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The Longicorns are elegantly shaped beetles, usually with long antennae and legs, varied in form and structure in an endless variety of ways, and adorned with equally varied colours, spots and markings. Some are large and massive insects three or four inches long, while others are no bigger than our smaller ants. The majority have sober colours, but often delicately marbled, veined, or spotted; while others are red, or blue, or yellow, or adorned with the richest metallic tints. Their antennae are sometimes excessively long and graceful, often adorned with tufts of hair, and sometimes pectinated. They especially abound where timber trees have been recently felled in the primeval forests; and while extensive clearings are in progress their variety seems endless. In such a locality in the island of Borneo, nearly 300 different species were found during one dry season, while the number obtained during eight years' collecting in the whole Malay Archipelago was about a thousand species.
Among the beetles that always attract attention in the tropics are the large, horned, Copridae and Dynastidae, corresponding to our dung-beetles. Some of these are of great size, and they are occasionally very abundant. The immense horn-like protuberances on the head and , thorax of the males in some of the species are very extraordinary, and, combined with their polished or rugose metallic colours, render them perhaps the most conspicuous of all the beetle tribe. The weevils and their allies are also very interesting, from their immense numbers, endless variety, and the extreme beauty of many of the species. The Anthribidae, which are especially abundant in the Malay Archipelago, rival the Longicorns in the immense length of their elegant antennae; while the diamond beetles of Brazil, the Eupholi of the Papuan islands, and the Pachyrhynchi of the Philippines, are veritable living jewels. Where a large extent of virgin forest is cut down in the early part of the dry season, and some hot sunny weather follows, the abundance and variety of beetles attracted by the bark and foliage in various stages of drying is amazing. The air is filled with the hum of their wings. Golden and green Buprestidae are flying about in every direction, and settling on the bark in full sunshine. Green and spotted rose-chafers hum along near the ground ; long-horned Anthribidae are disturbed at every step ; elegant little Longicorns circle about the drying foliage, while larger species fly slowly from branch to branch. Every fallen trunk is full of life. Strange mottled, and spotted, and rugose Longicorns, endless Curculios, queer-shaped Brenthidae, velvety brown or steel-blue Cleridae, brown or yellow or whitish click beetles, (Elaters), and brilliant metallic Carabidae. Close by, in the adjacent forest, a whole host of new forms are found. Elegant tiger-beetles, leaf-hunting Carabidae, musk-beetles of many sorts, scarlet Telephori, and countless Chrysomelas Hispas, Coccinellas, with strange Heteromera, and many curious species which haunt fungi, rotten bark or decaying leaves. With such variety and beauty the most ardent entomologist must be fully satisfied; and when, every now and then, some of the giants of the tropics fall in his way—grand Prionidae or Lamiidae several inches long, a massive golden Buprestis, or a monster horned Dynastes—he feels that his most exalted notions of the insect-life of the tropics are at length realized.
Wingless Insects.—Passing on to other orders of insects, the hemiptera, dragon-flies, and true flies hardly call for special remark. Among them are to be found a fair proportion of large and handsome species, but they require much searching after in their special haunts, and seldom attract so much attention as the groups of insects already referred to. More prominent are the wingless tribes, such as spiders, scorpions, and centipedes. The wanderer in the forests often finds the path closed by large webs almost as strong as silk, inhabited by gorgeous spiders with bodies nearly two inches long and legs expanding six inches. Others are remarkable for their hard flat bodies, terminating in horned processes which are sometimes long, slender, and curved like a pair of miniature cow's horns. Hairy terrestrial species of large size are often met with, the largest belonging to the South American genus Mygale, which sometimes actually kill birds, a fact which had been stated by Madame Merian and others, but was discredited till Mr. Bates succeeded in catching one in the act. The small jumping spiders are also noticeable from their immense numbers, variety, and beauty. They frequent foliage and flowers, running about actively in pursuit of small insects; and many of them are so exquisitely coloured as to resemble jewels rather than spiders. Scorpions and centipedes make their presence known to every traveller. In the forests of the Malay islands are huge scorpions of a greenish colour and eight or ten inches long; while in huts and houses smaller species lurk under boxes and boards, or secrete themselves in almost every article not daily examined. Centipedes of immense size and deadly venom harbour in the thatch of houses and
canoes, and will even ensconce themselves under pillows and in beds, rendering a thorough examination necessary before retiring to rest. Yet with moderate precautions there is little danger from these disgusting insects, as may be judged by the fact that during twelve years wanderings in American and Malayan forests the author was never once bitten or stung by them. General Observations on Tropical Insects.-The characteristics of tropical insects that will most attract the ordinary traveller, are, their great numbers, and the large size and brilliant colours often met with. But a more extended observation leads to the conclusion that the average of size is probably no greater in tropical than in temperate zones, and that, to make up for a certain proportion of very large, there is a corresponding increase in the numbers of very small species. The much greater size reached by many tropical insects is no doubt due to the fact, that the supply of food is always in excess of their demands in the larva state, while there is no check from the ever-recurring cold of winter; and they are thus able to acquire the dimensions that may be on the whole most advantageous to the race, unchecked by the annual or periodical scarcities which in less favoured climates would continually threaten their extinction. The colours of tropical insects are, probably, on the average more brilliant than those of temperate countries, and some of the causes which may have led to this have been discussed in another part of this volume." It is in the tropics that we find most largely developed, whole groups of insects which are unpalatable to almost all insectivorous creatures, and it is among these that some of the most gorgeous colours prevail. Others obtain protection in a variety of ways; and the amount of cover or concealment always afforded by the luxuriant tropical vegetation is probably a potent agent in permitting a full development of colour. Birds.-Although the number of brilliantly-coloured birds in almost every part of the tropics is very great, yet they are by no means conspicuous; and as a rule they can hardly be said to add much to the general effect of equatorial scenery. The traveller is almost always disappointed at first with the birds, as he is with the flowers and the beetles; and it is only when, gun in hand, he spends days in the forest, that he finds out how many beautiful living things are concealed by its dense foliage and gloomy thickets. A considerable number of the handsomest tropical birds belong to family groups which are confined to one continent with its adjacent islands; and we shall therefore be obliged to deal for the most part with such large divisions as tribes and orders, by means of which to define the characteristics of tropical bird-life. We find that there are three important orders of birds which, though by no means exclusively tropical, are yet so largely developed there in proportion to their scarcity in extra-tropical regions, that more than any others they serve to give a special character to equatorial ornithology. These are the Parrots, the Pigeons, and the Picariae, to each of which groups we will devote some attention. Parrots.-The parrots, forming the order Psittaci of naturalists, are a remarkable group of fruit-eating birds, of such high and peculiar organization that they are often considered to stand at the head of the entire class.
* Chapters W. and VI.-The Colours of Animals and Plants.