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Title: Eye Spy - Afield with Nature Among Flowers and Animate Things
Author: Gibson, W. Hamilton (William Hamilton), 1850-1896
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Eye Spy - Afield with Nature Among Flowers and Animate Things" ***

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(This file was produced from images generously made

    [Illustration: W Hamilton Gibson (signed)]







    Copyright, 1897, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

    _All rights reserved._


    _A Naturalist's Boyhood_
    _The Story of the Floundering Beetle_
    _A Homely Weed with Interesting Flowers_
    _Two Fairy Sponges_
    _Green Pansies_
    _Mr. and Mrs. Tumble-bug_
    _Those Horse-hair Snakes_
    "_Professor Wiggler_"
    "_Cow-spit, Snake-spit, and Frog-spit_"
    _The Paper Wasp and His Doings_
    _The Spider's Span_
    _Ballooning Spiders_
    _The Lace-wing Fly_
    _The Perfumed Beetles_
    _Mushroom Spore-prints_
    _Some Curious Cocoons_
    _Nettle-leaf Tent-builders_
    _The Evening Primrose_
    _The Dandelion Burglar_
    _The Troubles of the House-fly_
    _A Strange Story of a Grasshopper_
    _Riddles in Flowers_
    _Luck in Clovers_
    _Barberry Manners_
    _A Woolly Flock_
    "_What Ails Him?_"
    _The Cicada's Last Song_

    List of Designs

    _Initial. Buttercup Leaves_
    _Three Views of a Helpless Beetle
    _Down Among the Buttercup Leaves_
    _An Adventurous Baby_
    _The Adopted Home_
    _Initial. Fox-fire and Fungus_
    _A Luminous Fragment_
    _Three Specimens by Day_
    _Three Specimens by Night_
    _A Fox-fire Bugaboo_
    _The Bugaboo by Daylight_
    _Initial. The Figwort_
    _A Flower with Three Welcomes_
    _Sipping the Nectar. Fig. 1_
    _In Flight with Pollen. Fig. 2_
    _Transferring the Pollen to Stigma. Fig. 3_
    _Fifth Day--Pod Enlarging_
    _Singular Method of Branching and Flowering_
    _The Rose Mischief-maker_
    _The Fairy Using Her Magic Wand_
    _The Elfin Sponge of the Oak_
    _The Real Fairy of the Oak Sponge_
    _The Elfin Sponge of the Brier Rose_
    _The Inhabited Rose Sponge_
    _Initial. Pansies_
    _The Materials_
    _Making a Whole Plant Green_
    _A Tumbler Concealed Near By_
    _Initial. The Sacred Scarabæus_
    _Mr. and Mrs. Tumble-bug Rolling the Ball_
    _Sinking the Ball_
    _Young Tumble-bug Digging out from His Dungeon_
    _Dangerous Ground for Grasshoppers and Crickets_
    _Busy Grasshoppers_
    _Initial. Lilacs_
    _"Professor Wiggler" at Home_
    _The Lilac Twig in June_
    _Tunnelling the Twig_
    _"Professor Wiggler" Moth_
    _Initial. Grasses and Weeds_
    _The Home of the "Spume-bearer"_
    _The Real Culprits_
    _Initial. A Nest of the Paper Wasp_
    _A Wolf in the Fold_
    _He was Hanging Head Downward_
    _Off for the Paper Nest_
    _Initial. Brooklyn Bridge_
    _Bridging the Brook_
    _From Tree to Tree_
    _Initial. Preparing for Flight_
    _Draped in the Glittering Meshes_
    _Spider-egg Cocoon_
    _Initial. The Lace-wing Fly_
    _The Wolf in the Fold_
    _A Tempting Aphis Brood_
    _Where the Aphides Swarm_
    _Initial. A Woodland Path_
    _The Perfumed Beetles_
    _Initial. A Spore-print_
    _Spore Surface of a Polyporus_
    _Spore Surface of a Polygaric_
    _Method of Making Spore-prints_
    _Spore-print of a Boletus_
    _Initial. A Nocturnal Bird_
    _From a Correspondent_
    _The Contents of the Cocoon_
    _Where the Cocoon Came From_
    _"The Owl on Muffled Wing"_
    _Initial. Nettles_
    _Leaf-tents of the "Comma" Caterpillar_
    _A Design for a Jeweller_
    _Initial. The Evening Primrose_
    _Two Kinds of Buds_
    _The Evening Primrose_
    _"The Worm i' the Bud"_
    _The Chrysalis and its Moth_
    _The Substitute for the Bud_
    _Initial. Dandelions_
    _The Nest-builder_
    _Initial. A Fly Model_
    _An Interrupted Toilet_
    _An Episode of Fly time_
    _A Victim of Fly Fungus_
    _Initial. Sweet-peas_
    _An Impossible and Real Tendril_
    _Grape Tendrils Evolved from Blossoms_
    _The Star Cucumber and its Compound Tendrils_
    _The Prank of a Tendril_
    _Initial. An Impaled "Quaker"_
    _The Haunt of the Grasshopper_
    _The Birth of the Parasites_
    _The Two-formed Flowers_
    _Puzzling Forms and Faces_
    _A. Fertilization of a Flower, as Believed by Grew and Linnæus_
    _B. Linnæus's Idea was Wrong_
    _C. and D. What Sprengel did not Explain_
    _The Way in which the Flower is Fertilized_
    _Initial. Clover Leaves_
    _A Rowen Field_
    _A Five-Leaved Specimen_
    _Sleeping Clover_
    _Initial. A Barberry Branch_
    _"In Arching Bowers"_
    _Barberry Blossoms, Showing Sepals and Petals Open. Fig. 1_
    _Barberry Blossoms, Showing the Approach of the Bee. Fig. 2_
    _Initial. A Woolly Flock_
    _One of the Flock Magnified_
    _A Winged Aphis_
    _Initial. Woodbine Branch and Sphinx Caterpillar_
    _What Happened the Next Day_
    _What He Should Have Become_
    _The Mischief-Maker_
    _Initial. Bearing Off the Prey_
    _A Section of the Sand-bank_
    _In the Dungeon_


A Naturalist's Boyhood

I am enjoying a book, a picture, a statue, or, say, a piece of music.
I know these to be the finished works of the man or the woman, but I
invariably hark back to the boy or the girl.

What I want to discover is the precise time, in the lives of certain
boys and girls, when the steel first struck the flint, the spark flew,
and out streamed that jet of fire which never afterwards was

I was reading an article entitled "Professor Wriggler," written by Mr.
William Hamilton Gibson, which appeared in "Harper's Young People," in
the number of October 31, 1893. I need not tell you that both old and
young, at home and abroad, delight in reading what Mr. Hamilton Gibson
has written, because he was not alone the most observant of
naturalists, but a distinguished artist and a sympathetic author.

He thus filled a peculiar position in the literary and artistic world
which is seldom given to any one man to fill. Besides being a
naturalist from his boyhood, he was able to write better than most
people what he wished to write, and to illustrate his articles in a
way that was unique. Mr. Gibson's death a few days ago, therefore,
has closed the career of a man who had the ability to interest a large
number of people not only in natural history, but in art and

The news of Mr. Gibson's death came to me suddenly, and as I was
reading it I recalled an interesting talk I had with him less than a
year ago about his work early in life and the way he got his start. I
had been reading one of his articles to a lady, who, when she heard
the name of the author, said:

"Why, I knew Mr. Hamilton Gibson long ago. When he was a lad he
painted a lovely drop-curtain for us. He could not have been more than
fifteen or sixteen then."

The next time I met Mr. Hamilton Gibson I asked him about this
drop-curtain. "Do you remember it?"

"Certainly I do. We had a temperance society at Sandy Hook,
Connecticut, and we gave a grand entertainment. I made the
drop-curtain. It represented a wood. There was a rock in the
foreground, and a Virginia-creeper was climbing over it."

"Was it an original composition?" I asked.

"I made many studies of the rock and the Virginia-creeper from nature.
On the other side of the curtain I painted a drawing-room. There were
a marble mantelpiece, a clock, and lace curtains. I don't think I
enjoyed painting the clock as much as the Virginia-creeper."

"To paint a drop-curtain at fifteen or sixteen means that you had then
a certain facility. But that could not have been your beginning. When
did you break your shell? What chipped or cracked your egg so that
your particular bird emerged, chirped, and finally took flight? That
was what I wanted to know."

"Is that what you are after?" asked Mr. Hamilton Gibson. "From my
baby days I was curious about flowers and insects. The two were always
united in my mind. What could not have been more than a childish guess
was confirmed in my later days." Then Mr. Hamilton Gibson paused. I
could see he was recalling, not without emotion, some memories of the
long past.

"I was very young, and playing in the woods. I tossed over the
fallen leaves, when I came across a chrysalis. There was nothing
remarkable in that, for I knew what it was. But, wonderful to
relate--providentially I deem it--as I held the object in my hand a
butterfly slowly emerged, then fluttered in my fingers."

"You were pleased with its beauty," I said.

"Oh! It was more than that. I do not know whether I was or was not a
youngster with an imagination, but suddenly the spiritual view of a
new or of another life struck me. I saw in this jewel born from an
unadorned casket some inkling of immortality. Yes, that butterfly
breaking from its chrysalis in my hand shaped my future career."

"But some young people may feel passing impulses, but how account for
your artistic skill and literary powers?"

"As to the art side, at least deftness of hand came early. I had the
most methodical of grandmothers. Every day I had a certain task. I
made a square of patch-work for a quilt. I learned how to sew, and I
can sew neatly to-day. I knew how to use my fingers."

"Did you like patch-work?" I inquired.

"I simply despised it. Sewing must have helped me, for it was
eye-training, and when I went to work with a pencil and a paint-brush
I really had no trouble. I read a great deal. I devoured Cooper's
novels and the Rollo series: but there was one special volume, 'Harris
on Insects,' I never tired of. I studied that over and over again. It
was the illustrations of Marsh which fascinated me. I never found a
bug, caterpillar, or butterfly that I did not compare my specimens
with the Marsh pictures. I learned this way much which I have never

"Had you any particular advantages?"

"Yes; my brother was a doctor, and he let me use his microscope, and
so I acquired a knowledge of the details of flowers and insects that
escape the naked eye. I pulled flowers to pieces, but not in the
spirit of destruction, but so that I might better understand their
structure. When I was ten I had a long illness. When I was getting
better I was permitted to take an hour's or so turn in the garden.
That hour I devoted to collecting insects and flowers. On my return to
my room, what I had collected amused me until I could get out again
next day or the day after."

"It was pleasure and study combined," I said.

"I was not conscious that I was studying. Then in my sick-room I began
to draw and paint the insects. I think I was conscientious about it,
and careful--perhaps minutely so. I tried to put on paper exactly what
I saw, and nothing else. You say you like 'Professor Wriggler.' I drew
him when I was ten or eleven, and I could not make him any more
accurate to-day than I did thirty years ago."

"Were you encouraged at your work?" I inquired.

"Yes; once I was much pleased. I came across a curious insect. I could
not find it in the books. I made a drawing of it and sent it to a
professor of the Smithsonian, asking him to give me its scientific
name. Back came by return mail my sketch, and under it the Latin
name. The professor wrote me that if the people who were always
annoying him with pictures of impossible bugs would only send him as
accurate a picture as was mine, he never would have any more bother."

"Did you have any setbacks?"

"Yes; and I haven't forgotten it up to to-day. I was always
collecting, and I had brought together every insect I had found in my
neighborhood. As I took them home I pinned them in the drawers of an
old-fashioned bureau. In time the whole of the drawers, bottom and
sides, were full of pinned specimens, and there was room for no more.
I had saved enough money to buy a cabinet, and I went to New York and
purchased one. When I returned home the first thing I did was to look
at my precious collection. When I opened a drawer there was a confused
mass of wings only. One single wretch of a black ant had got in, and
had passed the word to 10,000 other black ants. They had eaten the
bodies of my insects in all the drawers. That quite broke my heart."

"But your writing. How did that come about?" I asked.

"I don't think that you can develop in one direction only. You must
unbosom yourself. You are forced to tell or to write about the things
you have most at heart. When I was a small boy I wrote a book for
myself, and called it 'Botany on the Half-shell.' The first thing I
ever wrote which was printed was an article for one of Messrs.
Harper's publications, and I made the pictures for it. That was my

"Then your work went hand in hand?"

"Certainly. The one was the stimulant of the other. We all grew up
together. The days spent in my room when I was ill helped me. I think
I studied flowers then, so that their forms and colors were indelibly
impressed on my mind. When I was older I made a small bunch of flowers
in wax. Not a detail escaped me. I made moulds of all kinds of leaves.
Once I put together a rose, some sprigs of mignonette and heliotrope
in wax, and gave them to my dear old friend, Henry Ward Beecher. He
was delighted with my flowers, and put them on his study table.
Presently Mrs. Beecher came in. She ran to the flowers and broke the
rose all to pieces."

"How could she have done that?" I asked.

"It must have been with her nose. She wanted to smell the rose."

Then Mr. Hamilton Gibson showed me some monster drawings of
flowers--Brobdingnagian ones. The flowers opened and closed when you
pulled a string, showing their interior structure. Here were bees or
other insects, and they flew into the flowers, collected the honey,
and, above all, the pollen, and buzzed out again. He explained to me
how plant life would perish if it were not for certain insects, which
bring a new existence to flowers; for without these winged helpers
there would be no longer any varieties of flowers or seeds.

You will see, then, that in tracing the beginning of Mr. Hamilton
Gibson's career what I mean by harking backward.

I am certain, too, that in every boy and girl there is something good
and excellent. Like the flower visited by the bee, all it wants is
impulse. Then, as Mr. Hamilton Gibson explained it to me, will come
the blossoming, and lastly perfect fruitage.


The Story of The Floundering Beetle

Among my somewhat numerous correspondence from young people, I recall
several wondering inquiries about a certain fat, floundering "beetle,"
as "blue as indigo"; and when we consider how many other observing
youngsters, including youngsters of larger growth, have looked upon
this uncouth shape in the path, lawn, or pasture, will speculate as to
its life history, it is perhaps well to make this floundering blue
beetle better acquainted with his unappreciative neighbors.

What are the lazy blue insects doing down there in the grass, for
there are usually a small family of them. With the exception of their
tinselled indigo-blue coat, there is certainly very little to admire
in them. But what they lack in beauty they make up for in other ways.
There are many of their handsomer cousins whose history is not half
as interesting as that of this poor beetle that we tread upon in the
grass. His neighbor insect, the tiger-beetle, running hither and
thither with legs of wonderful speed, and with the agility of a fly on
the wing, readily escapes our approach; but this clumsy, helpless blue
beetle must needs plead for mercy by his color alone, because he has
no means to avert our crushing step. A little girl who met me on the
country road recently summed up the characteristics of the blue beetle
pretty well. The portrait was unmistakable. "I've got a funny blue bug
at home in a box that I want to show you," said she; "he's blue and
awful fat, and hasn't got any wings, but when you touch him, he just
turns over on his back, and trembles his toes and leaks big yellow
drops out of his elbows." I have shown her beetle--three views of him,
in fact--about the natural size, one of them on his back and "leaking"
at his elbows, for such is the infallible habit of the insect when
disturbed--a trick which has also given him the name of the "oil
beetle." He is also known as the indigo beetle.

But of what use can such a queer beetle be to himself or any one
else--a beetle that is not only without wings, but is so fat and
floundering that he can hardly lift his unwieldy body from the ground,
and which, upon being surprised, can only "play possum," and exude
great drops of oil (?) upon our palm as we examine him?

But as he pours the vials of his wrath upon us he would doubtless
fain have us understand that he was not always thus unable to take
care of himself, that he was not always the clumsy, crawling creature
that he now is. As he lies there on his back, the yellow, oily
globules of surplus "elbow grease" swelling larger and larger at his
leaky elbows, and one by one falling on the paper beneath him, we may
almost fancy the monologue which might be going on in that blue head
of his.

"Yes, I am indeed a clumsy creature," he might be saying, as he stares
upward into our faces with fixed indigo eyes, "and my cumbersome body
is a burden. But I was not always what you now see. Ah, you should
have seen me as a baby! Was there ever such a lively, acrobatic,
venturesome, plucky baby as I, even when I was a day old? Shall I tell
you some of my feats? Everybody knows me as I am _now_; but I have
taken care that few shall learn my earlier history. It takes a sharp
eye to follow my pranks of babyhood, and no one has been smart enough
to do it yet, but I will at least let you into the secret of my life
as far as it has been found out. I am little over a year old. I was
born under a stone in a meadow last April, when I crept out of a
golden-yellow case so small that you could hardly see it. I believe
your books say I was about a sixteenth of an inch long at that time.
Ah! when I think of what I _was_ and what I _could do then_, and look
at what I am _now_, I sometimes wonder whether that lively babyhood of
mine has not all been a mocking dream.

"Do you wonder that I am as blue as indigo, and am occasionally forced
to resort to my oil-tank to still the troubled waters of my later
experience? Well, as I was saying (pardon this fresh display of
tears), when I crept out of that filmy egg-sac I was just ready for
anything, and spoiling for adventure. I found myself with a slender,
agile body of thirteen joints, and three pairs of the sprightliest,
spider-like legs you ever saw, each tipped with three little sharp
claws. Now I knew that these long legs and claws were not given to me
at this early babyhood for nothing, so I looked about for something to
try them on. I had not a great while to wait, for as I crept along
through the grass roots beneath the edge of the stone, I heard a
welcome sound, which is music to all babies of my kind. I remembered
having heard the same music in my dreams while inside the little
yellow case, but now it seemed louder than ever, and in another minute
I was almost blown off my feet by the breeze which the noise made, and
a great black, hairy giant, as big as a house, pounced down just
outside the stone. He had a great black head, and six enormous legs as
big round as trees. Think how a bumblebee would look to a wee baby not
half as big as a hyphen in one of your books! Did I run when I saw
him coming? Not a bit of it. I just waited until he came close to me,
and then I jumped on his back, and put those eighteen little claws of
mine to good use as I crept over his great spiny body, and finally
found a snug resting-place beneath it. And then I waited, clinging
tightly with my clutching feet. In another moment I had begun to take
my first outing; and did ever baby have such a ride, and to such
music! After the bumblebee had remained under the stone a little while
he turned and went out again. No sooner did he get to the edge than
he spread his great buzzing wings, and away we went over the world,
higher and higher, miles high, over big oceans and mountains. I could
see them all beneath me as I clung to the underside of the bee. I
believe I must finally have got dizzy and faint, for I remember at
last finding myself at rest in a queer thicket of greenish poles with
big yellow balls at the top of them, and great giant leaves fringed
with long, glistening hairs. They told me afterwards it was a willow

"It seemed a very good place to rest, so I dropped off from my bee and
remained. Everywhere about me, as I looked, the air was yellow with
these blossoms, and full of the wing-music of the bees. But, as I have
said, I was a restless baby, and having had a taste of travel I soon
tired of this idle life, and began to get ready for another ride. My
chance soon came. This time it was a honey-bee. She alighted in the
flower next to mine, but I quietly piled over and clutched upon her
leg, and was soon snugly tucked away under her body, with my flat head
between its segments. And now for the first time I began to feel
hungry; and what was more natural than to take a bite from the tender
flesh of this bee, so easily available? I did it, and liked it so well
that I adopted this bee for my mother for quite a long while, taking
many, many long rides every day, and always coming back to the
prettiest little house on a bench under the trees. This was a sort of
bee hotel, with many hundreds of guests. It was all partitioned off
inside into little six-sided rooms, and the walls were so thin that
you could see through them. Indeed, I soon came to like this little
home so well that one morning I decided that I would not leave it
again. I had begun to get tired of my roving life. I saw a lot of
little white fat babies tucked away in some of these little rooms, and
this very bee which I had adopted as my mother was engaged in bringing
food to some of these babies and sealing them up in their nests. This
was enough for me. I concluded to bring my roving habit to a close,
and become a bee baby in truth; so watching for my opportunity, I
loosened my clutch upon the mother bee, and dropped into one of the
little rooms.

"Then I became sleepy, and can tell you nothing more than that when I
woke up I didn't know who or what I was. My six spider legs had gone,
and I had a half-dozen little short feet instead; and instead of the
sprightly ideas of my baby days, the thought of such a thing as even
moving was a bore. But I was hungrier than ever, and the first thing I
did was to fall upon another fat youngster who disputed the room with
me, and make short work of him. That was breakfast. When dinner-time
came, I found it right at my mouth. That busy mother of mine had fully
supplied my wants, and packed my room full to the ceiling with the
most delicious, fragrant bread of flowers made of pollen and honey.

"Oh, those were good old times, with all I wanted to eat all the time,
and everything I ate turning to appetite! Too soon, too soon I found
myself getting drowsy again, and, I can only remember awakening from a
queer dream, to find even my six tiny legs gone, and, what is _worse_,
my _mouth_ also. While wondering and hoping that this was but a
troubled vision, I was plunged into sleep again, and dreamed that I
was locked up in a mummy-case for over a week. And now comes the end,
the cycle of my story. From this nightmare mummy-case I finally
awoke--awoke, and emerged as you now see me. Do you wonder that I have
had the blues ever since at the memory of those honeyed days, now
forever fled? Instead of sporting aloft in airy skyward flights, I am
now a miserable groundling. Instead of sweet, fragrant bread of
flowers, I am now forced to break my fast on acrid buttercup leaves.
But I shall live again, with joys several hundred times multiplied,
live again in my children, for whose jolly time in the autumn I shall
soon lay my plans--golden promises--here in the ground beneath the
buttercup leaves, close to a burrow where lives a burly bumblebee.

"But I have not told you all of my history, and will leave you to fill
in the blank spaces, even as some of the scientists have to do."


The most recent experience of my own with the mysterious fox-fire
occurred a short time ago in a homeward drive with a companion from a
botanizing expedition about twelve miles distant. It was near ten
o'clock. The sky was overcast, only a stray star of the first
magnitude now and then peeping out from between the rifts of hazy
floating clouds. The new moon, "wi' th' auld moon i' her arm," had
sunk below the western hills, and so dark had it become that the road
ahead, at best but a faint suggestion, was occasionally lost for
minutes together in the deepened gloom of the overhanging trees, only
the keener nocturnal vision of the trusted horse affording the
slightest hope of keeping in the wheel-tracks.

In one of these dark passages we were suddenly surprised by a gleam of
light a few rods ahead to the left, and in a moment more we were
directly abreast of it. On many previous night-journeys I had been on
the lookout for some such surprise as this, as yet only rewarded by
the tiny sparkle of the glowworm in the grass. But here, at last, it
came in a shape that I could not have anticipated--an upright column
of phosphorescence, brilliant at the upper extremity, and more broken
below for a space of several feet. The brilliancy of the light may be
inferred from the following query and its answer:

"What is that light yonder?" I asked my companion.

"A lantern reflected in water," was his reply.

The mass of light shone verily like a lantern, and the present
interpretation was somewhat reminiscent of a previous flickering
lantern which we had seen, with its accompaniment of great magnified
moving shadows on barn and hay-stack, as it assisted in the tardy
chores of a whistling farmer lad.

But this light was of a greenish, ghostly hue, and perfectly
motionless, and had withal a certain weird, uncanny glare, which
belongs alone to fox-fire. It was impossible to locate its distance
from us. It might as easily be one rod as five. I concluded to
investigate its source, and, groping my way through the dewy bushes,
soon confronted it. It seemed to glow with added brilliancy as I
approached it, and as I stood face to face within a few inches of it
no vestige of material surface appeared to sustain it; it seemed
hanging motionless in mid-air. I reached out my hand, which
momentarily intervened like a black silhouette against the glow, with
which it soon came in contact. Upon further investigation, this proved
to be the contact of a mere prosaic fence-post, which, for some
mysterious reason, had been singled out for glorification among the
ten thousand others of its neighbors and transformed into a pillar of
fire. The post was about six inches in diameter, its summit an
unbroken mass of light, which extended in more or less broken patches
below for a distance of six feet, thus suggesting the effect of the
rippling elongated reflection of a lantern in water noticed by my
companion, and which would doubtless have been so accepted by the
average passing observer without further thought.

The most luminous upper portions were free from bark, the exposed
patches of wood below being equally brilliant. Clutching at the more
available part of the post, I was enabled to sink my fingers deep into
its decayed fibre, and succeeded in tearing off a long fragment. The
outer surface of this particular piece had been covered with bark and
not especially brilliant, but the cavity of yielding moist fibre thus
exposed, as well as the inner surface of the dislodged piece, poured
forth a perfect flood of greenish light, indicating that the damp
uncanny fire extended to the very core of the post, which was
saturated with the phosphorescent essence. I laid this and other
fragments in the back of the carriage, where its glare met our eyes
whenever we turned to look upon it.

Taking it beneath the lamp-light upon our return home, it resolved
itself into a very ordinary piece of yellowish rotten wood. In a more
shaded corner of the room it appeared as though white-washed, and upon
taking it into a closet or out into the night again its flame
gradually rekindled, as though feeding upon the darkness, until it
appeared precisely as when we found it.

By enclosing the specimen in a tin box with moist moss I was enabled
to prolong the effulgence until the next evening, but it had entirely
disappeared by the following night, at which time its original haunt,
the post, was also doubtless lost in the darkness. A week later I
again passed its neighborhood in the late hours without the slightest
hint of its presence.

This is the mysterious "fox-fire" or "ghost-fire" which has so imposed
upon the imaginations of credulous country folk the world over,
doubtless a conspicuous factor in many a harrowing tale in the
legendary or traditional lore of spooks and goblins.

I remember the breathless interest with which as a boy I listened to
the weird story, whose scene was located not far from my native town,
of a ghostly light that flickered about the eaves of a certain old
ruin of a house in the neighborhood, and also above the well close by
in the weedy waste of the former door-yard.

The light was seen by many for several consecutive nights. It fairly
glowed into a halo up from the wooden curb which surmounted the well,
where it was viewed at a safe distance with bated breath by a curious
crowd of villagers, not one of whom would have dared to steal up and
surprise the innocent spook in its haunt--doubtless a mass of fox-fire
which had found its brief, congenial home in the decaying boards
within the tottering well-curb. Of course the house was "haunted" for
evermore, and rustic tradition for a whole generation was rich in
fabulous tales of the "haunted well," and there was serious talk of
unearthing the nameless mystery which lay at the bottom of it.

A certain saw-mill was also tenanted by a similar luminous ghost one
night after a heavy rain, but the shape of the spook in this case was
so peculiar, and so exactly corresponded with the parallel cross-boxes
of the old broken water-wheel, that it was considered harmless.

But it is scarcely to be wondered at that a phenomenon so startling
and inexplicable to the rustic mind should be associated with the
supernatural. One's first experience with fox-fire, especially if he
chances upon a specimen of some size, is apt to be a memorable

My own first encounter dates back to the age of about eight years.
While walking through a wood at night I chanced upon what I supposed
to be a large glowworm in my path. I picked it up, only to find in my
hand a hard piece of dead twig.

A later experience, which, while quite startling for a moment, was
robbed of its full terrors by the reminiscence of the first. As in the
former case, I was returning home at night through a dark, damp wood.
I was skirting the border of a small runnel, when I was suddenly
brought to a breathless standstill, apparently confronted by the
glaring eyes of a panther, or perhaps a tiger; certainly no cat or fox
or owl was possessed of eyes of such dimensions or wide interspace as
those which glared at me from the dark shadow of yonder copse. But in
a moment my quickened pulse had subsided, and I calmly returned the
greenish phosphorescent gaze, observing that a singular accident had
re-enforced the first illusion by a wonderful semblance to ears and
outline of body, in keeping with the formidable eyes.

In a moment I was attacking the foe, my hands stroking his rough barky
forehead, and my fingers penetrating his eyes, which proved to be two
holes in the bark of a fallen log, the farther side of which disclosed
a brilliant, luminous patch which, as I invaded it with my hand,
proved to be bare, exposed wood. Taking hold of the loose bark, a
vigorous pull dislodged a great piece some three feet long, at the
same time liberating a glare of greenish light from the exposed
surface of the log, which was responded to in sympathy by the inner
surface of the slab of bark in my hands, in all representing about six
square feet of brilliant phosphorescence.

I carried a fragment home, and upon inspecting it by lamp-light, found
it white with thready mould, resembling the so-called "dry-rot" of
mouldy timber--doubtless the mother of some well-known fungus, or
"toadstool," which might have been discerned upon the log the
following day had I chanced thither.

Hawthorne in one of his books records a remarkable personal encounter
with this weird fox-fire, and one which cost him dearly. He was on a
journey by canal-boat, which had stopped _en route_ for a brief period
at midnight. During the interval he had stepped ashore, and was
decoyed into a neighboring wood by the bright glow, which proved to be
a fallen tree ablaze with phosphorescence.

In his surprise and interest he lost all account of time, and thus
missed his boat, and was obliged to "foot it" for miles on the
midnight tow-path, which he was enabled to do by the aid of a big
brand of the tree which he used as a flambeau.

Almost any damp wood, especially after a rain, is likely to disclose
its fox-fire, but it occasionally appears under circumstances where we
little expect it. A few weeks since, having occasion to go to my
refrigerator after dark, I noticed a brilliant glowing object upon the
floor beneath it, which I found upon inspection to be merely a piece
of damp bread. Can it be that the yeast fungus too may give off
effulgence with its carbonic acid at its whim? or was the light
traceable to the perceptible odor of lobster with which it had
evidently been previously in contact?

Dead fish are frequently thus luminous, and brilliant phosphorescence
is often an accompaniment of decomposition of both animal and
vegetable matter. A few decaying potatoes will often light up a corner
of a cellar which is dim by daylight, and an instance is on record of
a certain cellar full of these vegetables giving off such a flood of
light as to lead observers to suppose that the premises were on fire.

