The History of Insects
THE HISTORY OF INSECTS
PRINTED AND SOLD BY SAMUEL WOOD,
At the Juvenile Book-store,
No. 357, Pearl-street.
And God made every thing that creepeth
upon the earth. Gen. 1. 25.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.
* * * * *
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.
* * * * *
_A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z_.
* * * * *
_a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z_.
* * * * *
fi fl ff ffi ffl----_fi fl ff ffi ffl_.
Observe the insect race, ordained to keep
The silent sabbath of a half year's sleep!
Entom'd beneath the filmy web they lie
And wait the influence of a kinder sky;
When vernal sunbeams pierce the dark retreat,
The heaving tomb distends with vital heat;
The full formed brood, impatient of their cell,
Start from their trance, and burst their silken shell.
THE HISTORY OF INSECTS.
* * * * *
Insects are so called from a separation in the middle of their bodies,
seemingly cut into two parts, and joined together by a small ligature,
as we see in wasps and common flies.
However small and contemptible this class of beings may appear, at first
thought, yet, when we come to reflect, and carefully investigate, we
shall be struck with wonder and astonishment, and shall discover, that
the smallest gnat that buzzes in the meadow, is as much a subject of
admiration as the largest elephant that ranges the forest, or the
hugest whale which ploughs the deep; and when we consider the least
creature that we can imagine, myriads of which are too small to be
discovered without the help of glasses, and that each of their bodies is
made up of different organs or parts, by which they receive or retain
nourishment, &c. with the power of action, how natural the exclamation,
O "Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all."
Under these considerations, that they are the work of the same great,
good, and Almighty hand that formed us, and that they are all capable of
feeling pleasure and pain, surely every little child, as well as older
person, ought carefully to avoid every kind of cruelty to any kind of
creature, great or small.
The supreme court of Judicature at Athens punished a boy for putting out
the eyes of a poor bird; and parents and masters should never overlook
an instance of cruelty to any thing that has life, however minute, and
seemingly contemptible the object may be.
"I would not enter on my list of friends
(Though grac'd with polish'd manners, and fine sense,
Yet wanting sensibility) the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm."
The elephant-beetle is the largest of this kind hitherto known, and is
found in South America, particularly in Guiana, about the rivers Surinam
and Oroonoko. It is of a black colour, and the whole body is covered
with a shell, full as thick and as strong as that of a small crab. There
is one preserved in the museum that measures more than six inches.
Grasshoppers are too common to need description, as they abound almost
wherever there is green grass. One summer only is their period of life;
they are hatched in the spring, and die in the fall; previous to which,
they deposite their eggs in the earth, which the genial warmth of the
next season brings to life. They are food for many of the feathered
There are two classes of crickets: viz. the field cricket, and the house
cricket; the latter inhabits warm places, the holes of the hearth, &c.
from whence we hear its notes, which are agreeable: it is said, that
they are purchased by some, and kept in a kind of cage, for the sake of
their music. Field crickets inhabit the meadows, and subsist on roots,
&c. as does another species, called the mole cricket.
There are different kinds of the locust; those we are acquainted with,
in this country, are represented in the above cut. In some seasons, they
are scarcely heard at all; in others, they are more numerous. About the
middle or latter part of summer, we hear them among the leaves of the
trees: their notes, which are continued about the space of one minute,
are loud at the beginning, and grow lower and lower, till they cease;
when they immediately fly to another tree, begin again, and end in the
same way, and so on.
In the eastern countries, a kind or kinds of locust, at different
periods, have been very numerous, and have done abundance of damage. In
the year 1650, a cloud of locusts entered Russia, in three different
places; and from thence spread over Poland and Lithuania; the air was
darkened, and the earth covered, in some places, to the depth of four
feet; the trees bent with heir weight, and the damage sustained exceeded
computation. Locusts were among the plagues of Egypt: sec Exodus, x. 15.
This very troublesome little animal multiplies very fast among old rags,
dirt, straw, and litter, where hogs, cats, or dogs sleep; and in the
hair and bristles of those creatures: therefore, as a means of avoiding
such unwelcome neighbours, in the springs the cleanly farmer scrapes up
the rubbish about his woodpile, and around his house and barn, and
removes it into his field, where it also repays him by manuring his
lands. They abound in warm countries, particularly in the southern parts
of France and Italy.
When examined by a microscope, the flea is a pleasant object. The body
is curiously adorned with a suit of polished armour, neatly jointed, and
beset with a great number of sharp pins almost like the quills of a
porcupine: it has a small head, large eyes, two horns, or feelers, which
proceed from the head, and four long legs from the breast; they are very
hairy and long, and have several joints, which fold as it were one
These loathsome animals, however unwelcome, attend in troops, and add to
the afflictions of the unfortunate and lazy; but they are routed by the
hand of industry and cleanliness.
In examining the louse with a microscope, its external deformity strikes
us with disgust. It has six feet, two eyes, and a sort of sting,
proboscis, or sucker, with which it pierces the skin, and sucks the
blood. The skin of the louse is hard and transparent, with here and
there several bristly hairs: at the end of each leg are two claws, by
which it is enabled to lay hold of the hairs, on which it climbs. There
is scarcely any animal known to multiply so fast as this unwelcome
intruder: from an experiment of Lieuenhoek, a louse in eight weeks, may
see five thousand of its descendants.
Among the ancients, what is called the lousy disease was not uncommon:
Antiochus, Herod, and others are said to have died of this disorder.
ITCH ... MITE.
CHEGO ... DEATHWATCH.
