The Insect Folk
by Margaret Warner Morley
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But the rest of the inner wing is not green, it is like very thin glass, or like fine isinglass.

Look for a moment at the long curved ovipositor of the female katydid.

If you look sharp, you will see teeth on it like a little saw. It is with these teeth the little katydid is able to rasp the surface of the twigs, and make a place to fasten her eggs to.

Her wings are wrapped about her form like an ample cloak of green.

Now, my little katydid, you may fly away if you want to.

We are very much obliged to you for letting us look at you, and we hope we have not troubled you too much.

See her go!

How prettily the katydids fly.

They seem almost like little birds.

I am sure they love to fly about in the bright summer-time.

Happy katydids.


Now what strange-looking little creature are you?

John says it looks like a grasshopper, only it has no wings and its body is not that of a grasshopper.

May says it looks like a cricket, only it has the long legs of a grasshopper.

It is called the cricket-like grasshopper, and it is partly like a cricket, as you see, and partly like a grasshopper.

It is a funny little fellow that lives around in dark corners, usually in the woods.

Do see those long, spiny legs!

How he can jump.

He has strong, short, sharp spines on the femurs and on the tibias.

He has spines on all his legs, and what long feet he has!

Yes, Nell, his antennae are longer than anything else about him. I should think they would be in his way.

He has no wings at all, and he never will have any.

He has two pairs of feelers in front of his mouth that show very plainly. They show more plainly than the mouth parts of the grasshopper, though they are quite like them.

Yes, Ned, they are larger than the mouth parts of the grasshopper.

There is another little fellow very similar to the cricket-like grasshopper.

It has no wings, and the top of the thorax is like a broad shield.

It is called the shield-backed grasshopper.

See if you can find one of them.


Chirp! chirp!

Chirp! chirp!

Ah, listen to that cheery song. It is the cricket on the hearth singing thus gayly.

Dear little cricket; he lives in the corner by the fireplace. When all is still we hear his cheery chirp! chirp! chirp!

Sometimes he comes peering out and runs across the hearth, a little black fireside fairy.

Do you know one of the prettiest stories in the world has been written about a cricket?

Charles Dickens wrote it, and it is called "The Cricket on the Hearth."

Be sure to read this beautiful story. If you do not own it, ask to have it for Christmas. It is in the book of "Christmas Tales," a book that everybody ought to have.

Grasshoppers and katydids are pleasant people, but they live out of doors, and they do not seem quite so much like our very own little friends as the crickets.

Of course the crickets live out of doors, too, only once in a while one of them comes into the house to live with us.

We hear them chirping in the grass and among the stones.

There is a certain place near the seashore where the rocks are alive with the black cricket folk.

They come peeping out at you from all sides. They skip over the rocks, and you will often see a pair of long feelers and an inquisitive little head looking around a corner.

You too, know there are crickets, little Nell?

Let us go and see them.

Ah, yes, there is one, looking at us out of inquisitive eyes, over there by that big stone.

Of course they are cousins to the grasshoppers. I knew you would guess that right away.

Yes, John, the little cricket people have flat backs.

Their wing covers do not make a peaked roof over their backs, but are flat on top and bent down at the sides like a box cover.

They are not so long as the wings of the grasshopper, but they overlap on top.

Sometimes they are not so long as the body of the cricket.

Just watch now!

How spry the cricket folk are!

They jump well, but they also run well. They are always running about as though they enjoyed it.

It is not easy to catch one of them unless we, too, are "as spry as a cricket."

Funny little rascals, to come peeping at us like that, from out the crevices in the stones.

When we stir,—pop! they are back out of sight.

They eat leaves, and they enjoy a piece of nice, ripe fruit, or a bit of juicy vegetable.

See here, one has jumped on my hand and is sitting quite still.

It is a male cricket.

How do I know that?

May says because it has no ovipositor.

Yes, that is one way to know.

Look at his wing covers.

See how they are ribbed.

Now look at this cricket Mabel has caught. It is a female, and its wings, you see, are not ornamented like those of the male.

Do you know the meaning of his heavily ribbed wing covers?

Why, his wing covers are his musical instruments. See one of them magnified.

It is divided into spaces like so many little drum-heads. The ridge that runs across the top of the wing is something like a file in structure.

When little Mr. Cricket is in the mood for chirping, he raises his wing covers and rubs them together.

This throws the stiff membranes of which the wing covers are made into vibration, and the result is the cheery call of our little black fairy.

Little Nell says the cricket is more like a brownie than a fairy, and maybe she is right.

You can easily see the crickets rub their wings together if you watch in the fall of the year.

John says, Why do you have to watch in the fall of the year?

Now who can guess?

Yes, May, it is because the crickets are then full-grown, and have large wing covers. At first, in the early summer, they have no wings, and so of course, we could not see them chirp.

The whole grasshopper tribe is a vocal one; the males all have musical instruments, and in Japan, the people are so fond of the song of their grasshopper folk, which are not quite like ours, that they make tiny cages for them.

The chirpers are caught and put in these cages, and sold in the city streets.

Yes, little Nell, the crickets make molasses. So do the katydids.

All these little hopping neighbors of ours seem to understand the useful art of molasses making.

The mole crickets are different from the others.

They burrow in the ground like a mole, and we do not often see them.

The strangest thing about them is their hands.

No, of course they are not really hands, but they look like them.

All the joints of the fore legs are modified to form strong digging tools, and they look very much like the paws of the mole.

They are troublesome fellows, sometimes, when they eat the tender roots of the vegetables in the garden.

You all have seen the little tree cricket, but you might not recognize it as a cricket, it is such a pale little creature.

Its light green body may often be seen on bushes in the summer-time, and, if you look carefully, the form will tell you what the little one is.


The crickets, grasshoppers, walking sticks, praying mantes, and cockroaches, strange as it may seem, are all near relatives to each other.

They all belong to one large family or order, the ORTHOPTERA.

Or-thop-te-ra, is it not a hard word!

It will not seem so hard when you know what it means.

It comes from two Greek words orthos, meaning straight, and pteron, meaning a wing.


And do you know, it does not mean that the upper wings are straight, but that the under wings are folded down in long straight lines.

Now let us see if we can tell in what ways all of our Orthoptera are alike.

They all have—?

"Four wings"—that is right, little Nell.

What, John? the walking sticks have no wings?

Not our walking sticks, but yet they belong to a winged family. You remember the tropical walking sticks that have queer leaf-like wings, do you not?