Many animals, and especially fishes and insects, possess luminous
properties. The familiar examples of the glowworm and fire-fly hardly
need be mentioned. Then there are the big lantern-flies, with their
luminous heads; and brilliant snapping beetles of the South, with
their two glowing headlights, so effectively employed as ornaments for
the hair and otherwise in the toilet of the Cuban belle. But the sea
is the home of luminous life. From the diminutive myriads of the
_noctiluca_, which sets the sea aflame, to the numerous larger finny
tribes, the ocean is peopled with animal life, which, though dwelling
in depths scarce reached by the faintest gleam from the sun, swim
about enveloped in their self-illumined halo.

While all these phenomena come under the general term of
phosphorescence, the inference of the presence of phosphorus is
incorrect; many substances without a trace of phosphorus in their
constitution emit light with equal brilliancy.

The well-known commercial article called "luminous paint" is an apt
example, which, while containing no trace of phosphorus, glows like
fox-fire at night, especially after having been exposed to the sun's
rays during the day, giving forth in the dark hours the light which it
has thus absorbed, and being thus of utility in its application to
clock faces and match-boxes.

Calcined lime and burnt oyster-shells, in combination with certain
acids, become luminous at night by the similar power of absorption and
transmission of light vibration which is supposed to be the secret of
much of the so-called phosphorescence.

But fox-fire is believed to be of a different nature, more chemical in
its character, and usually emanates from a fungus, either visible in
the form of mould or toadstool, or existing as an almost invisible
essence which saturates the decaying wood, a species known as
_Thelaphora cerulea_ being credited with most of the luminous

Fox-fire is occasionally put to a cruel utility by hunters in
association with the "salt-lick" for deer. Salt is scattered in a
selected spot, and a piece of fox-fire adjusted beyond it in direct
line of the aim of the rifle, which is securely fixed in place. The
sudden obscuration of the light is a sufficient signal for the
still-hunter, who has only to pull the trigger to secure the game,
even though the latter be entirely hid in the darkness.

The more common examples of fox-fire are small bits of decayed wood,
but most astonishing specimens have been observed. In addition to the
fine example mentioned by Hawthorne, there is an authentic record of a
single log twenty-four feet in length and a foot in diameter which was
one mass of brilliant phosphorescence.

A Homely Weed with Interesting Flowers

The recent article from my pen on the "Riddle of the Bluets," and
which showed the important significance of its two forms of blossoms,
suggests that a few more similar expositions of the beautiful
mysteries of the common flowers which we meet every day in our walks,
and which we claim to "know" so well, may serve to add something to
the interest of our strolls afield. It is scarcely fair to assert that
familiarity can breed contempt in our relations to so lovely an
object as a flower, but certain it is that this every-day contact or
association, especially with the wild things of the wood, meadow, and
way-side, is conducive to an apathy which dulls our sense to their
actual attributes of beauty. Many of these commonplace familiars of
the copse and thicket and field are indeed like voices in the
wilderness to most of us. We forget that the "weed" of one country
often becomes a horticultural prize in another, even as the mullein,
for which it is hard for the average American to get up any
enthusiasm, and which is tolerated with us only in a worthless sheep
pasture, flourishes in distinction in many an English or Continental
garden as the "American velvet plant."

The extent of our admiration often depends upon the relative rarity of
the flower rather than upon its actual claims to our appreciation. The
daisy which whitens our meadows--the "pesky white-weed" of the
farmer--we are perfectly willing to see in the windrows of the scythe
or tossed in the air by the fork of the hay-maker. The meed of our
appreciation of the single blossom becomes extremely thin when spread
over a ten-acre lot. How rarely do we see a bouquet of daisies on a
country table? And yet, strange inconsistency! the marguerite of our
goodwife's window-garden, almost identical with the daisy and not one
whit prettier, is a prize, because it came from the "florist's," and
cost twenty-five cents, with five cents extra for the pot.

A certain thrifty granger of the writer's acquaintance was recently
converted from the error of his attitude towards the "tarnal weeds and
brush." He was one of the tribe of blind, misguided vandals who had
always deemed it his first duty "after hayin'" to invade with his
scythe all the adjacent roadside, to "tidy things up," reducing to
most unsightly untidiness that glorious wild garden of August's floral
cornucopia, that luxuriant tangle of purple eupatorium, the early
asters, golden-rod, vervains, wild-carrot, and meadow-rue.

He was converted in the sanctuary, where one August Sabbath he beheld
by the side of the pulpit, dignified by a large, beautiful vase, a
great bouquet of this very tall, purple thoroughwort, meadow-rue, and
wild-carrot of his abomination, and which had actually fallen before
his scythe on the evening previous. "Well, there!" he exclaimed; "I
didn't realize they _was_ so pretty!"

The beauty of the commonplace often requires the aid of the artist as
its interpreter, a fact which Browning realized when he expressed,
through Fra Lippo Lippi:

          "We're made so that we love
    First when we see them painted, things which we have passed
    Perhaps a hundred times, nor cared to see."

An illustration of the truth of this axiom was afforded in a recent
incident in my experience. Sitting at the open window of my country
studio one summer day, engaged in making a portrait of a common weed,
a friendly farmer, chancing "across lots," seeing me at work,
sauntered up to "pass the time o' day." As he leaned on the
window-sill his eye fell upon the drawing before me.

"My!" he exclaimed, "but ain't that pooty?"

"What!" I retorted, "and will _you admit_ that this drawing of a
_weed_ is pretty?"

"Yes, your _draft_ thar is pooty, but you artist fellows alliz makes
'em look pootier 'n they _ought_ to."

So much for the mere attributes of manifest outward beauty without
regard to consideration of "botany" or the structural beauty of the
flowers. The "botanist" finds beauty everywhere, even among the
homeliest of Flora's hosts. But in the light of the "new botany,"
which recognizes the insect as the important affinity of the
flower--the key to its various puzzling features of color, form, and
fragrance--every commonest blossom which we thought we had "known" all
our lives, and every homely weed scarce worth our knowing, now becomes
a rebuke, and offers us a field of investigation as fresh and
promising as is offered by the veriest rare exotic of the
conservatory; more so, indeed, because these latter are strangers in
a strange land, and divorced from their ordained insect affinities.
The plebeian daisy now becomes a marvel of a flower indeed--five
hundred wonderful little mechanisms packed together in a single golden
disk. The red clover refuses to recognize us now unless properly
introduced by that "burly bumblebee" with which its life is so
strangely linked.

The barn-yard weeds need no longer be considered uninteresting and
commonplace, because their mysteries have not yet been discovered, and
I can do no better in my present chapter than to select one of their
number and redeem it from its hitherto lowly place among them--one of
the homeliest of them all, and whose blossoms are scarce noticed by
any one except a botanist.

In my initial illustration is shown a sketch of the Figwort, or
scrophularia, a tall, spindling weed, with rather fine, luxuriant
leaves, it is true, but with a tall, curiously branching spray of
small, insignificant purplish-olive flowers, with not even a perfume,
like the mignonette, to atone for its plainness. But it has an _odor_
if not a perfume, and it has a nectary which secretes the beads of
sweets for its pet companion insects, which in this instance do not
happen to be bees or butterflies, but most generally wasps of various
kinds, as these insects are not so particular as to the quality of
their tipple as bees are apt to be. But the figwort has found out
gradually through the ages that _wasps_ are more serviceable in the
cross-fertilization of its flowers than other insects, and it has thus
gradually modified its shape, odor, and nectar especially to these

[Illustration: A. First Day's Welcome--Stigma at the Doorway.]

[Illustration: A^1. First Day--Sectional View.]

[Illustration: B. Second Day's Welcome--Stigma bent downward beneath
two withered Stamens at Doorway.]

[Illustration: B^1. Second Day--Sectional View.]

[Illustration: C. Third Day's Welcome.--Four Stamens at Doorway.]

[Illustration: D. Fourth Day.--Fall of Blossom. Its Mission

Let us then take a careful look at these queer little homely flowers,
and for the time being consider them as mere devices--first, to insure
the visit of an insect, and, second, to make that insect the bearer of
the pollen from one blossom to the stigma of another. Here we see a
flower with three distinct welcomes on three successive days.

The flower-bud usually opens in the morning, and shows a face as at A,
which must be fully understood by looking at the side section shown at

The anthers and pollen are not yet ripe, but the stigma is ready, and
now guards the doorway. To-morrow morning we shall see a new condition
of things at that doorway, as seen at B and B^1. The stigma has now
bent down out of the way, while two anthers have unfolded on their
stalks and now shed their pollen at the threshold. The third morning,
or perhaps even sooner, the other pair come forward, and we see the
opening of the blossom as at C. Blossoms in all these three
conditions are to be found on this cluster.

[Illustration: Fig. 1]

A small wasp is now seen hovering about the flowers, and we must turn
our attention to him as seen in Figs. 1, 2, and 3. The insect alights,
we will assume, on a blossom of the second day (Fig. 1), clinging with
all his feet, and thrusting his tongue into the beads of nectar shown
at A^1 and B^1. He now brings his breast or thorax, or perhaps the
underside of his head against the pollen, and is thoroughly dusted
with it. Leaving the blossom, we see him in flight, as at Fig. 2, and
very soon he is seen to come to a freshly opened flower, which he sips
as before. The pollen is thus pushed against the projecting stigma,
as shown at Fig. 3, and thus, one by one, the flowers are

The stigma, after receiving pollen, immediately bends downward and
backward, as shown in B^1, to give place to the ripening anthers, and
shortly after the last pair of them have shed their pollen the
blossom, having then fulfilled its functions, falls off, as shown at
D. This may be on the afternoon of the third day, or not until the
fourth. If not visited by insects it may chance to remain the longer
time; but more than one tiny wasp gets his head into such a blossom,
and is surprised with a tumble, his weight pulling the blossom from
its attachment.

[Illustration: Fig. 2]

[Illustration: Fig. 3]

The result of that pollen upon the stigma is quickly seen in the
growing ovary or pod, which enlarges rapidly on the few succeeding
days, as in E.

[Illustration: E]

Many species of hornets and wasps, large and small, are to be seen
about the figwort blooms, occasionally bees, frequently bumblebees,
which usually carry away the pollen on the underside of their heads.

Who shall any longer refer to the figwort as an "uninteresting weed"?

Two Fairy Sponges

The pretty works of my fairy and his companions in mischief are seen
on every hand from spring until winter, but few of us have ever seen
the fay, for Puck is no myth nor Ariel a creature of the poet's fancy.
Their prototype existed in entomological entity and demoralizing
mischievousness ages before the traditional fay, in diminutive human
form, had been dreamed of. The quaint, bow-legged little "brownies,"
which have brought our entire land beneath the witching spell of their
drollery, can scarce claim prestige in the ingenuity of their
mischief, nor can the droll doings of imps and elves chronicled in the
folk-lore of many an ancient people begin to match the actual doings
of the real, live, busy little fairy whose works abound in meadow,
wood, and copse, and which any of us may discover if we can once be
brought to realize that our imp is visible. Then we must not forget
that ideal type of the true "fairy"--a paragon of beauty and goodness,
with golden hair and dazzling crown of brilliants, with her airy
costume of gossamer begemmed and spangled, her dainty, twinkling feet
and gorgeously painted butterfly wings. And we all remember that
wonderful wand which she carried so gracefully, and whose simple touch
could evoke such a train of surprising consequences.

And who shall say that our pretty fay is a myth, or her magic wand a
wild creation of the fancy? May we not see the wonder-workings of that
potent wand on every hand, even though our fairy has eluded us while
she cast the spell? There are a host of these wee fairies continually
flitting about among the trees plotting all sorts of mischief and
leaving an astonishing witness of their visitation in their trail as
they pass from leaf to leaf or twig to twig. But these fairies, like
those of Grimm and Laboulaye, are agile little atoms, and are not to
be caught in their pranks if they know it, and even though our eye
chanced to rest on one of them, it is doubtful whether we would
recognize him, so different is the guise of these _real_ fairies from
those invented creatures of the books. Once, when a mere boy, I caught
one of the little imps at work, and watched her for several minutes
without dreaming that I had been looking at a real fairy all this
time. What did I see? I was sitting in a clearing, partly in the shade
of a sapling growth of oak which sprang from the trunk of a felled
tree. While thus half reclining I noticed a diminutive, black,
wasp-like insect upon one of the oak leaves close to my face.

The insect seemed almost stationary, and not inclined to resent my
intrusion, so I observed her closely. I soon discovered that she was
inserting her sting into the midstem of the leaf, or perhaps
withdrawing it therefrom, for in a few moments the midge flew away. I
remember wondering what the insect was trying to do, and not until
years later did I realize that I had been witnessing the secret arts
of the magician of the insect world--a very Puck or Ariel, as I have
said--a fairy with a magic wand which any sprite in elfindom might

The wand of Herrmann never wrought such a wonder as did this magic
touch of the little black fly upon the oak leaf. Had I chanced to
visit the spot a few weeks later, what a beautiful red-cheeked apple
could I have plucked from that hemstitched leaf!

This was but one of a veritable swarm of mischief-making midges
everywhere flitting among the trees; and while they are quite as
various in their shapes as the traditional forms of fairies--the
ouphes and imps, the gnomes and elves of quaintest mien, as well as
the dainty fays and sylphs and sprites--there is one feature common to
them all which annihilates the ideal of all the pictorial authorities
on fairydom. Neither Grimm, nor Laboulaye, nor any of the masters of
fairy-lore, seems to have discovered that a fairy has no right to
those butterfly wings which the pages of books show us. Those of the
real fairy are quite different, being narrow and glassy, and bear the
magician's peculiar sign in their crisscross veins.

What a world of mischief is going on here in the fields! Here is one
of the witching sprites among the drooping blossoms of the oak. "You
would fain be an acorn," she says, as she pierces the tender blossoms
with her wand, "but I charge thee bring forth a string of currants;"
and immediately the blossoms begin to obey the behest, and erelong a
mimic string of currants droops upon the stem. Upon another tender
branch near by a jet-black, gauze-winged elf is casting a similar
spell, which is this time followed by a tiny, downy, pink-cheeked
peach. And here alights a tiny sprite, whose magic touch evokes even
from the _same_ leaf a cherry, or a coral bead, perhaps a huge green
apple! How many of us have seen the little elf that spends her life
among the tangles of creeping cinque-foil, and decks its stems with
those brilliant scarlet beads which we may always find upon them,
looking verily like tempting berries.

We see here about us swarms of these busy elves in obedience to their
own peculiar mischievous promptings. What whispers this glittering
midge to the oak twig here to which she clings so closely? We may not
guess; but if we pass this way a month or so hence, what a beautiful
response in the glistening, rosy-clouded sponge which encircles the
stem! "But this sponge is not pretty enough by half," exclaims a rival
fairy. "Wait until you see what yonder sweetbrier rose will do for
_me_." Hovering thither among its thorns, she imparts her spell, and,
lo! within a month the stem is clothed in emerald fringe, which grows
apace, until it has become a dense pompon of deep crimson--a sponge
worthy the toilet of the fairy queen herself!

Who shall still say that the fairy is a myth!

These two fairy sponges are familiar to us all, at least to those of
us who dwell for even a small part of the year in the country, and use
our eyes. Indeed, we need go no farther than our city parks, or even
our "back-yard" gardens, to find at least one of them, for the
sweetbrier is rarely neglected by this particular fairy.

So many specimens of both of these sponges have been sent to me by
"Round Table" correspondents and others that I have begun to wonder
how many of those other young people who have seen them and kept
silence have wondered at their secret.

The two fairies which are responsible for these sponges have been
captured by the inquisitive scientist, and have had their portraits
taken for the rogues' gallery, and now we see them stuck upon tiny
little three-cornered pieces of paper, and pinned in the specimen case
as mere _insects_--gall-flies. The one is labelled _Cynips seminator_,
the other, _Cynips rosæ_.

[Illustration: A. One of the points detached.

B. Section of the base.

C, D. Cynips emerging.]

And now the prosaic entomologist proceeds to supplant fact for fancy.
This gall-fly is a sort of cousin to the wasps, but what we would call
its sting is more than a mere sting. Like a sting, it seems to
puncture the bark or leaf, and at the same time probably to inject its
drop of venom; but at the same time it conveys to the depths of the
wound a tiny egg, or perhaps a host of them. One gall-fly is thus a
magician in chemistry, at least, for no sooner are these eggs
deposited than the wounded branch begins to swell and form a cellular
growth or tumor about them, the character of this abnormal growth
depending upon the peculiar charm of the venomous touch--to one a tiny
coral globe, to another a cluster of spines, to another a curved horn,
and to our cynips of the white or scrub oak a peculiar globular,
spongy growth which completely envelops the stem, sometimes to the
size of a small apple. In its prime it is a beautiful object, with its
fibrous, glistening texture studded with pink points. But this
condition lasts but a few days, when the entire mass becomes brownish
and woolly, which fact has given this insect the common name of

And now we must lose no time if we would follow its history to its
complete cycle. If we put one of these faded sponges in a tight-closed
box, we shall in a few days learn the secret of its being. For this
singular mimic fruit which has sprung at the behest of the gall-fly,
like other fruits, has its seeds--seeds which are animated with
peculiar life, and which sprout in a way we would hardly expect.
Within a fortnight after gathering, perhaps, we find our box swarming
with tiny, black flies, while if we dissect the sponge we find its
long-beaked seeds entirely empty, and each with a clean round hole
gnawed through its shell, explaining this host of gall-flies, all
similar to the parent of a few weeks since, and all bent on the same
mischief when you shall let them loose at the window.

The beautiful sponge of the sweet-brier has been called into being by
exactly similar means, and its hard, woody centre is packed full of
cells, at first each with its tiny egg, and then with its plump larva,
followed by the chrysalis, and at length by the emergence of the
full-fledged _Cynips rosæ_.

This sponge-gall of the rose is commonly known as the Bedegnar, and,
like all other members of its tribe, as with the familiar oak-apple,
was long supposed to be a regular accessory fruit of its parent stalk.
Among early students were many superstitions connected with the
Bedegnar, the nature of which may readily be inferred from its other
common name of "Robin's Pin-cushion."

Green Pansies

The casual observer may perhaps have noticed that interesting law of
nature which governs the coloring of flowers, and which confines the
hues of a given flower, or perhaps a botanical group of flowers, to
two colors and the combination of these colors. The three primary
colors--red, yellow, and blue--are rarely to be seen in the blossoms
of the same botanical group. Thus we observe roses, hollyhocks,
chrysanthemums, and tulips in all shades of white, yellow, pink, red,
and crimson, even almost approaching black, and numberless
combinations of these colors, but never blue. The same is true with
dahlias, zinnias, lilies, gladioli, pinks, and portulacas.

On the other hand, flowers which are notably blue--as in the
bellworts, or "Canterbury-bells," and larkspur, which vary from
white, through all shades of blue, to purple, pink, and even
reds--never show any trace of yellow. This color limitation of
blossoms was noted by De Candolle early in the present century, who
classified flowers in two series as to their hues. The first, which
included the yellow, was called the _Xanthic_; the second, which
omitted the yellow, the _Cyanic_.

World-wide fame and a comfortable fortune await the florist who shall
produce a variety of blue rose, tulip, hollyhock, or dahlia, or a
yellow geranium or larkspur, which all persist in their fidelity to
their particular color series. And yet nature gives us occasional
exceptions which, however, only serve by their contrast to emphasize
the universal law. Thus we see the water-lily group--if we include the
two separate orders _Nymphæa_ and _Nelumbo_--with blossoms of pink,
yellow, and blue. The water-lilies of this latter color, allied to the
Egyptian yellow lotus, which were to be seen in the Union Square
fountain, New York, last summer, were almost lost in the azure of the
sky which their surrounding waters reflected, and yet they clearly had
no right to include blue in their gamut; purple or red possibly, but
not blue.

But this is not so remarkable an exception as we find in the hyacinth,
in which the three primary colors are to be seen with notable
purity--blues, yellows, and reds--and thus with possibilities of
almost any conceivable color, under cultivation and careful selection.

Another striking exception, and one which would have puzzled De
Candolle for its color classification, is the columbine. One common
species of the Eastern United States, _Aquilegia canadensis_, is of a
pure deep scarlet color, as every country boy knows. If we seek for
our columbines in the far West we shall miss this familiar type, and
find it replaced by another species, _A. chrysantha_, of a fine clear
yellow, or perhaps by its near relative, the _A. coerulea_, with its
sky-blue corolla, a common species in the region of the Rocky
Mountains. Columbines, red, yellow, and blue, are thus to be found in
a state of nature, and we thus find other cultivated forms which
extend from a pure white through all shades of purple.

The pansy, that protean offspring from lowly "johnny-jumper,"
occasionally comes very near embracing the entire gamut of color to
which its name, _Viola tricolor_, would seem to entitle it. Blue
pansies and yellow pansies we certainly have, but the ruddiest of its
rich wine tints, when laid beside the red, red rose, at once confesses
its purple, the remnant of blue which it cannot absolutely eliminate.

The blue rose, blue tulip, blue dahlia, and blue carnation have as yet
refused to respond to the coaxing arts of the florist, but he has at
least succeeded in imposing upon our credulity in a carnation pink of
white, streaked with peacock blue. Bouquets of these uncanny-looking
blossoms are frequently to be seen in our city flower-booths, but they
smack of trickery, and the vendor is rarely seen to look you in the
eye as he responds "new variety" to your inquiry as to the peculiar

"Are those natural?" I heard a lady ask at a flower-stall recently,
referring to these pinks.

"Sure, madam," he replied, this time with easy conscience. "They were
picked in the conservatory this morning."

But as he folded the paper carefully about her generous purchase, he
didn't trouble her with the details of the subsequent aniline bath to
which they were subjected, and of which they bore plain evidence upon
close scrutiny.

But if we are to resort to hocus-pocus in the tinting of flowers,
there _is_ an artificial method available which leaves this clumsy
artifice of the blue-green pinks far behind, and which, withal,
affords a very pretty experiment in chemistry, albeit presumably more
enjoyed by the operator than the victim.

A gentleman of the writer's acquaintance, while visiting his sister at
her country home, noted her fondness for pansies, as indicated by the
numerous beds and borders of the flowers there. After expressing his
appreciation and surprise at the endless shades of color in the
bouquet which she was gathering for the library table, he stooped, and
apparently plucked one of the blossoms from a bed.

"Your pansies are certainly the most remarkable that I have ever seen.
Here is one which is truly most astonishing in color," he remarked, as
he handed the blossom to her.

It was received with an exclamation of amazement, and with eager
glances at the neighborhood of the bed from which she presumed it had
been taken. "Where _did_ you find it?" exclaimed his sister, in
complete demoralization. "Which plant was it on? Why, I never _saw_
such a pansy! It's wonderful! There must be more. I never _heard_ of
such a pansy! Do show me where you picked it."

"I got it from this plant here, I think," replied the young man, as
soon as he could be heard; and, stooping carelessly, he plucked
another, which proved even more of a surprise than the first, so
vividly intense was its color.

The first specimen was a dark pansy. The two usually deep purple upper
petals now appeared of a deep velvety peacock blue. The remaining
three petals were pale emerald-green, bordered with deeper green. In
the second blossom the upper pair of petals were now transfigured in
vivid emerald-green, the rest of the flower being of paler but almost
equally dazzling brilliancy.

The demoralization was more and more complete as another and another
of the remarkable blossoms was rescued from its obscurity, always by
the accommodating young man, and added to the growing bouquet.
Neighbors on right and left were quickly acquainted with the
remarkable discovery, and a gathering of excited natives soon
assembled in the parlor to view the new floral sensation. The
pansy-beds were soon the scene of busy commotion, but in the eager
search for the rare blooms fortune seemed still to favor the young
man, to the exasperation of several of the bright-eyed young ladies,
who, of course, did not happen to know of the young man's occasional
sly recourse to a certain tumbler concealed near by.

But the secret soon leaked out, and the victim confessed and did
penance. Had he realized what a commotion his innocent prank was
destined to create, he would not have yielded to temptation. But his
sister was primarily to blame. Why had she placed that bottle so
conspicuously upon his wash-stand? He had noted her fondness for
pansies, and a minute later had read "Ammonia" on the label of the
bottle, and association of ideas and mischief did the rest. In a
casual stroll about the pansy-beds he had then gathered a dozen or so
of the several varieties and taken them to his room. Laying a piece of
crumpled paper in a saucer, he then poured about a teaspoonful of the
ammonia upon it, afterwards gently laying the pansies in a pile upon
the paper, and thus free from actual contact with the liquid, and
covering the whole with a tumbler. In two or three minutes the fumes
of the ammoniacal gas had done their work, and lo! when he removed the
tumbler his pansies had doffed their blues and purples, and were
transfigured in velvets of all imaginable emerald and peacock and
mineral greens, though still retaining their perfect shape and petal

To more completely confound the innocent with this experiment, the
"operator" should suddenly discover an entire plant with all its
flowers thus tinted in emerald--a feat which may be accomplished by
submitting the whole plant to similar treatment beneath a bell glass
or other air-tight vessel or box, in which case the amount of ammonia
used should be proportionately increased. If the _concentrated_
ammonia is employed, a very small quantity will be sufficient.

Flowers thus treated will last in an unaltered condition for several
hours, though the treatment is really injurious, even destructive, to
the tissues of flower as well as plant.

Various other blossoms respond in their own particular virescent hues
to the vapors of ammonia, as the reader will discover upon experiment.

The fumes of sulphur confined beneath a glass, as from a few common,
old-fashioned matches, will play all sorts of similar pranks with the
colors of petals. A little experimenting in this direction will afford
many surprises.

Mr. and Mrs. Tumble-bug

Of all the insects which occasionally claim our attention in our
country rambles, there is probably no example more entitled to our
distinguished consideration than the plebeian, commonly despised, but
admittedly amusing beetle known the country over as the funny
"tumble-bug." As we see him now, so he has always been--the same in
appearance, the same in habits; yet how has he fallen from grace! how
humbled in the eyes of man from that original high estate when, in
ancient Egypt, he enjoyed the prestige above all insects--where, as
the sacred "scarabæus," he was dignified as the emblem of immortality,
and worshipped as a god! The archæological history of Egypt is rich in
reminders of his former eminence. Not only do we see his familiar
shape (as shown in our initial design) everywhere among those ancient
hieroglyphs engraved in the rock or pictured on the crumbling papyrus;
but it is especially in association with death and the tomb that his
important significance is emphasized. The dark mortuary passages and
chambers hewn in solid rock, often hundreds of feet below the surface,
where still sleep the mummied remains of an entire ancient people, and
which honeycomb the earth beneath the feet of the traveller in certain
parts of Egypt, are still eloquent in tribute to the sacred scarab.
The lantern of the antiquarian explorer in those dark dungeons of
death discloses the suggestive figure of this beetle everywhere
engraved in high relief upon the walls, perhaps enlivened with
brilliant color still as fresh as when painted three thousand years
ago, emblazoned in gold and gorgeous hues upon the sarcophagus and the
mummy-case within, and again upon the outer covers of the
winding-sheet; finally, in the form of small ornaments the size of
nature, beautifully carved on precious stones enclosed within the
wrappings of the mummy itself.

What other insect has been thus glorified and immortalized? For the
sake of its proud lineage, if nothing else, is not our poor tumble-bug
deserving of our more than passing attention? An insect which has thus
been distinguished by an entire great people of antiquity has some
claims on our respect and consideration.

But aside from his historical fame, he will well repay our careful
study, and serve to while away a pleasant hour in the observance of
his queer habits. He is now no longer the awe-inspiring sacred scarab,
but Mr. Tumble-bug, or, rather, "Mr. and Mrs. Tumble-bug," for a
tumble-bug always pictured in the ancient hieroglyph is rarely to be
seen in its natural haunts. Mr. and Mrs. Tumble-bug are devoted and
inseparable, and, as a rule, vie with each other in the solicitude for
that precious rolling ball with which the insects are always
associated. From June to autumn we may find our tumble-bugs. There are
a number of species included in the group of Scarabæus to which they
belong. Two species are particularly familiar, one of a lustrous
bronzy hue, with a very rounded back, usually found at work on the
country highway in the track of the horse, and the other, the true
typical tumble-bug, a flat-backed, jet-black lustrous species which we
naturally associate with the barn-yard and cow-pasture. The latter may
be taken as an illustrative example of his class, and his ways are
identical with those of his ancient sacred congener and present
inhabitant of Egypt.

When we first see them they are generally manipulating the ball--a
small mass of manure in which an egg has been laid, and which by
rolling in the dust has now become round and firmly incrusted and
smooth. Let us follow the couple in their apparently aimless though no
less expeditious and vehement labors. They have now brought their
globular charge through the grassy stubble, and have reached a clear
spot of earth with scattered weeds. Of course we all know from the
books that their intention is to find a suitable spot in which to bury
this ball, and such being the case, with what astonishing stupidity do
they urge on that labor! Here certainly is just the right spot for
you, Mrs. Tumble-bug! Stop rolling and dig! But no, she will not
listen to reason. She mounts the top of the ball, and, creeping far
out upon it, pulls it over forward with her back feet, while Mr.
Tumble-bug helps her in a most singular fashion. Does he stand up on
his hind legs on the opposite side, and push with his powerful front
feet? Oh no; he stands on his head, and pushes with his hind legs. As
he pushes, and as the ball rolls merrily on, Mrs. Tumble-bug is
continually rolled around with it, and must needs climb backward at a
lively rate to keep her place. A foot or two is thus travelled without
special incident, when a slight trouble occurs. The ball has struck an
obstacle which neither Mrs. Tumble-bug's pull nor Mr. Tumble-bug's
push can overcome. Then follow an apparent council and interchange of
Tumble-bug talk, until at length both put their shovel-shaped heads
together beneath the sphere, and over it goes among the weeds. It is
soon out again upon the open. Now, Mrs. Tumble-bug, everything is
plain-sailing for you; here is a long down grade over the smooth clean
dirt! Why, the ball would roll down itself if you would only let it;
but, no, she will _not_ let it. She pauses, and the ball rests, and
both beetles now creep about, shovelling up the dirt here and there
with their very queer little flat heads. Ah, perhaps they are going to
start that _hole_ which all the books tell us about. But no; the place
is evidently not quite satisfactory, both of them seem so to conclude,
like two souls with but a single thought. Mrs. T. is up on the bridge
in a jiffy, and Mr. T. takes his place at the helm; and now what an
easy time they will have of it down this little slope; but, no, again;
tumble-bugs don't seem to care for an easy time. A hundred times on
their travels will they pass the very best possible spot for that
burrow, a hundred times will they persist in guiding that little world
of theirs over an obstruction, when a clear path lies an inch to the
right or left of them. And here, when their labors might be so easily
lightened by a downward grade, what do they do? they deliberately turn
the ball about and hustle it along _up hill_, and that, too, over dirt
that is not half as promising. Tip they go! Mrs. T. now seems to have
the best of it, and I sometimes have my suspicions whether she is not
playing a prank on that unsuspecting spouse working so hard at her
back, for he now has not only the ball, but Mrs. T. as well, to shove
along, for the most that she can do is to throw the weight of her body
forward, which in a steep up grade amounts to nothing as a help.

