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The various productions of NATURE were not made for us to tread opon, nor only to feed our eyes with their grateful variety, or to bring a sweet odour to us; but there is a more internal beauty in them for our minds to prey upon, did we but penetrate beyond the surface of these things into their hidden properties.
Is not the earth
I cannot think he detracts from the state of the blessed, who conceives them to be perpetually employed in fresh searches into Nature, and to eternity advancing into the fathomless depths of the divine per. fections. After an acquaintance of many thousand years with the WORKS of GOD, the beauty and the magnificence of the Creation must, doubtless, fill them with the same pleasing wonder and profound awe which Adám felt himself seized with, as he first opened his eyes upon this glorious scene.
SPECTATOR, No. 626.
And God made every thing that creepeth upon the earth, after his kind. -Gen. ch. i, v. 25.
We admire the turret-bearing shoulders of the elephant, the neck of the bull, and its power of tossing aloft with fury its enemy, the ravages of the tiger, and the mane of the lion. But it is not in these instances that Nature appears most admirable: her wisdom is no where more conspicuous than in her minutest works.-In these beings, what power, what unfathomable perfection, is displayed !
INSECTS, though inferior in size, far surpass in variety of form, beauty of colouring, and singularity of structure, all the larger tribes of animals; but so prone is man to regard with contempt those parts of the creation which are diminutive, that insects have been almost overlooked in his searches after knowledge. His ignorance, the consequence of this contemptuous neglect, has led him to consider the whole class as of small importance, and as forming a useless, and, in many cases, offensive and injurious tribe of beings. Such, however, can be the language only of “ haughty ignorance;'—the modest observer of Nature, although he may have learned little of the habits, economy, and uses of insects, particularly of those which abound in his native country,—will acknowledge that they have been created with design, and will not doubt that the design was benevolent.
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Let uo presuming impious railer tax
Not only from the weak and unenlightened, but from the philosopher too, who has studied and admired the more stupendous acts of the Creator, the entomologist has often met with derision, and with ridicule, for examining the structure, the instincts, and the arts of a spider, or a fly. But what is size in the all-comprehensive eye of the Universal Architect? As, with respect to time, a thousand ages are to him but as a day, and a day as a thousand ages; so, with respect to space, the orbit of a world is as the speck occupied by a puceron, or the hundredth part of a drop of water, in which a monoculus can live, and move, and swim. The same wisdom that Cordained the revolution of the planets, was requisite to form the butterfly or gnat; for nothing short of infinite skill could have contrived the spiral trunk of the former, to suck up, as with a syringe, the honey of the full-blown flower, or its elegant colourings, composed by an infinite number of minute, variouslypainted scales, artfully arranged; and nothing less could have endowed it with instincts for depositing its eggs on plants, or in situations best adapted to secure the birth, and to furnish with food the embryo -caterpillars. Why, then, should we depreciate any part of Nature's works, or cast an opprobrium on the study of any of its branches ?
· The general opinion that insects act a less important purpose than any other tribe in the economy of Nature, and that the study of the science of Entomology has conduced but little to the benefit of mankind, is founded in ignorance alone. Blights, both in our orchards and corn-fields, have almost uni. versally been attributed to some peculiar action of
the elements; but they are now discovered to be owing to myriads of minute insects, often of the puceron or tree-louse kind. Who can tell but that an accurate knowledge of the natural history of these insects may enable us to prevent its future depredations? And how often does our ignorance lead us to destroy insects as injurious, which are altogether harmless, and perhaps even serviceable to man? Although the multiplicity of insects is sometimes attended with no small injury to man as well as to animals, yet there is a counterpoise to this inconvenience;-myriads of birds daily devour ten thousand times their number of insects, both of the winged and reptile kinds. A bird in an instant of time swallows a fly; and, in the same instant, its life is extinguished, without feeling, perhaps, a single pang.
Insects are to be found in almost every situation, i in air, water, and in earth; in wood, and upon other
animals ; in decayed vegetables, and in putrid flesh. Their manners and their appearances are as various as their situations. The eggs of insects, like those of fish, in very few instances, require the care of incubation, but are left to be matured, and the young ones to be hatched by the genial influence of the Sun. The parents have generally paid the debt of nature before the young ones see the light. The care, therefore, with which the parent butterfly, or moth, selects the very plant which alone is capable of affording proper aliment to its infant caterpillar, cannot be the effect of instruction, experience, association, or the expectation of deriving pleasure from its progeny,-but must be attributed to an original instinct, implanted in it by the Creator, for the preservation of its species.
From the egg of the insect, in general, is not produced a young animal, similar in every thing but size to its parent, which is the case in the other classes, but a soft and humid animal, which is called the larva, or in English caterpillar, maggot, or sometimes
grub. The changes which this larva undergoes before its arrival to the perfect insect, vary in different genera. These changes are termed its metamorphosis. It is in this larva, or caterpillar-state, that the animal eats, and increases in size, occasionally casting its skin, and sometimes altering its colour. Its next change is into a harder and more compact state, called aurelia, or chrysalis, in which it remains torpid for a time, in many insects during the whole of the winter, and then, breaking its external covering, it launches into day a perfect animal, active, and full grown. In this state many insects eat very little, some not at all, but seem chiefly intent upon preparing for their future progeny. The life of most of them in this perfect state is very transient, only a short part of their whole existence',
As we have, on a former occasion', spoken at some length on the great importance of the Study of Entomology, especially as it regards the uses of insects, and have also treated of their instinctive powers and sensations—their external organs—their egg state and transformation-their habitations and food, we shall now proceed to describe a few of the most remarkable of our BRITISH INSECTS, including such as have not been noticed, or only slightly referred to in our previous volumes; classing them under the arrangement of LINNÆUS, who has divided insects into seven orders, from the number and substance of their wings, or from their being altogether without wings.
This order includes insects with crustaceous wings. These have four wings; the upper ones, which act as cases or coverings to the true wings, are called
Dr. Skrimshire's Essays on Natural History, vol. i, p. 122. 2 See the Outlines of Entomology, prefixed to Time's Telescope for 1820.