on grain, wood, and on some of the species of fungi; and a few under the surface of the earth.
THE CORN WEEVIL*.
The Corn Weevil is well known to most farmers, from the devastation that it makes in their granaries. The parent insect lays its eggs in grains of corn, probably one in each grain. Here the larvæ, on being hatched, continue for some time to live, and it is very difficult to discover them, as they lie concealed within. They increase their size, and with it their dwelling, at the expense of the interior or farinaceous parts of the grain on which they feed. Corn-lofts are often laid waste by these grubs, whose numbers are sometimes so great, as to devour nearly the whole of their contents. When the grub has attained its full size, it still remains within the grain, hidden under the empty husk. There, being transformed, it becomes a chrysa
* DESCRIPTION. This insect is of a black-brown colour, and scarcely more than the tenth of an inch in length. Its snout is long and small; and the thorax is punctured, and nearly as long as the abdomen.
SYNONYMS. Curculio granarius. Linn.-Calendra granaria. Fabricius.-Weevil, in many parts of the country.
lis; and, when it has attained its perfect state, it forces its way out.
It is no easy matter to discover by the eye the grains that are thus attacked, for, in external appearance, they are still large and full. If, however, they be thrown into water, their lightness soon detects them.
To rid a granary of these destructive insects, it has been recommended to farmers to spread their corn in the sun, when the Weevils will creep out of their holes; and, by often stirring the corn while in this situation, it is supposed they may be completely expelled. It is also said that they may be destroyed by strewing boughs of elder, or branches of henbane, among the corn. In a late Paris paper, a gentleman says, that about the month of June, when his granaries and barns, that had been much infested by Weevils, were all empty, he caused a number of the hills of the large ants to be collected in bags, and placed in different parts about them. The ants immediately attacked the Weevils that were on the walls and other parts, and destroyed them so completely, that in a very short time not a single Weevil was to be seen; and since that period, he says, they never appeared on his premises.
THE NUT WEEVIL*.
This insect is produced from the white grub that we often find living in the interior of the hazel nut. The history of its changes and growth is singular and interesting; and exhibits an extraordinary instance of
* DESCRIPTION. The Nut-weevil is about a quarter of an inch in length, and of a gray-brown colour. The body is somewhat of an oval shape, having the posterior extremity not rounded, but ending in a point. The beak, or rostrum, is red, and as long as the body.
SYNONYMS. Curculio nucum. cum. Fabricius.-Nut Beetle. Harris.
the care that has been taken to promote the comfort and convenience of even these diminutive tribes.
The caterpillar or grub proceeds from a very small brown egg, which the parent deposits in the outside of the nut, at a time when it is very soft and tender. When the heat of the season has perfected the little grub, it eats its way out of the egg, and through the shell, into the nut. His chief food now is the coat of the nut, or that part which afterwards hardens into the shell; and he continues to feed on this, and the interior pulp, until such time as the one becomes too hard, and the other too dry for his sustenance. He then begins on the kernel, which is now grown so large as to afford him support: and it is to be remarked, that this seems a most providential instinct; for, had he commenced his attacks on the kernel when it was small, he would have destroyed that on which all his future welfare depended, and that which is the principal food allotted to him by nature when in a larva state. While feeding, he constantly attends to the hole by which he entered, gnawing away the sides, so as to make them very round and smooth: for this not only allows him sufficient air, and a place through which he can expel the particles of his dung, but it is also the passage through which, when he is full fed, and ready to undergo his change, he makes his way out. About the month of September, or perhaps somewhat later, the nut becomes ripe, and falls to the ground. At this time the grub is generally prepared for the change, and works his way through the hole, which he is some time in doing, as it is much less in circumference than his body. He then buries himself in the earth, and, shortly afterwards, changes into a chrysalis; in which state he remains till the following spring, and about the beginning of May assumes his beetle form.