But if she is imposing on Mr. T. in thus guiding the ball up hill, she
soon gets the Roland for her Oliver. Mr. T. is put to great extra
labor by this whimsical decision of hers, and woe to Mrs. T. when that
little chance valley or inequality of surface is reached. Even though
she can see it coming and holds the wheel, she rarely seems to take
advantage of it to save herself or her ship, while Mr. T., going
backward in the rear, of course cannot be expected to know what is
coming, nor be blamed for the consequences. With kick after kick from
his powerful hind feet, united with the push of his mighty pair in
front, the ball speeds up the slope. Now, for some reason, he gives a
backward shove of more than usual force when it was least necessary.
The ball had chanced upon the crest of a slope, when, kick! over it
goes with a pitch and a bound, and Mrs. T. with it, though this time
not on top. Happy is she if the ball simply rolls upon her and pins
her down. Such, indeed, is a frequent episode in her experience of
keeping the ball a-rolling, but occasionally the tumble-ball thus
started, and out of the control of her spouse at the rear, may roll
over and over for a long distance, but never alone. No amount of
demoralization of this sort ever surprises her into losing her grip on
her precious globular bundle. When at last it fetches up against a
stone or stick, and she assures herself that she and her charge are
safe and sound, no doubt she immediately mounts to its crest to signal
the lone Mr. T. afar off, who is quickly back of her again, and both
are promptly off on a fresh journey. And so they keep it up,
apparently for sport, perhaps for an hour.

At length, when they have played long enough--for there is no other
reason apparent to _homo sapiens_--they decide to plant their big,
dirty pellet. The place which they have chosen is not half as
promising as many they have passed, but that doesn't seem to matter.
Mrs. T. has said, "It shall go here," and that ends it.

Then follows a most singular exhibition of excavation and burial. The
ball is now resting quietly on the dirt, and the two beetles are
apparently rummaging around beneath it, trying the ground with the
sharp edge of their shovel-shaped faces. And now, to avoid confusion,
we will dismiss Mr. T., and confine our observation strictly to the
female, who usually (in my experience) conducts the rest of the work

She has evidently found a spot that suits her, and we expect her to
fulfil the directions of the books and entomological authorities. She
must "dig a deep hole first, and then roll the ball into it, and fill
it up again." But we will look in vain for such obedience. Instead of
this she persists in ploughing around beneath the ball, which seems at
times almost balanced on her back, until all the earth at this point
is soft and friable, and she is out of sight under it. Presently she
appears again at the surface, and as quickly disappears again, this
time going in upsidedown beneath the ball, which she pulls downward
with her pair of middle feet, while at the same time, with hind legs
and powerful digging front legs, she pushes outward and upward the
loose earth which she has accumulated. Visibly the ball sinks into the
cavity moment by moment as the earth is lowered for a space of half an
inch in the surrounding soil, and continually forced upward outside of
its circumference. In a few moments the pellet has sunk level with the
ground, and in a few moments more the loose earth pushed upward has
overtopped it and it is out of sight. Still, for hours this busy
excavator continues to dig her hole and pull the ball in after her,
with shovel head and mole-like digging feet scooping out a circular
well much larger than the diameter of the ball, which slowly sinks by
its own weight, aided by her occasional downward pull, as this same
loosened earth is pushed upward above it. The burrow is thus sunk
several inches, when the beetle ploughs her way to the surface and is
ready for another similar experience.

The remaining history of the ball and its change is soon told. The egg
within it soon hatches, the larva finding just a sufficiency of food
to carry it to its full growth, when it transforms to a chrysalis, and
at length to the tumble-bug like its parent. The formerly loose earth
above him is now firmly packed, but he seems to know by instinct why
those powerful front feet were given to him, and he is quickly working
his way to the surface, and in a day or so is seen in the barn-yard
rolling his ball as skilfully as his mother had done before him.

Such is the method always employed by the tumble-bug as I have seen
him. And yet I have read in many natural histories, and have heard
careful observers claim, that the hole is dug first and the ball
rolled in. Perhaps they vary their plan, but I doubt it. Here is a
matter for some of our boys and girls to look into.

Those Horse-hair Snakes

So they are called; and if the almost unanimous rustic opinion, with
its ancient tradition and reliable witness, is to be credited, such
they are in very truth. Indeed, there would seem to be few better
attested facts in the whole range of natural history than the pedigree
of this white or brown thread-like creature which is found in summer
shallows and pools. Go where you will in the rural districts and it is
the same old story. "They come from horse-hairs," and in some sections
they are destined finally to become full-grown water-adders. It is
commonly no mere theory. It is either an indisputable fact, tested by
individual observation, or else is accepted as a matter of course,
much as Pliny of old accepted the similar natural history
"discoveries" of his time. He says, for example, on a similar subject,
"I have heard many a man say that the marrow of a man's backbone will
breed to a snake. And well it may so be, for surely there be many
secrets in nature to us unknown, and much may come of hidden causes."

I have exchanged much comment on the subject of the hair snake with
New England farmers. I have heard it claimed by one rural authority
that a horse-hair bottled in water and placed in the sun will become a
snake at second full moon. One prominent Granger, not to be outdone,
went so far as to affirm that an old horse of his fell dead at the
edge of the dam, and that the whole animal's tail squirmed off, and
the pond was full of hair snakes in consequence. It becomes almost a
matter of personal offence to the average countryman to question the
truth of these statements. The hair snake is a _fact_--settled by
their forefathers, and more true than ever to-day.

But snake stories, like fish stories, are always to be "taken with
salt," and lest some of our younger readers may become converts to the
rural authorities with whom they are perhaps associated in the summer
outings, and in order also to relieve our long-suffering horse from
this outrageous libel on its tail, it is well to settle our horse-hair
snake story once and for all. To this end, I doubt if I can do better
than to quote from memory a certain village store discussion of which
the everlasting hair snake was the topic. I say "discussion," but this
was hardly the proper term to apply to a general conversation in which
all the parties seemed to agree. For some moments it consisted of
anecdotes bearing on the subject, and each of the group had furnished
his item of interest supporting the accepted theory of the horse-hair
origin of the snake. Only one member of the company remained to be
heard from, Amos Shoopegg, the village cobbler, who had kept silent,
with somewhat sinister expression on his countenance as he listened
with a sort of superior disdain to the various wonderful accounts,
until at length, upon the recital of the story of the dead horse in
the pond, he could contain himself no longer, and blurted out:

"Well, I swan, I never see sech a lot of dunceheels! I never hear sech
fool talk since I's born. They ain't one on ye thet's got enny sense."

"Waal, haow much hev _yeu_ gut?" asked the narrator of the dead-horse
story, testily. "_Yeu_ never see a har snake in yer life, and wouldn't
know one from a side o' sole-leather er a waxed-end ef it wuz laid in
yer lap."

"Not know 'em? I guess not," replied Amos. "I know more about 'em than
the hull lot o' ye put together. Not know 'em! Law! hain't I seen 'em
flyin' over the meddy by the hundreds in hayin'-time!"

A loud and long-continued guffaw concert greeted this surprising
statement, a result which the shrewd cobbler had anticipated.

"We give in," remarked one sarcastic snake expert, when the laughter
had subsided. "We give in. We don't enny on us know _thet_ much,"
followed by another burst of derisive laughter.

"Thet's becuz yeu ornery critters hain't gut no sense," replied Amos,
with warmth. "Ye beleve jest wut ennybody tells ye, or jest wut yer
gran'ther beleved before ye, ez though _yeur_ gran'ther knowed any
more'n a hedge fence jest becuz he hed the misfortoon to be _yeur_
gran'ther. _My_ gran'ther sed so tew. But what on't? He warn't to
blame. He didn't know no better. I _do_. Yeu say them snakes come from
hoss-har. Like nuff they ain't one o' ye but b'leeves fer a fac' thet
ef yer old har-cloth sofy wuz put to soak it wou'd all squirm off
overnight. Ye see these ar har snakes in the hoss-trawf, and thet's
_enuff_ fer ye. Immejetly yeu hev yer 'hoss-har snake,' 'n' you're so
sot they ain't no livin' with ye."

And so he went on, with occasional exclamatory or chaffing

"Oh yis! Yeu know all about 'em, jest becuz ye hed a gran'ther who wuz
a dunceheels. Nobody kin teech ye nothin', but _I'll_ tek a leetle o'
the conceit out o' ye afore I'm done with ye. Wut I know I _know_, 'n'
wut I say I kin prove. 'N' if none o' yeu idjits hain't seen them har
snakes a-flyin' over the meddy ez I sed, then ye _don't know nothin'
about 'em_. I tell ye I've seen 'em 'n' caught 'em!"

"Say, Amos," slyly asked a jibing neighbor at his elbow, "wut did ye
hev in the hayin'-pail that day?"

"Waal," drawled Amos, after the momentary laughter had subsided,
"wutever it wuz, it 'd do yeu a power o' good ef yeu'd take one long
pull on't. It would be a eye-opener fer ye, p'r'aps, 'n' yeu'd _larn_
suthin'. You've ben fed with a spoon all yer life, 'n' ye swaller
wutever they give ye without lookin'. Thet's wut ails _yeu_. Say," he
continued, trying to get in a word edgewise in the prevalent hilarious
din, "you idjits er havin' a mighty sight o' fun over this 'ere! I'll
give ye a chance to show which on ye is the biggest fool. Doos any one
o' ye want to bet me that ye ain't a pack o' dunces? Which on ye 'll
bet me a scythe that wut I say about these ar flyin' snakes is all
poppycut? Come, naow, I'm talkin' bizniss, and if ye ain't a lot o'
cowards, p'r'aps you'll _prove_ thet ye ain't. I say them snakes wuz
a-flyin' around ez fast ez grasshoppers all over the meddy, 'n' ar
flyin' thar naow, like all-possessed, 'n' I kin _prove_ it. Naow who
sez I _kain't_, and will wager me a new scythe on't?"

A momentary lull followed this challenge, but the bet was promptly
taken by several of the company, the "dead-horse" story-teller being
the first to rise to the bait.

In a moment Amos had left the store, and within a half-hour (barely
long enough for him to have reached his home and returned) he
reappeared with a box containing the "proofs" of his remarkable

He won his bet, having introduced his sceptical hearers to the two
prime authorities that knew more about hair snakes than all the rustic
wiseacres or scientific professors put together, for his box was
filled with grasshoppers and black crickets, including one or two
specimens specially preserved in a small vial of alcohol, to show the
parasitic snake coiled in its close spiral.

It is reported that Amos never got his scythe, however, the
"dead-horse" story-teller having backed out on a technicality,
claiming that Amos could not have seen the snakes, he said, and that
the snakes had no wings, and consequently could not have been seen
"flying" over the meadow; but the cobbler was at least the means of
wiping out the hair-snake superstition in the village, and even to
this day he is heard to sing out to the chaffing group at the village
store, on occasions when he is crowded a little too far, "Who sed
hoss-har snake?" He laughs best who laughs last.

There was nothing in the outward appearance of Amos to indicate an
intelligence superior to that of his fellows, the secret of his
present victorious position being found in the fact that he had been
in the habit of making the most of his "summer boarders." One of
these, during the present season, had been a college professor of
biology, who had enlightened him on many puzzling matters of natural
history, including the mystery of the hair snake, whose horse-hair
origin he would once have maintained as stoutly as did his opponents
at the village store.

My own early belief was influenced by the prevailing country opinion,
and more than one is the horse hair which I have put to soak with
interesting anticipation. By a mere accident the true source of the
snake was discovered. I had procured a box of grasshoppers and
crickets for bait, numbering some hundreds, and once, upon opening it,
observed two of the thread-like creatures entangled like a snell among
the insects. Further experience while baiting the hooks with the
grasshoppers revealed others in the bodies of both crickets and
grasshoppers, which seemed in no way disturbed by their presence.

So the "horse-hair snake" may be written down a myth. Its existence
prior to the time we discover it in the brook or puddle has been spent
under the hospitable roof of the insects mentioned, upon escaping from
which it seeks the water to lay its eggs. The young in turn seek the
grasshoppers and crickets which frequent their haunt, and thus the
routine is continued, to the possible annoyance of the grasshopper and
the complete mystification of the rural scientist.

"Professor Wiggler"

How potent and abiding are the reminiscences of early youth! It is now
some thirty years since I discovered "Professor Wiggler," and noted
his peculiar eccentricities. And simply because I chanced first to
disclose his wiggling identity on a lilac-bush, how irresistibly must
his comical presence assert itself with my slightest thought of lilac,
with the shape of its leaf, the faintest whiff of its fragrance, or
even a distant glimpse of its spray!

Yonder, for instance, an old ruin of a home closely hemmed in with the
well-known bushes spots the wintry landscape. What a place for
Wigglers that will be next summer! Only a few days since, while
walking down Broadway, New York, I paused for a momentary glimpse of
a fine display of spring silks in a shop window, when Professor
Wiggler, without the slightest rhyme or reason, suddenly wagged his
comical head across my fancy, for my thoughts were far from professors
and entomology. Following a frequent, quiet pastime of mine, of
tracing the pedigree of such vagrant waifs of thought, I fell to
pondering what could have summoned my unbidden friend, and I soon
discovered. Why, how simple! The window before me was a very epitome
of tender vernal hues--blushes of pale blossoms, yellows of pale
anthers shadowed under petals, and quickened grays of bourgeoning
hill-side woods, warm pulsing greens of budding leaves, each fabric
bearing its label of the latest color-fad--coral gray, Chinese pink,
primrose ash, old rose, and yonder was a faded purple bearing the
title "lilac," which, of course, by its own irresistible telegraph
through my retina, had called up the professor, and here he was.

Yes, it must be admitted, he is a rather unceremonious and promiscuous
professor, but I can nevertheless recommend him to our young people as
a most amusing and entertaining character. As I have said, I first
made his acquaintance over thirty years ago, and in spite of his
obtrusive ways in season and out of season, I nevertheless renew our
actual acquaintance on the lilac-bush every summer, and I am always
greeted with the same expressive "wiggle-waggle." It was in early
August when I first discovered him, a small brown and white
crook-backed creature about an inch long, clothed with scattered
hairs, and clinging to the edge of a leaf, half of which he had eaten
to the mid rib. As I approached he ceased eating, and began to wag his
upraised head and body vehemently, and I promptly named him Wiggler,
subsequently adding the "professor" for special reasons which I do not
now recall. Careful search about the bush led to the discovery of a
dozen or more of the caterpillars, all about the same size; and such
was their novelty among the young insect-collectors that wigglers now
became all the rage, and were at a premium on trade. The lilac-bushes
of the town were scoured for caterpillars, and there was suddenly a
"corner" on wigglers. A Professor Wiggler was now worth two
bull's-eyes, and even two classical Polyphemuses, or three _Attacus
prometheus_ cocoons were considered only a just and dignified
equivalent for a full-grown specimen of the new professor. For those
which I had first found proved to be mere infants. As they waxed fat
and healthy and lively on their daily supply of fresh lilac leaves,
they soon reached the length of quite an inch and a half, and their
humps and zigzag outline were proportionately developed, to say
nothing of their wiggling propensities.

How well I remember the "whack! whack! whack!" from the inside of the
pasteboard or wooden box as I entered the room, or chanced to make the
slightest commotion in its neighborhood, as the captive pets
threatened to dash their brains out in their demonstrations at my
approach. Opening the box, I was always greeted with the same concert
of whisking heads, the action being more particularly expressive from
the long projecting lash of hairs, an inch and a quarter in length,
with which the caterpillar's head was provided. One singular feature
of these hairs had always puzzled me in the earlier life of the
caterpillar, but was soon explained by close observation. At intervals
of every quarter of an inch or so in the length of the slender tuft we
find, in perfect specimens, a tiny brown speck--perhaps three or
four--graduating in size to the tip of the hairs, where the atom is
scarcely visible, or generally absent. A careful examination of their
shape revealed the fact that they were exactly like the heads of the
younger caterpillars in all their stages, and their presence and
successive accumulation were readily explained by the moulting habits
of the caterpillar, which is common to all caterpillars. By these
telltale tokens we know that the professor has changed his
clothes--let us see, one, two, three, four--perhaps five times.

When he first emerged from the egg on the lilac-leaf he was indeed a
tiny atom; his head would make a small show laid upon our page. When
about a week old, by dint of a good appetite and voracious feeding, he
had managed to "outgrow his skin," as it were. He could literally hold
no more, and realizing that nature would come to his relief, he began
to spin a tiny web upon the leaf-stalk in which to secure his hooked
feet for a temporary rest, sleeping off his dinner, as it were.

He is now a very quiet and circumspect young professor. It were indeed
a dangerous experiment to wiggle in such a tight suit as now incloses
him, so he remains immovable and resigned. A strange process is now
going on in his physiology. Hour by hour his outer skin is becoming
detached from the under skin, and now he is simply inclosed within its
sac. The shell of his former head has been crowded off his face, as it
were, and has slid down towards the mouth of the new head within.
Shortly after this feature has taken place the imprisoned caterpillar
becomes restless to burst his bonds, and a quiet working motion
begins, which gradually forces the skin in wrinkles towards the tail
of the body, of course drawing it tighter and tighter about the head,
and with it the connection from the spiracles at the sides of the
body. At last, with one final effort, the skin behind the head
ruptures, and discloses the new skin beneath, and through the opening
thus made the new head soon appears, and the entire new suit of
clothes emerges in a few moments. But though the old clothes are
worked off into a little shrunken pellet at the tail, the old
head-shell is still retained, being attached to the hairs immediately
back of the new head, and thus retained. Five or six times in the life
of the caterpillar this same process is performed, each performance
leaving its token; so that our "professor" enjoys the unique
distinction of being able, in his mature years, to look up to the head
he wore when he was a baby or youngster, and make it useful, too, in
keeping off the flies as he ponders on the flight of time.

But this is not all our professor's peculiarities. One day, as I came
to look at my hump-backed pets, I discovered that most of them had
shrunk a full third, and had refused to eat and, what surprised me
more, refused to wiggle. A closer examination of the box showed that
while they had ignored the lilac leaves, they had been gnawing the
pasteboard everywhere in the box, even perforating it with a number of
holes. The captives in a thin wooden box were similarly affected, and
numbers of holes were to be seen. What did it mean? I had been
expecting daily to see my full-grown caterpillars either beginning
their cocoons or suspending themselves by their tails in readiness for
the chrysalis state. Yet they had done neither. Their time had
evidently come, but they were not satisfied with their surroundings,
and would seem to wish to escape; and yet, having gnawed their way to
liberty, deliberately remained in prison! It was some days before I
correctly interpreted their curious contradictory actions, and as I
remember it now, my hint came from a spider-web which had spread its
catch all beneath a lilac-bush, and upon which I discerned a number of
tiny balls of sawdust which had chanced to fall upon it. Looking
directly above, among the branches, I soon found a wiggler, not only
gnawing the wood but with one-third of its body in a burrow in a twig
the size of my finger. I had observed him thus for a few moments when
he began to back out, drawing with him a tiny ball of sawdust, which
he threw out with a slight wiggle, and soon resumed operations.

Leaving him to his work, I lost no time in taking the hint, and my box
was soon criss-crossed with small twigs, and my remaining wigglers
soon found themselves at home and littered my box with their chip
pellets. The burrow is first made diagonally to the pith, and then
follows the centre for about two-thirds of an inch. I remember having
about a half-dozen caterpillars thus at work simultaneously. On the
morrow, when I opened the box, all signs of caterpillars and burrows
had vanished. Though I looked directly upon the spot where yesterday I
had surely seen the open tunnel, no vestige of it now appeared, and
its whereabouts could only be guessed by the slight rose-colored stain
which the caterpillar had left on the bark below. What had happened?

The burrows had been completed in the night, and the caterpillars had
retired into them, backward presumably, and then spun over the opening
by a disk of silk, which they had finally, or in the process, tinted
the exact color of the external surrounding bark. I have frequently
exhibited one of these sticks, with its inclosed caterpillar, to
curious friends, who were unable to locate, without long and careful
scrutiny, the mysterious curtain. The twig, dried in a mild oven so as
to kill the inclosed caterpillar, or with its farther side split off
for his removal, would serve as an interesting permanent specimen, the
delicate disk being otherwise ruptured by the final escape of the

All of mine appeared in the first week of July of the next year. They
were small, for the size of the caterpillar, yellowish-white
"millers," the fore wings beautifully mottled and banded with
brown, and each with three conspicuous round spots of dull red,
which feature has secured the insect its specific name of
"Trisignata"--_Gramatophora trisignata_ being the name of our
professor in learned circles.

His burrowing habits do not seem to be generally known, the only
mention of which I have chanced to observe merely alluding to the fact
that the "caterpillar has the unusual power of boring very smooth
cylindrical holes in solid pine wood." But Professor Wiggler does not
bore wood for a pastime, as we have seen.

"Cow-spit, Snake-spit, and Frog-spit"

If I have been asked once I have been asked fifty times to explain the
secret of that frothy, bubbly mass which clings to the stems of
grasses and weeds in the summer meadows. Surely no one of our readers
who has spent a June or July in the country can have failed to observe
it. Even as I write, having just returned to my studio by a short cut
across a meadow near by, my nether garments plainly show that I must
have come in contact with five hundred of them during these few rods.
In the height of its season this frothy nuisance monopolizes many a
meadow. No one, unless most ordinarily clad, would care to wade
through its slimy haunt. Certainly no stroller in his "Sunday best,"
having once experienced its unpleasant familiarity, would willingly
give it a second opportunity.

Its name, I find, varies in different localities, but all, for obvious
reasons, have the same salivary significance. In various parts of New
England, for instance, it is known as cow-spit. In the southern States
the snake is held responsible for it, as is shown in the popular name
of snake-spit. I have frequently heard it called frog-spit,
cuckoo-spit, toad-spit, and sheep-spit, and doubtless many other local
terms of the same sort may be found. The cow-spittle theory, however,
seems to have the greatest number of converts. Let me, at least,
hasten to expose this miserable slander on "our rural divinity." Have,
then, our cows nothing better to do than to go expectorating all over
the meadows, road-sides, and hay-fields? And how busy, indeed, they
must have been to so thoroughly cover the ground, to say nothing of
their surprising aim, every glistening cluster of bubbles being landed
not helter-skelter on the leaves and flowers, but only on the main
stems of the various plants upon which they are found! Even in this
little field outside my studio window, which is thus generously
moistened, what a task! Why, it would certainly have taken at least
ten cows in industrious expectoration to have left it so profusely
decorated as now; but the fact is, there is not, nor has there been, a
single cow in the field.

Only a few weeks ago I received a letter from an Ohio boy who, among
other things, wanted to know what those slimy "gobs" on alders came
from. He said they called them "snake-spit" out there, but that he had
seen lots of them higher than any snake could get, unless it was a
"racer," meaning the blacksnake, which, as is well known, is fond of
climbing trees and bushes. And later came a letter from a lady in
Lewiston, North Carolina, who had looked deeper into the matter, and
whose inquiry throws a little light on the subject. She writes as

"An old subscriber to 'Harper's Young People' desires to express the
pleasure which your articles have afforded.... I have just finished
the last, and have been out to examine the faded primroses, but only a
long-legged green spider rewarded my search. Too late for our season."
The readers of "Young People" will recall my article about the
beautiful rosy moth which lives in the faded evening primrose, and
which was the quest of the above writer, who further continues:
"I do not think you have written about what is called here
'snake's-spittle,' a frothy exudation, perfectly white, surrounding a
small speckled beetle (I suppose). I found several on my
chrysanthemums about two weeks ago, but they seem to have disappeared

This supposed "small speckled beetle" lets out the secret of our
"cow-spittle." The old cow is acquitted, and also the snake, who has
enough mischief to answer for.

Each of these masses of bubbles is seen to surround the stem, upon
which it clings, out of consideration to the popular tradition,
spitted through the centre, as it were, with its culm of grass or
branch of bramble or weed. But the true expectorator is within, laved
in his own froth, his beak embedded in the juicy stem, and his suds
factory continually at work. We have only to blow or scrape off the
white bubbles, and we shall disclose him, even though he makes
considerable effort to dodge out of sight, either in the remnant froth
or around the stem. But it is not a beetle that we at last bring to
view. It would be hard, indeed, for any one but a naturalist to decide
on so short an acquaintance precisely what to call him. He is green
and speckled in color, anywhere from a quarter to half an inch in
length, depending upon his age, and somewhat to be anticipated in the
extent of his show of suds. He is wide of brow, has rather prominent
eyes, and tapers off somewhat wedge-shaped behind.

To the bug student these features are very significant, and he is not
long in placing the creature among his proper kindred. He has a
sucking beak, which connects him with the tribe of bugs, and other
features ally him to the cicada, a humble though accomplished relative
of the buzzing harvest-fly or hornet. He dwells in cool contentment
here in his aerated bath, but he has not thus put himself to soak as
the end and aim of his existence. Erelong he will graduate from these
moist surroundings, and we shall see quite another sort of being, whom
we would not dare to affront by the mere mention of such an
ignominious, foamy existence. Here is one of them, which has just
flown in around our evening lamp, and has settled upon my paper as I
write. Not a strange coincidence, by any means, for others very like
him have been there before when I have been writing on various other
topics, and are the certain representatives of that nocturnal swarm
which is always attracted by the light.

What a pretty atom he is as he rests here on my paper, clad in his
bright emerald green, and only about a quarter of an inch in length!
Let us catch him for our cabinet. But this is not so simple, for, like
the proverbial flea, I put my finger on him, and he isn't there, but
is to be seen yonder, at the farther edge of the table, the instant I
lift my finger-tip. And there are others like him scattered about me
beneath the lamp, one especially with four brilliant scarlet bands on
his bright green wings, a near relative, though I am not sure at this
moment whether he dates back to such a soaking as his little emerald
fellow just described. We must be quick indeed to catch him, he is so
alert; and while his entire visible emerald anatomy consists of a pair
of nimble wings, no one would guess it now, for he certainly does not
use them as he speeds here and there on our table. No, he has still
another resource in those powerful hind legs of his, which soon take
him out of our reach when he concludes to trust the spring. Here,
then, is one of the host of midgets who are responsible for our soiled
garments in our summer walks--the "frog-hopper," or "spume-bearer," in
his perfection. The round of his life is thus given in Harris's
beautiful volume, "Insects Injurious to Vegetation":

"The 'frog-hoppers' pass their whole lives on plants, on the stems of
which their eggs are laid in the autumn. The following summer they are
hatched, and the young immediately perforate the bark with their
beaks, and begin to imbibe the sap. They take in such quantities of
this that it oozes out of their bodies continually in the form of
little bubbles, which soon completely cover up the insects. They thus
remain entirely buried and concealed in large masses of foam until
they have completed the final transformation, on which account the
names of cuckoo-spittle, frog-spittle, and frog-hopper have been
applied to them. The spittle in which they are sheltered may be seen
in great abundance during the summer on the stems of our alders and
willows. In the perfect state they are not thus protected, but are
found on the plants in the latter part of summer fully grown, and
preparing to lay their eggs. In this state they possess the power of
leaping in a remarkable degree, and for this purpose the tips of their
hind shanks are surrounded with little spines."

The "spume-bearer" (_Aphrophora_) this insect has been called, and
the peculiar method by which he turns out the froth on the stem is
well worth a little study. He makes no secret of the process. If we
take a grass stem, remove him from his liquid lair, and transfer him
to another stem, we may witness a novel method in the preparation of
suds. And a busy little factory it is, too, when we consider what a
continuous demand is made upon it, caused by the sun's evaporation
through the long summer day. A single mass of bubbles with its tenant
removed quickly disappears. If the little insect is permitted to crawl
upon our hand, he is apt to try the new domicile. I have never been
able to induce him to continue up to the suds point, but have no
trouble in locating the place where he begins operations.

The Paper Wasp & His Doings

Few of our common insects enjoy a wider intimate acquaintance with or
a more respectful recognition from humanity than the wasps and
hornets. Their acquaintance, with that of their yellow-jacket bee and
bumble-bee relatives, is forced upon most of us at a tender and
impressionable age, and leaves a lasting reminiscence. Having once
been interviewed by a hornet, do we not remember him for life for his

The bee has perhaps given us equally pointed excuse for respectful, or
rather disrespectful, consideration, and yet how different is our
attitude to the bee in contrast with that towards the hornet! Why? The
discrimination is largely a matter of sentiment, but especially a
matter of ignorance; sentiment as associated with fragrant flowers and
droning wings and "white-clover honey"--for do we not all know the
"busy bee," and how he "gathers honey all the day" for the hive, and
thus for humanity and the hot biscuit? There is then a palliative for
the busy bee's "hot foot," as Paddy described his first warm contact
with the insect. But who ever heard of any one with a good word for
the hornet? He is under the ban--an outlaw, the black sheep of the
insect fraternity, a source of uneasy suspicion, shunned by valiant
man, good for nothing to the boy except to shy stones at from a safe
retreat; while to the fair sex, always the signal for precipitate
flight, if not hysterical terror.

