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tera, being found on every bank and under every
hedge; it appears also to be the most hardy, for IT T was in the month of October several years ago there is probably no season of the year when it may
that I first became acquainted with the Blood- not be scen-I have caught it in every month except Beetle. It was crawling over some herbage at a December. The larvæ are to be found in April and very sluggish pace, totally different to the hurrying May on bed-straws, looking when young merely like race of a Sun-Beetle across your path, or a Weevil small black protuberances on the leaves. At first over the leaves, and I took it up to examine it. sight it would appear that they do not possess the While turning it over, I found my fingers were usual number of prolegs or claspers--so prominent covered with what I at first took to be blood; recol- among the lepidopterous caterpillars-having appalecting, however, that none of the other beetles rently only one at the tail. Although Westwood with which I was acquainted afforded the sangui- mentions this as single, it is evident to the naked neous fluid, I looked a little closer, and discovered eye, and much more so through a glass, that it is a a rich scarlet bead, very translucent in appearance, double one, quite as much as that of a hawk-moth emerging from the creature's mouth. Upon taking larva; the other four pairs are present in the shape up several others they behaved in the same way, of small tubercles on the abdomen, and are seen and the habit appeared evidently a defensive one, quite plainly if the creature be allowed to cross the although the fluid was to me perfectly harmless; it hand held up horizontally to the light each is then might not be so, however, to the enemies of the seen to be brought into full play in the act of Beetle. This babit, together with the firm ovate walking; they are not so easily detected when it is appearance, and the worse than snail's pace at crawling over the herbage. When 'seized it rolls which it crawled along, made the insect very inte- itself up like a hedgehog, not being proportionally resting to a neophyte in Natural History; and not long enough to do so after the fashion of 'larger knowing its name, I called it pro tem. the Blood- caterpillars. When alarmed, I have known it, in Beetle, which, perhaps, is slightly more refined various instances, to emit the scarlet fluid, but it is than its common English cognomen, “The Bloody- not done so freely as by the imago. It changes its nosed Beetle.” As it was then rather late in the skin at regular intervals, appearing immediately year, there was not much opportunity for dis- after of a reddish hue, particularly about the head covering many of its peculiarities; it soon retired and legs : it gradually darkens in colour. The larva from observation, probably burying itself among is quite as sluggish in its movements as the perfect thick moss or herbage. Early in January, however, insect. it was abroad in the sunshine under the hedges, and All my specimens were buried by June 10th, but my interest was again drawn to it. In April I some had gone down into the earth a fortnight noticed another curious creature--very common:
before. On July 4th I disinterred one or two; they it appeared to be some kind of larva. It was about were then of a very light pink colour, very jelly-like ten lines in length, of a dull metallic green above in appearance; the legs were perfectly formed, and and pinkish beneath, the whole body very wrinkled, the wings lay loosely by the side of the body, which and in general appearance convex. It was feeding was on its back. A small cavity had been formed on bed-straw; and, where one specimen was seen, in the soil in the usual way, the sides of which were plenty of others were sure to be found. It was not made quite compact by the pressure of the body, until I had taken several up to look at that some of and at one end lay the cast-off skin; the antenne the well-known fluid appeared, and the thought at were full size; but these, like the legs, were pink, once struck me that the creature was the larva of much deeper in shade than the body. On July 22nd my new friend, the Beetle. It fed, too, on the I disinterred another almost perfect, but the body same food, Galium aparine, and more rarely on G. was still soft and pink, while the elytra were of mollugo. I at once collected the larvæ and caged their proper hue: a second specimen was still withthem, and after a time found my suspicions correct, out the wing cases. The first imago emerged July for they produced some very fine imagos.
30th, and this was soon followed by the others. my first entomological dis- The perfect insect is very ovate in appearance coveries; and, like every other beginner, I felt a and firm in consistency, the under-surface and also good deal of satisfaction at having made it myself the legs are of a glistening metallic dark blue, the without the aid of a book. I mention this simply elytra are nearly black, as is also the head and as an illustration of the pleasure awaiting any one thorax. It is placed in the family CHRYSOMELIDÆ, who chooses to search for it in the insect world. and in the genus Timarcha, though formerly it was A few of the notes I have since made on the same called a Tenebrio: the specific name is tenebricosa, species may, perhaps, prove interesting to some of or more lately lævigata : the latter term is preferour readers.
able, as it serves more directly to contrast it with The Beetle itself is, at least round High the other species in the same genus-coriaria. The Wycombe, the most plentiful of the larger coleop- elytra are soldered together longitudinally; and
In this genus the larvæ are not possessed of the peculiar tail and tufts of hairs believed to be found on the larvæ used for microscopical purposes. This reduces the number to seven, amongst which the desired insect is to be found.
