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OF THE SCARABÆUS, OR BEETLE TRIBE‡.
THE larvæ or grubs of these insects have each six feet. In their general appearance they are not much unlike the caterpillars of some of the butterflies, having their bodies composed of rings, and being somewhat hairy. Most of them live entirely under the surface of the ground, and feed on the roots of plants, &c. Their pupa, or chrysalis, generally lies dormant in the earth till the perfect insect bursts out.
Beetles inhabit and feed in various situations. Some are found in the dung of animals, or in the earth immediately under the dung. Others live on the leaves of trees; and others on flowers.
For an account of the Insects in general, see vol. i.
The insects of the Linnean order Coleoptera have crustaceous elytra or wing-cases, which shut together and form a longitudinal suture down the back.
The antennæ of the Beetles have a clavate or enlarged extremity, which is divided into lamellæ or leaves. To the mouth there are four palpæ or feelers. The feet have each five joints; and the shanks of the fore-legs are generally toothed.
These insects are all nourished, both in their larva and perfect state, in the dung of animals, which they are able to discover by their acute faculty of smell, or otherwise, at an immense distance. Under these substances they dig, in the earth, cylindrical holes, of considerable depth, in which they deposit their eggs.
They usually fly in the evening, towards the end of twilight. The droning noise produced by their wings, at that time, is often heard, particularly during the summer season. When touched, these insects counterfeit death; but they do not contract their legs, in the manner of the Dermestes, and some other Beetles: they stretch them out, so as to give the appearance of stiffness and rigidity, as though the animals had been some time dead.
All these insects are subject to be infested by a species of acarus, or tick, and sometimes in such numbers that they are scarcely able to walk in consequence of
* DESCRIPTION: The thorax of this Beetle has three horns, of which the middle one is the smallest, and the lateral ones are nearly as long as the head. The elytra or wing-cases are striated. The whole insect is of a shining black colour.
SYNONYMS. Scarabæus typhæus. Géotrupe phalangiste. Latreille.
+ DESCRIPTION. The thorax and head are unarmed. The shield is rhombic; and the crown somewhat prominent. The body is black, and the elytra are striated.
SYNONYMS. Scarabæus stercorarius. Linnæus.-Géotrupe stercoraire. Latreille.-Le Grand Pilulaire. Geoff.
DESCRIPTION. The thorax and head are unarmed. The elytra are without streaks or punctures. The shield is rhombic; and the crown a little prominent. The general colour is a brilliant black.
SYNONYMS. Scarabæus vernalis. tanier. Latreille.-Le Petit Pilulaire.
these crowding closely round the joints of the legs and thighs. A German writer states, that the females of that country used formerly to employ the thighs of some of the most brilliant of these Beetles, in the ornamental parts of their head-dress.
The eggs of the Cock-chafer are deposited in the ground by the parent insect, whose fore-legs are very short, and are well calculated for burrowing. From each of these eggs proceeds, after a short time, a whitish worm with six legs, a red head, and strong claws, and about an inch and a half long, which is destined to live in the earth under that form for four years, and there to undergo various changes of its skin, until it assumes its chrysalid form. It subsists, during its subterraneous abode, on the roots of trees and plants, committing ravages often of the most deplorable nature. These creatures, sometimes in immense numbers, work between the turf and the soil in the richest meadows, devouring the roots of the grass to such a degree, that the turf rises, and will roll up with almost as much ease as if it had been cut with a turfingknife: and underneath, the soil appears turned into a soft mould for more than an inch in depth, like the bed of a garden. In this the grubs lie, on their backs, in a curved position, the head and tail uppermost, and the rest of the body buried in the mould. Mr. Arderon, of Norwich, mentions his having seen a whole field of fine flourishing grass become, in a few weeks,
See Plate xix. Fig. 1, 2.
SYNONYMS. Scarabæus Melolontha. Linn. Melolontha vulgaris. Fabricius.-Brown Tree Beetle, Blind Beetle, Chafer, Jack-horner, Jeffry-cock, May-bug, Tree Beetle, Brown Clock, Dor, in various parts of England. Millers, from their powdery white colour. The Grub is called the Connaught Worm in Ireland.
withered, dry, and as brittle as hay, by these grubs devouring the roots.
The larvæ, as I have said, continue four years in the ground; and when, at the end of this period, they are about to undergo their change, they dig deep into the earth, sometimes five or six feet, and there spin a smooth case, in which they change into a pupa or chrysalis. They remain under this form all the winter, until the month of February, when they become perfect beetles, but with their bodies quite soft and white. In May the parts are hardened, and they then come forth out of the earth. This accounts for our often
finding the perfect insects in the ground.
Cock-chafers fly in the evening towards sunset, and particularly about places where there are trees. They eat the leaves of the sycamore, the lime, the beech, the willow, and those of all kinds of fruit-trees. In its winged state this insect exhibits not less voracity on the leaves of trees, than it before did in its grub state in the earth; for, such is the avidity with which it devours its food, and so immense are sometimes the numbers, that, in particular districts, they have become an oppressive scourge, which has produced much calamity among the people.
In the year 1688, the Cock-chafers appeared on the hedges and trees of the south-west coast of the county of Galway, in clusters of thousands, clinging to each other's backs, in the manner of bees when they swarm. During the day they continued quiet, but towards sunset the whole were in motion; and the humming noise of their wings sounded like distant drums. Their numbers were so great, that, for the space of two or three square miles, they entirely darkened the air. Persons travelling on the roads, or who were abroad in the fields, found it difficult to make their way home, as the insects were continually beating against their faces, and occasioned great pain. In a very short time, the leaves of all the trees, for several miles round, were destroyed, leaving the whole country,