Are the four wings alike?

No, John says, the upper ones are narrow and stiff and serve as wing covers.

The inner ones are broader and more delicate. They fold up when not in use and are used to fly with.

Very good indeed, John. Now I will tell you something. The Orthoptera all have mouth parts made to bite with. They do not bite anything but what they eat, however. They are quite harmless so far as we are concerned.

The young Orthoptera look like the old ones, only they have no wings. They hatch out of the egg with a head, a six-legged thorax, and an abdomen.

Now, come, let us look at all of our orthopterous friends again, cockroaches first.

How do they get about, John?

Yes, indeed, they run, the rascals. They run fast too. They are flat and their six legs are very much alike. They are well built for running and hiding in cracks.

Suppose we call them the Running Orthoptera.

Now, look at our mantis.

He does not run very much. How is he different from the others?

Ah, yes, he has big front legs, and little Nell says he grabs things with them.

So he does. Now, what shall we call these grabbers?

The Grabbing Orthoptera, Ned says.

Suppose we say instead the Grasping Orthoptera, because grasping sounds a little better than grabbing. Do you not think so?

Now for Mr. Walking Stick.

We cannot very well call him a member of the Running Orthoptera, can we?

Ah, Mollie has it. We must call his kind the Walking Orthoptera.

His six legs are all long and slender, and he moves them slowly.

Now for those fellows with the long hind legs, the locusts and katydids and crickets. Yes, all of you are ready to name them.

We call them—what?

May says, the Hopping Orthoptera.

John thinks Jumping Orthoptera would sound better.

And that is what we name them, the Jumping Orthoptera.

How many kinds of Jumping Orthoptera are we acquainted with, Ned? Now, think before you speak.

He says we know the shorthorned grasshoppers, or locusts, the longhorned, or meadow, grasshoppers, and the crickets.

Very well done, Ned.

May wants to know what has become of the katydids and the cricket-like grasshoppers—she thinks Ned has left them out.

Ned says they belong to the longhorned grasshoppers.

Now you shall have a list of the Orthoptera that will help you to remember them.

If we can group together things that are like each other, it is easier to remember them.


Running Orthoptera. Cockroaches, Croton Bugs. Grasping Orthoptera. Praying Mantis. Walking Orthoptera. Walking Sticks. Jumping Orthoptera. Shorthorned Grasshoppers, or Locusts. Longhorned, or Meadow, Grasshoppers. Crickets.

There are a great many species of Orthoptera in the world, and we have seen but a very few of them.

But I can tell you, we feel a little better acquainted with you orthopterous fellows than we did.

The dragon fly says we have not given him a place.

But, dear dragon fly, you belong to another family. You are not an orthopterous insect.

Your order is called the ODO-NA-TA.

The wings of the Odonata are very different from those of the Orthoptera.

You remember how they are?

Yes, Ned, they are stiff and covered with a close network of fine veins, and all four of them are alike.

No wing covers, you see.

I do not know why they have the name Odonata.

The young Odonata are not like their parents, excepting that they have a head, a thorax with six legs, and an abdomen. But they certainly do not look like their parents!

No, John, the May flies do not belong to the Odonata. Their wings are quite different.

Do you not remember how small the hind wings are?

The name of their order is EPH-E-MER-I-DA.

There is a big name for a little insect!

It comes from the Greek word ephemeros, and you know what it means.

What? Has everybody forgotten about the dainty little ephemerae, that live but a day?

That is what ephemeros means, lasting but a day.

The stone flies have four wings, but they are not like those of the Odonata, or of the Ephemerida.

Do you remember how the hind wings are folded?

Yes, May, in plaits, so these are the plaited wings, or PLE-COP-TE-RA, from pteran, a wing, and plecos, plaited.

The little silver fish, as you remember, has no wings at all, so its order is called THY-SA-NU-RA, from its bristle tail, thysanos, in Greek, meaning a tassel, and oura, the tail.



Now, my children, do you know what a bug is? Most people do not.

They call every insect a "bug," but bugs are bugs, flies are flies, ants are ants, and neither flies nor ants are bugs.

Indeed, no insects are bugs—excepting just bugs!

Our croton bugs are not really bugs. They do not belong to the bug family.

A bug has four wings—when it has any.

But its wings are not like those of the Orthoptera or Odonata or Ephemerida or Plecoptera.

Some bugs have no wings.

Young bugs are like old bugs, only smaller, and they have no wings.

You remember the Orthoptera and Odonata bite their food.

They chew it up and swallow it.

Bugs do not bite, they suck. Their mouth parts are often grown together in the form of a tube that is sometimes very sharp.

They stick these sharp tubes or beaks into their food, and suck it up.


What, May; you want to see a bug? Well, that is easy enough.

Here is one in this pond at our feet. Do you know it?

Yes, John; it is the water boatman.

Nell says she doesn't see it.

There, Nell, that little thing that shines like silver under the water. It is clinging to a weed.

No, we cannot see it very well unless we catch it.

Ned, do you think you can be spry enough to scoop it out with the net?

There, he has it,—no, it is off.

Well, we shall never see that one again; but here, in this corner of the pond, see, several of them.

Now don't be in too great a hurry, Ned; they are hard to catch.

He has it!

Here, don't touch it,—bugs are biters, remember.

Put it in this tumbler of water, and clap the cover over it—quick—so!—now we have it.

What is that, Mollie? I just said bugs do not bite, and now I call them biters?

I don't wonder you are puzzled.

They do not bite, but they pierce with their mouth tubes, and that feels just as though they bit us. So we commonly speak of bugs as biting.

If you wish to be very exact, we will hereafter speak of bugs as piercing or sucking.

Now, Mr. Water Boatman, we are going to have a good look at you.

Nell says it is not like silver any more, but just a little black and gray speckled bug.

That is because it is now on top of the water. When it goes under it is surrounded with a layer of air, and that is what makes it look as though it had on a silver dress.

May wants to know how it manages to take a layer of air down under the water. If you were to look at it with a magnifying glass, May, you would see it is covered with fine hairs; the air becomes entangled in these hairs. Do you not remember how the leaf of the jewel weed, or touch-me-not, as it is also called, shines when you plunge it in water? It, too, is covered with fine hairs that hold air. Many leaves shine in this way when put under water, and always because of the fine hairs that prevent the air from being pushed out by the water. You see the hairs on the bugs serve the same purpose as those on the leaves; they hold fast the air.

