« EelmineJätka »
concentricus) is found only at Pará, on a distinct species of tree, the bark of which it resembles with equal accuracy. Both these insects are abundant, and we may fairly conclude that the protection they derive from this strange concealment is at least one of the causes that enable the race to flourish.
Many of the species of Cicindela, or tiger beetle, will illustrate this mode of protection. Our common Cicindela campestris frequents grassy banks, and is of a beautiful green colour, while C. maritima, which is found only on sandy sea-shores, is of a pale bronzy yellow, so as to be almost invisible. A great number of the species found by myself in the Malay islands are similarly protected. The beautiful Cicindela gloriosa, of a very deep velvety green colour, was only taken upon wet mossy stones in the bed of a mountain stream, where it was with the greatest difficulty detected. A large brown species (C. heros) was found chiefly on dead leaves in forest paths; and one which was never seen except on the wet mud of salt marshes was of a glossy olive so exactly the colour of the mud as only to be distinguished when the sun shone, by its shadow! Where the sandy beach was coralline and nearly white, I found a very pale Cicindela ; wherever it was volcanic and black, a dark species of the same genus was sure to be met with.
There are in the East small beetles of the family Buprestidæ which generally rest on the midrib of a leaf, and the naturalist often hesitates before picking them off, so closely do they resemble pieces of bird's dung. Kirby and Spence mention the small beetle Onthophilus sulcatus as being like the seed of an umbelliferous plant; and another small weevil, which is much persecuted by predatory beetles of the genus Harpalus, is of the exact colour of loamy soil, and was found to be particularly abundant in loam pits. Mr. Bates mentions a small beetle (Chlamys pilula) which was undistinguishable by the eye from the dung of caterpillars, while some of the Cassidæ, from their hemispherical forms and pearly gold colour, resemble glittering dew-drops upon the leaves.
A number of our small brown and speckled weevils at the approach of any object roll off the leaf they are sitting on, at the same time drawing in their legs and antennæ, which fit so perfectly into cavities for their reception that the insect becomes a mere oval brownish lump, which it is hopeless to look for among the similarly coloured little stones and earth pellets among which it lies motionless.
The distribution of colour in butterflies and moths respectively is very instructive from this point of view. The former have all their brilliant colouring on the upper surface of all four wings, while the under surface is almost always soberly coloured, and often very dark and obscure. The moths on the contrary have generally their chief colour on the hind wings only, the upper wings being of dull, sombre, and often imitative tints, and these generally conceal the hind wings when the insects are in repose. This arrangement of the colours is therefore eminently protective, because the butterfly always rests with his wings raised so as to conceal the dangerous brilliancy of his upper surface. It is probable that if we watched their habits sufficiently we should find the under surface of the wings of butterflies very frequently imitative and protective. Mr. T. W. Wood has pointed out that the little orange-tip butterfly often rests in the evening on the green and white flower heads of an umbelliferous plant, and that when observed in this position the beautiful green and white mottling of the under surface completely assimilates with the flower heads and renders the creature very difficult to be seen. It is probable that the rich dark colouring of the under side of our peacock, tortoiseshell, and red-admiral butterflies answers a similar purpose.
Two curious South American butterflies that always settle on the trunks of trees (Gynecia dirce and Callizona acesta) have the under surface curiously striped and mottled, and when viewed obliquely must closely assimilate with the appearance of the furrowed bark of many kinds of trees. But the most wonderful and undoubted case of protective resemblance in a butterfly which I have ever seen, is that of the common Indian Kallima inachis, and its Malayan ally, Kallima paralekta. The upper surface of these insects is very striking and showy, as they are of a large size, and are adorned with a broad band of rich orange on a deep bluish ground. The under side is very variable in colour, so that out of fifty specimens no two can be found exactly alike, but
every one of them will be of some shade of ash or brown or ochre, such as are found among dead, dry, or decaying leaves. The apex of the upper wings is produced into an acute point, a very common form in the leaves of tropical shrubs and trees, and the lower wings are also produced into a short narrow tail. Between these two points runs a dark curved line exactly representing the midrib of a leaf, and from this radiate on each side a few oblique lines, which serve to indicate the lateral veins of a leaf. These marks are more clearly seen on the outer portion of the base of the wings, and on the inner side towards the middle and apex, and it is very curious to observe how the usual marginal and transverse striæ of the group are here modified and strengthened so as to become adapted for an imitation of the venation of a leaf. We come now to a still more extraordinary part of the imitation, for we find representations of leaves in every stage of decay, variously blotched and mildewed and pierced with holes, and in many cases irregularly covered with powdery black dots gathered into patches and spots, so closely resembling the various kinds of minute fungi that grow on dead leaves that it is impossible to avoid thinking at first sight that the butterflies themselves have been attacked by real fungi.
But this resemblance, close as it is, would be of little use if the habits of the insect did not accord with it. If the butterfly sat upon leaves or upon flowers, or opened its wings so as to expose the upper surface, or exposed and moved its head and antennæ as many other butterflies do, its disguise would be of little avail. We might be sure, however, from the analogy of many other cases, that the habits of the insect are such as still further to aid its deceptive garb; but we are not obliged to make any such supposition, since I myself had the good fortune to observe scores of Kallima paralekta, in Sumatra, and to capture many of them, and can vouch for the accuracy of the following details. These butterflies frequent dry forests and fly very swiftly. They were never seen to settle on a flower or a green leaf, but were many times lost sight of in a bush or tree of dead leaves. On such occasions they were generally searched for in vain, for while gazing intently at the very spot where one had disappeared, it would often suddenly dart out, and again vanish twenty or fifty yards further on. On one or two occasions the insect was detected reposing, and it could then be seen how completely it assimilates itself to the surrounding leaves. It sits on a nearly upright twig, the wings fitting closely back to back, concealing the antennæ and head, which are drawn up between their bases. The little tails of the hind wing touch the branch, and form a perfect stalk to the leaf, which is supported in its place by the claws of the middle pair of feet, which are slender and inconspicuous. The irregular outline of the wings gives exactly the perspective effect of a shrivelled leaf. We thus have size, colour, form, markings, and habits, all combining together to produce a disguise which may be