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dependent insect tribes from among them; whereas the Lepidoptera are, with but few exceptions, confined to the one function of devouring the foliage of living vegetation. We might therefore anticipate that their species - population would be only equal to that of sections of the other orders having a similar uniform mode of existence; and the fact that their numbers are at all comparable with those of entire orders, so much more varied in organization and habits, is, I think, a proof that they are in general highly susceptible of specific modification.
Question of the rank of the Papilionidæ. The Papilionidæ are a family of diurnal Lepidoptera which have hitherto, by almost universal consent, held the first rank in the order; and though this position has recently been denied them, I cannot altogether acquiesce in the reasoning by which it has been proposed to degrade them to a lower rank. In Mr. Bates's most excellent paper on the Heliconidæ, (published in the Transactions of the Linnæan Society, vol. xxiii., p. 495) he claims for that family the highest position, chiefly because of the imperfect structure of the fore legs, which is there carried to an extreme degree of abortion, and thus removes them further than any other family from the Hesperidæ and Heterocera, which all have perfect legs. Now it is a question whether any amount of difference which is exhibited merely in the imperfection or abortion of certain organs, can establish in the
group exhibiting it a claim to a high grade of organization ; still less can this be allowed when another group along with perfection of structure in the same organs, exhibits modifications peculiar to it, together with the possession of an organ which in the remainder of the order is altogether wanting. This is, however, the position of the Papilionidæ. The perfect insects possess two characters quite peculiar to them. Mr. Edward Doubleday, in his “Genera of Diurnal Lepidoptera,” says, “ The Papilionidæ may be known by the apparently four-branched median nervule and the spur on the anterior tibiæ, characters found in no other family." The four-branched median nervule is a character so constant, so peculiar, and so well marked, as to enable a person to tell, at a glance at the wings only of a butterfly, whether it does or does not belong to this family ; and I am not aware that any other group of butterflies, at all comparable to this in extent and modifications of form, possesses a character in its neuration to which the same degree of certainty can be attached. The spur on the anterior tibiæ is also found in some of the Hesperidæ, and is therefore supposed to show a direct affinity between the two groups : but I do not imagine it can counterbalance the differences in neuration and in every other part of their organization. The most characteristic feature of the Papilionidæ, however, and that on which I think insufficient stress has been laid, is undoubtedly the peculiar structure of the larvæ. These all possess an extra
ordinary organ situated on the neck, the well-known Y-shaped tentacle, which is entirely concealed in a state of repose, but which is capable of being suddenly thrown out by the insect when alarmed. When we consider this singular apparatus, which in some species is nearly half an inch long, the arrangement of muscles for its protrusion and retraction, its perfect concealment during repose, its blood-red colour, and the suddenness with which it can be thrown out, we must, I think, be led to the conclusion that it serves as a protection to the larva, by startling and frightening away some enemy when about to seize it, and is thus one of the causes which has led to the wide extension and maintained the permanence of this now dominant group. Those who believe that such peculiar structures can only have arisen by very minute successive variations, each one advantageous to its possessor, must see, in the possession of such an organ by one group, and its complete absence in every other, a proof of a very ancient origin and of very long-continued modification. And such a positive structural addition to the organization of the family, subserving an important function, seems to me alone sufficient to warrant us in considering the Papilionidæ as the most highly developed portion of the whole order, and thus in retaining it in the position which the size, strength, beauty, and general structure of the perfect insects have been generally thought to deserve.
In Mr. Trimen’s paper on “Mimetic Analogies
among African Butterflies," in the Transactions of the Linnæan Society, for, 1868, he has argued strongly in favour of Mr. Bates' views as to the higher position of the Danaidæ and the lower grade of the Papilionidæ, and has adduced, among other facts, the undoubted resemblance of the pupa of Parnassius, a genus of Papilionidæ, to that of some Hesperidæ and moths. I admit, therefore, that he has proved the Papilionidæ to have retained several characters of the nocturnal Lepidoptera which the Danaidæ have lost, but I deny that they are therefore to be considered lower in the scale of organization. Other characters may be pointed out which indicate that they are farther removed from the moths even than the Danaidæ. The club of the antennæ is the most prominent and most constant feature by which butterflies may be distinguished from moths, and of all butterflies the Papilionidæ have the most beautiful and most perfectly developed clubbed antennæ. Again, butterflies and moths are broadly characterised by their diurnal and nocturnal habits respectively, and the Papilionidæ, with their close allies the Pieridæ, are the most pre-eminently diurnal of butterflies, most of them lovers of sunshine, and not presenting a single crepuscular species. The great group of the Nymphalidæ, on the other hand. (in which Mr. Bates includes the Danaidæ and Heliconidae as sub-families), contains an entire sub-family (Brassolidæ) and a number of genera, such as Thaumantis, Zeuxidia, Pavonia, &c., of crepuscular habits, while a large
proportion of the Satyridæ and many of the Danaidæ are shade-loving butterflies. This question, of what is to be considered the highest type of any group of organisms, is one of such general interest to naturalists that it will be well to consider it a little further, by a comparison of the Lepidoptera with some groups of the higher animals.
Mr. Trimen's argument, that the lepidopterous type, like that of birds, being pre-eminently aërial, “ therefore a diminution of the ambulatory organs, instead of being a sign of inferiority, may very possibly indicate a higher, because a more thoroughly aërial form,” is certainly unsound, for it would imply that the most aërial of birds (the swift and the frigatebirds, for example) are the highest in the scale of bird-organization, and the more so on account of their feet being very ill adapted for walking. But no ornithologist has ever so classed them, and the claim to the highest rank among birds is only disputed between three groups, all very far removed from these. They are - Ist. The Falcons, on account of their general perfection, their rapid flight, their piercing vision, their perfect feet armed with retractile claws, the beauty of their forms, and the ease and rapidity of their motions; 2nd. The Parrots, whose feet, though ill-fitted for walking, are perfect as prehensile organs, and which possess large brains with great intelligence, though but moderate powers of flight; and, 3rd. The Thrushes or Crows, as typical of the perching birds, on account of the well-balanced development of their