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resounding afar through the wilderness, as some great bough or entire tree falls to the ground.” With a few verbal alterations these remarks will apply equally to the primeval forests of the Malay Archipelago; and it is probable that those of West Africa offer no important differences in this respect.
There is, nevertheless, one form of life which is very rarely absent in the more luxuriant parts of the tropics, and which is more often so abundant as to form a decided feature in the scene. It is therefore the group which best characterises the equatorial zone, and should form the starting-point for our review. This group is that of the diurnal Lepidoptera or butterflies.
Diurnal Lepidoptera.- Wherever in the equatorial zone a considerable extent of the primeval forest remains, the observer can hardly fail to be struck by the abundance and the conspicuous beauty of the butterflies. Not only are they abundant in individuals, but their large size, their elegant forms, their rich and varied colours, and the number of distinct species almost everywhere to be met with are equally remarkable. In many localities near the northern or southern tropics they are perhaps equally abundant, but these spots are more or less exceptional; whereas within the equatorial zone, and with the limitations above stated, butterflies form one of the most constant and most conspicuous displays of animal life. They abound most in old and tolerably open roads and pathways through the forest, but they are also very plentiful in old settlements in which fruit-trees and shrubbery offer suitable haunts. In the vicinity of such old towns as Malacca and Amboyna in the East, and of Para and Rio de Janeiro in the
West, they are especially abundant, and comprise some of the handsomest and most remarkable species in the
. Their aspect is altogether different from that presented by the butterflies of Europe and of most temperate countries. A considerable proportion of the species are very large, six to eight inches across the wings being not uncommon among the Papilionidæ and Morphidæ, while several species are even larger. This great expanse of wings is accompanied by a slow flight; and, as they usually keep near the ground and often rest, sometimes with closed and sometimes with expanded wings, these noble insects really look larger and are much more conspicuous objects than the majority of our native birds. The first sight of the great blue Morphos flapping slowly along in the forest roads near Para-of the large, white-and-black semi-transparent Ideas floating airily about in the woods near Malaccaand of the golden-green Ornithopteras sailing on birdlike wing over the flowering shrubs which adorn the beach of the Ké and Aru islands, can never be forgotten by any one with a feeling of admiration for the new and beautiful in nature. Next to the size, the infinitely varied and dazzling hues of these insects most attract the observer. Instead of the sober browns, the plain yellows, and the occasional patches of red or blue or orange that adorn our European species, we meet with the most intense metallic blues, the purest satiny greens, the most gorgeous crimsons, not in small spots but in large masses, relieved by a black border or background. In others we have contrasted bands of blue and orange, or of crimson and green, or of silky yellow relieved by velvety black. In not a few the wings are powdered
over with scales and spangles of metallic green, deepening occasionally into blue or golden or deep red spots. Others again have spots and markings as of molten silver or gold, while several have changeable hues, like shotsilk or richly-coloured opal.
opal. The form of the wings, again, often attracts attention. Tailed hind-wings occur in almost all the families, but vary much in character. In some the tails are broadly spoon-shaped, in others long and pointed. Many have double or triple tails, and some of the smaller species have them immensely elongated and often elegantly curled. In some groups the wings are long and narrow, in others strongly falcate ; and though many fly with immense rapidity, a large number flutter lazily along, as if they had no enemies to fear and therefore no occasion to hurry.
The number of species of butterflies inhabiting any one locality is very variable, and is, as a rule, far larger in America than in the Eastern hemisphere ; but it everywhere very much surpasses the numbers in the temperate zone. A few months' assiduous collecting in any of the Malay islands will produce from 150 to 250 species of butterflies, and thirty or forty species may be obtained any fine day in good localities. · In the Amazon valley, however, much greater results may be achieved. A good day's collecting will produce from forty to seventy species, while in one year at Para about 600 species were obtained. More than 700 species of butterflies actually inhabit the district immediately around the city of Para, and this, as far as we yet know, is the richest spot on the globe for diurnal lepidoptera. At Ega, during four years' collecting ;
Mr. Bates obtained 550 species, and these on the whole surpassed those of Para in variety and beauty. Mr. Bates thus speaks of a favourite locality on the margin of the lake near Ega :-“The number and variety of gaily-tinted butterflies, sporting about in this grove on sunny days, were so great, that the bright moving flakes of colour gave quite a character to the physiognomy of the place. It was impossible to walk far without disturbing flocks of them from the damp sand at the edge of the water, where they congregated to imbibe the moisture, They were of almost all colours, sizes, and shapes; I noticed here altogether eighty species, belonging to twenty-two distinct genera. The most abundant, next to the very common sulphuryellow and orange-coloured kinds, were about a dozen species of Eunica, which are of large size and conspicuous from their liveries of glossy dark blue and purple. A superbly adorned creature, the Callithea Markii, having wings of a thick texture, coloured sapphire-blue and orange, was only an occasional visitor. On certain days, when the weather was very calm, two small gilded species (Symmachia Trochilus and Colubris) literally swarmed on the sands, their glittering wings lying wide open on the flat surface.” 1
When we consider that only sixty-four species of butterflies have been found in Britain and about 150 in Germany, many of which are very rare and local, so that these numbers are the result of the work of hundreds of collectors for a long series of years, we see at once the immense wealth of the equatorial zone in this form of life.
1 The Naturalist on the Amazons, 2nd edit. p. 331.
Peculiar Habits of Tropical Butterflies.—The habits of the butterflies of the tropics offer many curious points rarely or never observed among those of the temperate zone. The majority, as with us, are truly diurnal, but there are some Eastern Morphidæ and the entire American family Brassolidæ, which are puscular, coming out after sunset and flitting about the roads till it is nearly dark. Others, though flying in the daytime, are only found in the gloomiest recesses of the forest, where a constant twilight may be said to prevail. The majority of the species fly at a moderate height (from five to ten feet above the ground) while a few usually keep higher up and are difficult to capture ; but a large number, especially the Satyridæ, many Erycinidæ, and some few Nymphalidæ, keep always close to the ground, and usually settle on or among the lowest herbage. As regards the mode of flight, the extensive and almost exclusively tropical families of Heliconidæ and Danaidæ, fly very slowly, with a gentle undulating or floating motion which is almost peculiar to them. Many of the strong-bodied Nymphalidæ and Hesperidæ, on the other hand, have an excessively rapid flight, darting by so swiftly that the eye cannot follow them, and in some cases producing a deep sound louder than that of the humming-birds.
The places they frequent, and their mode of resting, are various and often remarkable. A considerable number frequent damp open places, especially river sides and the margins of pools, assembling together in flocks of hundreds of individuals ; but these are almost entirely composed of males, the females remaining in the forests where, towards the afternoon, their partners join them.