The popular verdict on the hornet is so well voiced in that famous
entomological essay from the pen of Josh Billings that I am tempted to
quote it entire and use it for my present text. I am sure the average
reader will say "Amen" to every word of it:

"The hornet is a red-hot child ov Nature ov sudden impreshuns and a
sharp konklusion. The hornets alwus fites at short range and never
argy a case. They settle all ov their disputes bi letting their
javelin fly, an' are az certain an' az anxious tew hit az a mule iz.
Hornets bild their nest wherever they take a noshun to, an' seldum
are asked to move; for what good is it tew murder 99 hornets an' have
the one hundred one hit you with his javelin! I kan't tell you just
tew a day how long a hornet kan live, but I kno from experience that
every bug, be he hornet or somebody else who is mad all the time, an'
stings every chance he kan git, generally outlives all ov his nabors."

An artistically constructed paragraph, with a "snapper" at the end of
it, or rather a "sharp konklusion" quite consistent with its subject.

"Mad all the time," he says, and "stings every chance he can git," and
such would seem to be the unanimous belief. Indeed, the phrase "As mad
as a hornet" has passed into a proverb, which presumably dates back to
the Aryans, or at least from the scriptural allusion of the
providential visitation of hornets, which routed the impious
inhabitants of Canaan before the conquering Israelites. The ancient
Greeks and Latins are on record in their appreciation of the "warlike
hornet," and considered that it came rightly by its valor as an
inheritance from the dead war-horse from whose carcass the insects
were supposed to be spontaneously generated.

    "The warlike horse if buried underground
    Shortly a brood of hornets will be found."

writes Ovid. Another author, Cardanus, thought that a dead mule was
the more likely source, which recalls the above erudite allusion of
hereditary instinct of Billings.

Yes, if time-honored popular prejudice is to be accepted, the hornet
is always on the rampage, always spoiling for a fight, always "mad";
and considering how many thousands of them there are abroad, and what
opportunity they have of mischief, it is a wonder that poor humanity
is able to put its nose out of doors with impunity.

Let us see how far this bad reputation is sustained by the facts. What
is this black paper hornet (more properly wasp) doing from morning
till night? Buzzing among the flowers, creeping over the bruised apple
windfalls in the orchard, whirling and dodging about the window or
fence or side of the house, or perhaps darting in our faces as we sit
at the open window.

Two episodes which I recall, in which this white-tailed black wasp
from the big paper nest was conspicuous, occur to me as I write, and
as the two stories, taken together, will show us the true character of
the suspect, and what he is up to all day long, I will narrate them.

The first instance is vivid in my memory. It occurred in my
boyhood--_my_ boyhood? how many another boy remembers the same
incident. That same hot day in August, that same cool, shadowy
swimming-hole in the brook, that same gray paper nest on the
overhanging branch a few rods up stream? What a tempting target! How
the stones flew as, safe up to our necks in water, if need be, we
pelted the paper domicile! And now a lucky throw has gone straight to
the mark. With a crushing thud the stone has penetrated the side and
knocked off a piece of the gray wall, which falls to the stream below,
exposing the tiers of paper comb, as a whirling, buzzy maze, like a
swarm of bees, enshrouds the mangled house. Ah, what fun! How we
laughed at the sport!--for at least ten seconds. Then the tide turned,
and how gladly had we possessed the art of the bull-frog, and buried
ourselves in the mud until the storm blew over, for the "mad" warlike
hornets were upon us. The red-hot child of Nature "was now at short
range," and "stinging every chance they could get." "When you see a
head hit it," seemed to be the plan of campaign, and of course the
heads had to come up once in a while, and erelong were considerably
enlarged, principally through inoculation, but let us hope with wisdom
as well.

"A mad hornet, and only at a little boyish fun! Look on this picture,
and now on this."

I have shown our hornet under exceptional circumstances, when anger
may be a positive virtue and a means of grace. Following are some of
the every-day capers, which have not helped his reputation, as I
observed them on the crowded porch of a summer hotel in the White
Mountains several years ago. It was in September, and about twenty
guests, mostly ladies and "summer girls," were assembled in a quiet
social convention.

Suddenly there was a scream, as one of the fair ones, with a frantic,
vigorous stroke of uplifted fan, distorted face, and a cross-eyed
glare, clutched her roll of fancy-work and fled to the house. "Did he
sting you?" asked her friend, who readily followed her in the door.
"The horrid hornet!" she exclaimed. "No, he didn't sting me, but he
would have done if I hadn't hit him just that minute. He flew right at
me in the _ugliest_ way!" The words were hardly out of her mouth when
another scream was heard, followed by a general clearing of the
piazza. There were now two or three "mad" hornets making themselves
generally promiscuous among the guests. At the last general alarm one
gentleman, an old bachelor, who sat tilted back in his chair near by,
remarked, with an expression of superior disdain at such a silly
exhibition of feminine weakness: "Why, ladies, the hornet won't sting
you if you'll only let him alone; he has been buzzing around here for
an hour, and hasn't stung anybody yet."

At this moment, as fate would have it, the roving hornet chanced to
buzz around the speaker, and with a distinct object and deliberate aim
plumped itself against his nose, amid a roar of laughter from the
gentlemen present, and the complete discomfiture of the victim, who
lost his balance and toppled over sideways upon the floor. He was now
glad to follow the ladies in-doors, and enjoy the fun at his expense.
"Well, it might have been expected," he remarked, "after the way you
have all been screaming and banging at him. You have got him mad at
last, and the innocent spectator has had to suffer in consequence."

I chanced to be sitting within a few feet of the surprised bachelor,
and had observed the incident. Indeed, the hornet had once or twice
struck me forcibly upon my coat sleeve and shoulder. Concluding that
the incident suggested an opportunity for a little pedagogic
enlightenment, illustrated by an object-lesson too good to be entirely
lost, I sauntered into the hotel parlor, and did what I could to
relieve the hornet from the unjust aspersion on his character.

"Did he sting you?" I asked.

"No, he didn't," replied the victim, who, like the ladies whom he had
ridiculed, was more surprised than harmed; "but he tried to, and I
concluded not to give him a second chance. He struck me so hard that
if his sting _had_ happened to hit me, it would have penetrated my

"And can you imagine a hornet failing in his intention when he gets
such a good square shot as that?" I asked, further.

"Well, no," he replied; "but perhaps his venom had been expended on
the ladies; by their screams I judge most of them must have been stung
a half-dozen times apiece."

"If you will step out on the porch a few moments," I proposed, "I am
assured you will soon be disposed to offer your apology to the
industrious and innocent insect which you have so libelled."

A cautious group soon assembled at the doorway of the piazza, and at
my suggestion closely watched the antics of the hornet, which was
still apparently as mad as ever, in the absence of human targets,
seemingly "working off his mad" by butting his head against the
clapboards along the side of the building. After a moment or two of
this exercise, with a quick curvet, the insect betook himself to the
roof of the piazza, where he disappeared among the bordering vines. A
little cautious search soon revealed his hiding-place, however. He was
hanging, head downward, by one of his hind legs, twirling some dark
object in his front feet; and it needed only a little closer
examination to disclose this object to be a fly, which was gradually
being reduced to a pulp by the sharp jaws of its captor--a morsel,
doubtless, soon to find its way to the cell of a baby hornet in some
paper nest close by.

"You will now doubtless understand that precipitate onslaught on your
nose," I remarked to my bachelor friend. "Rest assured that the
attraction of that aquiline member alone would never have caused the
panic that ensued; but you did not give our hornet the credit for the
removal of that pesky fly which had been annoying you for so long,
and which is even now being masticated into an unctuous pellet in some
secluded corner of the piazza, or is perhaps being borne on buzzing
maternal wings to the little white grub in the hornet nest yonder in
the pines."

And this is all there is to the "mad" of the hornet. He is generally
not half as mad as are his detractors. He is simply minding his own
business, and is as busy as a bee in his own way; and if his critics
will only mind theirs, there need be no fear that he will try
"konklusions" with them, or even give a hint of his "javelin."

This curious episode may be witnessed by any one who will take the
trouble to closely observe the wasp. The sunny side of the barn or
stable is generally the favorite hunting-ground, and any one who will
spend a half-hour in following the efforts of a single wasp will have
to admit that he earns his living, for it is not every fly that is
caught napping, and that white face, with its eager, open jaws, must
needs butt itself against the shingle many times before its quest is

But the warlike hornet does not always content himself with such small
game as a house-fly. Big bluebottle-flies are a frequent prey, and
juicy caterpillars are a welcome variety in his daily diet. Even the
butterfly, with a body nearly as large as his own, falls a frequent
victim, the scimitar-like jaws severing the painted wings in a
twinkling, either during flight, or falling one by one from its
dangling retreat.

The life of the black hornet, or wasp, may be briefly summed up. The
females survive the winter, and in spring build a tiny comb of papery
material composed of saliva and timber scraped from old gray boards
and fence rails. In each cell of the comb an egg is laid, which soon
hatches into a minute white grub, the sides of the cells being
continued to accommodate its growth, the comb being gradually inclosed
in the paper covering and enlarged as the nest cells are increased.
The grub at maturity incases itself within its cell by closing the
orifice with a silken veil, and soon turns to a chrysalis, and in a
few days emerges as a perfect wasp. Several broods are reared in a
season, the combs being extended in several layers, each suspended by
a single stalk from the centre of the one immediately above. A single
nest sometimes presents as many as six or seven tiers. But the nests
are much more safely examined in winter than in summer.

The Spider's Span

Observers who witnessed from day to day the construction of the great
Brooklyn Bridge were often heard to remark, as they looked up with awe
from the ferry-boats beneath at the workmen suspended everywhere among
the net-work of cables, "Those men look just like spiders in a web."
The comparison seemed irresistible, and the writer heard it expressed
many times. But how few who gave utterance to the sentiment realized
the full significance of the "spider" allusion, or for a moment
reflected that the span itself was, in many particulars of its
construction, but a parallel of an engineering feat of which the
spider was the earliest discoverer. Yet among all the distinguished
names engraved upon the memorial tablet upon the stone bridge-tower
the spider gets no credit.

Day after day and week after week we might have seen, travelling back
and forth against the sky, a wheel-shaped messenger reeling off its
tiny wire. Night and day it was busy, each trip adding one more strand
to the growing cable which was to support the great substructure
below. And what was this travelling wheel called? "The carrier," or
"traveller," if I remember rightly. Why this obviously intentional
slight and discourtesy when every field and wood and copse in the
country--indeed, on the globe--showed its living example, and bore its
myriadfold witness that the "spider" was the only legitimate and
proper designation?

In the other most notable suspension-bridge, at Niagara, the
time-honored methods of the spider were further and conspicuously
recognized, but here again without any courteous engraven
acknowledgment on the tablet of fame, so far as I have learned.

A kite was flown from the American shore, and reeled out so as to fall
upon the Canadian side, and this initial strand was drawn across, and
subsequently strengthened by the travelling reel.

The ends of the added wires were firmly secured at their anchorage,
and the completed cable at length re-enforced by guy-ropes.

What is the method of our spider? Ages before the advent of the human
engineer he followed the same tactics which we now see him performing
in every meadow, or even at our window-sill, or on the bouquet upon
our table, linking flower with flower, window-sill with garden fence,
bush with bush, tree with tree, with his glistening suspension-bridge
spanning the stream, river, and meadow. This wiry thread that tightens
across our face as we ride in our carriage, and leaves its tingling
"snap" upon our nose, what is this but the model suspension cable of
Arachne strengthened a hundredfold by the spider which has travelled
back and forth over its course for hours perhaps, each trip leaving a
fresh strand, one extremity being anchored on yonder oak in the meadow
and the other on the church steeple? Such a cable twenty feet in
length is a common challenge in our walks in the open wood road, even
making a perceptible motion among the leaves and bending twigs on
either side ere it yields to our advance. And to the walker who cares
to investigate, a silken bridge a hundred feet in length is not a very
exceptional find.

This bridge-building is not confined to any particular month or
season, nor to any one species of spider. The autumn will afford us
the best opportunity for observation. At that season the spider-egg
tufts are turning out their baby spiders by the millions, each a
perfect grown spider in miniature, and apparently as skilled at birth
in the peculiar arts of its kind as its parents were in their ripe old
age. Here is a troop of them upon this drooping branch of wild grape
by the river brink. Its leaves are glistening in the loose, rambling
tangle which marks their wanderings. They are evidently not satisfied
with their present surroundings, and would seem desirous of getting as
far as possible from the neighborhood of their cradle and
swaddling-clothes. They are the most independent and self-reliant
babies on record. They ask advice from no one--indeed their mother
died a year ago, perhaps--but each determines to leave his brothers
and sisters, to "see the world" for himself, and paddle his own canoe.

Fancy a first trial trip on a tight-rope from the torch of the Statue
of Liberty to Governor's Island! Yet such is the corresponding feat
accomplished by this self-reliant acrobat, which a few days or perhaps
hours ago was but an egg!

Here is one family of spiderlings upon the grape-vine spray, for
instance. They are hanging several yards above the water, and with an
ocean, as it were, between them and the distant country upon which
their hearts are set. But there is no hesitation or misgiving. Let us
closely observe this eager youngster far out upon the point of the
leaf. The breeze is blowing across the brook. In an instant, upon
reaching the edge of the leaf, the spiderling has thrown up the tip of
its body, and a tiny, glistening stream is seen to pour out from its
group of spinnerets. Farther and farther it floats, waving across the
water like a pennant. Two, three, five, ten, fifteen feet are now seen
glistening in the sun. Now it floats in among the herbage upon the
opposite bank, and seems reaching out for a foothold. In a minute more
its tip has brushed against a tall group of asters, and clings fast,
the loose span sagging in the breeze, and as we turn our attention to
the spider, we see that he has turned about, and is now "hauling in
the slack," which he continues to do until the span is taut, when he
anchors it firmly to the leaf, and without a moment's ceremony steps
out upon his tight-rope, and makes the "trial trip" across the
abyss--a feat which Dr. McCook, the spider specialist and historian,
has most felicitously compared to the similar trial trip of Engineer
Farrington across the cable of the East River Bridge, a thrilling
event which was witnessed by thousands of spectators from sailing
craft and housetops.

Our spider has now reached the asters twenty feet away, and is
doubtless busying himself by further securing the anchorage at this
terminus. It is quickly done, for see, he is even now far out over the
water on his return trip, arriving at the grape leaf a moment later.
His strand is now three times as strong as at first, and will be many
times stronger before he is satisfied with it. An hour later, if we
care to go up-stream half a mile to the bridge, or half a mile below
to the crossing pole, for the sake of examining those asters across
the brook, we shall find our spiderling nicely settled in a tiny
little home of his own. The glistening span is now like a tough silken
thread, and is moored to the head of flowers by a half-dozen
guy-threads in all directions, while in their midst, in the "nave of
his tiny wheel of lace," our smart young baby rests from his labors.

Such is the probable course which he would follow, unless, perhaps,
his roving spirit, thus tempted, has further asserted itself, and not
content with this exploit, he has concluded to span the clouds, and
is even now sailing a thousand feet aloft in his "balloon."

As a bridge-builder he has had many successful imitators, but as a
balloonist he is yet more than a match for his bigger copyist, _homo
sapiens_, as I shall explain in a subsequent paper.

Ballooning Spiders

The country boy, or I might say even country baby, who does not know a
spider-web when he sees it would be considered a curiosity nowadays.
The morning gossamer spread in the grass or hung among the weeds and
glistening in the dew--who has not seen it, and thought of the agile,
long-legged proprietor somewhere lurking near by? And yet for ages,
and until a comparatively recent date, this cobweb, either trailing
lightly in the breeze or spread in the grass, was a mystery as to its
source, and was believed to consist of dew burned by the sun. But the
spider has hoodwinked even the wise heads in many other ways, and even
to-day is an unsolved mystery to many of us. Yes, we all know the
spider-web and the spider, but have we tried to solve the puzzle which
he spreads before us by every path, in our window-blind, our office,
our bedroom, or even, it may be, in mid-ocean. Here, for instance, a
puzzled nautical friend propounds the question: "How do those tiny
spiders get on my yacht when I am twenty miles at sea? They could not
have hatched simultaneously all over the ship, and I find them by the
dozens all over the sails and rigging, and even on my clothing." I
have heard of a little girl who ran in-doors to her mother in great
excitement to tell her that it was "snowin' 'pider-webs," a
picturesque and true statement as far as it goes, but which tells but
half the story, for each of the falling webs held a pretty secret.
What that secret was my yachtsman can readily guess, for the two
half-stories taken together complete the tale. Various accounts of
these gossamer showers have been handed down in history, and were
always a mystery. Even the ancient Pliny records a "rain of wool," a
phenomenon which, in a greater or less degree, is to be seen by every
walker in the country during the late summer and autumn months--the
annual picnic of the "ballooning spiders," whose peculiar aeronautic
methods are shown in my illustration.

Gilbert White, in his "History of Selborne," written over a hundred
years ago, gives a most graphic account of one of these cobweb

"On September the 21st, 1741," he says, "being then on a visit, and
intent on field diversions, I rose before daybreak. When I came into
the enclosures, I found the stubbles and clover grounds matted all
over with a thick coat of cobweb, in the meshes of which a copious and
heavy dew hung so plentifully that the whole face of the country
seemed as it were covered with two or three setting-nets drawn one
over another. When the dogs attempted to hunt, their eyes were so
blinded and hoodwinked that they could not proceed, but were obliged
to lie down and scrape off the encumbrances from their faces with
their fore feet, so that finding my sport interrupted, I returned home
musing on the oddness of the occurrence.... About nine o'clock an
appearance very unusual began to demand my attention--a shower of
cobwebs falling from very elevated regions, and continuing without any
interruption until the close of day. These webs are not single filmy
threads floating in the air in all directions, but perfect flakes or
rags, some near an inch broad and five or six long, which fell with a
degree of velocity that showed they were considerably heavier than the
atmosphere. On every side, as the observer turned his eyes, he might
behold a continual succession of fresh flakes falling into his sight,
and twinkling like stars as they turned their sides to the sun."

This same shower was witnessed by others, and one observer noted a
similar one from the summit of a high mountain, the sky above him to
the limit of his vision glistening with the silvery flakes.

White adds, further: "Strange and superstitious as were the notions
about gossamers formerly, nobody in these days doubts that they are
the real production of small spiders, which swarm in the fields in
fine weather in autumn, and have a power of _shooting out webs from
their tails_, so as to render themselves buoyant and lighter than the

I have italicized a phrase which is most suggestive, for such is the
actual resource of the spider balloonist, a feat which may be
witnessed by any one at the expense of a little trouble and patience.

Almost any bright autumn or late summer day is certain to reward our
search--indeed a search will hardly be necessary. The entire meadows
are often draped in the glistening meshes. They festoon the grass
tips, and wave their silken streamers from every mullein or other tall
weed. Our garments are soon faced with a new warp and woof of
glistening silk, and an occasional tickling betrays the floating
fluffy mass which has encombed our hands or face. The glistening "rain
of wool" of Pliny, or the mimic snow-squall of Gilbert White, I have
witnessed many times, only in less degree, over the October
rowen-fields. This tickling upon our hands is perhaps not all to be
accounted for by the mere contact of the silky web. If we examine
closely, we shall doubtless find a lively little spider extricating
itself from its unsatisfactory anchorage, and creeping to the nearest
available position for a new flight. Even as you are examining the web
upon your hand the spry midget has mounted to the top of your finger,
and is off on his new silken balloon in a twinkling, sailing upward
and out of sight even while his fellow-aeronauts are falling right and
left. For this flying-machine, though a toy, as it were, of the wind,
is still under control of the wise little sailor at the helm.

Almost any one of these flying tufts intercepted on our finger or upon
a small stick will induce its little aeronaut to make a new start, and
a careful examination with a pocket magnifier will disclose his
secret. No matter how slight the breeze, he seems instantly to head
against it, the abdomen is then raised, and in a moment a tiny stream
of flossy glistening silk is seen issuing from the spinnerets beneath.
Not the ordinary single web which we all know, but a broad band which
represents the many hundreds of strands usually combined in the single
thread, but now permitted to issue singly from the spinnerets. White
speaks of the spider "shooting out" the web, and such is the apparent
feat, but doubtless the breeze assists in the operation. It is
certainly taking good care of this floating banner from the loom of
this little spinner upon our finger-tip. Longer and longer it grows. A
yard or more of its length is soon swaying about in the breeze. So
buoyant has it now become that the little spider is visibly drawn
upward, and now clings barely by his tip-toes. In another second he is
off on his travels, where few could follow him even if they would. But
this we _must_ do if we would see the true "balloon," with its basket
and rigging and captain all in perfect sailing trim.

Up to the point of ascension--to utter a Hibernianism--I have often
thus followed my balloonist, but at this point I willingly yield the
pursuit to a more competent witness, one whose recognized fame as the
historian of the whole spider fraternity needs no emphasis from me.
They have kept very few of their secrets from the Rev. Dr. McCook. He
has followed them even in their flight, and has brought back all the
tricks of their navigation. To have been able to describe as an
eye-witness not only the ascension, but the subsequent alert and
skilful rigging, trimming of ship, sailing, reefing, and final
anchoring in port of this aeronaut with the silken jib, as Dr. McCook
has done, acquiring his facts through a wild pantomime in the meadows,
which for a time risked his reputation for sanity, is a triumph of
patient investigation which deserves conspicuous acknowledgment.

Here is what the doctor observed while his neighbors, as he ran
cross-eyed over the meadow, were bewailing the loss of his reason:

"The spider, as she was raised from the perch, had her head downward.
She immediately and swiftly reverses her position, clambers up her
floating threads, at the same time throwing out a few filaments, which
are cunningly twisted into a sort of basket into which the feet can
rest. Now the upper legs grasp the lower of the ray, and the
spinnerets, being released therefrom, are again set to work, and with
amazing rapidity spin out a second and similar ray, which floats up
behind her. Thus our aeronaut's balloon is complete, and she sits in
the middle of it, drifting whither the breeze may carry her. She is
not wholly at the mercy of the wind, however, for if she wishes to
alight, she can gather the threads into a little white ball under her
jaws; as they gradually shorten, the spider, having nothing to buoy
her, sinks by her own weight, and the striking upon some elevated
object, or falling upon the grass, makes her feel at home."

Having once alighted, the little pioneer immediately sets up
house-keeping for herself, and the locality of its web in a year hence
will doubtless be the scene of a similar balloon ascension, multiplied
perhaps a thousandfold, from the neighborhood of a tuft of eggs
somewhere concealed among the herbage--perhaps a brown, cocoonlike
affair like that of the _Argiope riparia_, hung with its guy threads
upon a dried fern.

The ballooning or flying spiders are not confined to any particular
species. It seems to be an instinct with them all, but especially with
the orb-weavers, or geometrical web-makers, and the wolf spiders;
those queer short-legged specimens which dodge about upon the walls
and fences, running forward or backward as the whim takes them, or
even sideways in a manner at which a crab might turn green with envy.
A shower of cobwebs of unusual extent fell in the vicinity of Brooklyn
about ten years ago, having been especially noted by a party of
surveyors in Prospect Park, among whom was a noted scientist and
naturalist. The ground was covered with the webs, averaging as many as
fifteen to the square foot. The shower was later noticed by the same
observers upon the summit of the Brooklyn Bridge tower, and doubtless
covered several miles in area.

The Lace-wing Fly

Lace indeed! Was ever lace even of fairy queen fashioned so daintily
as are the wings of this diaphanous pale green sylph, that flutters in
its filmy halo above the grass tips? Yonder it alights upon the
clover. Let us steal closely upon its haunt. Here we find it hid under
the upper leaf, its eyes of fiery gold gleaming in the shadow, its
slender body now caged within the canopy of its four steep, sloping
wings, their glassy meshes lit with iridescent hues of opal--the
lace-wing fly, a delight to the eye, but whose fragile being is
guarded from our too rude approach by a challenge to our sense of
smell, which plainly warns us, "Touch not, handle not!" Our first
capture of the fairy insect is always a memorable feat, with its
lingering, odorous reminders, which not even soap and hot water will
entirely obliterate from our finger-tips. But why should we have
caught her? What an opportunity we threw away in her capture! Why not,
rather, have followed the gauzy sprite, and learned something of her
ways, something of the mission she is performing as she flits from
leaf to leaf? For this is no idle flight of the lace-wing fly as we
see her in the summer meadow. Her golden eyes are on a sharp lookout
for a certain quest, and we are fortunate if we chance to surprise her
softly at the time of her discovery, and with breathless stillness
encourage her in the fulfilment of her plans. Everywhere among the
grasses, weeds, and bushes we find the airy tokens of her visits;
those delicate, hair-like fringes surrounding culm or twig, or growing
like a tiny tuft of some webby mould upon the surface of leaf. But who
even guesses the nature of the pretty fringe, or even associates with
it the pale green golden-eyed fly which we all know so well?

Here beneath our close leaf is an opportunity which we must not permit
to pass. Even as we take another cautious peep we discover that a
cobwebby hair has grown from the surface of the leaf, with its tiny
knob at the summit; and now another is growing beside it, following
the pointed rising tip of the insect's slender tail. It has now
reached a half-inch in length, when the little knob suddenly appears
and is firmly glued to the summit of the hair. Another and another are
added to the group, until a complete tuft or fringe hangs beneath the
leaf. Of course the reader will have now guessed the secret of the
episode--that this is a mother lace-wing fly thinking only of her
future brood. But what a unique method she employs in egg-laying! What
seeming reckless consideration for her offspring! Fancy awakening from
one's crib only to find one's self on the top of a telegraph pole, or
clinging for dear life at the end of a dangling rope or rod! Yet such
is the initial experience of the baby lace-wing flies as they emerge
from their filmy, iridescent cradles, whose very first experience in
life must needs be a daring feat of acrobatics. But hunger is a mighty
incentive to work and daring deeds, and the lace-wing infant is born
hungry, grows hungrier with each moment of its subsequent life, and is
apparently the more famished in proportion to its gluttony, fully
realizing the comment of Josh Billings upon the voracious billy-goat,
"All it eats seems tew go tew apetight."

We may be sure that this gauzy mother-fly, with her appetizing
reminiscences of her former epicurean days, has placed her progeny in
a land of plenty--a land almost literally of "milk and honey." For
wherever we find this delicate fringe of pale green eggs we may
confidently look also for its counterpart--a swarm of aphides, or
plant-lice, somewhere in the neighborhood, occasionally clustering
about the very stalks of the eggs, and shedding their copious
"honey-dew" for the benefit of the caressing ants, which sip at their
upraised, flowing pipes. Ah! if these happy ants only realized the
menace of this slender fringe--who knows but that they may?--how
quickly they were to be cut down by the destroying teeth!

Here, for instance, a wee babe just out of the egg slides down the
stalk, and falls plump among a whole family of the aphides. In a
twinkling a young aphis larger than himself is impaled on his sharp
teeth and its body sucked dry. But this is merely an appetizer; he has
only to extend his jaws on right or left to secure another similar
morsel, which is emptied in the same manner, and his first meal would
only seem to be limited by the number of victims available, so
insatiate is his craving. In a short time he must needs move up
farther along the twig, and thus his swath extends, until within an
incredibly short space of time the entire swarm of aphides has
disappeared, leaving the field occupied alone by the larva, who has
perhaps now acquired his full growth by their absorption--a
full-fledged "aphis lion," as he is called. He is now about a
half-inch in length, a long pointed oval in outline, the sides of its
body beset with bristly warts, and its head armed with two long
incurved teeth. But these teeth are not like ordinary teeth,
constructed for "chewing" or biting, but rather for imbibing, and
suggest the two straws in the glass of the convivialist; being
tubular, their open points are imbedded within the juicy body of the
aphis, which is soon emptied to the last drop.

The aphides are always with us. Where is the lover of the rose-garden
who is not painfully familiar with the pests, their pale green swarms
completely encircling the tender shoots, and shedding their sticky,
shining "honey-dew" everywhere like a varnish upon the leaves and
flowers beneath. Hardly a plant or tree escapes their parasitic
attacks in one form or another, where, with their beaks imbedded in
the tender bark, they suck the sap, and literally overflow with the
bounty which they thus absorb and convert into "honey-dew."

We need not go very far in our country walk to discover our aphides
encircling the stems of weed and shrub, and it is well the next time
we encounter them to observe them more closely. They would indeed
appear at first glance to be having things entirely their own way.
Even here in my city back yard, for instance, upon my growing
chrysanthemums, as I sit at the back windows some twenty feet distant,
I can distinctly see their brown, disfiguring masses completely
inclosing the under tips of nearly all the branches.

Again and again have I shaken or brushed them off only to see them
increase and multiply; and, on the other hand, on more than one
occasion have I seen an entire swarm vanish from a particular twig
which I knew was infested only a day or two previous. Why? It was not
that the aphides had completed their growth and died or fled. A
careful examination among the young leaves or along the stem in their
neighborhood showed the author of the havoc, a fat aphis lion,
perhaps, in the act of sucking the contents of its last victim, or,
perhaps, having completed his growth, contemplating the commencement
of his cocoon in which to abide during the winter.

Almost any swarm of aphides will show us this fat wolf in the fold,
and if not this particular one, another--perhaps two others--quite as
voracious, one of them the fat larva of the lady-bug, and the other a
tapering-looking grub with needle beak and insatiable hunger, the
larva of the gold-banded flower-fly.

The Perfumed Beetle

Surprises await us at every turn in wood and field if our senses are
sufficiently alert and responsive. I well remember the singular
revelation which rewarded my curiosity upon a certain occasion in my
boyhood, an incident which now seems trivial enough, but which marked
a rare day in my youthful entomological education, and which, as it
relates to an insect of exceptional peculiarity, I may here recall.