when they are forced open, the Beetle is found to be wingless; it is thus totally incapable of flight, and is the largest vegetable-feeding insect in England so constituted. The tarsi are very broad, and afford it the power of taking a firm hold of the herbage over which it crawls. At night it rests clinging to stems with its head downwards; they are difficult to discover in the early morning, being covered with heavy dew, and looking more like dry seeds than anything else; as soon as the heat of the sun bas caused all the moisture to evaporate, they begin their peregrinations. The antennæ look like strings of small beads, very beautiful; and, when the insect is moving, they are in constant motion from side to side, tapping the ground or stem over which it is travelling, as if to test its safety. The scarlet fluid is said by Westwood to be emitted both from the mouth and the joints of the limbs; I have never, however, been able to detect the smallest particle flowing from the latter places. Country people say it is a specific for the toothache; and, having once tried it, I am inclined to believe them : I found relief from rubbing it over the tooth and gums; but, perhaps, one is not entitled to state it as a general fact from one trial.
Fig. 11. Larva of Bacon-beetle.
In the genus Attagenus, Latreille informs us, the larva is long, of a reddish brown colour, and shining, clothed with hairs, those at the extremity of the body forming a tail. Its motions are very irregular, creeping along by fits and starts.
In the genus Megatoma, Professor Westwood states that in the larva the extremity of the body is furnished with two bundles of hairs, which it expands like a fan, and to which it imparts a tremulous motion, so rapid as scarcely to allow the fans of hair to be perceived while it lasts.
In Tiresias the larva is of an elongate, ovate, and depressed form, narrowed towards the tail, and, covered with long brown hairs, the terminal segment of the body being also furnished with a long brush of hair, and destitute of the two spines
Fig. 10. The Blood-beetle (Timarcha lævigata).
The Blood-Beetle is often figured and spoken of in old works as the Catch-weed Beetle, no doubt from its being commonly found on Galium aparine. Folkestone.
WHAT IS DERMESTES ? AT
T the December meeting of the Quekett Microscopical Club, a question was asked, “What
Fig. 12. Larva of Tiresius serra. is the insect called “Dermestes,' the bairs of the larva of which are employed as test-objects ? ” observed in the larva of Dermestes. It is found During the discussion which ensued, the figure in during the winter under the loose bark of elmSCIENCE Gossip (vol. i., p. 230) was alluded to as trees, in company with a small spider, which spins a being that of the larva intended. The following web-like case, in which it resides. observations may tend to elucidate the subject :- Thinking that to this genus, which contains only
The Dermestidæ are a small family of Necro- one British species, the so-called Dermestes bephagous Beetles, of which six genera, containing longed, we forwarded a copy of Mr. McIntire's fifteen species, are recorded in Great Britain. This article, with its woodcuts, to an eminent authority on number may be reduced for our purpose to eleven kindred subjects; and he refers the figure of the larva species, the other four being doubtful or disputed and its hairs to some species of the following genus. natives. Of the foregoing, four species, including Professor Westwood, writing of the genus Anthe Bacon Beetle, belong to the genus Dermestes. threnus, states that "in the larva state they are
most injurious in neglected museums, devouring the
THE DEATH WATCH. integuments uniting the bones, which soon fall from each other, skins, hairs, and the feathers of birds
. In the number of Nature and Art for October The larva is elongate-ovate, thick, somewhat leathery will be found a very interesting article “conin its texture, and very hairy, especially towards cerning insects, commonly called Death Watches," the posterior extremity; the jaws are very strong, by the Rev. W. Houghton. I was much surprised and horny; the six legs are of small size. The on reading the paper, that so many entomohairs upon the body of these larvæ are arranged in logists of note should have been unaware of, or small bundles along the sides, and the tail furnished altogether denying the fact of, Atropos pulsatoria on each side with a pair of tufts of larger size, being the author of the ominous sound that has which are laid when at rest upon the back; but filled so many superstitious folks with dread. Mr.