Our water boatman breathes this air that surrounds him.

You know how insects breathe do you not?

Dear me, then I shall have to tell you.

They have no lungs; of course, so they cannot breathe with lungs as we do.

Take a long breath—see how your chest rises—that is because you filled your lungs full of air.

Well, the insects have to breathe air.

Every living thing has to breathe air. Nothing in the world could live without air.

Even plants breathe the air, you know.

Now, there is a little row of holes or pores along each side of the abdomen of the insect.

These are the breathing pores. No, May, the insects do not breathe through their mouths, they breathe through their sides.

You can see the breathing pores, or spiracles, as they are called, very plainly in many insects.

You can see them on the abdomen of the locust, and in some caterpillars they are bright-colored spots.

There are spiracles on the sides of the thorax, too, but they do not show so plainly as those on the abdomen.

The spiracles open into air tubes that carry air to the blood of the insect.

If you watch a grasshopper or a bee, you can plainly see it breathe. The abdomen moves in the bee as though it were panting. These movements of the abdomen cause the air to go in and out. All insects move their abdomens to send the air in and out, but it does not show plainly in all of them, for, though insects need air, some of them can get along with very little.

Yes, John, insects have blood. It is not just like our blood, but still it is blood.

It is not generally red in color, though sometimes it is reddish, and sometimes it is brown, or violet, or even bright green.

Yes, that seems strange to you, but you remember how ears are ears, and serve to hear with, no matter where on the body of the creature they are located. So blood is blood, and serves the purpose of blood, no matter what its color. The blood of some insects has a very bad odor, and in the case of certain beetles, when they are disturbed, this foul-smelling liquid oozes out of the joints of the legs.

Yes, Mabel, it is probably used, like the "molasses" of other little friends we know, to repel enemies.

But to return to breathing. Some larvae breathe by gills, and do not have spiracles until they are grown up, but all grown-up insects breathe by spiracles.

Yes, John, the larvae of the dragon flies and May flies breathe with gills.

I thought you would remember that.

The water boatman breathes by spiracles, and carries his supply of air with him. All grown-up bugs breathe by spiracles.

Now look down into the pond. I think you will see some water boatmen anchored near the bottom.

Yes, May, they cling by their front feet. Their hind pair of legs are rather odd-looking; they have a fringe of hairs on the inside.

John says their hind legs are modified to swim with.

Very good, John.

The hind legs are the oars that row these little boats about in the water.

But why are the little boats that have come to anchor down there moving their paddles so constantly?

Ah, yes; it is because they want fresh air to breathe.

You know there is always air in pond water, and they keep their paddles moving, so as to change the envelope of air that surrounds them.

They know what to do to take care of themselves, if they are nothing but little bugs.

When winter comes, they go down to the bottom of the pond and bury themselves in the mud. They lie there without moving or breathing until spring, when out they come, as lively as ever.

Yes, certain other animals pass the winter in this way; the bears, for instance, find a snug den and sleep all through the coldest winter weather. We call this winter sleep of animals hibernation, and many of the insects hibernate.

Yes, Ned, hibernating animals can get on with very little air; they sometimes seem to need none at all, and they take no food.

May wants to know what these queer water boatmen eat.

They suck out the juices of other insects.

They must lay their eggs in the water, little Nell thinks.

And so they do, on water plants.

Near the city of Mexico there are species that lay enormous quantities of eggs in the ponds, and what do you think? The Indians mix these eggs with meal, make them into cakes, and eat them.

The Mexican bugs are gathered by the ton, too, and sent to England as food for cage birds, fish, and poultry.

Little Nell thinks there must be a great many bugs in a ton. Indeed, there are, probably about twenty-five millions of them; so you can imagine Mexico is well supplied with water boatmen!

When the young ones hatch out they look like their parents, only, of course, they are tiny little dots of things that have no wings.

But they eat and grow and moult like other larvae until they are full-grown insects.

What have you discovered, Ned? You look surprised.

The water boatman has no antennae!

It doesn't seem to have any. But look carefully and I think you will find some tiny ones tucked away under its head.

Nell wants to know if the water boatman has a thorax and an abdomen.

Indeed, it has, but you will have to look carefully to see them. Its abdomen is short and thick and hard. The water boatman is much more compact in form than the Orthoptera, or any of the other insects we have studied.

You are right, John, an insect with a long abdomen, like the grasshopper, could not get on very well in the water.

Now, May, take the cover off the tumbler. There!

Our water boatman was not slow to make use of his wings.

Well, good-by and good luck to you, little water boatman.


What, John? You know a water boatman that swims on its back?

That makes Nell laugh, and no wonder.

Yes, there is a little bug that swims on its back.

It is very much like the water boatman, and it has long paddles made of its queer hind legs.

Unlike the water boatman, however, its back is not flat but is shaped like the keel of a boat.

This being the case, it just turns over and swims with its keel-shaped back in the water.

It is sometimes called the back-swimmer, and most boys are well acquainted with it.

What do you think about catching it in your fingers, Ned?

Ah, you do not like to!

It has a very sharp beak for sucking the life out of other insects, and if you succeed in getting hold of it, it will stick that into your finger.

And my! how it does sting!

It is not an easy matter to catch it, however,—it is such a quick little rascal.


A good many kinds of bugs live in the water, but perhaps the oddest of all is the giant water bug.

It is a giant!

Have you ever seen very large, flat brown bugs lying on the ground under the electric street lamps?

Those are the giant water bugs.

They fly in the night from pond to pond, and are attracted by bright lights.

They fly into the electric lights, and are killed in great numbers sometimes.

This is such a common habit with them that in some places they are called electric light bugs.

A good many people never saw these bugs until they were found dead under the electric lights, and so they imagined they did not exist until electric lights were invented.

But that is a very foolish notion; the bugs were here thousands of years before electric lights were dreamed of.

The giant water bugs are not pleasant to handle when alive.

If you ever succeed in catching one in the water, which is not easy, they slip about so quickly, be sure and not take it in your fingers.

The California children call a species they have there "toe-biters," and they say they bite their toes when they go in wading.

The giant water bugs are the largest of living bugs, and they even kill and eat fish.

Their fore legs can shut up like a jackknife. The tibia shuts into a groove in the femur, and thus the bug is able to seize and hold its prey.

It clasps its victim in its arms, as it were, and calmly proceeds to suck out its blood.

