A. S. (Alpheus Spring) Packard.

Guide to the study of insects, and a treatise on those injurious and beneficial to crops: for the use of colleges, farm-schools, and agriculturists online

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Online LibraryA. S. (Alpheus Spring) PackardGuide to the study of insects, and a treatise on those injurious and beneficial to crops: for the use of colleges, farm-schools, and agriculturists → online text (page 8 of 29)
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several interesting Neuropterous and
Orthopterous insects ; among them a
Cockroach, Archimulacris Acadica (PL
1,* fig. 2). In Europe, Carboniferous
insects have been discovered at Wettin,
Saarbruck, etc.
Fi - 68 - The insects from these two form-

ations show a tendency to assume gigantic and strange shapes.
They are also comprehensive types, combining the characters of
different families and even different suborders. The most re-
markable instance is the Eugereon Boeckingii Dohrn, from the
Coal Formation of Germany. It has been referred by Dr.
Hagen, with some doubt, to the Hemiptera, from its long im-
mense rostrum into which all the mouth-parts are produced, the
labium ensheathing them as usual in the Hemiptera. Its fore-
legs are large and raptorial ; but the filiform many-jointed an-
tennae, and the net-veined wings are Neuropterous characters.
Hence Dohrn considers it as a comprehensive type uniting


Fig. 1. Miamia Bronsonii. A Neuropterous insect found in iron-stone concre-
tions in the Carboniferous beds at Morris, Illinois. The figure is magnified one-
third, and has all its parts restored; the dotted lines indicate the parts not existing
on the stone. Reduced from a figure in the Memoirs of the Boston Society of Nat-
ural History, Vol. I.

Fig. 2. Archimulacris Acadica. Wing of a Cockroach observed by Mr. Barnes
in the coal-formation of Nova Scotia.

Fig. 3. Flatephemera antiqua. A gigantic May-fly obtained by Mr. Hartt in the
Devonian rocks of New Brunswick.

Fig. 4. Xylobius sigillarice. The Myriapod (or Gally-worm) found in the coal-
formation of Nova Scotia, by J. W. Dawson. Copied from a figure in Dr. Dawson's
Air-breathers of the Coal-period. Magnified.

Fig. 5. Litlientomum Hartii. A Neuropterous insect, the specimen first dis-
covered by Mr. Hartt in the Devonian rocks of New Brunswick. This fossil, and
those accompanying it, are the oldest insect-remains in the world.

Fig. 6. Three facets from the eye of an insect, considered by Dr. Dawson a
Dragon-fly. It was found in coprolites of reptiles in the rocks containing the My-
riapod, represented in Fig. 4. Copied from Dr. Dawson's figure, greatly magnified.

Fig. 7. Homothetus fossilis. A Neuropterous insect from the Devonian rocks of
New Brunswick ; it was discovered by Mr. Hartt.

Fig. 8. Haplophlebiiim Barnesii. A curious Neuropterous insect, of large size,
probably allied to our May-flies ; taken by Mr. Barnes from the coal of Cape Bre-

These figures, with the exception of 1, 4, and 6, are of life size, and borrowed
from the new edition of Dr. Dawson's Acadian Geology.


tlu' characters of the Xciiroptera and Hemiptera. It is gigjm-
tic, spreading eight or nine inelies ; its body must have meas-
ured six inehes in length.

In the Mesozoic rocks, the celebrated Solenhofen locality in
Bavaria is rich in Liassic insect-remains. Dr. Hagen (Knl<>-
mologist's Annual, London, 1862) states that among the Solen-
hofen fossils the Neuroptera and Orthoptera are most largely
represented ; as out of four hundred and fifty species of insects,
one hundred and fifty are Neuroptera, of which one hundred
and thirty-six are Dragon-flies, and besides "there is a Cory-
one Clirysopa^ a large Apochrysa, and a beautiful
es. The last two genera, which do not seem very remote
from Clirysopa, are now found only in the Southern Hemi-
sphere, Nymplies is peculiarly an Australian genus."

The Lias of England is very rich in fossil insects, especially
the Purbeck and Rhoetic Beds (see Brodie's Work on Fos-
sil Insects and also Westwood in the Geological Journal, etc.
Vol. X.).

In the Trias, or New-Red Sandstone of the Connecticut
Valley, Professor Hitchcock has found numerous remains of
the larva of an aquatic insect.

The insects of the Tertiary formation more closely resemble
those of the present day. The most celebrated European
locality is (Eningen in Switzerland.