Houghton says that “ being anxious to ascertain whether any living entomologists bad personal experience of the noise asserted to be produced by the Atropos pulsatoria, in the writings of some naturalists and denied in those of others, I wrote to Mr. Frederick Smith, to ask whether he had any knowledge of the matter.” The subject was brought by that gentleman before the notice of the Entomological Society, "but no one had any knowledge of Anobium, Atropos, or any insect tapping," and he himself was inclined to think that the ticking said to be caused by Atropos pulsatoria was scarcely substantiated, as he could not conceive it possible that so soft and delicate a creature could produce any sound whatever.” (SCIENCE Gossip, Feb. 1866.) The same opinion seems to have been
shared by our most eminent entomologists, as on Fig. 13. Tail of Larva of Anthrenus, from De Geer.
referring to Swainson and Shuckard's “Natural when the insect is disturbed, it spreads these out, History and Classification of Insects,” page 357, I so as somewhat to resemble a shuttlecock. These find that Mr. Shuckard, in describing the genus hairs are of great service to the larva, enabling it Atropos, says, “which contains the so celebrated to glide between the fingers when handled, as book-louse, famous for its reputed ticking, whence though covered with oil. The appearance of these
it has also been called the death-watch ; which is larvæ under the microscope is very pleasing, the doubtless a fable, as it is more than probable that hairs upon the body being discovered to be fur. the noise is produced by an Anobium, for it is scarcely nished with still more minute hairs; whilst those possible that so small and delicate an insect as the forming the terminal bristles are individually formed Atropos should cause so loud a sound.” Mr. Westof a series of minute conical pieces placed in suc- wood also, in his Entomologist's Text Book, page cession, the base being very slender, and the extre- 307, in the article on the “Sense of Hearing,” mity of each hair forming a large oblong knot, describes the noise made by the death-watch placed on a slender footstalk.”
Anobium striatum" by beating the front of its head It is to this genus of Anthrenus that the larva against the surface upon which it is stationed,” but called Dermestes at page 230 of vol. i. is referred. no notice is taken of Atropos; and at page 368 of There are certainly three British species, but the the same work, in general description of the order most common is Anthrenus museorum,
Neuroptera, a figure of Atropos pulsatoria is given, We have given the characters of the larvæ in all the only notice concerning which is that it "is the four closely-allied genera, three of which con- ordinarily found amongst books and papers.” tain only one species each, under the impression On the other side we have the evidence of that that it may lead to the closer examination of those celebrated entomologist Mr. Doubleday, who in a also, as it is not improbable that some of the communication to Mr. Houghton says, from his 'hairs of Dermestes” mounted for the microscope own observation he felt no doubt that Atropos was may be derived from one or other of them. It is one of those insects that produced the sounds in pretty clear that none are obtained from the Bacon question. There is also the paper by Mr. Noble in Beetle, or any other species of the genus Dermestes. SCIENCE GOSSIP for April of this year, in which
We take advantage of this opportunity to correct the “circumstantial evidence" is very strong and an error in the scientific name of the “Pencil-tail” almost conclusive. But from the time of Derham (also described in vol. i., p. 230). It should have up to the present, no naturalist appears to have been Polyxenus.
seen the insect in the act of producing the sound,
which has given rise to such a diversity of opinion. It is for this reason that I have brought forward these few observations, and also to give my own experience in this matter.
My first acquaintance with Atropos, or, as it is generally called here, the wood-louse, commenced about thirteen or fourteen years ago; at that time I lived in an old house in Brompton, near Chatham, and in my bedroom, which was also my library and museum, I had a very olla podrida of Natural History hanging about the walls; among the rest was a honey-comb. It was soon after the introduction of this to my list of curiosities that the strange ticking sound (which at the time sorely puzzled me) commenced, and that led me eventually to the investigation of the cause. I soon found that the noise proceeded from the comb, and on closer examination I saw a number of wood-lice travelling about from one cell to another, and appearing very busy in their explorations. After a while the ticking commenced, which I quickly traced to a particular cell, and by the aid of a common convex lens I could perceive Atropos beating with its head against the side of the cell, the noise produced being quite as loud as the tick of an ordinary watch; thus confirming Mr. Derham's observations, "and, viewing them with a convex lens, I soon perceived some of them to beat or make a noise with a sudden shake of their body," &c.
From this time the honey.comb, which perhaps from its peculiar sonorous nature, suited them so well, became the head quarters of Atropos, and night after night, and sometimes by day, might be heard the tick, tick, tick, by the hour together; sometimes one, sometimes two or more, ticking away with all their might, as if to out-tick each other. At any time, by carefully approaching the comb, and waiting a second or two quietly, they might with the aid of a lens be seen at their peculiar pastime. Since then I have lived in my present house, a comparatively new one, for about twelve years, and during that time have constantly heard the familiar tick from time to time, twice during this last week, October 8th and 10th. Atropos is very numerous here, seeming to prefer the mantel. piece, upon which are several vases filled with paper artificial flowers, and any night they may be seen by the dozen prying into any little crevice, or minutely surveying petal after petal of their floral habitation.
I hope I have thus assisted to settle the muchvexed question of Atropos pulsatoria.