In some species of the giant water bugs the female does not leave her eggs in the pond to take care of themselves; she puts them on the back of her mate, who is obliged to carry all of his progeny about with him until they relieve him by hatching out and swimming off to see life for themselves.


May says she wants to hear more about bugs. Well, there is little Mrs. Shore Bug. I think you must all know her.

She is the little bug that flies along in front of you on the seashore, or, indeed, on the edge of any body of water.

She flits along just in front of you, and is so quick in her motions that you will hardly ever catch her.

She does not fly far—she alights just far enough ahead to make you try again to capture her, but when you think you have her, she isn't there!

She has sped off on one of her short flights, and so she will continue to do as long as you continue to chase her.


Then there are the water striders.

They are bugs, and it is easy to guess how they got their name.

You surely remember the longlegged, dark colored fellows that straddle about on top of the water, in ponds or in still pools in streams?

Who has not tried to catch them!

And how very seldom any one succeeds!

May knows where we can see some water striders close at hand.

They are on the pond in the meadow. Let us go.

Ah, you little ones! There you are, scampering over the water on your airy, fairy feet, as though you were on dry land.

How they flash about! And what cunning dimples their little feet make on the water when they stand still!

If we keep very quiet, they will stop darting about in that wild way, and we can see them better.

Now, water striders, why do you behave so, and what do you eat?

Eat? Why, insects, of course. And as to behavior, they may well wonder more at ours than we at theirs.

They skate about on the surface of the water all summer, and when winter comes they hide away at the bottom of the pond, right under the water, or along the edges of the banks.

When the warm spring sunshine wakes up the sleeping plants, then the little water striders wake up too.

Out they come, to resume their endless skating and insect catching, but now they lay their eggs, gluing them fast to water weeds.

The young water striders look like their parents, and they, too, like to go circling and flashing over the top of the water, with their long legs spread out.


What do you suppose is in this box?

Little Nell may open it.

There, out he comes—slowly, as though he were looking around and thinking about it.

May says, "Hello, Mr. Walking Stick, you here again?"

Ho! ho! is it Mr. Walking Stick?

You look again.

Mollie thinks, if she were going to name it, she would call it Mr. Walking Threads.

Yes, it is more slender than even the walking stick.

What is that, John? You thought insects had six legs, and this has only four?

Now, here is something for us to think about.

Ned says it has six long threads that might be legs, but it does not walk on the two front ones.

It seems to use them as antennae.

Ned says those front ones look to him to be jointed just like the others, and he thinks they are legs.

Mollie says they have no little feet like the others, and she thinks they are antennae.

Well, well, what are we to do? Think of its having feelers that look like legs or legs that look like feelers, so that you cannot tell which they are!

Now it is beginning to move, and—Oh, ho, that long part in front is not its head!

See, it separates into two—what?

Surely, two front legs.

See, they were folded up, somewhat like the front legs of the mantis, only these could fold close together, being threadlike.

So the long threads are antennae after all.

Now it has raised its head, which we easily see is quite round, with tiny eyes, and the antennae are growing out from the front of it.

What is it? A walking stick? A mantis?

Why! why! There it goes, sailing off in the air with a queer little fluttering motion of its whole body.

It has wings!

John has caught it and brought it back.

Now let us see those wings, you strange little creature.

You will have to look close, but there they are, narrow, short, such tiny wings! How do you suppose it flies with them?

You seem queerer and queerer the more we look at you, little what-shall-we-call-you.

But we know you are not a walking stick because our walking sticks have no wings.

The truth is you are a—bug!

Yes, this little threadlike creature belongs to the same order as the big flat giant water bug.

It grasps its victim, in its fore feet like the mantis, but instead of biting its prey it sucks out the juices.

You would hardly expect such a delicate creature to catch and kill other insects, yet such is the case.

No, I do not think it will pierce your finger with its beak. I have often handled them, and have never been stung by one. We often see them walking about in the grass and along paths.


IF we pay a visit to that hawthorn bush we shall probably find a bug to our liking. Yes, here is one.

It is a tiny thing, I know, but wait until you see it under the microscope.

Ah, I thought you would be pleased!

Nell says it looks as though it had on a lace party dress.

Is it not a dainty fairy!

We call it the lace bug.

It does not suck the juices of other insects, but instead it sucks the juices of plants.

Its eggs are very curious. It lays them on leaves and glues them fast. They look like little out-growths of the leaf.

The young lace bugs are like their parents in form, only, of course, they have no wings and so they are not pretty.

Fairy lace bug, we are glad to make your acquaintance.


Now, here is a bug we all loathe. It is round and flat, and reddish brown in color, and it has a disgusting odor.

But though we hate this bug, it is very fond of us. It has a short, sharp tube folded down under its head, and this tube it likes to raise up and stick into the skin of people, and suck out their blood.

It has no wings, only a pair of little scales where its wings should be. Yes, May, these scales are rudimentary wings, and they are good for nothing. It once had wings, but it preferred to go slipping about in cracks and hiding in beds, until in course of time no wings grew, which served it right.

It has antennae and eyes and spiracles; indeed, it has everything a bug should have but wings and good manners.

We call it the bed bug because its favorite home is in beds, so that it can sally forth at night and feast upon its sleeping victims.

It lays its eggs in cracks and crevices, and each egg is like a little jar with a rim and a lid at the top. When the young one hatches it pushes off the lid. The young are in shape like their parents, only they are very light colored, and almost transparent. They look like ghosts of bugs, but they are very voracious ghosts indeed, and they eat and moult and grow and become darker colored until they reach maturity.

One strange thing about them is that they can live a very long time with nothing to eat, so that houses long vacated may still contain these nuisances, that sally forth, eager to round out their emaciated forms at the expense of the new occupants of the house.

The barn swallow is sadly afflicted by a species of these unwelcome visitors to its nest, and the poor bats are also victimized by a species of bed bug.

The bad odor comes from a liquid poured out of the back of young bugs, and from the under side of old ones.

These insects are very undesirable acquaintances, and they breed so fast that even one, brought into a house, may cause it to become generally infested in a few weeks.

Eternal vigilance and great cleanliness are the housekeeper's only safeguards.

There are some species of bugs that closely resemble the bed bugs, only they have wings, and live on flowers or in the cracks of the bark of trees.


There are a great many kinds of bugs on the leaves and flowers in summer, and some of them do much damage by eating the vegetation.

One of the most troublesome of these is the red bug. Here is a picture of one.