There are many species of mites, beside the itch animal and mite above:
to the naked eye, they appear like moving particles of dust: but the
microscope discovers them to be perfect animals, having as regular a
figure, and performing all the functions of life as perfectly as
creatures that exceed them many times in bulk: their eggs are so small
that a regular computation shews that 90 millions of them are not so
large as a common Pigeon's egg.
The Chego is a very small animal, about one fourth the size of a common
flea: it is very troublesome, in warm climates, to the poor blacks, such
as go barefoot, and the slovenly: it penetrates the skin, under which it
lays a bunch of eggs, which swell to the bigness of a small pea.
The Deathwatch, of which there are two kinds, is an insect famous for a
ticking noise, like a watch, which superstitious people take for a
presage of death, in the family where it is heard.
This is one of the largest of the insect tribe. It is met with in
different countries, and of various sizes, from two or three inches to
nearly a foot in length: it somewhat resembles a lobster, and casts its
skin, as the lobster does its shell.
Scorpions are common in hot countries: they are very bold and watchful:
when any thing approaches, they erect their tails, and stand ready to
inflict the direful sting. In some parts of Italy and France, they are
among the greatest pests that plague mankind: they are very numerous,
and are most common in old houses, in dry or decayed walls, and among
furniture, insomuch that it is attended with, much danger to remove the
same: their sting is generally a very deadly poison, though not in all
cases, owing to a difference of malignity of different animals, or some
In the time of the children of Israel, scorpions were a plague in Egypt
and Canaan, as appears by the sacred writings. See Deuteronomy, viii.
15, and other passages.
'Who can observe the faithful ant,
And not provide for future want.'
These little animals have been for ages considered as patterns of
industry: they were specially noticed by the wise king Solomon. He says,
"go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways, and be wise." The ant
lays eggs in the manner of common flies; from these eggs are hatched
small maggots, or worms without legs; these, after a short time, change
into large white aureliae, or chrysales, which are usually called ant's
eggs. When a nest of these creatures is disturbed, however great their
own danger, the care they take of their offspring is remarkable: each
takes in its foreceps, a young one, often larger than itself and carries
These little insects form to themselves, with much industry and
application, of earth, sticks, leaves, &c. little hillocks, called
ant-hills, in the form of a cone: in these, they dwell, breed, and
deposite their stores: they are commonly built in woody places: the
brushy plains on Long-Island abound with them: they are from one to two
feet in height.
This is an extraordinary, curious, and remarkably industrious little
insect, to which mankind are indebted for one of the most palatable and
wholesome sweets which nature affords; and which was one of the choice
articles with which the promised land was said to abound.
In every hive of bees, there are three kinds; the queen, the drones,
and the labourers: of these last, there are by far the greatest number:
and as cold weather approaches, they drive from the hives and destroy
the drones, that have not laboured in summer, and will not let them eat
in winter. If bees are examined through a glass hive, all appears at
first like confusion: but, on a more careful inspection, every animal is
found regularly employed. It is very delightful, when the maple and
other trees are in bloom, or the clover in the meadows, to be abroad and
hear their busy hum.
"Brisk as the busy bee among learning's flowers.
Employ thy youthful sunshine hours."
Of these flies, which are called by many Spindles, there are various
species. They all have two very large eyes, covering the whole surface
of the head. They fly very swiftly, and prey upon the wing, clearing the
air of innumerable little flies. The great ones live about water, but
the smaller are common among hedges, and about gardens.
Of butterflies there are many kinds. How wonderful the various changes
of this class of insects! The butterflies lay their eggs: from these
hatch out worms or caterpillars, which change their skins several times,
and, finally, become aureliae, chrysales, or silkworms, out of which
come the beautiful butterflies.
There are many kinds of spiders; some of which are said to grow to such
a size that they will catch small birds: some are poisonous, but the
greater part are harmless, although to most people their looks are
disgusting. The web of a spider, which is a net for catching its prey,
is an astonishing piece of curiosity.
[Transcriber's Note: The heading 'SILK WORM' was added in order to
The silk worm is a very valuable insect: it is produced from an egg of a
yellowish colour, about the size of a small pin's head, that is laid by
a moth, or butterfly. The above cut represents a male and female, and
her eggs, of which she lays several hundreds: the moths live but a few
days; they never eat, and die directly after the eggs are laid.
This cut shews the appearance of the worm, which at first is very small
and black. Its food is the leaves of the white mulberry: as it grows in
size, at four different periods, it apparently sickens, and changes its
skin, and finally, when full grown, it spins a ball of silk, called a
cone, or cocoon, the thread of which is about three hundred yards long:
in the centre of this ball the worm entombs itself, and experiences a
change to a state called an aurelia, or chrysallis, as seen below the
ball: from this aurelia, the moth that lays the eggs is hatched, and
thus goes on the round of this animal's changes, or transmigrations.
They are natives of China, and were brought into Italy, above twelve
hundred years ago; from thence into Spain; afterwards into France; much
later into Germany and the northern countries; and some have been reared
in the United States of America.
Hereby informs the good little Boys and Girls, both of city and country,
who love to read better than to play, that if they will please to call
at his JUVENILE BOOK-STORE, NO. 357, Pearl-street, New-York, it will be
his pleasure to furnish them with a great variety of pretty little
books, with neat nuts, calculated to afford to the young mind pleasing
and useful information. Besides many from Philadelphia, New Haven, and
elsewhere, he has nearly fifty kinds of his own printing, and proposes
to enlarge the number.
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