I was returning homeward after a successful day of hide-and-seek with
the caterpillars and butterflies and beetles, my well-stored
collecting-box being filled with squirming and creeping specimens, and
my hat brim adorned with a swarm of Idalias, Archippus, yellow
swallow-tails, and other butterflies--the butterfly-net on this
particular occasion being rendered further useless by the occupancy of
a big red adder which I wished to preserve "alive and sissin'." I had
taken a short cut through the woods, and had paused to rest on a
well-known mossy rock. The welcome odors of the woods, the mould, the
dank moss, and the spice-bush lingered about me; and I well remember
the occasional whiff from the fragrant pyrolas somewhere in my
neighborhood, though unseen. It was a very warm day in the middle of
July, and even the busiest efforts of millions of cool, fluttering
leaves of the shadowed woods had barely tempered the languid breeze,
laden as it was with the reminders of the glaring hay-field just
outside its borders.

Among all the various odorous waftings that came to me, I caught a
whiff which was entirely new, and which in its suggestions seemed
strangely out of place here in the woods. What was it like? It
certainly reminded me of _something_ with which my nostril was
familiar, but which I could not now identify. I only knew that it had
no place here in the woods, and even as I sought to take one extra
full sniff for further analysis, it was gone. After the lapse of a few
moments, however, its faint suggestion returned, and, increasing
moment by moment, at length seemed to tincture the air like incense.
It was now so strong as to be pungent, and my wits were keyed to their
utmost, until at length a vision of a banana peel seemed to hover
against the dried leaves. "Some one has been eating a banana here, and
thrown the peel away," thought I. But no, this is hardly the odor of
banana, either; it is more like pineapple. Yes, it _is_ pineapple. No,
that is not quite it either; it is strawberry. "Nonsense. Strawberry
season was passed two weeks ago." And while I am debating the matter
the spice-bush at my elbow has sent out a pungent challenge which has
chased the enchantment all away. The next time it returns in a new
guise, and the only suggestion which it brings is a reminder of my
mother's red leather travelling-bag. Russia-leather? Yes, that is
it--Russia-leather. No. Russia-leather, pineapple, strawberry, and
banana peel mixed.

Whatever it was and wherever it came from I now determined to
discover. The direction of the breeze was soon ascertained, and I
started out to follow up the scent like a hound. I had walked about
ten feet, with my nose tingling, when the odor suddenly left me. I
paused at a large maple-tree, and awaited the trail. It came. This
time it proved to be a hot scent, in truth. I needed only to follow my
nose around the trunk of the tree at my elbow to be brought face to
face with my game. It was no banana peel, nor pineapple, nor
Russia-leather bag, but only a company of beetles sipping in the sun.
A banquet of beetles! There were ten or a dozen of them, congregated
about a hole in the maple trunk, all sipping at a furrow in the bark
from which sap was oozing. At my approach they started to conceal
themselves in the hole, but were most of them captured. They were
about an inch in length, and of a purplish-brown color, and glistened
like bronze.

I took my prizes home, and determined to announce my great discovery
to the world in an early issue of some scientific paper, fully assured
that I had made a "great find." Before accomplishing this purpose,
however, I thought I would consult my "oracle," "Harris's Insects
Injurious to Vegetation"--a most beautiful and valuable entomological
work, by-the-way, which should be in every boy's library. There, on
page forty-two, behold my odorous specimen, true to life! And what
does Harris say about him? "They are nocturnal insects, and conceal
themselves through the day in the crevices and hollows of trees, where
they feed upon the sap that flows from the bark. They have the odor of
Russia-leather, and give this out so powerfully that their presence
can be detected by the scent alone at the distance of two or three
yards from the place of their retreat. This strong smell suggested the
name Osmoderma, 'scented skin,' given to these beetles by the French

"Nocturnal" they may be, but that they are diurnal also I have many
times proved. Almost any hot sunny day I am even now sure of my
specimen upon a certain oozy cherry trunk near by, the presence even
of one beetle being distinctly announced at a distance of ten feet.

There are two common species of these beetles, the present insect
being the _Osmoderma scabei_, as given by Harris.

Mushroom Spore-prints

The dusty puff-ball, floating its faint trail of smoke in the breeze
from the ragged flue at its dome-shaped roof as from an elfin tepee,
or perhaps enveloping our feet in its dense purple cloud as we chance
to step upon it in the path, is familiar to every one--always
enthusiastically welcomed by the small boy, to whom it is always a
challenge for a kick, and a consequent demonstration of smoke worthy
of a Fourth-of-July celebration.

A week ago this glistening gray bag, so free with its dust-puff at the
slightest touch, was solid in substance and as white as cottage cheese
in the fracture.

But in a later stage this clear white fracture would have appeared
speckled or peppered with gray spots, and the next day entirely gray
and much softened, and, later again, brown and apparently in a state
of decay. But this is not _decay_. This moist brown mass becomes
powdery by evaporation, and the puff-ball is now _ripe_, and intent
only on posterity.

Each successive squeeze as we hold it between our fingers yields its
generous response in a puff of brown smoke, which melts away
apparently into air. But the puff-ball does not end in mere smoke.
This vanishing purple cloud is composed of tiny atoms, so extremely
minute as to require the aid of a powerful microscope to reveal their
shapes. Each one of these atoms, so immaterial and buoyant as to be
almost without gravity, floating away upon the slightest breath, or
even wafted upward by currents of warm air from the heated earth, has
within itself the power of reproducing another clump of puff-balls if
only fortune shall finally lodge it in congenial soil. These spores
are thus analogous to the seeds of ordinary plants. We have seen the
myriadfold dispersion of its potential atoms in the cloud of
spore-smoke from the puff-ball, but who ever thinks of a spore-cloud
from a mushroom or a toadstool? Yet the same method is followed by all
the other fungi, but with less conspicuousness. The puff-ball gives a
visible salute, but any one of the common mushrooms or toadstools will
afford us a much prettier and more surprising account of itself if we
but give it the opportunity. This big yellow toadstool out under the
poplar-tree, its golden cap studded with brownish scurfy warts, its
under surface beset with closely plaited laminæ or gills, who could
ever associate the cloud of dry smoke with this moist, creamy-white
surface? We may sit here all day and watch it closely, but we shall
see no sign of anything resembling smoke or dust. But even so, a filmy
mist is continually floating away from beneath its golden cap, the
eager breeze taking such jealous care of the continual shower that our
eyes fail to perceive a hint of it.

Do you doubt it? You need wait but a few moments for a proof of the
fact in a pretty experiment, which, when once observed, will certainly
be resorted to as a frequent pastime in leisure moments when the
toadstool or mushroom is at hand.

[Illustration: Spore Surface of a Polyporus]

Here is a very ordinary-looking specimen growing beside the stone
steps at our back door perhaps. Its top is gray; its gills beneath are
fawn-color. We may shake it as rudely as we will, and yet we shall get
no response such as the puff-ball will give us. But let us lay it upon
a piece of white paper, gills downward, on the mantel, and cover it
with a tumbler or finger-bowl, so as to absolutely exclude the least
admission of air. At the expiration of five minutes, perhaps, we may
detect a filmy, pinkish-yellow tint on the paper, following beneath
the upraised border of the cap, like a shadow faintly lined with
white. In a quarter of an hour the tinted deposit is perceptible
across the room; and in an hour, if we carefully raise the mushroom,
the perfect spore-print is revealed in all its beauty--a pink-brown
disk with a white centre, which represents the point of contact of the
cut stem, and white radiating lines, representing the edges of the
thin gills, many of them as fine and delicate as a cobweb.

[Illustration: Spore Surface of an Agaric]

Every fresh species will yield its surprise in the markings and color
of the prints.

These spore-deposits are of course fugitive, and will easily rub off
at the slightest touch. But inasmuch as many of these specimens,
either from their beauty of form or exquisite color, or for
educational or scientific purposes, it will be desirable to preserve,
I append simple rules for the making of the prints by a process by
which they will become effectually "fixed," and thus easily kept
without injury.


Take a piece of smooth white writing-paper and coat its surface evenly
with a thin solution of gum-arabic, dextrine, or other mucilage, and
allow it to dry. Pin this, gummed side uppermost, to a board or table,
preferably over a soft cloth, so that it will lie perfectly flat. To
insure a good print the mushroom specimen should be fresh and firm,
and the gills or spore-surface free from breaks or bruises.

Cut the stem off about level with the gills, then lay the mushroom,
spore-surface downward, upon the paper, and cover with a tumbler,
finger-bowl, or other vessel with a smooth, even rim, to absolutely
exclude the slightest ingress of air.

After a few hours have passed by, perhaps even less, the spores will
be seen through the glass on the paper at the extreme edge of the
mushroom, their depth of color indicating the density of the deposit.
If we now gently lift the glass, and with the utmost care remove the
fungus, perhaps by the aid of pins previously inserted, in a
_perfectly vertical_ direction, without the slightest side motion,
the spore-print in all its beauty will be revealed--perhaps a rich
brown circular patch with exquisite radiating white lines, marking the
direction and edges of the gills, if an Agaric; perhaps a delicate
pink, more or less clouded disk, here and there distinctly and finely
honey-combed with white lines, indicating that our specimen is one of
the polypores, as a Boletus. Other prints will yield rich golden
disks, and there will be prints of red, lilac, greens, oranges,
salmon-pinks, and browns and purples, variously lined in accordance
with the number and nature of the gills or pores. Occasionally we
shall look in vain for our print, which may signify that our specimen
had already scattered its spores ere we had found it, or, what is more
likely, that the spores are _invisible_ upon the paper, owing to their
whiteness, in which case a piece of black paper must be substituted
for the white ground, when the response will be beautifully manifest
in a white tracery upon the black background. One of these, from the
_Amanita muscarius_, is reproduced in our illustration. If the
specimen is left too long, the spore-deposit is continued upward
between the gills, and may reach a quarter of an inch in height, in
which case, if extreme care in lifting the cap is used, we observe a
very realistic counterfeit of the gills of the mushroom in high relief
upon the paper. A print of this kind is of course very fragile, and
must be handled with care. But a comparatively slight deposit of the
spores, without apparent thickness, will give us the most perfect
print, while at the same time yielding the full color. Such a print
may also be fixed by our present method so as to withstand
considerable rough handling, all that is required being to lay the
print upon a wet towel until the moisture has penetrated through the
paper and reached the gum. The spores are thus set, and, upon drying
the paper, are quite securely fixed. Indeed, the moisture often
exuded by the confined fungus beneath the glass proves sufficient to
dampen the mucilage and set the spores.

A number of prints may be obtained from a single specimen.

To those of my readers interested in the science of this spore-shower
I give sectional illustrations of examples of the two more common
groups of mushrooms--the Agaric, or gilled mushroom, and the
Polyporus, or tube-bearing mushroom. The entire surface of both gills
and pores is lined with the spore-bearing membrane, or hymenium, the
spores falling directly beneath their point of departure as indicated;
in the case of the Agaric, in radiating lines in correspondence with
the spaces between the gills, and in Polyporus in a tiny pile directly
beneath the opening of each pore.

Some Curious Cocoons

The title of this article will doubtless recall to readers of
"Harper's Young People"[1] a paper upon a similar subject which
appeared in my calendar series two years ago. With the title the
resemblance ends, for the cocoons which I am about to describe are of
a sort that has never been mentioned in any previous article. These
curious cocoons had been familiar to me since my boyhood, having long
excited my wonder before finally revealing their mystery. They have
recently been brought freshly to my notice by a letter that I have
received, accompanied by a box of specimens, which reads as follows:

     DEAR MR. GIBSON,--I have sent you to-day what I take to be
     three cocoons. These with three others I picked up from a
     gravel-walk in Po'keepsie over a year ago. They seemed
     connected at the ends, but easily broke apart. I kept them,
     purposing to see what would emerge, but nothing has rewarded my
     watch, and they seem now to be shrivelling up. Can you give me
     any information in regard to them? If so, I shall be very
     grateful to you.

[1] Now "Harper's Round Table."

I had barely read half through the brief description when I guessed
the nature of the cocoons in question, having received similar letters
before, as well as verbal queries, from others who had been puzzled by
the non-committal specimens. The fact that they were found "on the
gravel-walk," and were loosely "connected at the ends," was in itself
strong evidence of their questionable nature, and I felt sure that I
should recognize the cocoons as old friends. And I did.

Upon opening the box, I found three of them packed in a mass of
cotton, two of them still loosely attached at the ends, the third one
somewhat disintegrated. Each was about an inch in length, and half an
inch in thickness, somewhat egg or cocoon shaped. Upon being
separated, one end of each was seen to be hollowed out, and had thus
previously received the pointed end of its fellow in the "connected"
condition in which they had been found. In color they were a mouse
gray precisely, and to the careless observer might have appeared to
consist of caterpillar silk, though in reality having a substance
more like felt. Yes, they might easily be mistaken for cocoons if we
simply contented ourselves with looking at them.

Who, by a mere glance, could imagine the materials that the little
bird called the vireo employs in building her peculiar nest? The
reader will remember how we pulled one of those nests apart, and what
strange materials we found woven in its fabric.[2] But they were
hardly more surprising than we may discover within this sly cocoon if
we dissect it. Now, to begin with, a true cocoon is not solid to the
core, as this one evidently is as we press it between our fingers, nor
can you pinch off a tuft of gray hair from the surface of an ordinary
cocoon when you will. True, there are some cocoons into whose silk
meshes the caterpillar weaves the hair of its body, but the felt thus
formed is only a shell, and is intermeshed with silken webs, and one
pinch alone will open up the hollow interior and show us the
caterpillar or chrysalis within. Such, for instance, is the little
brown winter snuggery of the woolly-bear caterpillar which we all
know, and whose prickly cocoons may be found beneath stones and logs
in the fields.

[2] See "Sharp Eyes,"

But what do we find in these cocoons that we now have before us? Not
only is there no vestige of silk to be seen, but there are hairs
enough in this single cocoon to have supplied a hundred caterpillars,
while we look in vain for any sign of the spinner within. Indeed,
there is no within; pinch after pinch reveals nothing but the same
gray felt. We are now a quarter of an inch below the surface, when
another pinch brings with it a small mass of white specks like crumbs
intermingled with the hair, and in the hollow thus deepened we observe
a shiny white object like ivory, with a minute ball at its tip. It
certainly looks like a tiny bone. We impatiently break open the
cocoon, when we see in truth a bone--indeed, a compact mass of bones
from some very small animal, whose identity we may guess from the
mouse-color of the felt. Here is the femur of a field-mouse--two of
them--also a part of the fibula, and a dozen or more other bones.
Breaking asunder the mass further, we find a few tiny teeth; and as we
continue the process in the remaining two specimens, we bring to light
parts of the skull, ribs, and vertebræ. A strange "cocoon" indeed.

A further examination of the remaining specimens disclosed similar
ingredients, until the entire mass presented a collection somewhat
like that shown in my illustration.

I well remember my first encounter with the queer specimens, and what
mysteries they were, though the "cocoon" idea had never suggested
itself to me, the felted mass having been found in a disintegrated

It was on a winter's day, in a walk on the crusted snow, during my
early boyhood. Returning by the brink of a stream, I noticed a little
gray mass of fur on the snow, which on examination disclosed numerous
bones of what I took to be field-mice and parts of the anatomy of a
mole intermingled with the hair. No vestige of flesh appeared in the
mass, and I fell to wondering what manner of disease is this with
which the mouse world is afflicted that should consume the flesh and
leave nothing but a disjointed skeleton and a tiny pile of fur. Ah,
had I only known then what I discovered a year or two later--the
secret of that big hollow in the willow-tree above--my little pile of
fur and bones would easily have been explained, for there summer after
summer sat the little brown screech-owl, blinking in the sun at her
doorway, peeping through the tiny cracks of her closed eyelids at
noon, and at midnight commanding a view of the entire surrounding
sedgy swamp in her eager quest for the first unfortunate shrew or
deer-mouse that should peep its nose out of its nest or venture across
the ice in the field of her staring vision.

The new-fallen snow would doubtless show as many telltales of midnight
tragedies among the little bead-eyed folk--the tiny trail terminating
in a drop of blood, and a suggestive ruffling of the surrounding snow,
with its plain witness of the fatal swoop of "owl on muffled wing"
from its vantage-ground here in the willow-tree. To-night our little
deer-mouse ventured too far from its nest among the tussocks.
To-morrow night all that will be left of its sprightly squeaking
identity will be a tiny pile of fur and bones disgorged in the form of
pellets from the open beak of the owl on the willow-tree.

In regard to these specimen pellets which my correspondent has sent to
me for identification, I am not prepared to affirm that they are from
the digestive laboratory of the owl. Something in their size suggests
that a hawk is equally likely to be responsible for them, all the
birds of prey having this same singular habit of ejecting the
indigestible portions of animals which they devour. A pet red-tailed
hawk which I kept during the past summer littered its pen with
pellets of a similar size and consistency to these, varied on one
occasion with a number composed entirely of grass, which explained a
singular puzzle of the day previous, when I descried my hawk with its
craw largely distended, and wondered what squirrel or chipmonk or
snake had been thus caught napping in my absence.

Nettle-leaf Tent-builders

Very few of our readers will need an introduction to the nettle. It
is, perhaps, the one plant which may claim the largest number of
intimate acquaintances. It was Dr. Culpepper, the old-time herbalist,
I believe, who claimed, moreover, that it was one of the easiest of
plants to distinguish, in proof of which he affirmed that "it could be
found even on the darkest night by simply feeling for it." Even those
most ignorant of botany, after having once "scraped acquaintance," as
it were, with the nettle, find it to their interest to keep its memory

It is partly because it _is_ so well known, and partly because so few
people use their eyes analytically, that a certain little mystery of
the plant is so well guarded. For almost any bed of nettles may well
tempt the young entomologist to tarry, while he forgets the tingling
fingers as he fills his collecting-box with welcome specimens.

We are sure to have company if we linger long about our nettles. There
is a small brood of butterflies which we can always count upon. Here
is one of them coming over the meadow. It has a sharp eye for nettles,
and is even now on the lookout for them. In a moment more its
beautiful black, scarlet-bordered and white-spotted wings are seen
fluttering among the leaves, alighting now here, now there, each brief
visit leaving a visible witness if we care to look for it. It has now
settled upon a leaf within easy reach. Creeping along its edge, it is
soon hanging beneath, but only for a second, and is off again on the
wing. Let us pluck the leaf. Upon looking beneath it we may see the
pretty token of the Red Admiral, a tiny egg which we may well preserve
for our microscope.

We shall not wait long before another butterfly visitor arrives,
smaller than the last, and with its deep orange, black-spotted wings
conspicuously jagged at the edges--one of the "angle-wings," which
immediately announces his name as he alights with wings folded close
above his back, disclosing the silver "comma" in the midst of the dull
brown of the nether surface. Many are the tiny tokens which she also
leaves behind her as she flutters away in search of a new

We have been closely observing these two butterflies perhaps for half
an hour, and during that time our eyes have rested a dozen times upon
a condition of things here among the leaves which certainly should
have immediately arrested our attention. Almost within touch of our
hand, upon one stalk, are three leaves which certainly do not hang
like their fellows. One of them has been drawn up at the edges, and
fully one-half of its lower portion is gone, while its angle of
drooping indicates more than the mere weight of the leaf. "A spider's
nest, of course," you remark. As such it has been passed a thousand
times even by young and enthusiastic entomological students who would
have risked their lives for a "cecropia" or a "bull's-eye"
caterpillar, or stung their hands mercilessly as they swept their
butterfly net among those very stinging leaves. It is interesting to
gather a few of these "spider's nests," and examine the cause of their
heavy droop, which proves to be a healthy-looking gray caterpillar an
inch or more in length, covered with formidable spines, perpetuating
as it were the tendency of its fosterplant. Only yesterday he built
himself this tent, having abandoned the remnant tent just below, for
he eats himself out of house and home every couple of days. About
five weeks ago he began his career, his first meal consisting,
perhaps, of the iridescent shell of a tiny egg--precisely such a one
as our first butterfly visitor has just left, for this is the
caterpillar of the Atalanta or Red Admiral.

We may find a number of these tents if we look sharp, and even while
gathering them may overlook a still more remarkable roof-tree of
another caterpillar, which constructs its pavilion on quite a
different plan. This, too, might even deceive a "spider," the edges of
the leaves being drawn together _beneath_, and the veins partly
severed near the stem, giving it quite a steep pitch. Upon looking
beneath, we disclose another prickly tenant somewhat similar to the
first, only that he is yellow and black instead of gray, while he is
clothed with the same complementary growth of branching spines.

A single nettle-clump of any size will disclose dozens, perhaps
hundreds, of these tent-dwellers. Though armed with formidable
_chevaux-de-frise_, these species are stingless, and the caterpillars
may be safely gathered. The object of my directing attention to them
is not simply to disclose them in their haunts, but to recommend their
transfer to our collecting-box, looking to the further beautiful
surprise--always a surprise--which they have in store for us. Although
they quickly desert their tents in captivity, they continue to feed
on the fresh leaves provided from day to day, and suffer little in

The full-grown caterpillars are about an inch and a half in length,
and if our specimens average such dimensions we shall not have many
days to wait for our surprise. Perhaps to-morrow, as we open the lid
of our box, the caterpillars will be seen to have left the leaves, and
to be scattered here and there on the lid or walls of their prison in
apparent listlessness. Let us observe this individual here beneath the
box cover. Its body is bent in a curve, and a careful inspection
reveals a carpet of glistening silk, to which it clings. Now the
insect regains confidence, and takes up the thread which it dropped a
moment ago when the box was opened, its head moving from side to side
in a motion suggesting a figure 8, with variations. Gradually, through
the lapse of several minutes, this sweep is concentrated to a more
central point, which is at length raised into a minute tuft of silk;
and if we wait and watch for a few moments longer, we shall see our
spinner turn about and clasp this tuft with its hinder pair of feet.
And this same process has been going on in different parts of our box.
Lifting the lid an hour or two later, we find the interior full of the
caterpillars dangling by their tails, each with its body forming a

Twenty-four hours after this suspension a singular feat and a
beautiful transformation take place, a revelation which, as I have
said, even to those already familiar with it, is always new and
surprising. Here, indeed, may we observe "the miraculous in the

It is as though our box had met with some enchantment beneath the wand
of Midas or Iris; for is it not, indeed, a box of jewels that is now
disclosed, a treasury of quaint golden ear-drops of a fashioning
unlike any to be seen in a show-case, but which might well serve as a
rare model for the mimetic art of the jeweller? When we consider the
length to which these exquisite artisans will go for their natural
originals--the orchids in gems, beetles in jewelled enamel,
butterflies in brilliants and emeralds and rubies--need we wonder that
this one most significant model of nature's own jewelry, apparently
designed as a tempting pendant, should have been ignored by a class of
designers to whom its claims would seem irresistible? But we forget.
The jeweller is not necessarily an entomologist or naturalist. The
butterfly, the beetle, the flower, every one sees; how few even dream
of these glowing chrysalids (aurelias) which hang beneath the nettle
leaves or in unseen coverts among the hop or thistle?

I have looked in vain among all the designs in the shops for any hint
of the existence of such a thing as the aurelia of Archippus, comma,
semicolon, Red Admiral, Hunters, White J.; and, indeed, even if
wrought to imitative perfection, how few would recognize any
resemblance to aught on the earth or in the waters under the earth!

I will not attempt to describe this living gem of our "comma." There
are degrees in its brilliancy, an occasional specimen being almost a
mass of gold. Indeed, we need scarce wonder that the aurelia should
have proved so tempting a lure to the ancient alchemists.

Almost any group of nettles will show us our "comma" caterpillar, but
one of its favorite haunts is the wood-nettle, a large-leaved, low
variety, which is to be found in moist woods and shady river-banks,
and will be recognized by the illustration on the preceding page. I
have gathered many of these animated tented leaves in a few moments'
search among the plants.

I have said nothing of the wonderful transformation of the caterpillar
to its chrysalis, and the astonishing trick by which the latter gets
out of its skin, and again catches the silken loop with its tail.
This feat is well worth a close study; the authorities in the past
have all been at sixes and sevens as to what really takes place. Which
of our boys or girls can discover the facts as they _are_, and tell us
why the chrysalis does not fall out at the last moment?

The Evening Primrose

The summer which is allowed to pass without a visit to the twilight
haunt of the evening primrose, perhaps at your very door, is an
opportunity missed. Night after night for weeks it breathes its
fragrant invitation as its luminous blooms flash out one by one from
the clusters of buds in the gloom, as though in eager response to the
touch of some wandering sprite, until the darkness is lit up with
their luminous galaxy--that beautiful episode of blossom-consciousness
and hope so picturesquely described by Keats:

              "A tuft of evening primroses
    O'er which the wind may hover till it dozes,
    O'er which it well might take a pleasant sleep,
    But that 'tis ever startled by the leap
    Of buds into ripe flowers."

Nor is it necessary to brave the night air to witness this sudden
transformation. A cluster of the flowers placed in a vase beneath an
evening lamp will reveal the episode, though robbed of the poetic
attribute of their natural sombre environment and the murmuring
response of the twilight moth, a companion to which its form, its
color, and its breath of perfume and impulsive greeting are but the
expression of a beautiful divine affinity.

Then there is that pretty daylight mystery of the faded, drooping
bells of last night's impulsive blossoms, each perhaps tenanted by the
tiny, faithful moth which first welcomed its open twilight chalice,
and which now has crept close within its wilted cup, the yellow tips
of its protruding wings simulating the fading petals. And again, a few
weeks later, with what surprise do we discover that these long columns
of green seed-pods are not always what they seem, but are intermingled
with or supplanted by smooth, green caterpillars which exactly
resemble them in size and general shape, the progeny of our tiny pink
and yellow moth now feeding on the young seed-pods! Verily even a
vireo or worm-eating warbler, who is supposed to know a green
caterpillar when he sees one, might perch among these without a
suspicion, except perhaps at the tickling of its feet by the rudely
touched victim.

But these are not all the interesting features of the evening
primrose. It has still another curious secret, which has doubtless
puzzled many a country stroller, and which is suggested in the
following inquiry from a rural correspondent:

     "I read in 'Harper's Young People' your piece about the evening
     primrose, and found the little moth and the catterpilers, what
     I never seen before; but they is one thing what you never tole
     us about yit. Why is it that the buds on so meny evening
     primroses swell up so big and never open? Some of them has
     holes into them, but I never seen nothing cum out."

This same question must have been mentally propounded by many
observers who have noted this singular peculiarity of the buds--two
sorts of buds, one of them long and slender, and with a longer tube;
the other short and stout, with no tube at all--both of which are
shown in proper proportion in my illustration. It is well to contrast
their outward form, and to note wherein they differ. In the normal or
longer bud the tube is slender, and extended to a length of an inch or
more, while in the shorter specimen this portion is reduced to about a
fifth or sixth of that length, while the corolla enclosed within its
sepals is much shortened and swollen.

The difference in the shape and development of these two buds is a
most interesting study, as bearing upon the conscious intention of
the flower as an embodiment of a divine companion to an insect. What
is the intention involved in the construction and habit of this
flower? Why this long tube? Why does it await the twilight to burst
into bloom?

In the new botany of Darwin flowers must be considered as embodiments
of welcome to insects. Long ago it was discovered that the powdery
pollen of a flower must reach the stigma of the flower in order to
produce seed. It was formerly supposed that this was naturally
accomplished by the stamens shedding this pollen directly upon the
stigma, but this was later shown to be impossible in most flowers, the
anthers containing the pollen being so placed that they could not thus
convey the pollen. This fact was first noted by Sprengel in 1787, who
was the first to discover that the flower, with its color, perfume,
and honey, was really designed to attract insects, and that only by
their unconscious aid could the pollen be thus carried to the stigma.
But Sprengel had supposed that the intention of the blossom was the
reception of its _own_ pollen, a fact which was again soon seen to be
impossible, as the stigmas of many flowers are closed when their own
pollen is being shed. It remained for Darwin seventy years later to
interpret the problem. Insects were intentionally attracted to the
flower; but the pollen with which their bodies thus became dusted was
designed to be carried to the stigmas of another flower, showing
cross-fertilization to be the intention in nearly all blossoms.

The endless shapes of flowers were shown by Darwin to have reference
to certain insects upon whom the flower depended for the transfer of
its pollen. What are we to infer from the shape of our evening
primrose? Its tube is long and slender, and the nectar is secreted at
its farthest extremity. Only a tongue an inch or so in length could
reach it. What insects have tongues of this length? Moths and
butterflies. The primrose blooms at night, when butterflies are
asleep, and is thus clearly adapted to moths. The flower opens; its
stigma is closed; the projecting stamens scatter the loose pollen upon
the moth as it sips close at the blossom's throat, and as it flies
from flower to flower it conveys it to other blossoms whose stigmas
are matured. The expression of the normal bud is thus one of affinity
and hope.

Our friend just quoted mentions having seen "holes" on the other
swollen buds, and there is certain to be a hole in every one of them
at its maturity. But let us select one which is as yet entire. If with
a sharp knife-point we cut gently through its walls, we disclose the
curious secret of its abnormal shape--"the worm i' the bud," as shown
in my accompanying sketch--and what an eloquent story of blighted
hopes its interior condition reveals! This tiny whitish caterpillar
which we disclose in the petal dungeon has been a prisoner since its
birth, during the early growth of the bud. One by one the stamens and
also the stigma have been devoured for food, until the mere vestiges
of them now remain. With no stamens to bequeath pollen, and no stigma
to welcome other pollen, what need to open? What need to elongate a
corolla tube for the tongue of a moth whose visit could render no
functional service? So thus our blighted buds refuse to open, where
blooming would be but a mockery. This tiny caterpillar has a host of
evening primrose blossoms laid to his door. When full grown he is
nearly a third of an inch in length, at which time he concludes to
leave his life-long abode, which explains the "hole" through the base
of the bud. If we gather a few of these buds and place them in a small
box, we may observe the remaining life history of the insect. After
creeping from its petal home it immediately spins a delicate white
silken cocoon, and within a day or so changes to a chrysalis. At the
expiration of about a fortnight, as we open the box, we are apt to
liberate one or more tiny gray moths, which upon examination we are
bound to confess are a poor recompense for the blossom for which they
are the substitute.