Its wings look as if they had an X drawn on them.

Let us spread out one of the wings.

Why do you all laugh?

Sure enough, Ned, how can we spread out the wings of a bug in a picture?

But there is a way out of that difficulty.

Yes, another picture.

Only the upper wings are spread out.

You see, the half of the wing next the body is stiff like a wing cover, and the other half is thin and silky, and folds up under the stiff part. When the insect flies it spreads out the under wings, too, for there is a pair of thin, flying wings folded on the body under these upper wings.

These upper wings, that are half wing cover and half flying wing, are characteristic of the bug order.

Not all the bugs have them, but a great many have.

The name of the bug order is HEM-IP-TERA, meaning half-wing. You see why.

Yes, John, the word "hemiptera" comes from two Greek words, hemi, meaning half, and, as you know, pteron, meaning a wing.

The young red bugs are like the old ones, excepting in color.

What do we call the young of insects, little Nell?

Yes, we call them larvae. These red bug larvae are bright red with black legs.

They pierce the cotton plants in the South, and suck out the juices.

Of course, they grow and moult until they arrive at the adult form.

What, John? You do not know what "adult" means? Adult means "grown-up."

It is a short way of saying grown-up; and after this, when we mean a grown-up insect, let us say an adult insect.

To return to the red bug. When it reaches the adult state, it is not such a bright red, but rather of a reddish color with brownish wings striped with light yellow.

Beside eating the juices of the cotton plants and thus injuring or even killing them, the red bugs stain the white cotton and spoil it.

They are also troublesome in some parts of Florida, where they pierce the skins of the oranges, and cause the fruit to decay.


There are a great many bugs injurious to vegetation, among them the little chinch bugs.

They are so small, each one no larger than a plant louse, that you would not think they could do much harm.

One of them could not, but when they appear in millions, then they are terrible.

Here is one magnified to show the white wing covers with black markings.

Would you believe that this tiny insect has destroyed millions of dollars' worth of grain in the United States?

What, Charlie? you should think they could be killed out? That is a very difficult task. You see they are so small, and they breed so fast. There are two broods of them in one year, and when they have eaten one grain field they start off, millions strong, to another.

Of course a great many methods have been tried for getting rid of them, and one very curious method you will like to hear about.

You know insects are subject to diseases.

What, Nell, you never heard of a sick bug?

Yet it seems they are sick sometimes, and certain diseases kill them. Chinch bugs are not as healthy in some places as in others.

There is a contagious disease that kills them off in very great numbers.

Ned says he can guess what remedy the people apply to the healthy chinch bugs that are eating their grain.

Yes, they introduce diseased chinch bugs into the grain fields with the healthy ones. The contagion spreads and the bugs die!

There is another way of getting rid of some kinds of troublesome insects. That is, to introduce an insect not injurious to vegetation, that will prey upon the injurious ones.


One of the bugs we know the best and like the least is the stink bug.

It deserves its name.

John says he had one on his hand this morning.

How did you like it, John?

Did any of you ever pick berries where these bugs were?

See what a face Mollie is making! It is very evident that she has.

What a nasty taste they give the delicious fruit.

Even the flavor of the red raspberry is spoiled if one of these bugs pollutes it.

What makes them smell so? May is asking.

The disgusting odor is caused by a liquid that is ejected out of little pores on the under side of the thorax.

The bug can eject this liquid when it pleases.

Most members of the bug order can eject a disagreeable liquid, though few of them do it so successfully as the stink bug.

If the stink bug is not disturbed, it does not give forth the bad odor; but when we jostle the bushes in getting the berries, that startles it, and we get the benefit of its alarm.

Yes, undoubtedly the bugs make a bad odor for the same reason the grasshoppers make molasses. They wish to repel their enemies.

Very few birds ever touch a stink bug.

Nell thinks a bird would be crazy to eat a stink bug.

Mollie says if it were not crazy when it began, it surely would be before it got through!

Not only the bugs make these disagreeable odors.

Many other insects do.

The cockroaches, as we know, and one reason we dislike them so is because of this offensive odor.

Some species of crickets, too, and indeed many, many insects give forth odors from glands that exist just for that purpose.

No, indeed, these odors are not all alike. Some have a strangling quality like ammonia, and sometimes the odors are not disagreeable. Some insects have sweet odors, like perfumes.

The pleasant odors are not used to repel, but to attract.

If an insect wishes to see its mate, it may be able to give forth a pleasant odor that will reach a long way through the air, and the mate, smelling it, will follow it to its source. You see, this pleasant odor is one way of talking; at least it is one way of sending a message.

Insects can detect odors much better than we can.

No doubt many insects produce odors that affect other insects, but that are so faint we cannot smell them at all.

The sense of smell, even in the human being, is very wonderful. It is the keenest of all the senses.

You have studied weights and measures, and you know how small a quantity a grain of anything is. Well, you will be astonished to know that your nose can detect the presence of 1/2,760,000,000 of a grain of mercaptan, a substance having a very bad smell.

So you see, insects that can smell very, very much better than we would be greatly influenced by the odors of other insects.

Some of the stink bugs, although so disagreeable if disturbed, are very useful to us, as they eat other insects injurious to vegetation.

Most of them, however, eat fruits and vegetables, and some species do a vast amount of mischief.


Yes, John, lice are bugs, and very mean bugs too.

They have lived at the expense of other creatures so long that they cannot exist unless they have a living body to feed on.

Here is a picture of one very much enlarged. No wings, no beauty, a pale white thing, all claws and mouth.

It has a long sucking tube by which it pierces the skin, and a sucking stomach by which it pumps the blood into its mouth.

Such creatures are called parasites.

Yes, bed bugs are parasites too.

Besides the lice that live on human beings, there are species that infest animals.


Bird lice are not lice!

That is, they do not belong to the bug order.

They belong to a small order by themselves, but they are parasites like the lice.

The little white book lice that scurry away when we open an old book that has been standing on the back shelf, are not lice, either; they also belong to a little order of their own, and are constructed very differently from the true lice.



May says she wishes that locust would keep quiet. It makes her warmer than ever to hear him carrying on so this hot day.

John says it is the weather that is warm, not the song of the locust.

And yet, locusts generally sing during the hottest part of the summer, so that we have learned to associate them with warm weather.

Since we must listen to its shrill out-cry, I wish we could also see it.

Ah, that is a wish soon gratified! Here comes one out of John's pocket.