According to Professor O. Heer, over five thousand specimens
of fossil insects have been found at (Eningen, comprising 844
species, of which 518 are Coleopterous. From all Tertiary
Europe there are 1,322 species, as follows: 1GG Hymenoptera,
18 Lepidoptera, 166 Diptera, 660 Coleoptera, 217 Ilemiptera,
39 Orthoptera, and 56 Neuroptera.

"If we inquire to what insect-fauna of the present period
the Tertiary fauna is most analogous, we shall be surprised to
find that most of the species belong to genera actually found in
the old and the new world. The insect-fauna of (Eningen con-
tains 180 genera of this category, of which 114 belong to the
Coleoptera. Of these last, two (Dineutes and Carybonis) re-
main in Europe, while all the others are now found living both
in Europe and in America. The whole number of Coleopterous
genera furnished by CEningen, and known to me, amount to


158 ; those that are common to both hemispheres forming then
more than two-thirds of the whole number, while of the actual
Coleopterous fauna of Europe, according to the calculation of
M. Lacordaire, there is only one-third. The genera found to-day
in both parts of the world have then during the Tertiary epoch
played a more important part than is the case now ; hence
the knowledge of the character of the fauna is rendered more
difficult. We find at CEningen but a very small number (five)
of genera exclusively European ; seventeen are /ound to-day
in Europe, in Asia, and in Africa, but not in America. For the
most part they belong to the Mediterranean fauna (comprising
eight genera) and give to the insect-fauna of CEningen a strong
proportion of Mediterranean forms. In this fauna I only know
of one exclusively Asiatic genus ; two are peculiar to Africa,
and two others (Anoplites and Naupactus) are American.

"There are now living, however, in Europe certain genera
which, without being exclusively American, since they are found
in Asia and in Africa, belong more peculiarly to America ; such
are Belostomum, Hypselonotus, Diplonyclius, Evagorus, Sten-
opoda, Plecia, Caryborus, and Dineutes. . . . The genera peculiar
to our fauna of Tertiary insects amount to forty-four, of which
twenty-one belong to the Coleoptera ; among the Orthoptera
there is one, and six Hymenoptera, six Diptera, and eleven
Hemiptera. They comprise 140 species." (Heer.)

An apparently still richer locality for Tertiary insects has
been discovered by Professor Denton west of the Rock} T Moun-
tains, near the junction of the White and Green Rivers, Colo-
rado. According to Mr. Scudder "between sixty and seventy
species of insects were brought home, representing nearly all
the different suborders ; about two-thirds of the species were
Flies, some of them the perfect insect, others the maggot-like
larvae, but, in no instance, did both imago and larva of the
same insect occur. The greater part of the beetles were quite
small ; there were three or four kinds of Homoptera (allied to
the tree-hoppers), Ants of two different genera, and a poorly
preserved Moth. Perhaps a minute Tlirips, belonging to a
group which has never been found fossil in any part of the
world, is of the greatest interest."

He thus sums up what is known of American fossil insects.


"The species of fossil insects now known from North America,
number eighty-one : six of these belong to the Devonian, nine
to the Carboniferous, one to the Triassic, and sixty-live to the
Tertiary epochs. The Ilymenoptera, Ilomoptera. and Diptera
occur only in the Tertiarics; the same is true of the Lepidop-
tera. if we exclude the Morris specimen, and of the Coleoptera,
with one Triassic exception. The Orthoptera and Myriapods
are restricted to the Carboniferous, while the Neuroptera occur
both in the Devonian and Carboniferous formations. No fossil
Spiders have yet been found in America." (American Nat-
uralist, vol. 1, p. G30.) One species of Spider has been found
in the Coal-measures of Europe, and a large number in Prus-
sian Amber.

THE DISEASES OF INSECTS have attracted but little atten-
tion. They are so far as known mostly the result of the attacks
of parasitic plants and animals, though epidemics are known
to break out and carry off myriads of insects. Dr. Shimer
gives an account of an epidemic among the Chinch bugs, which
"was at its maximum during the moist warm weather that fol-
lowed the cold rains of June and the first part of July, 1865."

Species of microscopic plants luxuriate in infinitesimal for-
ests within the alimentary canal of some wood-devouring insects,
and certain fungi attack those species which are exposed to
dampness, and already enfeebled by other causes. Among the
true < ntophyta, or parasitic plants, which do not however ordi-
narily occasion the death of their host, Professor Leidy describes
Enterobryus elegans, E. spiralis, E. alternates, Arthromitus
(T/.s/ctfMs, Cladophytum comatum, and Corynodadus radiatus,
which live mostly attached to the mucous walls of the interior
of the intestine of Julus marginatus and two other species of
Juhis, and Passalus cornutus. Eccrina longa Leidy, lives in
Polydesmus Virginiensis ; and E. moniliformis Leidy in P.