This little moth is shown very much enlarged in the accompanying
illustration. Its upper wings are variously mottled with gray and
light brown, and thickly fringed at their tips, while the two lower
wings are like individual feathers, fringed on both sides of a narrow

These and other characters ally the insect with the great group known
as the _Tineidæ_, of which the common clothes moth is a notorious

The Dandelion Burglar

Young people readers will perhaps recall my previous reference to the
whims and preferences of the birds in their selection of building
material. The unravelling of deserted nests will often prove an
instructive as well as humorously entertaining pastime, revealing in
the same fabric evidences of great sagacity and what would appear
perfectly nonsensical prejudices, with an occasional piece of positive
frivolity. Thus we can readily see the wisdom in the selection of
these strong strips of milkweed bark with which this vireo's or
yellow-warbler's nest is moored to the forked branch, or the strands
of twine with which the Baltimore oriole suspends its deep swinging
hammock, as well as the plentiful meshing of horse-hair woven through
the body of the nest. The nest of the orchard oriole is even more
remarkable as a piece of woven texture. Wilson, the ornithologist, by
careful unravelling of a grass strand from one of these nests, found
it to have been passed through the fabric and returned thirty-four
times, the strand itself being only thirteen inches long, a fact which
prompted an old lady friend of his to ask "whether it would be
possible to teach the birds to darn stockings." The horse-hair in the
nest of the hang-bird gives it a wonderful compact strength, capable
of sustaining a hundred times the weight of the bird. Upon unravelling
one, I found it intermeshed fourteen times in the length of ten
inches, which would probably have given a total number of forty passes
in the full length of the hair. No one will question the sagacity
which such materials imply; but what is to be said of a bird that
selects caterpillar-skins as a conspicuous adornment for her domicile?
And here is a vireo's nest with a part of a toad-skin prominently
displayed on its exterior, or perhaps a specimen such as I have
previously described abundantly covered with snake-skins. These, of
course, are whims pure and simple.

In the linings of many nests we find an equal variety, but the
materials are selected with a definite purpose, a soft, warm bed for
the young fledglings being the object sought by the parent birds. To
this end we find many nests lined with what the ornithologists call
"soft downy substances." Examination with a magnifying glass will
sometimes show us precisely the nature of this down; whether it
consists of wool from a sheep or hair from the deer, 'coon, goat, or
horse; whether it is composed of fuzz from downy leaves or
spider-webs, caterpillar hairs, or cottony seeds of plants. These last
form a favorite nest lining with a number of birds.

I remember once finding a beautiful nest of a warbler whose outer wall
was strongly woven with strands of milk-weed bark, but the whole
interior filled with a felt composed of dandelion seeds, and barely
anything else. The nest was old and weather-beaten, and the mass had
been reduced to a consistency resembling thick brown paper, with an
occasional seed protruding. Originally this soft mass must have been
at least a quarter of an inch in thickness. The dandelion seed is an
occasional ingredient in many nests. We can readily understand how a
bird with an eye to a downy snuggery for her young might be tempted to
gather an occasional seed, but it takes a host of dandelion seeds to
make a thick cushion such as this which I have mentioned, and we might
well wonder at the labor involved in the accumulation of such a mass.
A cloudy dandelion ball in the grass doubtless looks inviting to the
nest-builder, but how much of this tuft would the bird be able to
secure in her bill when a mere touch or breath perhaps is sufficient
to scatter the ball to the breeze? No; I cannot believe my bird of the
dandelion nest wasted her energies in picking up a single seed here
and there from a dandelion ball, or perhaps on the wing. A discovery
of a few years ago has shown me how dandelion seeds may be cleverly
gathered by a shrewd nest-builder, and how a whole nest may be
feathered with them without much labor.

For some years I was puzzled to account for a peculiar mutilation
which I often observed on the dandelion. It was always at the same
place--the calyx of the blossom--the green portion which incloses the
bud, and, after blooming, closes again about the withered flower, and
so remains while the seeds are growing. Most of my readers have seen
dandelion flowers in all their stages of growth. The flower usually
blooms for three mornings. By this time all the tiny yellow flowerets
which make up the yellow cushion have bloomed. The green calyx now
closes, to remain closed, for a week, while the stem generally bends
outward, and thus draws the withered flower towards the ground, often
hiding it beneath the leaves.

During this week of retirement the stem continues to wither sideways,
and the flower is busy ripening its seeds, each yellow floweret having
a seed of its own, from which there grows a slender hair-like stalk
with a tiny feathered parachute at its top. Gradually these little
feathery ends push upward inside the calyx, and on the seventh day,
lo! the withered dandelion has appeared again at the top of the grass.
It now has a tiny brown cap at its top, or perhaps has just lost it,
and gives us a glimpse of a white feathery tuft peeping from its top.
This little brown withered cap is all that is left of the original
golden blossom of two weeks before, now a shrivelled mass, which has
gradually been pushed upward and out by the growing seed-tuft. In
another hour, perhaps, the calyx will again open, and bend down
against the stem, while the bed at the bottom to which the seeds are
attached will round upward through the feathers outward in the form of
a ball. This rounded seed-bed, or receptacle, as it is called in our
botany, shortly withers, and the winged parachutes take flight at the
slightest zephyr, whereas at first a smart breeze would have been

Now all this is by-the-way, for not every one understands how the
dandelion ball is made. I know a little bird, however, who has found
it out to her advantage. I have just alluded to a certain mutilation
of this calyx which puzzled me. I have shown one of these calyxes in
my title picture, at the right, one-half of it being torn off, and
disclosing a cavity. Where are the seeds? "Ah! some rare caterpillar
has done this!" I exclaimed, when I first observed the burglary. In
vain I hunted among the leaves to find him. Again and again I found my
rifled dandelion, but never a sign of the burglar. But one day I
surprised him at his work. It was no caterpillar, but a tiny, black
bird with a beautiful rosy band in his tail, and which proved to be
that butterfly among the birds, the redstart. I hardly knew what he
was doing out there among the dandelions, and presumed he was after my
mysterious caterpillar, until I chanced to see him alight near by
with a white tuft in his bill. Yes, a tuft with feathery parachutes in
a bunch on one side of his bill, and a compact cluster of seeds on the

In a moment I was among the dandelions from which he had flown, and
soon found my empty calyx, from which an entire dandelion ball had
been taken at one pinch. I lost no time in tracing out the nest in the
foot of an apple-tree close by. A dainty fabric it was, exquisitely
adorned with gray lichens and skeletonized leaves, its interior very
plentifully lined with the seeds of the dandelion, more so than is
usual with the nests of this bird. On two occasions since I have seen
other small birds of the warbler kind suspiciously rummaging among the
dandelions, and have afterwards discovered the empty calyx. There is
probably more than one dandelion burglar.

The Troubles of the House-fly

Quite contrary to my original intention, my specimen of _Musca
domestica_, which I had captured at random to serve as my model in the
present chapter, has suggested that I begin with a Q, and after some
expressive criticism on the matter I have at last consented to humor
him, especially as he proved otherwise a most unique and accommodating
individual. Being in need of a good, healthy, toe-twisting,
neck-twirling specimen to sit for his portrait in an illustration for
a forthcoming article on the paper wasp, I cast my eye about my easel.
There, right at my elbow, still plying his never-ending toilet, I
beheld him--strange coincidence, was it not? A sweep of my hand, and I
have him! And in a moment more, with the tips of his toes besmeared
with glue, he is a secure prisoner on the white paper before me.

The victim having served his purpose, I was preparing to drench him
with a few drops of water to dissolve his bonds and set him free, when
I happened to observe a feature which had before escaped my notice.
The glue had chanced to secure one of its feet well beneath its body,
and now that it was released I discovered that I had made considerably
more of a catch with that sweep of my hand than I had imagined.
Attached to one of the terminal joints of the front leg there appeared
a tiny red object, which I instantly recognized as a curious tag which
I had seen before, and which forms an occasional lively episode in the
life not only of house-flies but other flies as well. And what a
queer-shaped tag it is, to be sure! It is not easy to describe its
dimensions on account of its changeable proportions--now spreading out
its two long appendages, now contracting into an oblong or rounded
outline, or sprawled out in the shape of a curious letter T, and now
thrown about in such a helter-skelter fashion by the antics of the fly
that nothing but the fact of its red color is discernible. But when
we bring our magnifying-glass to bear upon it, its diminutive size is
forgotten, while its shape is now perfectly familiar to us all--a
lobster! a veritable live young lobster, and what is even more
strange, a live boiled lobster at that! No, it must be a crab lobster,
for was ever the liveliest lobster in its greenest stages half so spry
as this warlike midge, whose free, upraised, open claws threaten to
nip our fingers off as we hold the lens above him. But nag and prod
him as we will, no provocation will induce him to loosen his grip on
his means of transport.

For how many days, I wonder, has he been on this particular flying
trip? How many miles has he travelled, and what varied experiences has
he survived! How many are the lumps of sugar, the drops of molasses,
the slices of bread, and pats of butter over which he has been
trailed, to say nothing of puddles of fresh ink! And then think of the
many hours in which, from his present position, he must have
conspicuously figured at that toe-twisting toilet of his host! Fancy
brushing your coat and combing your hair with a live boiled lobster!

But pollen grains are not pumpkins and footballs and tea-boxes, as the
microscope would have us believe; nor does the drop of water contain a
herd of strange elephants. Can it be possible that this lobster is,
after all, only about an eighth of an inch long, with its claws
spreading barely three-sixteenths of an inch? Yes, true; but we must
remember that the fly is only about one-third of an inch long, and we
can imagine how proportionately formidable the little beast must
appear as a lurking foe and a handicap to the fly fraternity. I have
therefore pictured this little episode of fly-time somewhat from the
aspect of the fly. This was one of the "troubles" which I had in mind
as I prepared the initial design with its letter O. I had counted on
using an old specimen of the lobster which I had safely stowed away in
a pill-box somewhere, until my haphazard fly victim supplied me with a
fresh specimen, and subsequently helped me out in the completion and
modification of my initial.

A correct idea of the anatomy of the little crab may be obtained from
my illustration. But what is it all about, this funny ride on a fly's
hind-leg? Excepting as an inconvenience and encumbrance it is doubtful
whether the fly is much the worse for his close attachment, and while
this mimic crab or lobster cannot be called a frequent passenger, a
careful scrutiny of any considerable assemblage of flies on white
paper or window-pane will occasionally show us the animated and
persistent red tag.

But let us call him a lobster no more, rather one of the "False
Scorpions," one of the group known as _Pedipalpi_, in the books:
queer little creatures that live in dusty nooks, among old books and
papers, and feed on tiny mites and other minute life which harbor
them, but born rovers withal, with a singular fancy for fly-toes and
free rides.

But the false scorpion may be considered rather as a bother than a
serious trouble to the fly. His real troubles are too numerous to
mention. His life, as most of my readers will be glad to learn, is not
a bed of roses, as is commonly supposed. Just think for a moment what
a fly's existence must be. With the deadly fly-paper on the one hand,
the continual danger of being cemented into a pellet of pulp in the
maw of a hornet, or impaled on the beak of his murderous relative the
"Laphria-fly," or snapped up by birds, toads, snakes, he certainly has
abundant use for that head full of eyes of his. All summer long he
runs the gantlet of risks like these, but in September and October a
new and terrible danger awaits him, and fortunate is he if he escapes
in these advanced days of scientific discovery, when so many of our
mortal ills are shown to be dependent upon the malignity of hovering
germs, of microbes, bacteria, and bacilli.

Let us be thankful we have at least escaped the notice of one of this
insidious throng, and are spared the grotesque horror of such a fate
as the germ-scourge of flydom. How swift and terrible is its course!
Today a pert and gladsome innocent, sipping on the rim of our
dinner-plate; to-morrow a pale, dry relic of his former self, hanging
from the window-pane by its tongue, and enveloped in a white shroud of
mould, the victim of a germ or spore. Look where we will upon the
window on those September and October days and we see the little smoky
cloud with the dangling fly in its midst, and many an apparently
modest and considerate fly upon the wall will be found similarly fixed
to the surface, and surrounded with the white nimbus.

But the real mischief was done perhaps early in the evening, after our
fly had retired for the night. He presumably experienced the first
attack of acute dyspepsia he had ever known. In his promiscuous
feeding he had chanced to imbibe a spore, which once within his vitals
began its murderous work, growing so fast as to completely fill his
swelling body by morning, when, having completed its growth and
penetrated through the insect's skin, it spread its own spores, to be
wafted hither and yon to the peril of next year's flies, and the
consequent delight of the tidy house-keeper.

Such is the work of the world-renowned fly-fungus, of which a writer
says: "It silences more house-flies than all the brushes, traps,
poisons, whacks, and swearing devoted to the extermination of the


Careless observation of Nature is responsible for some curious
misrepresentations of her most simple facts. Even those of us who
stand somewhat in the relation of nature teachers--namely, artists,
both draughtsmen and painters, and from whom we have a right to expect
absolute fidelity--are not free from our shortcomings as truthful
chroniclers. Thus how often we see otherwise beautiful landscapes
marred by features which rebel against all laws of natural
philosophy--of a storm sky above a sunlit scene, for instance, spanned
by the arc of the rainbow, and with all the shadows of trees and other
objects thrown sidewise! Then there is that inverted or very "dry"
crescent moon in western twilight skies; and how seldom do we see the
beautiful law of the twining tendril appreciated in the most careful
design of the botanical draughtsman!

For years the tendril was to me the conventional spiral, twisting like
a continuous curl or spring from the parent branch to the support
within its clasp; and it is safe to assert that not one in--well, a
good many of us, who should have gone out to our grape-vine or
passion-vine or melon-patch, without a previous forewarning, would
have been able to tell correctly the pretty little story of its
tendril methods, or have even noted the curious little kink which is
the infallible peculiarity of the climbing tendril.

What _is_ a tendril--botanically speaking? That depends. It is one
thing in this plant, quite another in that, so students of vegetable
anatomy or morphology soon discover.

It is soon perfectly plain that the stem is a modified root. For
instance, plants have been taken up from the sod and replaced in the
ground upsidedown, the roots subsequently becoming stems, and bearing
leaves, and the buried leafy stems assuming the functions of roots.
Leaves are mere modified branches, and the flowers modified leaves.
Pistils and stamens in flowers are modified petals, or rather petals
are modified stamens, the "doubling" of flowers representing the being
thus accomplished, while the petals again are mere changed leaves. A
neighbor of mine has a bush bearing green roses--all leaves. In the
water-lily you will find it difficult to determine just where the
stamen ends and the petals begin, so gradual is the blending. In the
peony the same is true, and carried still further in the merging of
petals and calyx into the approximate leaves.

And so it is with tendrils. In certain plants the point of the leaf,
through ages of "natural selection," has gradually been prolonged into
a slender arm, which clasps the branches of trees, and enables the
plant thus endowed to climb higher to sun and sky, and thus to thrive
more vigorously than its less fortunate brothers. The plant so
advantageously equipped transmits its tendency to its offspring, and
has therefore survived in place of its ancient fellows, and is the
type perpetuated or "selected" by nature. Such a tendril, then, is a
modified leaf. How is it in the pea? Here we find four leaflets in two
opposite pairs, but _no odd leaflet_ at the end of the main stalk,
such as we see in almost all other plants of its family. But in place
of this leaflet we find a branching tendril reaching out on all sides
for conquest. How quietly by the aid of these eager arms the sweet-pea
climbs to the top of its brush! In the common catbrier or smilax we
see two slender thread-like tendrils growing from the base of each
leaf. Here we have another modification, a development of the
"stipule," that tiny pointed growth common to many leaves, and
particularly notable at the base of a rose leaf. Still another plan
has been evolved in the grape-vine. If we examine our grape arbor in
June we find a number of drooping, swaying branches. The leaves are
scattered singly at intervals of a few inches along the branch, each
of the upper ones being attended on its opposite side by a drooping
cluster of mignonette-scented blossoms. Thus they follow down towards
the tip of the branch, where the clusters suddenly cease, and are
replaced by long, slender, curving and branched tendrils, sometimes
ten inches long. We might thus reasonably assume the tendril in this
case to be a modified blossom cluster, but there is no need for us
ever to assume such a thing. If we will only search with sufficient
care we shall at last discover the absolute proof of the fact in a
tendril which is partly in blossom, the nearest leaf-joint above it
having a full cluster of blossoms, and the tendril below it, nearer
the tip, not a few scattered flower-buds at its tips. This grape-vine
instance may be taken as a demonstration that in no case is the
tendril a special or primal organ, but merely an old one adapted to a
new purpose. In one instance from a leaf, in another from a
flower-stalk, just which can generally be determined by a sufficient
search for the telltale _intermediate form_ somewhere to be found on
the plant.

Among the most beautiful of all tendrils are those of the
passion-flower and plants of the melon family, notably the wild
star-cucumber, whose portrait is here presented. It is a more or less
common weed, to be found about gardens and barn-yards, where it covers
the fences with its profuse, clambering growth, its stalks everywhere
entangled or drawn close to support by their long, green, spiral
springs, and its free, branching, young tendril tips reaching out in
all directions for fresh foothold, and in its absence content at
length with a friendly intertwining among themselves, and a consequent
tangle of green convolutions. It is hard to believe that these long,
outreaching arms at the summit of this vine are identical with the
closely twisted spirals below, but such is the case; let any one of
them once feel the contact of even the frailest support of twig or
stalk, and it is soon close in the embrace of its eager tip, and the
contraction of the spring commences, but the method of this
contraction is worth our study.

In order for this tendril to coil it must _twist_, and it is perfectly
plain on general principles that with both ends held fast twisting is
impossible. But this little paradox is evidently dismissed by the
tendril. If we tie a short string between two given points, and
attempt to twist it with our finger and thumb, we succeed in turning
the string, 'tis true, but the twist on the right side neutralizes
that on the left, being in the opposite direction. In this way only
can the cord be twisted. If we twist with sufficient patience we may
imitate the coil of the tendril, which is performed precisely in this
way. Herein lies the secret of that little loop or kink in the centre
of all tendrils--a given point, which cannot be determined on the
extended tendril, but whose mission is to _reverse_ the twist in
opposite directions as soon as the tip has secured its contact, and
thus permit the coiling process to proceed. In tendrils of exceeding
length several of these reverse loops may be found at regular
intervals, sometimes as many as six in a single tendril, but the
coiling process usually awaits this contact. Unsatisfied tendrils of
the grape, for instance, will remain unchanged through the entire
season, or until their sensitive touch has been lost. Others, like
those of the passion-flower, will occasionally become discouraged and
curl up all by themselves, in which case, the other tip being free,
the curl is perfect and continuous and without the reverse loop, which
is now unnecessary. But the function of the tendril is to clasp and
hold. Its growth is not complete until thus quickened by the new
responsibility. Tendrils on duty become tough and sinewy in comparison
to their idling neighbors. How firm and rigid are these swollen coils
upon the grape-vine!

We do not gather "figs from thistles," but some equally incongruous
botanical associates are sometimes brought about through the
insinuating and clambering methods of the tendril. Have we not all
seen apple-trees bearing pumpkins or squashes or gourds, all
originally carried thither in the form of great yellow blossoms or
tender shoots! The grape-vine occasionally plays a singular botanical
prank in the orchard. Here is a drooping tendril which has been
swinging about for weeks from its vine canopy on the old apple-tree.
It had become almost discouraged, when a chance-favoring breeze wafted
its tip in contact with an apple close by. It was its last chance;
with its hooked extremity it clasped the stem of the fruit, and soon
made itself fast with three or four firm coils. Doubtless the little
reversing loop somewhere along the tendril was also awakened from its
chronic lethargy, and did its best to start the coil. Presumably it
succeeded, for the pull was sufficient to dislodge the apple, which,
falling to the entire length of the tendril, was still held fast in
the grip, whose new responsibility had given it new strength.

And there our apple hung for weeks, swinging like a pendulum from the
slender grape-vine, the coils on duty still keeping their firm grip on
the stem, even though all above were straightened by the weight of the

A Strange Story of a Grasshopper

A few days ago, while returning from a walk, I chanced to observe a
dead grasshopper upon the dirt at the side of the road. Now this
incident would not have been of special importance had I not
discovered, upon careful _post-mortem_ examination, the very
remarkable manner of the insect's death, which recalled a similar
surprising episode of several years ago which I had almost forgotten.
Upon referring to my note-book of that period, however, I found
considerable space devoted to the incident, which greatly astonished
me at the time. Inasmuch as it presents in a startling light the
wonderful and strange resources by which nature holds in check the too
rapid increase of species and maintains the great law of equilibrium
among the insect forces, it is well worth recalling in these pages,
in the firm belief that my young entomological readers will henceforth
look more compassionately and tenderly upon the poor "high-elbowed
grig" who is the unfortunate hero of my story. He is familiar to us
all, that hovering "rattler" above the hot, dusty road of August,
flying up from nowhere beneath our feet in the path, fluttering like a
yellow moth, and always disappearing before our eyes when he alights.
He is also known as the "Quaker," from his drab suit and bonnet, and
his generosity with his "molasses" is proverbial from the days of the
Pilgrim settlers. Who would have believed that such a fate as the
following lay in store for him.

In previous papers I have indicated some of the remarkable pranks
which the various ichneumon-flies play with unsuspecting caterpillars.
The polyphemus, for instance, whose cocoon, filled with hopes of a
beautiful butterfly existence, yields only a swarm of wasps. The
caterpillars are helpless, and would seem an easy prey to the wily fly
who lays her eggs upon them; but even the agile-winged "Quaker," and
doubtless many of his kind--yes, and still more agile insects--are not
quick enough to escape a like fate.

At the time of my discovery I had in preparation an article for
"Harper's Magazine" entitled "Among Our Footprints." I wished to
describe and illustrate a singular battle which I had shortly before
observed between a large red mutilla ant and a "Quaker." The mutilla I
had captured at the time, and had preserved as a specimen. I needed
only the grasshopper to complete my drawing. Directly in front of my
city house a number of vacant grassy lots offered a favorite haunt for
the insects--I used to call it the Quaker camp-meeting ground--and I
started out to procure one. Having no net, I was soon convinced that I
was greatly at a disadvantage. The thermometer was about 90°, and, of
course, the "Quakers," being in their element, had much the best, not
to say the easiest, time of it. I at length gave up the chase, and was
about leaving the field, when fortune favored me by the discovery of a
clumsy specimen, which seemed unable to fly for any great length, and
he was soon captured. Upon examination his wings seemed partially
paralyzed, but otherwise he appeared to be in good health and spirits,
his hind legs being especially lively and snappy. I immediately took
the insect to my studio, and pinned him through the thorax. He was
strong enough to pull out the pin from the board and jump around the
room with it in my temporary absence.

I lost no time in taking his portrait, which figured in the
illustration to the article on "Footprints" as "the ungainly victim,"
I little dreaming when I gave him such a title what a remarkable sort
of victim he even then was. The drawing took me about ten minutes. I
then left the studio, and was absent precisely fifteen minutes. Upon
returning I found the grasshopper dead.

My curiosity was aroused, not only by such a rapid demise (for the
impaling through the thorax is not usually an immediately fatal injury
to an insect), but especially by some very strange and unnatural
automatic movements of the victim--head protruding and turning from
side to side; queer expansion of body, as though breathing; unusual
lifting and other motions of legs, particularly of hind legs; the
whole demonstration a mockery on life. The grasshopper was pinned to
my drawing-board, and against a piece of newspaper. As I watched his
strange antics, I suddenly discovered that he had become a veritable
phantom of his former self; that I could actually _read the newspaper
text through his body_. Examination now revealed the mystery. I could
easily see every nook and cranny of the grasshopper's interior, so
glassy were the walls of the body, and I could now count about a dozen
small, white larvæ, which were now full grown, and were crawling about
within through head, thorax, body, and hind legs, cleaning its walls
of every particle of remaining tissue, and causing the singular
motions described. Such a strange house-cleaning I never saw before.

When the "Quaker" locust was captured it showed not the slightest sign
of any such goings-on within its being. The final voracity of the
larvæ was swift and terrible. And what an astonishing instinct is that
which should teach these parasites to avoid the vitals of their insect
host until the last moments of their own final, complete growth! The
entire space of time from the activity of the grasshopper to the
empty, transparent phantom was less than thirty minutes. I placed the
unfortunate victim in a small, close box. Next morning he presented
nothing but a clean, glassy shell, now more glassy than before, empty
of every vestige of organic matter, while scattered about on the
bottom of the box lay fifteen dark red, egg-shaped chrysalides of the
escaped larvæ. Two weeks later, upon opening the box, a swarm of flies
flew out. I was enabled to keep two of them. They were almost exactly
like the common house-fly to the ordinary observer, but belonged to a
distinct genus. At this writing, in the absence of my specimen, I
cannot give the name by which they are known in learned circles, but I
think I am safe in saying that they probably belong to the group
called _Tachina_, a family of parasitic flies which spend their early
lives in a similar questionable manner, to the probable discomfort of
potato-bugs, caterpillars, and other accommodating insect hosts.

I had seen similar flies emerging from my caterpillar boxes in my
early entomological days without suspecting their significance, and
any large collection of caterpillars in confinement is likely to
include a victim.

Riddles in Flowers

Indeed, are they not all riddles? Where is the flower which even to
the most devoted of us has yet confided all its mysteries? In
comparison with the insight of the earlier botanists, we have surely
come much closer to the flowers, and they have imparted many of their
secrets to us. Through the inspired vision of Sprengel, Darwin, and
their followers we have learned something of their meaning, in
addition to the knowledge of their structure, which comprised the end
and aim of the study of those early scholars, Linnæus, Lindley,
Jussieu, and De Candolle. To these and other eminent worthies in
botany we owe much of our knowledge of _how_ the flowers are made, and
of the classification based upon this structure, but if these great
savants had been asked, "You have shown us that it _is so_, but _why_
is it thus?" they could only have replied, "We know not; we only know
that an all-wise Providence has so ordained and created it."

Take this little collection, which I have here presented, of stamens
and petals selected at random from common blossoms. What inexplicable
riddles to the botanist of a hundred years ago, even of sixty years
ago! For not until that time was their significance fully understood;
and yet each of these presents but one of several equally puzzling
features in the same flowers from which they were taken.

In that first anther, for example, why those pores at the tip of the
cells, instead of the usual slits at the sides, and why that pair of
horns at the back? And the next one, with longer tubes, and the same
two horns besides! Then there is that queer specimen with flapping
ears--one of six from the barberry blossom; and the pointed,
arrow-headed individual with a long plume from its apex; and the
curved C-shaped specimen--one of a pair of twins which hide beneath
the hood of the sage blossom. The lily anther, which comes last, is
poised in the centre. Why? What puzzles to the mere botanist! for it
is because these eminent scholars _were mere_ botanists--students and
chroniclers of the structural facts of flowers--that this revelation
of the truth about these blossom features was withheld from them. It
was not until they had become philosophers and true seers, not until
they sought the divine significance, the reason, which lay behind or
beneath these facts, that the flowers disclosed their mysteries to

Look at that random row of petals, too!--one with a peacock's eye, two
others with dark spots, and next the queer-fingered petal of the
mignonette, followed by one of that queer couple of the monk's-hood
blossom which no one ever sees unless he tears the flower hood to
pieces. We all know the nasturtium, but have we thought to ask it why
these petals have such a deep crimson or orange colored spot, and why
each one is so beautifully fringed at the edge of its stalk?

These are but a dozen of the millions of similar challenges, riddles,
puzzles, which the commonest flowers of field and garden present to
us; and yet we claim to "know" our nasturtium, our pink, our
monk's-hood larkspur, our daisy, and violet!

No; we must be _more_ than "botanists" before we can hope to
understand the flowers, with their endless, infinite variety of form,
color, and fragrance.

It was not until the flowers were studied in connection with the
insects which visit them that the true secret of these puzzling
features became suspected.

We all know, or should know, that the anther in flowers secretes and
releases the pollen. For years even the utility of this pollen was a
mystery. Not until the year 1682 was its purpose guessed, when
Nehemias Grew, an English botanist, discovered that unless its grains
reached the stigma in the flower no seed would be produced (Diagram
A). But the people refused to believe this, and it was not until
fifty years later that Grew's statement was fully accepted, and then
only because the great Linnæus assured the world that it _was_ true.
But about fifty years later another botanist in Germany, Sprengel,
made the discovery that the flower could not be fertilized as these
botanists had claimed, that in many blossoms the pollen could not fall
on the stigma.

[Illustration: A]

[Illustration: B]

Sprengel knew that this pollen must reach the stigma, but showed that
in most flowers it could not do so by _itself_. He saw that insects
were always working in the flowers, and that their hairy bodies were
generally covered with pollen, and in this way pollen grains _were_
continually carried to the stigma, as they could easily be in these
two blossoms shown at Diagram B. Sprengel then announced to the world
his theory--the dawn of discovery, the beginning of the solution of
all these floral riddles. The _insect_ explained it all. The bright
colors and fragrance were intended to attract him, and the nectar to
reward him, and while thus sipping he conveyed the pollen to the
stigma and fertilized the flower.