John says it is not a locust.

Ah, yes, the shorthorned grasshoppers are the real locusts, and this fellow has somehow got the name.

But it is not a locust.

It is also called the dog-day harvest fly, but it is not a fly, though it looks considerably like one.

Really, you know, it is a—bug!

Yes, it belongs to the bug order.

Its true name is cicada, and its shrill midsummer song has been famous from the beginning of time.

It looks like an enormous fly, but its mouth parts are the mouth parts of the bug, and in other respects it resembles the members of the bug order, when it is examined closely.

What glassy wings!

Let us spread them out carefully. Four of them it has.

The cicada, you see, has no wing covers. Nor are its upper wings, half wing cover, and half wing, like those of so many of the bugs.

No, all four of its wings are alike, and all four are flying wings.

When it is at rest, the inner wings slip out of sight under the outer ones, which fold down like a roof over its body.

See how beautifully the wings, are veined.

You think cicada has a very broad back, Nell?

So it has, and a broad head.

See its black eyes on the corners of its head!

How many facets have its eyes?

I wish I knew, but I do not. This, however, I can tell you. If you look on the top of its head between its compound eyes, with a magnifying glass, you will find it has three little eyes there.

These small eyes are simple, and are called ocelli.

Many insects have ocelli, indeed, some of the grasshoppers have these extra eyes on top of their head.

May says the grasshoppers are very astonishing insects.

You think you know all about them, and you are all the time finding out something new. You would not be apt to notice these little ocelli on the grasshopper's head, they are so small, and besides, some of the grasshoppers do not have them.

Yes, Mollie, it is the same with the crickets and katydids. Some species have ocelli, and some have not.

If you look full in the face of a cicada, you can see the three little round ocelli between the compound eyes.

They show very plainly with a magnifying glass.

Indeed, it is difficult to explain what the ocelli are for.

Some think they are to see objects close at hand, while the compound eyes see more distant objects.

Others think the ocelli are only capable of distinguishing light from darkness.

Yet others think they are merely a "survival" of the eyes of the worms. You know, way back in time, before there were winged insects there were worms. In some way the insects are descended from the worms, and though they have got rid of many of their wormlike parts they still retain some of them, and probably among these are the ocelli.

When an animal of any kind keeps organs that belonged to its ancestors, but that are of no use to it, we say these organs are "survivals." They have not yet had time wholly to disappear.

Yes, John, the time may come when the ocelli will disappear from the insects. A good many insects have lost them already.

Indeed, you are right, May; they have lost them because they did not use them. When an animal ceases to use an organ in course of time, for lack of exercise, that organ dwindles away and disappears. It generally takes a very long time for this to happen.

Yes, Mabel, thousands or even millions of years may pass before an organ that has gone out of use entirely disappears. As generations succeed each other each generation loses a little power in that organ until, finally, there is no organ left.

John is puzzled to know just what is meant by an organ. It is some particular part of the creature. An arm is an organ, a stomach is an organ, an eye is an organ. The whole creature is made up of organs, and is called an organism.

Your whole body, John, is an organism, but your legs and arms are organs. Now, I think you understand.

Our cicada has one organ that is very interesting; it is the little apparatus by which it sings.

Turn it over, Ned, and all of you look at the two thin plates lying against the abdomen just below the thorax.

Those membranes are like two little kettle drums, and they are its song organs.

There are other membranes beneath them, and large muscles within the body to move the membranes.

The membranes being set in rapid vibration we get the shrill cry of the locust.

Only the male has the kettle drums. In the female these organs are rudimentary, and she is dumb.

Cicada, you are a pretty little thing with your clear, glasslike wings and your black body with red and green trimming. See its mouth lying in that little groove under its head. It is a tube, and sharp. The cicada sticks it into a leaf or young twig to suck out the juice.

Nell wants to know if the young cicadas are like the old ones. Indeed, they would be cunning little things if they were, and—yes, they would look very much like flies.

But the young cicadas are queer babies, indeed. They do not look very much like their parents, although they have a head, a thorax, and an abdomen.

The female cicada makes a slit in the bark of the tree twig with her ovipositor and lays the eggs there. As soon as they hatch out, the tiny cicadas drop down to the ground and burrow into the earth.

You would not know that they are cicadas, they are such queer-looking little things. But they have strong, sucking mouth parts with which they pierce holes in the roots of trees and suck out the juices.

Of course these larvae grow and moult and continue to do so until they have moulted a good many times and grown quite large.

They stay down under the ground two years.

At the end of that time they crawl up to the surface of the earth in the early summer.

They climb trees, or weeds, or fence posts, and then the skin splits down the back for the last time, and out comes a full-grown cicada with bright glassy wings.

The wings of the larva do not grow at each moult like the wings of the grasshopper.

The larva never gets beyond short little wing pads. See John's eyes twinkling! I believe—yes, he has! He has brought us the cast-off skin of a cicada to look at.

Why, John, you are like a good fairy to us to-day, giving us just the things we want just when we want them.

Now, see this little shell. See the front legs, like strong paws to dig with. And see its little glassy eyes, and its little wing pads!

It is a perfect cast of the cicada larva.

Yes, May, this little cast is made of chitin, and it will last a long time. Chitin is a very indestructible substance; even fire will not destroy it, but in course of time the moisture and the acids in the earth destroy it, so that at last the millions of cicada shells and grasshopper cast-off skins, which are also of chitin, and cricket moults, and all the other little cast-aside chitinous overcoats of the insects, return again to the earth and the air whence they came. The minerals and gases that compose them let go of each other, as it were, and the chitin is no longer chitin.

Amy says she has seen these little cicada shells hundreds of times but did not know what they were.

Yes, we are sure to find them almost every summer.

If we look, we will also find other larvae shells. Down in the grass are the cast-off coats of the grasshoppers and the crickets.

All we need do is to look, and we shall be sure to find them—like unsubstantial ghosts of the active little wearers.

No doubt you all have heard of the seventeen-year locusts. They, too, are cicadas, and they look very much like this one, only it takes the young ones seventeen years to complete their growth.

Think of living in the ground and sucking the juices out of the earth and of tree roots for seventeen years!

How would you like to do it?

But no doubt the cicada is quite happy living in this way.

At the end of seventeen years the cicadas come up out of the earth in great swarms.

They cast their skins for the last time. The queer little shells are seen everywhere, and the air resounds with the songs of the freed prisoners.