Uut there are parasitic fungi that are large!}' destructive to
their hosts. Such are Sphaeria and Isaria. "These fungi
grow with great rapidity within the body of the animal tlu-y
attack, not only at the expense of the nutritive fluids of the
latter, but, after its death, all the interior soft tissues appear


to be converted into one or more aerial receptacles of spores."
(Leidy.) These fungi, so often infesting caterpillars, are hence
called "caterpillar fungi." They fill the whole body, distend-
ino" even the legs, and throw out long filaments, sometimes
longer than the larva itself, giving a grotesque appearance to
the insect. Leidy has found a species which is very common
in the Seventeen-year Locust, Cicada septendecim. He found
"among myriads of the imago between twelve and twenty
specimens, which, though living, had the posterior third of the
abdominal contents converted into a dry, powdery, ochreous-
yellow, compact mass of sporuloid bodies." He thinks this
Cicada is very subject to the attacks of these fungi, and that
the spores enter the anal and genital passages more readily
than the mouth ; thus accounting for their development in the

The most formidable disease is the " Muscardine," caused by
a fungus, the Botrytus Bassiana of Balsamo. It is well known
that this disease has greatly reduced the silk crop in Europe.
Balbiani has detected the spores of this fungus in the eggs of
Bombyx mori as well as in the different parts of the body of
the insect in all stages of growth. Extreme cleanliness and
care against contagion must be observed in its prevention.

Among plants a disease like Muscardine, due to the presence
of a minute fungus (Mucor mellitophorus) , fills the stomach
of some insects, including the Honey-bee, with its colorless
spores, and greatly weakens those affected. Another fungus,
Sporendonema musca, infests the common House-fly.

Another Silk-worm disease called " Pebrine" carries off many
silk-worms. Whether it is of pathological or vegetable origin
is not yet settled.

There are also a few intestinal worms known to be para-
sitic in insects. The well-known "Hair-worm" (Gordius)
in its young state lives within the body of various insects in-
cluding the Spiders. The tadpole-like young differs greatly
from the parent, being short, sac-like, ending in a tail. Upon
leaving the egg they work their way into the body of insects,
and there live on the fatty substance of their hosts, where they
undergo their metamorphosis into the adult hair-like worm,
and make their way to the pools of water in which they live


and begot their specio. Mini lay millions of eggs connected
together in long cords." Leidy thus writes regarding the
habits of ;i species which infests grasshoppers.

"The number of Gordii in each insect varies from one to five,
their length from throe inches to a foot ; they occupy a position
in the visceral cavity, where they lie coiled among the viscera,
and often extend from the end of the abdomen forward through
the thorax even into the head ; their bulk and weight are fre-
quently greater than all the soft parts, including the muscles,
of their living habitation. Nevertheless, with this relatively
immense mass of parasites, the insects jump about almost as
freely as those not infested.

"The worms are milk-white in color, and undivided at the
extremities. The females are distended with ova, but I have
never observed them extruded. When the bodies of Grass-
hoppers, containing these entozoa, are broken and lain upon
moist earth, the worms gradually creep out and pass below its

Goureau states that Filarta, a somewhat similar worm, in-
habits Iliberuia bnimata and Vanessa prorsa. (Ann. Ent. Soc.

Siebold describes Gordius subbifarcus which infests the
Honey-bee, especially the drones, though it is rather the work-
ers, which frequent the pools where the Gordii live, that we
would expect to find thus infested. Another entozoan is Mer-
mis albinntx of Siebold, which is a very slender whitish worm
much like Gordius, and about five inches long. It is found in
the drone of the honey-bee and in some other insects.

Deformities of Insects. Numerous instances of supernume-
rary legs and anteniuu are recorded. The antennae are some-
times double, but more commonly the legs. "Of these As-
muss has collected eight examples, and it is remarkable that in
six of them the parts on one side are treble." Newport, from
whom we have quoted, states that "the most remarkable ex-
ample is that given by Lefebvre of Scarites Pyrachmon in which
from a single coxa on the left side of the prosterntim two tro-
chanters originated. The anterior one, the proper trochanter,
supported the true prothoracic leg; while the posterior one, in
the form of an oblong lanceolate body, attached to the base of


the first, supported two additional legs equally well formed as
the true one."