[Illustration: C]

[Illustration: D]

But now Sprengel himself was met with most discouraging opposition to
his theory, showing that he had guessed but half the secret after all.
Flowers by the hundreds were brought to his notice, like that shown in
Diagram C, in which the insect could _not_ transfer the pollen from
anther to stigma, as the stigma is closed when the pollen is ripe, and
like that in Diagram D, which does not open until the pollen is shed.
For seventy years this astonishing fact puzzled the world, and was at
last solved by the great Darwin, who showed that nearly all flowers
shun their own pollen, and are so constructed, by thousands of
singular devices, that the _insect_ shall bring to each the _pollen of
another flower_ of the same species, and thus effect what is known as

We must then look at all flowers as expressions of welcome to some
insect--day-flowering blossoms mostly to bees and butterflies, and
night-bloomers to moths. And not only expressions of welcome, but each
with some perfect little plan of its own to make this insect guest the
bearer of its pollen to the stigma of another flower of the same
species. And how endless are the plans and devices to insure this
beautiful scheme! Some flowers make it certain by keeping the stigma
closed tight until all its pollen is shed; others place the anther so
far away from the stigma as to make pollen contact impossible; others
actually imprison these pollen-bringing insects until they can send
them away with fresh pollen all over their bodies.

Take almost any flower we chance to meet, and it will show us a
mystery of form which the insect alone can explain.

Here is one, growing just outside my door--a blossom "known" even to
every child, and certainly to every reader of the "Round Table"--the
pretty bluets, or Houstonia, whose galaxy of white or blue stars tints
whole spring meadows like a light snowfall. We have "known" it all
our lives. Perhaps we may have chanced to observe that the flowers are
not all constructed alike, but the chances are that we have _seen_
them _all our lives_ without discovering this fact. If we pluck a few
from this dense cluster beside the path, we observe that the throat of
each is swollen larger than the tube beneath, and is almost closed by
four tiny yellow anthers (Fig. 1). The next and the next clump may
show us similar flowers; but after a little search we are sure of
finding a cluster in which a new form appears, as shown in Fig. 2, in
which the anthers at the opening are missing, and their place supplied
with a little forked stigma! The tube below is larger than the first
flower for about two-thirds its length, when it suddenly contracts,
and if we cut it open we find the four anthers secreted near the wide
base of the tube. What does it mean, this riddle of the bluets? For
hundreds of years it puzzled the early botanists, only finally to be
solved by Darwin. This is simply the little plan which the Houstonia
has perfected to insure its cross-fertilization by an insect, to
compel an insect to carry its pollen from one flower and deposit it
upon the stigma of another. Once realizing this as the secret, we can
readily see how perfectly the intention is fulfilled.

In order to make it clear I have drawn a progressive series of
pictures which hardly require description. The flowers are visited
by small bees, butterflies, and other insects. At the left is an
insect just alighting on a clump of the blossoms of the high-anther
form indicated below it. The black probe represents the insect's
tongue, which, as it seeks the nectar at the bottom of the tube, gets
dusted at its thickened top with the pollen from the anthers. We next
see the insect flying away, the probe beneath indicating the condition
of its tongue. It next alights on clump No. 2, in which the flowers
happen to be of the high-stigma form, as shown below. The tongue now
being inserted, brings the pollen against the high stigma, and
fertilizes the flower, while at the same time its tip comes in contact
with the low anthers, and gets pollen from them. We next see the
insect flying to clump No. 3, the condition of its tongue being shown
below. Clump No. 3 happens to be of the first low-stigma form of
flowers, and as the tongue is inserted the pollen at its tip is
carried directly to the low stigma, and _this_ flower is fertilized
from the pollen from the anthers on the same level in the previous
flower. And thus the riddle is solved by the insect. From clump to
clump he flies, and through his help each one of the pale blue blooms
is sure to get its food, each flower fertilized by the pollen of

[Illustration: 1st Clump.--Flower enlarged. Insect's Tongue inserted.

Pollen high on Insect's Tongue after withdrawal from Blossom.

2d Clump.--Flower enlarged. Pollen thrust against high Stigma at top
and touching Pollen below.

Pollen at Base of Insect's Tongue after withdrawal from Blossom.

3d Clump.--Flower enlarged. Pollen thrust against low Stigma.]

Another beautiful provision is seen in the difference in size of the
pollen-grain of the two flowers, those of the high anthers being much
larger than those from the lower anthers. These larger grains are
intended for the high stigma, which they are sure of reaching, while
those of smaller size, on the top of the tongue, which should happen
to be wiped off on the high stigma, are too small to be effective for

Luck In Clovers

Under one guise or another the fickle goddess Fortuna would seem to
have established her infallible interpreters or mediators. The
lovelorn maiden with the daisy, its petals falling beneath her
questioning finger-tips to the alternate refrain, "He loves me. He
loves me not," is a sacrificial episode in the life of the daisy
wherever it grows.

The still younger maiden with her dandelion ball, whose feathered
parachutes must be dislodged upon the breeze with three puffs from her
little puckered mouth, with all sorts of fate depending upon the odd
or even number of the remnant seeds, is as universal as the dandelion
itself, while the more homely symbols of wish-bone, horseshoe, or
horsechestnut, as we all know, are proverbially potent as personal or
household charms against ill luck. I once knew a shrewd countryman who
gave all the credit of his success in "tradin'" to the "hoss-chestnut"
which he carried in his pocket, and would as soon think of throwing
his money away as to "drive a trade" without it. More than one old
"down-East" dame "sets gre't store" by the horseshoe hung above her
doorway, always secured ends up, "so's the luck can't run out." Then
there was old Aunt Huldy, who, while she claimed to locate springs and
wells the country round by her witch-hazel divining-rod, never
ventured upon these expeditions without the concealed necklace of
dried star puff-balls hung about her neck.

But perhaps the most universal of all these natural symbols of
good-fortune is to be found in the four-leaved clover, almost a
world-wide superstition, and traced back to the ancient astrologers.
"If a man, walking the fields," writes one of them, "finds any
four-leaved grasse, he shall in a short while after finde some good

The clover was considered as being especially "noisome to witches,"
and the "holy trefoil charm" was a powerful spell against their
harm; the "trefoil" being the most widely used title of the
clover--_Trifolium_, as it is in the botany--three leaved. And such it
_should_ be, to be true to its christening. But it frequently takes
exception to the botany and gives us an extra leaf, and thus we have
our "four-leaved clover," a rarity which many of us, seek as we will,
have never yet been able to discover in its native haunt, even though
a whole handful of them are plucked here and there before our eyes by
our more favored companions. Indeed, there are some lucky folk who
seem literally to stumble upon "four-leaved grasse" wherever they
go--who, having found one leaf, will sit down quietly in the grass and
ere long accumulate a bouquet.

Yes, here's the secret: It is not your eager gadding quest that gets
your four-leaved clover. Nor is it all a matter of "sharp eyes." There
is a "knack" about finding four-leaved clover, and this very knack of
the so-called "lucky ones," implying as it does the operation of
quest, observation, and common-sense, would logically argue a
corresponding fulfilment of success in the affairs of daily life. For
the observant clover-hunter, if his mind and eye work together, soon
learns that the "four-leaved" variety is fond of company, and that the
whim of the plant which thus produces one such leaf is very apt to be
humored in several others. Thus, having discerned _one_ four-leaved
clover, we assume a _tendency_ in the parent plant, which further
search often discloses, sometimes to our great surprise, and, if we
are as superstitious as our antique philosopher above quoted, to our
unbounded satisfaction. If, for instance, this one extra leaflet
brings such assurance of "good things" to come, what shall be said of
a leaf with five or six leaflets--yes, seven, or perhaps eight--I
might even add nine--a veritable little green rose of clover leaves,
all on one stem, a stem which is sometimes plainly composite, of two
or three adherent stems? All of these exuberant forms are to be found
with diligent search, and often in the same close vicinity. Nor are
these all the varied freaks which the plant will disclose for the
seeking. Perhaps you may chance upon that four-leaved variety in which
the extra leaflet stands upright in the midst of the three, and is
transformed into a tapering cup. These elfin goblets are not
exceedingly rare. Occasionally we may chance to find two of these
supported by one or two perfect leaflets at the base. Or, if we are
especially fortunate, our "good health" may be offered in three of the
tiny beakers, not mere _apparent_ cups, but with the edges of the
goblets completely united, and which might be filled to the brim with

A collection of the natural whims of the clover, both red and white,
would make an interesting leaflet in our herbarium. In the hands of
the floriculturist who should cultivate these eccentricities most
remarkable varieties of clover might ensue. Fancy a clover plant with
every leaf a cluster of tiny cups, or of leaves so doubled as to
appear like green roses! Here is a chance for our boys and girls to
experiment, and without much real labor, too. Both the red and white
clovers are perennial--that is, they come up year after year from the
same root. A plant which this year favors the "four-leaf" will
doubtless follow the same example next year, and the seed from its
flowers might also inherit and transmit the same peculiarity,
possibly in an exaggerated degree; and careful selection from year to
year, keeping the plants in a corner by themselves, might lead to some
interesting results, especially if the tendency were further
stimulated by enrichment of soil, to which the clover responds

My experience with "clover luck" has been considerable. I believe I
have found almost every possible eccentric combination of which the
plant is naturally capable, a few of which I have here pictured.

My best success has been met in the "rowen" fields, or the growth
after mowing, the energy of the plant, thus pruned as it were in its
prime, finding immediate expression in an exuberance of luxuriant
foliage, which, I think, inclines to a multiplication of leaves. I
once sat down beside such a clump upon which I had discovered a single
"four-leaf," and by dint of plucking and examining every leaf in the
cluster, succeeded in obtaining thirty-nine specimens. "Why not make
it forty while you are about it?" a friend of mine recently remarked,
with evident incredulity. Well, I _tried_ to, but after grubbing up
the last embryo leaf at the ground, thirty-nine was my limit--all from
one plant. The collection might be subdivided as follows: Four leaves,
22; five leaves, 7; six leaves, 3; seven leaves, 1; nine leaves, 1;
cups and leaves, various, 5.

At another time I spied a single five-leaved in a dense bed of rowen
clover at the road-side, and seating myself close beside it,
calculating on this habit of the plant, I vowed I would not get up
until I had collected forty multiple leaves. I soon obtained more than
this number.

The clover-leaf quest is a good eye-sharpener. Which of our boys can
show us the best record?

I wonder if any of my young readers have ever seen how the clover says
its prayers and goes to sleep, with its two side leaflets folded
together like reverent palms, and the terminal leaflet bowed above
them? So the normal leaf spends the night in the dews. I often wonder
what arrangement of adjustment is arrived at when so many leaflets
conspire to confuse.

My clover-hunting has been confined to the red and white clovers, both
species having common tendencies. In the red, the leaves being
larger, the freaks are more conspicuous, but the cup forms seem more
commonly identified with the white clover.

Barberry Manners

One who is unfamiliar with the remarkable doings of blossoms in
association with their insect honey-sippers might consider it somewhat
surprising to attribute "manners" to a flower. But who that has seen
the sage-blossom clap its bee visitor on the back as she ushers him in
at the threshold of her purple door, marking him for her own with her
dab of yellow pollen as she almost pushes him into the nectar feast
within; who that has witnessed the almost roguish demonstration which
the tiny andromeda-bell extends to the sipping bee at its doorway--who
that has seen these can any longer doubt that blossoms have "manners"
as well as we bigger, more conscious beings? Yes, manners,
unquestionably--"bad manners," it would almost seem, in some
instances, as, for example, in this andromeda blossom-bell, which, in
its perfume and its nectar, deliberately invites the tiny _Andrena_
bee, only to deluge its little, black, hairy face with a smothering
shower of dusty pollen. A remarkable style of etiquette, surely, that
is, from our _human_ standpoint. But in the realm of Flora the
standards of decorum, so far as greeting is concerned, are not
governed by artificial whim. There is no "smart set" to dictate and
set the fashion for others less smart to follow. Each individual
flower is a law unto itself as to the method of its greeting to its
especial insect friend. The blossom etiquette of welcome is literally
as "old as the hills," and has come down with little change from an
ancestry which dates back perhaps to a period when there were no human
"ancestors" on the globe. So these "manners" are natural and original,
to say the least, even if they are so queer sometimes. What would you
think of a friend whose hospitable smile and welcome at his doorway
should invite you thither only that your foot might touch a trigger
and let fall the floor beneath you, while at the same time you are
half suffocated with an explosion of a bushel of yellow corn meal? Yet
such is something like the spectacular reception which the lotus
clover, the desmodium, and the genista flowers consider the most
expressive form of welcome. But the little bees seem to enjoy it, and
go again and again to each successive flower, well knowing what the
result will be, and apparently "touching off the trigger" without a
tremor, or even holding their breath. But they and their foreparents
for thousands of years have got accustomed to it, and I half imagine
that the baby bee, even in his first visit to one of these blossoms,
knows precisely what will happen. Pop! pop! go the exploding flowers,
one after the other, at each touch of the bee, throwing up a cloud of
yellow pollen which covers the bodies of the insects until they are as
dusty as little millers.

There is an endless variety in these various welcomes among the
flowers, and our barberry has one of the queerest of them all. Poets
of all ages have loved to dwell upon the flowers--their "swete smels,"
exquisite forms, fragrance, and colors. The droning bees in an
environment of fragrant bloom have moved many a poetic pen to
inspiration. But it is not often that the bards have seen deep enough
into the floral mysteries to immortalize the _doings_ of the blossoms.

I recall one such allusion, however, with reference to this
mischievous blossom of the barberry. How well old Hosea Biglow knew
its pranks!

    "All down the loose-walled lanes in archin' bowers
    The barb'ry droops its strings o' golden flowers,
    Whose shrinkin' hearts the school-gals love to try
    With _pins_. They'll worry yourn so, boys, bime-by."

Those "shrinkin' hearts" of the barberry blossom, so long the wonder
and amusement of children, including many children of adult growth,
have, so far as I know, herein found their first and only
historian--historian, but not interpreter. For Hosea Biglow, nor his
literary parent, James Russell Lowell, never dreamed of the
significance of this strange spectacle in the shrinkin' hearts of the
barberry bloom when surprised with the point of a pin.

But the bee can tell us all about it. He has known this singular trick
in the barberry for ages, and kept the secret all to himself. Only
comparatively recently (1859 or thereabouts) did the secret leak out,
when Darwin, by the previous hints of several other philosophers,
discovered the key which unlocked the mystery of this as well as
thousands of other similar riddles among the flowers.

These strange "manners" of the blossoms had then a deep vital
principle at their base. They had not _always_ been thus, but had
gradually, through long ages of time, changed and modified their
shapes, colors, odors, nectar, and their manners for one purpose--_to
insure_ their pollen being conveyed away upon the bodies of insects
and carried to a _second_ flower, and there placed upon the stigma to
insure fertilization and development of the seed.

[Illustration: "In archin' bowers"]

The plans, devices, tricks, and pranks by which flowers accomplish
this result are past belief. I have indicated only a few by way of a
hint, and in previous papers on the bluebottle and figwort have
described others, but none quite similar to the barberry.

[Illustration: Fig. 1]

We all know the barberry, the prickly, thorny barberry, whether with
its "strings o' golden flowers" or its drooping clusters of brilliant
scarlet acid berries. But each one of those berries is but a token of
a bee's visit, as we shall presently see. At Fig. 1 I have shown a
plan of the barberry blossom seen from below, its yellow sepals and
petals open, and opposite each of the inner set, and pressed against
it, a stamen. This stamen is shown below in three stages--closed,
partly open, and fully open--the queer little ear-shaped lids finally
drawn up, showing the pollen-pockets, and also withdrawing a portion
of the pollen from the cavity. At the centre is seen the circular tip
of the ovary which finally becomes the berry--that is, when the little
scheme here planned has been fulfilled. This circular form represents
the tip of the ovary, and the little toothed rim the _stigma_. Now
what is the intention here expressed? This construction represents a
plan, first, to invite a bee--this is done by its color, its
fragrance, and its nectar, which is secreted in a gland at the base of
each petal, near the centre of the flower; secondly, to make that bee
bear away the pollen; thirdly, to cause that same bee to place this
pollen on the stigma rim of the next flower he visits. In Fig. 2 we
see how beautifully this plan is carried out by the insect, without
his suspecting how perfectly he has been utilized. At A we see the
same flower cut open sideways, the waiting, expectant stamens tucked
away at the sides, leaving a free opening to the base of the flower.
Now comes our bee. He must needs hang back downward to sip at the
drooping flower. As his tongue enters, and finally touches the base of
these stamens, _clap_! they come one after another against his tongue
and face, and there deposit their load of pollen (B). The bee, who has
doubtless got over his surprise at this demonstration--if, indeed, he
ever had any--now flies to another blossom, perhaps on the same
cluster (C). Entering it as before, the notched edge of the stigmatic
rim comes in contact with the pollen on his tongue and face,
and the flower is thus fertilized by pollen from another barberry
blossom, the intention of the flower now perfectly realized in

[Illustration: Fig. 2]

The seeds from _cross_-fertilized flowers are almost invariably more
vigorous, and thus yield more vigorous plants, than those of flowers
fertilized with their own _pollen_, and this is why most flowers have
necessarily developed some means by which cross-fertilization can be
secured. And this has been done through evolution working on the lines
of _natural_ selection, those seedlings which had originally happened,
by a variation in the flower, to be thus favored by some chance
peculiarity which insured cross-fertilization, winning in the struggle
with the previous weaker individuals, and finally supplanting them

A Woolly Flock

Hardly a season passes without my being in receipt of one or more
inquiries, personal or by letter, concerning this snowy brood which
haunts the alders in the swamp or along the road-side, and which
envelops the smaller branches in its dense, feathery fringe. It is
often one of the most frequent and conspicuous incidents in a country
walk during its season, and its season ranges from its height in early
summer until the frost. And yet how few there are, even of those,
perhaps, who pass it every day, who have any definite idea of its

I know one rustic who claimed that it was "dry-rot," or a "speeshy of
mould"; but the woolly phenomenon is commonly dismissed by the rural
mind with the observation that it is "bugs of some sort." In this
case the haphazard verdict happens to be the literal truth, though the
speaker little suspects how closely he has discriminated. But his
present skill is easily accounted for when we remember that only
yesterday he had a great deal to say about "June-bugs" and
"lightning-bugs." He will tell you all about "lady-bugs," too, and
"rose-bugs," and "horn-bugs," and "pinch-bugs"--and has he not often
given his strong opinion on "potato-bugs"?--not one of which insects
is in the least entitled to the name of "bug." Only this very morning
he asked me if I was "as fond of goin' buggin' as I used to be." But
to the granger laity the entomologist is always a "bug-hunter," even
though no single species of a bug is to be found in his entire insect

What, then, is a bug, and why is the discrimination of "bugs of some
sort" so truly applicable to this brood with the snowy wool which
grows upon the alder twigs?

The term "bug" has almost become a popular synonym for "insect." All
bugs _are_ insects, 'tis true, but it by no means follows that all
insects are bugs. The "squash-bug" is almost the only insect that is
known by its true title in the popular vocabulary, for this disgusting
insect is in truth a typical bug.

But who would ever think of calling the whizzing harvest-fly a "bug?"
Rather will they persist that he is a "locust," which he is not. He
should be called the cicada. The "grasshopper" of the fields is the
true locust, whose swarms of certain species in the Orient have so
often shut out the sun, and whose voracious feeding has laid waste
whole square miles of vegetation in a single night.

But such a swarm of locusts as we read of in Scripture, and frequently
in the history of modern times and in our own country, would be
comparatively tame and merely amusing affairs were they composed of
our so-called "locust"--he of the whizzing timbrel in the sultry
August noon. For this insect has no teeth, and could not bite a blade
of grass if it wanted to. And herein we see one of the peculiarities
which constitute him a "bug," and which also includes in the same
company our woolly swarm upon the alder twigs. In place of teeth these
insects are supplied with a beak for sucking the juices of plants. If
we carefully examine the dense snowy mass we find it composed of small
tufts closely crowded together, each tuft being borne upon the plump
body of a small insect whose beak is deeply sunk into the tender bark.

I have separated one of the little creatures, and furnished his
portrait as he appears when viewed through a magnifying-glass, only
the lower portion of his body being covered with the wool, his head
and legs being usually concealed beneath the pluming growth of his
neighbors. This feathery growth seems of the most delicate
consistency--in truth, more suggestive of white "mould" than any other
natural substance, and seems to proceed from pores in the plump body
beneath it. The slightest breath wafts the cobwebby tips of the
fringe, and the least rude touch easily dislodges it, exposing the
round, naked body of what is now clearly seen to be an aphis, or
plant-louse, which nature, for some reason, has seen fit to clothe
with swan's-down.

In early June the white down first appears on the alders in tiny
patches here and there. This gradually extends down the stem, at
length, perhaps, completely encircling it, and thus remaining for
weeks, the full-grown aphis at last attaining a length of about
three-sixteenths of an inch.

A similar brood is sometimes seen in profusion on beech-trees and also
on the apple-tree. But if we imagine that because these insects are
without teeth they are therefore harmless, we are greatly mistaken.
What they lack in individual effect they fully compensate for in
numbers, and the combined attack of a girdle of thousands of these
sucking beaks, for weeks absorbing the sap, may often result in the
death of the branch beyond them.

Dr. Harris, in his admirable work on "Insects Injurious to
Vegetation," tells us that "in Gloucestershire, England, so many
apple-trees were destroyed by these lice in the year 1810 that the
making of cider had to be abandoned. So infested were many of the
trees that they seemed, at a short distance, as if they had been

Other insects, such as the flea and the mosquito, are also possessed
of similar "beaks for sucking," but neither of these examples is a
bug, both being _flies_--the flea merely a wingless fly with
wonderfully developed legs. Our entomology tells us that a bug is a
member of the _Hemiptera_, meaning "half-winged;" the wings of the
typical bug, like the squash-bug, being transparent for only about
half their length. But as in the flea among flies, here we find
myriads of true bugs without a vestige of wings, and others, like the
cicada, with ample wings as clear and free from opacity as those of a
fly. It would take more space than I have at disposal to tell
precisely what a bug really is entomologically, such a diversity of
forms is presented in the family. But the sucking beak, and the fact
that the average bug is _born_ a bug from the egg, instead of going
through the usual transformation of larva, chrysalis, and imago, will
have to suffice us for the present. Here, for instance, is the great
sub-tribe of the aphis, to which our woolly specimen belongs. What is
their life history? The eggs of the mother aphis are laid in the
autumn, giving birth to the baby swarm in the following spring. In an
almost incredible time they have multiplied to such an extent that the
twigs of our roses and many other plants are lost to view in the
encircling swarm. The secret of this wonderful arithmetical
progression may be seen in the following quotation, which applies to
aphides in general:

"The plant-louse of the apple-tree produces one hundred young ones in
a single generation, these being born alive, and each of these brings
forth others in equal number, until, at the end of the tenth
generation, which is reached before the coming of frost, the original
aphis has become the mother of one quintillion of her species."

But up to this time nearly all the aphides have been females; in the
last generation the winged males appear, and are seen assembled among
the swarm--the last mother brood laying the eggs which are to start
anew the cycle of life the following season.

So far as I have observed, however, the woolly species of aphis never
acquires wings, nature having in a measure compensated for their
absence in the growth of plumy down, which, according to Harris, is
so buoyant as to enable the insect to be borne upon the breeze from
tree to tree. To this resource he attributes the spread of the
wingless apple-lice species. But it would take a stiff breeze thus to
waft the body of our plump dweller on the alder, unless, indeed, in
his younger days.

"What Ails Him"

On a certain afternoon last August, having just completed a
particularly laborious work upon which I had long been engaged, and
with my mind naturally inclined towards relaxation in my plans for the
morrow's labors, my eye instinctively sought a certain note-book upon
my table. It was a note-book containing memoranda on a wide variety of
Nature topics, but presented in a particular place a choice, selected
list of topics under the title of "Young People." A large number of
these memoranda were crossed off with a pencil line, which told me
that these particular topics had already served their purpose, were
sufficiently elaborated in the columns of the "Young People," and were
now safely preserved between the covers of my book "Sharp Eyes."

But what an array of items were still left from the winnowing, which
had after all culled only a few of the best! Indeed, it was hard to
decide which should be selected as the subject for the morrow. Let's
see; shall it be those travelling underground buds of the Clintonia,
with all their leaves and flowers ready for next spring? No, I must
wait a little for these a month later and they will be more mature,
and I must make my drawing from nature. Then there is that queer blue
oil beetle, with his queerer history; that slender-waisted wasp that
digs its deep hole in the dirt, and those round holes in the path,
with their mysterious hocus-pocus.

Yes, it shall be these, the magic holes that disappear as you
cautiously look at them, or suddenly start into view as you
approach--deep holes, the diameter of a slate-pencil, with apparently
nothing in them, but which in reality have a good deal of mischief at
the bottom of them or at the top of them, as it happens. "Ant holes,"
most people call them. Many an ant, doubtless, goes into them, but not
because he wants to. "Yes," I thought, "my next chapter shall be
devoted to these queer holes and their shy tenants, which so few
people ever see or even dream of."

Having thus decided, I closed my note-book, but the experience of the
next few minutes quite reversed my plans, and led to the completion of
an entirely different article, or the pictures for it at least, on the
same afternoon, without awaiting the morrow.

I had barely closed the note-book when, chancing to glance out of my
studio window, I observed a well-known neighbor, a thrifty, retired
granger and carpenter, approaching across lots. His house stood out
against the sky at the crest of the slope, about a furlong distant,
above my studio, and he had perhaps reached half-way to my window
before I had observed him. Something in his walk, his somewhat
accelerated pace and evident preoccupied mood, as well as a peculiar
position of his extended right hand, foretold that some unusual errand
had turned his steps hitherward. With considerable curiosity I
endeavored to detect at a distance the specimen which he was bringing,
well knowing from experience that I should soon recognize an old
friend, which for sixty years had somehow managed to escape the notice
of its new discoverer.

Half across the meadow I now observed that he held a leaf in his
outstretched hand, and now I clearly noted that it was a compound
leaf, and in another second I knew it all. For was it not a leaf of
the Virginia-creeper or woodbine? and how many before him have
marvelled at that strange exhibition among the woodbine leaves which
had now probably met his eyes for the first time? In another moment he
was at the piazza stoop, and now he appears at the studio door. Eager
anticipation and shortness of breath were equally manifest as he
approached my easel and, with his right hand still outstretched
towards me, exclaimed, "Well, what ails _him_?" at the same time
laying down before me the mysterious specimen. It was a leaf of the
woodbine, bearing along its stem a cylindrical mass of what appeared
to be tiny, oblong, white eggs, all set on end, and so densely packed
that but for the head and tail of the shrunken, green caterpillar
which appeared at the two extremities of the mass no one would have
guessed their origin. "What ails him?"

"I was sitting on my porch," continued my puzzled visitor, "and saw
the white thing among the leaves, and took a closer look at it, and
found it was this. I never saw anything like it before, and I thought
perhaps you hadn't either, or, at least, that if you had you could
tell me something about it. What ails him, anyhow?"

The story was simply told, and my readers who have followed my
articles already know what the story is. We remember the strange
history of those little, puzzling cocoon clusters on a grass stem,
those "bewitched cocoons" which gave birth to swarms of tiny wasps
instead of moths, and we realize that here is more of the same sort of
mischief, all of which I explained to my good neighbor, to his
astonishment. How a few weeks since, when our caterpillar was much
smaller than now, a tiny, black midget hovered about him, and, in
spite of all his wriggling and squirming, stung him again and again,
each time inserting within his body its tiny eggs. Perhaps, and
probably in this case, from the number of the white tokens, more than
one of the flies took a turn at the unlucky victim, for he certainly
seems to have got more than his share.

"These eggs thus inserted beneath the skin of the caterpillar," I
explained, "soon hatched into minute white grubs, which immediately
fastened themselves upon the tissues within the caterpillar's body,
and he is now obliged to eat for the whole family, which he continues
to do without any outward signs of inconvenience or protest, which, of
course, would be useless. I fancy he must have frequent attacks of
that 'all-gone' feeling that we hear so much about in dyspeptic
people, but if he does he gives no hint of it by his looks, as he
devours one leaf after another along the stem, and displays his plump
proportions with evident pride--like the whole tribe of horny-tailed
'sphinx' caterpillars to which he belongs.

"But a few days ago he had a sudden and terrible experience. He had
begun to think of retiring down among the dried leaves on the ground
and spinning a cocoon, and there were bright visions of a future life
filling his little green head--visions of a life on wings, as quick as
thought, in an atmosphere of twilight and fragrance, and all manner of
sweet indulgences. But his beautiful dream was interrupted, and
probably will remain only as a dream. At one moment we see him in his
prime, a perfect specimen for the 'bug-hunter' who is after the larva
of _Choerocampa pampinatrix_. In ten minutes we look at him again:
we find his body shrunken and covered with minute white grubs, all
standing on their tails, which are still imbedded in his body; here
one barely emerged; here another half enshrouded in a gauzy cocoon;
others with their bodies bent into loops weaving the webby gauze
about them, while a few hours hence all are concealed, as we see them
now, in the completed long, oval, white cocoons which still remain
attached to his body."

"Well," remarked my listener, "I guess he feels pretty sick; if he
don't, I vow I feel sick for him. I knew something awful ailed him,
but didn't know what. I thought the things were eggs. What's the good
of it all, anyhow? What do the cocoons turn into?"

I have wished more than once that my friend could have been in my
studio the day following his visit, in order to have witnessed the
ocular answer to his last question. It was evident that his
caterpillar specimen might have been discovered with its load of
cocoons a fortnight ago, for in the morning, upon opening the box in
which I had placed him, a number of tiny black flies flew out, and
several of the white cocoons were open at the end, their dainty hinged
lids thrown back. Here is one with its black midge just creeping out;
others with the tiny imp peeping through the fine crevice; others with
the lid still tightly closed, but with its juncture disclosing more
distinctly every moment the knavery of the busy teeth within. One by
one the silken lids popped up, and out flew the mischievous
jack-in-the-box until within the space of a few hours every cocoon was
empty. So this is "what ailed him." He has been the victim of the
parasitic fly known as _microgaster_.

But even now that his mortal enemies have left him, I fancy he is past
encouragement or salvation. What will become of him? In his particular
case he continued to dwindle and soon died, though in other instances
I have known him to recover and reach the chrysalis stage, to complete
his transformation into a beautiful olive and red sphinx-moth.