In the South it takes only thirteen years for these cicadas to develop.

I once went up the side of a beautiful mountain in North Carolina, where was such a mighty host of cicadas in the trees that I could not hear my companion speak, and a little way off the noise sounded like a torrent of rushing water.


Why, little Nell! What is the matter?

You do wish the frogs would stop spitting on the grass?

Let me see; why, poor child, she is all covered with frog spittle.

That is kind, Ned. See, he is wiping her apron off with some fresh, clean leaves. Let us rest awhile under this shady tree.

John, pick that grass blade with the frog spittle on it. Be careful not to disturb it.

There is a surprise in store for you; this white frothy substance that is so abundant in some places in the summer and that looks like spittle is—guess what?

Frog spittle, May says. So you think the frogs spit on the grass do you? They must be tall frogs to reach up so high.

With this little twig let us carefully brush away the white froth.

Now see.

Yes, there is something in the centre of it.

It is the larva of a—bug!

The female bug, and here is one of the little things, lays the egg on the leaf or twigs, and when it hatches the young bug sucks out the sap of the plant which finally appears as this white froth.

The larva remains surrounded by the froth until its transformations are complete.

Just before the last moult it stops sucking out sap. The froth dries about it in the form of a little room, and in this it undergoes its last moult and comes out—an adult bug.

The froth is supposed to be used as a protection, and it may be against some enemies, but there are certain wasps that delight in invading the frothy masses and hauling out the unwilling morsels within to feed to their young.

No, little Nell, the frogs have nothing whatever to do with this frothy substance which was called frog spittle before people understood about the little insect that made it.

They really thought the frogs did it.

The adult spittle insect is called a frog hopper, and it has the power of leaping very well.


Just see this bush! Be careful not to shake it.

It is covered with such pretty, bright-colored little insects.

There, May ran against the bush and see—they are hopping wildly off in every direction.

Yes, little Nell, they do sound like rain drops pattering on the leaves.

They are prettier than the spittle insects and more slender, but they hop about in very much the same way.

The larvae do not make froth, however.

These are the leaf hoppers.

What big heads they have!

And how daintily their green forms are pencilled with red lines.

There are a great many species of the leaf hoppers, and not all of them are as pretty as these.

Some of them are very small indeed, and some do great damage to the grain crops and the fruits.

They suck out the juices of the plants.

If you sweep the insect net over bushes or through the grass in midsummer, you will be pretty sure to draw in a good collection of leaf hoppers.

Most of us are only too well acquainted with the rose-leaf hopper that swarms on rose bushes and kills the leaves. If we have not noticed the insect itself, we have not failed to notice the little white skins that it has cast off and left clinging to the leaves.

Yes, these are the little skins it discards when it moults.

John says we can kill them by washing the bushes with strong soap suds.

Ned says it is better yet to spray them.

It is better and also easier to spray them than to wash them.

You know there are machines for spraying trees and other plants. They consist of a tank to hold the liquid that is to be sprayed and a pump to force it through a rubber pipe with a sprinkler at the end.

Very often a mixture of soap and kerosene oil, known as "kerosene emulsion," is used to spray with.

Paris green and blue vitriol, both very poisonous, are often used on grape vines before the grapes are formed, and very gaudy vines they are for a little while after this bright poison has been sprayed upon them.

Although insects are so very interesting, we have to protect ourselves against many species in order to live.

Yes, John, it is oftentimes merely a question which shall profit by the crops we plant, the insects or ourselves.

Sometimes the insects win, sometimes we win, but it is a closely contested warfare all the time.

We plough the land and take care of it, we plant the seeds and keep out the weeds. Then, when we have a fine crop growing, along come certain destructive insects, feeling very happy, no doubt, to have found such a feast.

Now the fight begins. They attack the crop, we attack them. We spray them with poisons, burn up their eggs, do everything we know how to get rid of them.

Wise men have spent many years of close study finding out the habits of the insects destructive to grains and fruits, in order to be able to destroy them.

Although many of the plant hoppers are such nuisances to us, there is one family of hoppers that is seldom a nuisance.


Do you know the tree hoppers,—absurd little jokers that they are?

Oh, yes, they are hard and three cornered, like animated beechnuts, as somebody has said.

Yes, some of them have humps on their backs and some have horns.

John says he once made a collection of tree hoppers and put them in a box with a reading glass over the top, and showed them to his friends to make them laugh.

May says she saw them, and they reminded her of Brownies.

Would it not be fun to have a tree hopper Brownie book!

The tree hoppers jump about on the bushes and eat the juices of the plants, but there are not usually enough of them to do damage. They seldom come in swarms like some of the leaf hoppers, though sometimes they do.


The jumping plant lice are nearly related to the tree hoppers, but they do not look at all like them.

Under the magnifying glass they look like tiny cicadas.

See, here is a picture of one enlarged.

Their natural size is no larger than a plant louse.

Have you not often seen them clustered close together on the young twigs of pear trees—tiny, light-colored things that jumped in all directions when you touched the twig?

The name of the plant louse that infests pear trees is the pear-tree psylla. It is very destructive to pear trees, sucking out the juices of the young shoots.

The pear trees can be saved by spraying them with kerosene emulsion as soon as the young leaves have opened in the spring.


Now, let us go in search of the aphids, or aphides, as they are also called. We shall not have to search far.

In a very dry season we generally need not search at all. All we need do is to examine the nearest weed to find plenty of aphides.

Yes, they are the little plant lice that seem at times to cover every growing thing.

Sometimes they are green, sometimes brown, or gray, or reddish, in color.

They are tiny creatures, but what they lack in size they more than make up in numbers.

Go now, and find some aphides.

Ah, here you all come, each bearing a leaf or a twig on which are aphids.

There was no trouble in finding them!

They do not hop like the jumping plant lice when they are disturbed. They remain where they are unless they are very much shaken up.

See, most of them are without wings, though here are a few with beautiful transparent wings.

Antennae they have, long and threadlike. And see, the knowing little eyes!

They seem to be anchored to the leaf.

Hold the leaf up to the light, and see if you can discover what they are doing.

Ah, see those mouth tubes firmly stuck into the leaf. There they stand all day long and suck out the juice.

Ned says he should think they would burst.

But they do not; they grow. And they also get rid of a large part of the superfluous sap in a curious way.

They use what they need to grow on, and the rest escapes from the insect's body in the form of "honey dew." It is a sweet liquid of which ants and bees are very fond.