The wings are often partially aborted and deformed ; this is
especially noticeable in the wings of butterflies and moths.
Mr. F. G. Sanborn has described and
figured a wing of a female of Libellula
luctuosa Burin. (Fig. 69), in which
among other deformities "the ptero-
Fi s- 69 - stigma is shorter and broader than that

of the opposite wing, and is situated about one-eighth of an inch
only from the nodus, only one cubital vein occurring between
them, instead of fourteen as in the opposite wing." (Proceed-
ings of the Boston Society of Natural History, vol. xi, p. 326.)

Insects differ sexually in that the female generally appears to
have one abdominal ring less (one ring disappearing during the
semi-pupa state, when the ovipositor is formed), and in being
larger, fuller, and duller colored than the males, while the lat-
ter often differ in sculpture and ornamentation. In collect-
ing, whenever the tw^o sexes are found united they should be
pinned upon the same pin, the male being placed highest.
When we take one sex alone, we may feel sure that the other
is somewhere in the vicinity ; perhaps while one is flying about
so as to be easily captured, the other is hidden under some
leaf, or resting on the trunk of some tree near by, which must
be examined and every bush in the vicinity vigorously beaten
by the net. Many species rare in most places have a metropolis
where they occur in great abundance. During seasons when
his favorites are especially abundant the collector should lay
up a store against years of scarcity.

At no time of the year need the entomologist rest from his
labors. In the winter, under the bark of trees and in moss he
can find many species, or on trees, etc., detect their eggs, which
.he can mark for observation in the spring when they hatch out.

He need not relax his endeavors day or night. Mothing is
night employment. Skunks and toads entomologize at night.
Early in the morning, at sunrise, when the dew is still on
the leaves, insects are sluggish and easily taken with the hand ;


so at dusk, when many species are found flying, and in the
night, the collector will be rewarded with many rarities, many
species Hying then that hide themselves by day, while many
caterpillars leave their retreats to come out and feed, when the
lantern can be used with success in searching for them.

Wollaston (Entomologist's Annual, 18C5) states that sandy
districts, especially towards the coast, are at all times prefer-
able to clayey ones, but the intermediate soils, such as the
loamy soil of swamps and marshes are more productive. Near
the sea, insects occur most abundantly beneath pebbles and
other objects in grassy spots, or else at the roots of plants.
In many places, especially in Alpine tracts, as we have found
on the summit of Mt. Washington and in Labrador, one has to
lie down and look carefully among the short herbage and in
the moss for Coleoptera.

The most advantageous places for collecting are gardens and
farms, the borders of woods and the banks of streams and
ponds. The deep, dense forests, and open, treeless tracts are
less prolific in insect life. In winter and early spring the moss
on the trunks of trees, when carefully shaken over a newspaper
or white cloth, reveal many beetles and Hymenoptera. In the
late summer and autumn, toadstools and various fungi and rot-
ten fruits attract many insects, and in early spring when the
sap is running we have taken rare insects from the stumps of
freshly cut hard-wood trees. Wollaston says, " Dead animals,
partially-dried bones, as well as the skins of moles and other
vermin which are ordinarily hung up in fields are magnificent
traps for Coleoptera ; and if any of these be placed around or-
chards and inclosures near at home, and be examined every
morning, various species of Nitidulce, Silphidce, and other
insects of similar habits, are certain to be enticed and cap-

"Planks and chippings of wood may be likewise employed
as successful agents in alluring a vast number of species which
might otherwise escape our notice, and if these be laid down
in grassy places, and carefully inverted every now and then
with as little violence as possible, many insects will be found
adhering beneath them, especially after dewy nights and in
showery weather. Nor must we omit to urge the importance


of examining the under sides of stones in the vicinity of ants'
nests, in which position, during the spring and summer months,
many of the rarest of our native Coleoptera may be occasion-
ally procured." Excrementitious matter always contains many
interesting forms in various stages of growth.

The trunks of fallen and decaying trees offer a rich harvest
for many wood-boring larvae, especially the Longicorn beetles,
and weevils can be found in the spring, in all their stages. Nu-
merous carnivorous Coleopterous and Dipterous larvae dwell
within them, and other larvae which eat the dust made by the
borers. The inside of pithy plants like the elder, raspberry,
blackberry, and syringa, are inhabited by many of the wild
bees, Osmia, Ceratina, and the wood-wasps, Crabro, Stigma,
etc., the habits of which, with those of their Chalcid and Ich-
neumon parasites, offer endless amusement and study.