EDIBLE LARVÆ.—Dr. Livingstone states that in the valley of Quango, South Africa, the natives dig large white larvæ out of the damp soil adjacent to their streams, and use them as a relish to their vegetable diet.
honey. It is possible that during the examination of the pollen of various plants in the coming summer, some one or other of our correspondents may be able to identify these granules with the plants from which they are derived. Mr. Gill (also
detects other forms which, from their branched and recall to your remembrance that the Crystal Palace slender, threadlike character, he is disposed to building, above the basement floor, consists of a regard as the mycelium of fungi. There are objects central nave, two side aisles, two large galleries, of which Mr. Gill writes, “in placing some of this three transepts, and two wings; that it is conhoney in water, in about three weeks very beautiful structed principally of iron and glass. We must
except in this general statement a considerable portion of the west front, which is made up of wood panelling. The extreme length of the building is 1,608 feet : add to this the wings, each 574 feet, and the colonnade, which is 720 feet, and we get as
the total length of the palace 3,476 feet, or, in round Fig. 24.
numbers, nearly three-quarters of a mile. It is Fig. 25.
rather startling to think so large a piece of ground, masses of elongated cells are formed from groups of should be completely covered in by a roof of glass. these objects. Each of the cells has divisions with If all the columns employed in the building four or more granules in each. The cells after and wings, were laid end to end in a straight breaking up, the granules being free in the water, line, the distance covered would be sixteen miles have a slight movement, and appear in every re- and a quarter. The weight of iron used in the spect to be like the parent bodies in a gradual state main building and wings, amounts to the incredible of development. These objects have a great resem- quantity of 9,641 tons, 17 cwt., 1 quarter. blance to some of the Desmidiacea. The colours The superficial quantity of glass used in this vary from deep golden to pale yellow, some of monster edilice is 25 acres, and its weight 500 them having a faint rose tint.” For our own part, tons. If the panes were laid side by side, they we must confess that we can find in all the sketches would extend a distance of 48 miles; if end to end, submitted to us far greater affinities with pollen 242 miles. The bolts and rivets weigh 175 tons, grains than any unicellular algæ.
1 cwt., 1 quarter; and the nails employed for a variety of purposes 103 tons, 6 cwt. All this is
apart from the colonnade, which has a superficial AMIDST THE RUINS.
area of 15,500 feet, and has in its construction 60
tons of iron and 30,000 superficial feet of glass. WE
E take it for granted that every person, The plan practised for raising the temperature of
though resident in far-off countries, has by this mammoth building is by using hot water. The this time beard or read of the late fire at the Crystal pipes for the conveyance of the hot water, run in all Palace. Two-thirds of the stately edifice fortunately directions underneath the floor of the building and remain uninjured; but the North Transept, or that wings; these pipes, if arranged in a straight line, portion of the building which was usually desig- would reach to a distance of more than 50 miles, nated “the tropical end of the Palace," must be and the heated fluid flowing from and returning numbered amongst the things that were.
again into the boilers, travels one mile and three It is sad to contemplate the destruction of unique quarters. When all the fountains are playing, and costly works of art, very many of which are 11,788 jets are in operation, throwing 120,000 gallons beyond the power of money, or even human skill, to of water per minute. A single grand display of the reproduce; quite as pitiful is it to see trees, shrubs, fountains consumes 6,000,000 gallons of water. The and flowers, that were brought from tropical coun- towers at each end of the Palace, built by Mr. Brunei tries, at an incalculable outlay of capital and labour, for the purpose of raising the tanks for the supply reduced to dust and ashes; yet I assert without of the fountains, contain 800 tons of iron in their fear of contradiction that it is ten times more substance; the tanks are calculated to hold 357,675 harrowing to gaze upon the black and cindered gallons of water. The engine-power required to do remains of all sorts of living things, which we know all the work is that of 320 horses. were roasted alive, like human martyrs were wont to be, chained to stakes, or so securely fastened into
summary of statistics, we will quit the grand central cages of iron as to forbid the faintest chance of nave and enter a door beneath the large screen that escape from the greedy flames.
shuts off the tropical end from the rest of the buildThoughts akin to these passed through my mind ing. On our left, we first notice scattered masses as I wandered, with saddened heart, over the ruins of coloured arabesque and mosaic work, splintered of the tropical department, a short time after its columns and damaged walls—all that remains ever-to-be-lamented destruction. It may interest whereby we can recognize the once splendid you, courteous reader, to follow me in fancy, as I Alhambra, the Hall of the Abencerrages, the Court briefly recount my stroll amidst the ruins.
of Lions, and Tribunal of Justice. It will be as well, perhaps, in the first place to As we scramble about over broken mouldings, and
Having refreshed our memories with this brief