The Cicada's Last Song

Under the popular name of "locust," our cicada, or harvest-fly, has
long enjoyed the reputation as our chief insect musician, vying with
the katydid in the volume of its song. We all know its long, whizzing
crescendo in the sultry summer days. But let us call things by their
right names. This buzzing musician is _not_ a _locust_; it is a
_cicada_. The true locust is what we ordinarily call a grasshopper,
that "high-elbowed grig" of the meadows, so generous with his
"molasses," and with such a vigorous kick. He, too, is a musician in a
modest way--a fiddler, carrying his "fiddle" on the edge of his
folded wing covers, against which he gently grinds out faint, squeaky
music, using his thigh-joint as a fiddle-bow. His single efforts are
barely audible, but multiplied ten-thousandfold in his great field
orchestra, becomes a murmur which may be distinctly heard, and which
no doubt all of us have heard without a suspicion as to its source. It
is a part of the great musical symphony of the harvest-fields, a
roundel sustained and prolonged by the hum of bees and the buzzing of
innumerable flies, and the sprightly notes of crickets, attuned to the
soft murmur of breeze-blown grass. This meadow music is perceptible to
any one who cares to listen for it, but it is rarely noticed. What we
call the "quiet" country life, or "the quiet summer noon" of the poet,
is a misnomer.

The contrast, to the observant ear, between the meadow in a hot July
noon and the same meadow on a following cool and overcast day would be
remarkable could we but compare the two conditions during the same
moment of time. Even a cloud shadow passing over a "quiet" meadow will
often suddenly reveal to us how _noisy_ it really was but a moment
before. But the harsh timbrel of the cicada is not a part of this
"quiet" music. He is no retiring fiddler hiding somewhere among the
grass-blades. His note rings out high above the meadow chorus, and he
always gets the credit as the chief soloist, and we say, "Hark! there's
a 'locust,'" when we ought to know better. Let us try and straighten
out this confusion of terms, and let the younger generation at least
begin the reform that shall eventually set matters right and correct
this wide-spread popular error.

Our cicada belongs to quite another family of insects. Instead of jaws
for biting, as our fiddling "grasshopper," the cicada has only a long
"beak for sucking," and this feature alone connects him with the tribe
of "bugs." Moreover, his methods of music-making are very different
from those of the "grasshopper" tribe. It is the male only that makes
the music, and his instrument is a drum. He carries two of these
inclosed within his body, the opening of each being covered beneath by
a broad plate, which is easily seen on the under surface of the body.
Deep within lies the "drum," and the hard and hollow body of the
insect acts as a resonator or sounding-board. This drummer does not
use his legs as drum-sticks, as might be supposed, his drum being
vibrated by twitching muscles and cords.

The method by which the sound is produced may be illustrated by a
simple experiment. Take a small piece of stiff, sized writing-paper or
smooth Manilla paper, and by pressure with some rounded blunt
instrument produce a slight hollow or blister upon its surface. Upon
pressure from either side this blister will be found to "snap," and
could we but repeat the operation with great rapidity, a continuous
sound would result. The toy called the "telegraph ticker" is made on
this principle, the blister being made on a strip of steel, and the
click produced by pressure upon its top, the elasticity of the metal
bringing it back to its original position of rest, and each motion
accompanied by a snap as the blister changes sides. Indeed, we need
look no further than the bottom of almost any well-ordered tin pan for
a complete illustration of this principle. So our cicada is a drummer,
and his favorite tune is a "roll-call," the beats following each other
with such rapidity as to form a tone. All through the summer we hear
his strain. Even at this moment, as I write, a very long-winded
specimen is tuning up in the tree just outside my studio window, and I
am almost moved to give him some good advice. Have a care, my noisy
minstrel. If it were I alone who were within ear-shot of your noise
all might be well with you, but there are others near by to whom your
music hath charms. Have a care! Only a moment ago I heard an ominous
hum on my piazza, and upon investigation discovered a huge sand-hornet
prying about the premises. He knows what he is looking for, and so
ought you, if your parents have done their duty by you. Hereditary
instinct at least ought to teach you that your drum should play second
fiddle to that hornet's humming music. I remember once being the
witness of the sad fate of an ancestor of yours who drummed not wisely
but too well. He was monopolizing the neighborhood, just as you are
doing now, when I noticed his principal effort was suddenly cut short
in the middle in a most unusual manner. If he had been a singer I
would have supposed some rival had clapped a hand over his mouth, so
suddenly was the song abbreviated. In another moment there was a
rustling among the leaves, as something fell from the tree in his
immediate neighborhood. Down, down it dropped, its passage to the
ground accompanied by one or two short, sharp, spasmodic tattoos on
that same noisy drum. The object fell among some rocks, but before I
could reach the spot the humming sound of a sand-hornet greeted my
ears, and in a moment more the insect took flight directly across my
path, and, what was more, he was not alone. Would you know who
accompanied him? Look then on the picture on page 252, and have a
care, my noisy friend, for the lineal descendant of that sand-hornet
now hovers outside my doorway. He has a grudge against your tribe, and
he is even now on your scent. Perhaps you may be interested to know
what the hornet did with that rash ancestor of yours. Well, I will
tell you, for your own good. Guided by his noisy demonstration, the
hornet spied him on his twig, and in a second had pounced upon him
and, like a highwayman, stabbed him to the heart with a poisoned
javelin. This cut short his song, as you may well suppose, and he fell
in the grasp of his assailant. In another moment the hornet got a
fresh hold upon him, and though your ancestor, like yourself, was much
bigger than the hornet, those powerful, buzzing wings made an easy
burden of him for quite a distance across the meadow. Here our captor
took a rest, and after tugging that helpless cicada some distance up a
high fence-rail, started off on another flight, which was brought to
an end in the grass at the foot of a tree. In a moment more the hornet
was seen tugging its huge load up the trunk. When some ten feet in
height a third flight was made, this time gradually settling down on
the roof of a shed down-hill. Tugging his game to the edge of the shed
roof, a fourth trip was made, and this landed the two in the
neighborhood of a sand bank at the roadside in the valley below.

A sand bank of some sort is usually the terminus of this strange ride
of the cicada. Thus far many curious observers have followed the two,
and wondered what it was all about. If they had cared to follow the
matter to the end, they would doubtless have wondered still more at
the strange fate which awaited the unlucky harvest-fly, whose last
song had been his own requiem. The sand-hornet is also known as the
"digger-wasp," the largest of its kind, the most formidable of all our
hornets, and carrying within its black, yellow-spotted body a most
searching and terrible poisoned sting. It was a common belief in
ancient times that "seventeen pricks of a hornet" would "kill a man,"
to quote from Pliny; and there are many country people to-day who
would as quickly attack a rattlesnake as this big sand-hornet, and who
"absolutely know" of men who have been "knocked down" and even
"killed" by one stab of its sting. However this may be, it is well to
keep at a respectful distance. When we know what the little
yellow-jacket can do with its tiny dagger, and then reflect that this
sand-hornet's javelin is about a third of an inch long, we can draw
our own conclusions, and will readily understand why it was that our
cicada's song was cut short. "But why didn't the hornet eat him on the
spot? Why should it fly away with him and yank him about so
unmercifully?" This is a common question with those who have observed
the episode above described. A visit to the sand bank would have
explained the object of it all. The exposed surface is seen to be
perforated here and there with holes as large as one's little finger,
while from one of them an occasional tiny stream of sand pours out,
and we catch a glimpse of the horny, spiked legs of the digger-wasp
within. Even as we observe him closely a loud hum is heard, and a
filmy, buzzing object falls precipitately upon the bank, and in the
jumble of wings and black bodies we now distinguish our hornet and
cicada, which only a moment before had started from the edge of the
shed roof above. The cicada is apparently dead, and is now an easy
prey as the wasp lugs him to the mouth of one of the burrows, and
soon disappears in its depths.

Further than this few have followed the couple. But Professor C. V.
Riley, our government entomologist, has unearthed the entire mystery,
and eye-witnessed the fate of our cicada, and I am thus enabled to
picture the rest of the tragedy. What now follows is very similar to
what I described in a previous paper concerning the mud-wasp nest
packed with its dead spiders. Our cicada is not dead--more's the pity.
The thrust of the sting has only paralyzed the insect, in order that
the young of the hornet may be provided with _living_ food. From the
opening of the tunnel in the sand our harvest-fly was lugged a
distance of about six inches, when the tunnel branched in various
directions. Down a branch for about eight inches more, and his journey
terminated in a dungeon, where his career was doomed to end. Doubtless
each of the other branches held one or two similar prisoners, for the
cicada is the favorite prey of this particular wasp. Once arrived at
the dungeon, the hornet deposits an egg upon its victim, and leaves
him in its charge. In a few days it hatches into a larva with such a
voracious appetite that within a week it has devoured the contents of
the cicada's shell and reached its full growth. It now incloses itself
within a silky cocoon, and after abiding the winter emerges at the
brim in the spring a full-fledged hornet, with its mouth watering at
the thought of cicadas.

What a strange wonder-working medicine is this which the hornet
carries in its laboratory! In the guise of death it yet prolongs life
indefinitely. The ordinary existence of the cicada, for instance, is
but a few weeks at most, and yet it is claimed by Mr. Riley that if
for any reason the egg of the wasp should fail to hatch, the paralyzed
cicada will remain in its condition of suspended animation for a year,
and presumably longer.

Here is a suggestion for the materia medica which may open up
immortal fame to the chemist of the future. What is this mysterious
essence which the wasp carries in its poniard? As Professor Riley
suggestively remarks, "If man could do what these wasps have done from
time immemorial, viz., preserve for an indefinite period the animals
they feed on by the simple insertion of some toxic fluid in the
tissues, he would be able to revolutionize the present methods of
shipping cattle and sheep, and obviate much of the cruelty which now
attends the transportation of live-stock and much of the expense
involved in cold storage."


    Acrid buttercup leaves, 10.

    Agaric, 142, 144.

    Alders, leaf-rolling beetles of, 233.

    _Amanita muscarius_, 142; print from, 143.

    American velvet plant, 25.

    _Andrena_ bee, 222.

    Andromeda-bell, its welcome to the bee, 221, 222.

    Aniline bath, 47.

    Aphides, 125, 126;
      pest of the rose-garden; plants and trees, 126;
      sucking the sap, 127;
      disappearance of a swarm, 128;
      all females; end of season males appear; wonderful multiplication
        of, 233, 236.

    Aphis lion (_Hemorobida_), 128, 129.

    _Aphrophora_, "spume-bearer," 89.

    Apple-trees bearing pumpkins and squashes, 192.

    _Aquilegia canadensis_, columbine, 46.

    Arachne, 106.

    Archippus. See Butterflies.

    _Argiope riparia_, ballooning or flying spiders, 120.

    Artists as interpreters of the beauty of the commonplace, 26.

    Asters, 110.

    _Attacus prometheus_, 75.

    Aurelius, 161.

    Balloon, the true, 118.

    Ballooning spiders (_Argiope riparia_), annual picnic of, 114;
      shooting of webs, 115;
      sailing out of sight; sending out broad bands from their
        spinnerets, 117;
      skilful handling, 118;
      making the balloon; the ascension; manner of alighting, 119.

    Baltimore oriole, 172.

    Banquet of beetles, 134.

    Barberry blossoms, shrinking hearts; strange manners, 224;
      an unsuspecting agent, 227.

    Bedegnar, sponge-gall, 43.

      bumble, 6, 91;
      honey, 7;
      yellow-jacket, 91;
      _Andrena_, 222.

      floundering, 1;
      tiger (_Cicindelidæ_), oil, 2;
      snapping (_Elater_), 20;
      perfumed (_Osmoderma scabei_), 133;
      blue oil, 239.

    Bellworts, 44.

    Bigelow, Hosea, quoted, 224.

    Billings, Josh, quoted, 92, 124.

    Birds'-nests, materials of:--
      milkweed bark, toad-skins, and snake-skins, 171, 172;
      twine and horse-hair, caterpillar-skins, 172;
      wool, dandelion seeds, 173;
      gray lichens and seeds, 177.

    Black-paper hornet, his bad reputation, 94;
      a tempting target; results of an attack on his house, 96;
      making themselves promiscuous; the stoical bachelor, 97;
      his discomfiture, 98;
      antics explained; his hiding-place revealed, 100;
      favorite hunting-ground, 101;
      occasional big game; life of; manner of laying eggs; several
        broods in a season, 102;
      number of tiers in a nest; winter the best time to examine nests,

    Black snake, 85.

    Blossom etiquette, 221, 222.

    Blue carnation, 46.

    Blue dahlia, 45.

    Blue oil beetle, 239.

    Blue pansies, 46.

    Blue rose, 45, 46.

    Blue tulip, 45.

    Bluets, _Houstonia_, 24, 208, 209.

    Boletus, 142.

    Bridge-building spiders, 104.

    Brooklyn Bridge, 104;
      "carrier" or "traveller" should have been called "spider," 105;
      Engineer Farrington crossing, 110.

    Brown screech-owl, 151.

    Browning, Robert, quoted, 26.

    "Bull's-eye" caterpillar, 156.

    Bumble-bee, 6, 91.

    Butterflies asleep at night, 168.

      Idalia (_Argynnis idalia_), Archippus (_Danais archippus_), yellow
        swallow-tails (_Papilio turnus_), 131;
      Red Admiral (_Vanessa atalanta_), 155, 158, 161;
      "comma" (_Vanessa comma_), 156, 161, 170;
      Atalanta (_Cynthia atalanta_), 158;
      semicolon (_Vanessa interrogationis_), 161.

    Canterbury bells, 42.

    Cardanus quoted, 93.

    Careless observation of nature, 185, 186.

    Carnation, blue, 46.

    Catbrier, 188.

      woolly-bear (_Arctiadæ_), 148;
      "bull's-eye" (_Saturnia io_), 156;
      sphinx (_Chærocampa panipenatrix_), 241.

    Cecropia, 156.

    Chinese pink, 73.

    Chipmonk, 153.

    Chrysalids, 161.

    Chrysanthemum, 86, 127.

    Cicada, 87, 246;
      his manner of feeding; how he differs from the grasshopper; the
        secret of his music, 250;
      his last song; borne off by his captor, 251;
      living food, 254;
      suspended animation, 255.

    _Clintonia_, 239.

    Clothes moth (_Tineidæ_), 170.

    Clover (_Trifolium_), four-leaved, 215;
      nine-leaved, found in groups, 216;
      possibilities of cultivation, 217;
      an exceptional find, 218, 219;
      saying its prayers, 219;
      lotus, 222.

    Cobweb showers, 114;
      blinding dogs interrupting sport, 114;
      flakes and rags of, 115;
      silken streamers, 116;
      shower in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 120;
      on Brooklyn Bridge, 121.

    Cocoons:--curious, 145;
      solid to the core, 147;
      ribs and vertebræ, 149;
      secret of the hollow, 151;
      what the pellets were, 152;
      yielding wasps, 242.

    Colors of flowers, laws governing colors and combinations, 44, 45;
      natural exception to; three primary colors in the hyacinth,
        Egyptian lotus; sky reflections destroying color, 45.

    Columbine (_Aquilegia canadensis_, _A. chrysantha_, _A. cærulea_),
        puzzling color classification, from white through all shades of
        red, yellow, and blue, 46.

    "Comma." See Butterflies.

    Coral, gray, 73.

    Cow-spittle, 84, 86.

    Crickets, 71.

    Cross-fertilization of flowers, 30, 167, 208, 211, 229.

    Cuban belle's toilet, 21.

    Culpepper, Dr., quoted, 154.

    _Cyanic_, flowers with all shades of blue and red without yellow,

    _Cynips seminator_, _Cynips rosæ_, gall-flies, 40.

    Dahlia, blue, 45.

    Daisy, pesky white weed, almost identical with the marguerite, 25;
      a marvel of a flower, 28, 205, 211.

    Dandelion. Seeds used for birds'-nests, 173;
      mutilation of, 174;
      a week of retirement, 175;
      flight of the seed-bed, 176;
      the burglar discovered, 177, 211.

    Darwin, 202, 209, 224.

    Darwin flowers, 166, 167, 168.

    De Candolle. Color limitations in flowers, 45, 202.

    Deer-mouse, 151.

    Desmodium, 223.

    "Digger-wasps," sand-hornets, 252.

    Dungeons of death, 54.

    Egyptian history, 53.

    Egyptian yellow lotus, 45.

    Evening primrose (_OEnothera biennis_), 85;
      luminous blossoms of, 163;
      daylight mystery; seeds, pods, and caterpillars, 164;
      curious secret; two buds, 165;
      primrose blooms for moths, 168;
      blighted buds, 169;
      a poor recompense, 170.

    Fairy sponges, the growth of; rich colors of sweetbrier sponge, 38,
      contents of the sponge, 42.

    False scorpions (_Pedipalpi_), 181;
      among old books and papers; born rovers, 182.

    Figwort (_Scrophularia_), tall and spindling, purplish-olive
        blossoms; odor of; food for wasps, 28;
      fertilized by wasps; bud open in the morning; flowers change from
        day to day, 30;
      growth of the ovary, 32.

    Flies:--gall, 40;
      lace-wing, 122;
      gold-banded, 129;
      house, 178;
      laphria, 182;
      ichneumon, 196;
      parasitic, 200;
      harvest, 87, 246.

    Floundering beetle, color of, 1;
      funny characteristics of; leaking habits, 2;
      playing possum, 3;
      feats of; diminutive size when young; golden-yellow case, 4;
      number of joints, 5;
      a snug resting-place; first outing, 6;
      in the bee hotel; transformation, 8;
      in the mummy-case; change of diet, 10.

    Fly-fungus, 184.

    Flying-machine, toy, 117.

    Fox-fire, a column of phosphorescence, of greenish, ghostly hue,
      prosaic fence-post; effect of a reflection of lantern in water,
      feeding on darkness, 14;
      short life of, 15;
      village spook; haunted mill, 16;
      a night terror, 18;
      six square feet of brilliancy, 19;
      yeast as a possible cause; dead fish; curious effect from
        decaying potatoes, 20;
      phosphorus not always present; burnt oyster-shells in combination
        with certain acids; the supposed secret of, 22;
      decoy for deer; the largest on record, 23.

    Frog-hoppers, 89.

    Frog-spit, 84, 89.

    Gall-fly (_Cynips seminator_, _Cynips rosæ_), 40;
      a cousin to the wasps; magician in chemistry, 41.

    Genista, 223.

    Geometrical web-makers, 120.

    Ghost-fire, 15.

    Gold-banded flower-fly, larva of, 129.

    Gossamer showers, 113.

    _Gramatophora trisignata_, "Professor Wiggler," 81, 82.

    Grape-vine, 186-194.

    Grasshoppers, 71, 195;
      "Quakers;" camp-meeting ground, 197;
      a paralyzed specimen; unnatural movements, 198;
      a transparent body, 199;
      a swarm of flies, 200, 246.

    Green roses, 187.

    Grew, Nehemias, 205.

    Hang-bird, 172.

    Harris, "Insects Injurious to Vegetation," quoted, 89, 134, 233,

    Harvest-fly, 87, 246.

    Hawthorne's fox-fire, 19, 23.

    "History of Selborne," 114.

    Hollyhock, 45.

    Honey-dew, 126.

    Honey-sippers, 221.

    Hornet, 87, 92;
      as mad as, 93;
      always on the rampage, 94, 100, 102.

    Horse-hair snakes, New England farmers' idea of the origin of;
        stories of, 65;
      flying over the meadows in haying time, 66;
      two specimens in alcohol, 69;
      what was found in a bait-box, 71.

    "Hot-foot," 92.

    House-fly (_Musca domestica_), his never-ending toilet, 178;
      a curious tag, 179;
      live young lobster, strength of his grip, 180;
      his many enemies; abundant use for all his eyes, 182;
      September and October danger months; the white nimbus; acute
        dyspepsia, 183.

    _Houstonia_, bluets, 208, 209.

    Hunters, 161.

    Hyacinth, 45.

    Ichneumon flies, 196.

    Idalia. See Butterflies.

    Jibing neighbors, 68.

    Johnny-jumper, 46.

    Jussieu, 202.

    Keats, John, quoted, 164.

    Lace-wing fly (_Chrysopa oculata_):--Color of eyes and wings, 122;
      lasting odor; ways of the gauzy sprite, 123;
      method of egg-laying; born in a land of plenty, 124;
      a voracious appetite; tubular teeth, 126.

    Lady-bug, larva of, 129.

    "Laphria-fly," 182.

    Lilac-bushes, 75.

    Lindley, 202.

    Linnæus, 202, 206.

    Locust, 232, 246.

    Lotus clover, 222.

    Lovelorn maiden, 213.

    Lowell, James Russell, 224.

    McCook, Rev. Dr., quoted, 110-118.

    Meadow contrasts, 247.

    Mignonette, 204.

    Monk's-hood blossom, 205.

    Morning gossamer, 112.

    Moths:--Polyphemus (_Telea polyphemus_), _Attacus prometheus_, 75,
      Trisignata (_Gramatophora trisignata_), 81;
      _Cecropia_, Bull's-eye (_Saturnia io_), 156;
      twilight moth; common clothes moth (_Tineidæ_), 170.

    Mullein (_Verbascum thrapsus_), 25.

    Mummy-cases, 54.

    Mushrooms, 138;
      color of polyporus, 139;
      manner of making a spore-print, 140-144;
      colors of prints; high relief, 142;
      fixing the prints, 143.

    Mutilla ant, 197.

    Nasturtium, 205.

    Nature, check to rapid increase of, 195.

    _Nelumbo_, water-lily, 45.

    Nettle (_Celtis_), 154.

    Nettle-leaf tent-builders, laying the egg, 155;
      contents of the curled leaf, 156;
      gray and spine-covered, 156;
      rapid change of home, 157;
      another specimen of different color, stingless, 158;
      size of full-grown specimen; a surprise; preparing for the
        transformation, 159;
      an ever-interesting revelation; quaint golden ear-drops, 160;
      an astonishing trick, 161.

    New England farmers, 65.

    Niagara Suspension-bridge, manner of laying, 105;
      identical with that of the spider, 106.

    _Noctiluca_, marine phosphorescent animalculæ, 21.

    Noisy wigglers, 76.

    _Nymphæa_, water-lily, 45.

    Oak-apple, 43.

    October rowen-fields, 116.

    Odor of woods, 131.

    Oil beetle. See Beetles.

    Old rose, 73.

    Orb weavers, 120.

    Orchard oriole, 172.

    _Osmoderma scabei_, perfumed beetle, 134.

    Ovid quoted, 93.

    Pansies (_Viola tricolor_):--Great variety of color, 46;
      trickery of florists; aniline bath, 47;
      a chemical experiment; astonishing color, 48;
      ammonia as an agent; coloring an entire plant emerald green, 50;
      results from the fumes of sulphur matches, 52.

    Passion-flower, 189.

    Passion-vine, 186.

    Perfumed beetle (_Osmoderma scabei_), curious odor of, 133;
      suggesting Russia-leather; home on the maple-tree; sipping the
        sap; easily startled, 134.

    Pink, 205.

    Plant-louse of the apple-tree, 236.

    Pliny, 64, 114, 116, 252.

    Pollen bearers, 30.

    _Polyphemus._ See Moths.

    _Polyporus_, 144.

    Preservation of food by wasps, 256.

    Primrose ash, 73.

    Professor of biology, 70.

    "Professor Wiggler," what a florist's window suggested; the
        lilac-bush his home, 73;
      his characteristics, 74;
      how he came to be named; bringing him up by hand, 75;
      lively capers, 76;
      five changes of clothes; voracious feeding, 77;
      how he retains his head-shells, 78;
      digging out a home, 79;
      home completed; skilful concealment; what comes from the cocoon,
      burrowing habits, 82.

    Puff-balls, 136;
      its purple cloud, 136;
      rapid change of substance; its cloud mass of reproductive atoms,
      same results from mushrooms and toadstools, 138.

    Pungent odors, 132.

    "Quaker." See Grasshopper.

    "Racer," 85.

    Red Admiral. See Butterflies.

    "Red-hot child of nature," 92, 96.

    Redstart, 176.

    Red-tailed hawk, 152, 153.

    Riddles in flowers, 202;
      curious specimens; botanists and philosophers, 204;
      pollen-carrying, 207;
      galaxy of white or blue stars, 208;
      variety of construction, 209;
      solving the riddle, 211.

    Riley, C. V., quoted, 254.

    "Robin's pin-cushion," 43.

    Roland for an Oliver, 59.

    Roots, becoming stems and bearing leaves, 87.

    Rose garden, 126.

    Roses, blue, 45, 46;
      green, 187.

    Rosy moth, 85.

    Rowen-field, 116, 218.

    Sabbath sanctuary bouquet, 26.

    Sacred "scarabæus," emblem of immortality, 53.

    Sage blossom, its welcome to the bee, 221.

    Sand-hornet:--Prospecting for game, 249;
      the capture, 250;
      manner of transporting its prey, 251;
      its color and terrible sting, 252;
      not to be trifled with; its home in the sand-bank, 253;
      deposits its egg and leaves, 254;
      its mysterious poison, 256.

    _Scrophularia_, figwort, 28.

    Semicolon. See Butterflies.

    Sheep-spit, 84.

    Singular mimic fruit, 42.

    Small speckled beetle, 86.

    Smilax, 188.

    Snake expert, 67.

    Snake stories, 65.

    Snake-spit, 84, 85.

    Snapping beetle. See Beetles.

    "Snowin' 'pider-webs," 113.

    Sphinx caterpillar (_Chærocampa pampenatrix_) with his burden, 241,
      the mischief-maker (_Microgaster_), 245.

    Spice-bush, 131, 132.

    Spiders, webs one hundred feet long; autumn best time for
        observation, 106;
      precocious baby spiders; building a bridge, 108;
      moored by guy threads, 110;
      ballooning, 112;
      at sea, 113.

    Sponge-ball, commonly known as Bedegnar, 43.

    Sprengel, 166, 202, 206.

    "Spume-bearer" (_Aphrophora_), 89;
      allied to bugs; his aerated bath; graduation from his
        surroundings, 87;
      his color and size; his alertness, 88;
      time of egg-laying and hatching; power of leaping, 89;
      no secret process of making suds; sun's evaporation necessitates
        continuous additions, 90.

    Squirrel, 153.

    Statue of Liberty, 108.

    Stems assuming the functions of roots, 187.

    Summer meadows, 83.

    Sweetbrier sponge, 40.

    Sweet-pea, 188.

    _Tachina_, a parasitic fly, 200.

    Tendrils, what they are; a stem or modified root, 187;
      reaching for conquest, 188;
      not a special or primal organ, 189;
      method of contraction, 191;
      the reverse twist, its function, 192;
      singular botanical prank, 194.

    _Thelaphora cærulea_, fox-fire, 22.

    Tiger-beetle, wonderful speed and agility of, 2.

    Toad-spit, 84.

    Toadstools, 19, 138.

    Trailing cobwebs, 113.

    True locust, the, 232.

    Tulip, blue, 45.

    Tumble-bug, his former eminence, 53;
      used for ornaments and decorative purposes; his proud lineage,
      male and female inseparable; the two familiar species; its
        season, 55;
      curious antics; bug talk, 56;
      a question of selection, 58;
      indefatigable workers; manner of working, 59;
      Mrs. Tumble-bug's industry, 60;
      singular manner of burying the ball, 61;
      the chrysalis state, 62;
      young Mr. Tumble-bug begins life, 63.

    Twilight moth. See Moths.

    Union Square Fountain, 45.

    Vireo, strange materials in the nest of, 147, 164, 171, 172.

    Wasps, as cross-fertilizers, 30;
      manner of transferring pollen, 31, 91;
      "Digger," sand hornets, 242, 252.

    Weeds, artistically treated, 27;
      barn-yard weeds no longer commonplace, 28.

    Welcome odor of the woods, 131.

    Welcome of the flowers, 30, 223.

    White, Gilbert, quoted, 114-117.

    White, J., 161.

    White Mountains, 97.

    White-tailed black wasp, 94.

    Wiggler moth (_Gramatophora trisignata_), time of appearance of,

    Wild-star cucumber, 189.

    Witch-hazel divining-rod, 214.

    Wolf-spiders, short-legged dodgers; crab-like manner of walking,

    Wood-fairies at work; their magic wands, 36;
      mischief-makers, 37;
      results of their pranks, 38.

    Woolly-bear caterpillar. See Caterpillar.

    Woolly flock, 230;
      expert in bugs, 231;
      what constitutes a bug, 232, 235;
      first appearance in June; on alders; destruction of apple-trees;
        sucking-beaks, 233;
      wingless but covered with woolly down, 236.

    Worm-eating warbler, vireo, 164.

    Xanthic, flowers including yellow in their color, 45.

    Yellow geranium, 45.

    Yellow larkspur, 45.

    Yellow-jacket bee, 91.

    Yellow-warbler, 171.



Thirty Colored Plates, and Fifty-seven other Illustrations. 8vo,
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SHARP EYES. A Rambler's Calendar. _New Edition._ 8vo, Cloth,
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STROLLS BY STARLIGHT AND SUNSHINE. Royal 8vo, Cloth, Gilt Edge, $3 50.

HAPPY HUNTING-GROUNDS. A Tribute to the Woods and Fields. 4to, Cloth,
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HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS; or, Saunterings in New England. _New Edition._
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CAMP LIFE IN THE WOODS, and the Tricks of Trapping and Trap-making.
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Transcriber's Notes:

p. 31 "The pollen is thus pushed against the projecting stigma, as
shown at Fig. 3, and thus, one by one, the flowers are
cross-sterilized." changed to "The pollen is thus pushed against the
projecting stigma, as shown at Fig. 3, and thus, one by one, the
flowers are cross-fertilized."

p. 209 Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 which are referenced on this page are not
found in the original document.

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