Ponds and streams shelter a vast throng of insects, and
should be diligently dredged with the water-net, and stones
and pebbles should be overturned for aquatic beetles, He-
miptera, and Dipterous larvae.

The various sorts of galls should be collected in spring and
autumn and placed in vials or boxes, where they may be rear-
ed, and the rafters of out-houses, stone-walls, etc., should be
carefully searched for the nests of Mud-wasps.

Collecting Apparatus. First in importance is the net. This
is made by attaching a ring of brass wire to a handle made
to slide on a pole six feet long. The net may be a foot in
diameter, and the bag itself made of thin gauze or mosquito-
netting (the finer, lighter, and more durable the better), and
should be about twenty inches deep. It should be sewed to a
narrow border of cloth placed around the wire. A light net
like this can be rapidly turned upon the insect w r ith one hand.
The insect is captured by a dexterous twist which also throws
the bottom over the mouth of the net. The insect should be
temporarily held between the thumb and fore-finger of the hand
at liberty, and then pinned through the thorax while in the net.
The pin can be drawn through the meshes upon opening the
net. The beating-net should be made much stouter, with a shal-
lower cloth bag and attached to a shorter stick. It is used for
beating trees, bushes, and herbage for beetles and Hemiptera


and various larvae. Its thorough use we would recommend in
the low vegetation on mountains and in meadows. The water-
in-! may he either round or of the shape indicated in Fig. 70.
The ring should be made of brass, and
the shallow net of grass-cloth or coarse
mill! net. It is used for collecting aqua-
tic insects.

Various sorts of forceps are indispen- Fig. 70.

sable Tor handling insects. Small delicate narrow-bladed for-
ceps with line sharp points in use by jewellers, and made
either of steel or brass, are excellent for handling minute
specimens. For larger ones long curved forceps are very con-
venient. For pinning insects into boxes the forceps should be
stout, the blades blunt and curved at the end so that the insect
can be pinned without slanting the forceps much. The ends
need to be broad and finely indented by lines so as to firmly
hold the pin. With a little practice the forceps soon take the
place of the fingers. They will have to be made to order by
a neat workman or surgical-instrument maker. Some persons
use the ordinary form of pliers with curved handles, but they
should be long and slender. A spring set in to separate the
handles when not grasped by the hand is a great convenience.

Various pill-boxes, vials, and bottles must always be taken,
some containing alcohol or whiskey. Many collectors use a
wide-mouth bottle, containing a sponge saturated with ether,
chloroform, or benzine, or bruised laurel leaves, the latter be-
ing pounded with a hammer and then cut with scissors into
small pieces, which give out exhalations of prussic acid strong
enough to kill most small insects.

Besides these the collector needs a small box lined with
corn-pith, or cork, and small enough to slip into the coat-
pocket ; or a larger box carried by a strap. Most moths and
small flies can be pinned alive without being pinched (which
injures their shape and rubs off the scales and hairs), and then
killed by pouring a little benzine into the bottom of the box.

Killimj Insects for the Cabinet. Care in killing affects very
sensibly the looks of the cabinet. If hastily killed and dis-
torted by being pinched, with the scales rubbed off and other-
wise mangled, the value of such a specimen is diminished


either for purposes of study or the neat appearance of the col-

Besides the vapor of ether, chloroform, and benzine, the
fumes of sulphur readily kill insects. Large specimens may
be killed by inserting a pin dipped in a strong solution of ox-
alic acid. An excellent collecting bottle is made by putting
into a wide-mouth bottle two or three small pieces of cyanide
of potassium, which may be covered with cotton, about half-
filling the bottle. The cotton may be covered with paper
lightly attached to the glass and pierced with pin-holes ; this
keeps the insect from being lost in the bottle. For Diptera,
Loew recommends moistening the bottom of the collecting box
with creosote. This is excellent for small flies and moths, as the
mouth of the bottle can be placed over the insect while at rest ;
the insect flies up into the bottle and is immediately suffocated.
A bottle well prepared will, according to Laboulbene, last
several months, even a year, and is vastly superior to the old
means of using ether or chloroform. He states, "the incon-
venience of taking small insects from a net is well known, as
the most valuable ones usually escape ; but by placing the end
of the net, filled with insects, in a wide-mouthed bottle, and
putting in the cork for a few minutes, they will be suffocated."

Pinning Insects. The pin should be inserted through the

Online LibraryA. S. (Alpheus Spring) PackardGuide to the study of insects, and a treatise on those injurious and beneficial to crops: for the use of colleges, farm-schools, and agriculturists → online text (page 8 of 29)