What, John, you have heard that the aphids give out honey dew from two little horns near the tip of the abdomen?

Let us see if we can find these horns. Yes, we can see them plainly, and very plainly with a magnifying glass.

But now listen; the honey dew does not come from the horns. On the end of some of the horns, or tubes, we can see a drop of clear liquid.

For a long time people believed this was honey dew, but instead, it is a waxy substance which is not sweet.

It has been very carefully studied by wise men who tell us it contains no sugar and is probably used as a means of defence, as aphides have been seen to smear the faces of insect enemies with this wax.

There are a great many species of aphides, and not all of them have the little tubes or horns on their backs. But probably many that have no horns give forth honey dew.

It is really a waste substance from the body of the aphid.

Ants are so fond of the honey dew that certain species of aphides have been called the ants' cows, because the ants take care of them for the sake of the honey dew.

Some ants protect the aphids from their enemies. They drive off those insects that would devour the aphids, and when winter comes these ants carry the aphids down into their warm nests under ground, and keep them safe through the cold weather.

The aphides cannot stand wet weather, but after a long spell of dry weather they will be found in great abundance.

Sometimes they eat so fast and so much that the honey dew falls like a shower from the trees upon which they are. It covers the ground beneath and the leaves of plants, and makes everything very sticky and disagreeable to the touch. The dust settles on it, too and a growth something like mould often turns it black—as we find to our discomfort.

But when the honey dew is fresh the bees love it. They collect large quantities of it and make it into honey. Squirrels like it to.

It is great fun to watch the nimble squirrel folk sitting in the trees and holding a leaf between their little hands while they lick off the honey dew.

Children sometimes suck the honey dew from the leaves in back country places, where sugar is scarce and where candy is seldom to be had.

Which side of the leaf does the aphid prefer?

Yes, it is on the under side always.

I wonder why.

John says the aphides would be better protected in case of a shower.

Ned says the skin is tenderer on the under side and easier to pierce.

Mollie thinks they want to be in the shade out of the hot sunshine.

I should not wonder if all of these reasons were right.

My little aphid, how many wings have you when you have any?

Yes, little Nell, they have four of the daintiest, prettiest little wings you ever saw.

True enough, most of them have no wings at all.

John thinks those must be young ones.

Sometimes they are, but not always. Many of the adult aphids have no wings.

The aphids are very curious insects, and when you are older I hope you will remember to study them carefully.

No, John, not all species of aphides make honey dew.

Some form instead a white, powdery substance that is seen scattered over the body.

May says that must be the kind she has.

Let us see. Yes, May's aphids produce the white powder instead of honey dew.

That is their way of getting rid of the waste matter.

May says she is glad to know that; she thought her aphids had something the matter with them. They seemed to be falling to pieces.

No, May, they are not falling to pieces; that powder can all be rubbed off, and there are your aphids whole and sound beneath it.

Do you know that some species of your funny little tree hoppers secrete honey dew also, and even have ants to attend them? See if you can find some of these this summer.

Sometimes aphids live on the roots of plants as well as on the leaves.

Yes, indeed, May, they are very destructive insects. We have to spray our house plants to get rid of them, and often our garden flowers as well, and they do a great deal of damage to fruits and vegetables, and one of them, the phylloxera, has nearly destroyed the vineyards of France. It lives on the leaves of some species of grapes and on the roots of others. We have to be very careful about getting grape vines from Europe to plant in this country on account of the phylloxera.

What have you found now, John? Ah, yes, an alder branch, with a white, cottony substance on it. You have been poking into it with a little stick, and you think there are insects beneath it.

What, May, you always thought that white stuff was a plant growth, like mould?

We can easily find out. Get out some of the little things inside if you can, John. It is not easy to separate them from their cottony covering without crushing them, but now we can see quite well with the magnifying glass—and yes—you see they are little insects.

We call them the woolly aphids.

They also secrete honey dew.

You say the ground below the alder bush was all sticky and black, John?

That was the honey dew, blackened by a little plant something like mould, that grows on it.

We often see woolly plant lice in the summer-time on different plants, and one species injures apple trees. It gets on the roots as well as on the tender bark of young trees and kills them.

Yes, indeed, Mollie, the aphids are bugs. They belong to the bug order, which is a very large and important insect family, and contains some members that are exceedingly troublesome to us.


What, May, you are tired out?

What have you been doing?

Oh, yes, washing the scales off the leaves of your mother's window fern.

It must indeed have been a task; what did you wash them off with? Why did you use soap suds?

Because your mother told you to; well, that is a good reason, but why do you think she told you to use soap suds?

You say you don't know, but you think very likely these scales are some sort of bug, as everything nowadays seems to be bugs.

Well, I don't know about everything being bugs, but those scales certainly are. They are scale bugs.

Did you stop to look at them under the magnifying glass?

No, but you brought a piece of the fern for us to look at.

It will be necessary to put it under the microscope.

There, now look.

Yes, that scale looks like a tiny mussel shell; but look carefully, and you will see it has legs.

Lift it up with the point of a pin, and under it you will find a mass of eggs. Yes, Ned; it is like a quantity of eggs under a dish cover.

The cover is the female scale bug, and she has laid all those eggs.

Yes, the scales we see on so many plants are the scale bugs.

They are not all alike in shape, or size, or color; here is a different kind, you see.

But they are all very prolific; that is to say, they produce a great many young, and do it in a short time.

Yes, John, the tiny, dark-colored scales that look like little oyster shells on the skins of oranges are a form of scale bug, and a very troublesome one, too, to the orange grower.

But though most of these insects are troublesome, the family is redeemed by a few members that are of great value to us.

One of these is the scale bug that supplies shellac, and all that comes from it to our markets. These curious bugs give forth a resinous substance that envelops the eggs and glues them to the twigs whose juices the bug sucks out. It is this resinous substance that is collected by breaking off the twigs where the insects are. It is used for varnishes, as you know, and for polishing wood and other substances.

There are other scale bugs that secrete wax, and some of them produce it so abundantly, and of such good quality, that it has become an article of commerce. China wax, which is wax of a very fine quality, is secreted by a Chinese scale bug, and the wax is used for making fine candles, as well as for other purposes.

In Mexico we have the cochineal insect, which is a scale bug that lives on a cactus that grows in Mexico.

Like many others of the scale bugs, the cochineal males have wings and are not so scalelike as their helpless mates.

But they are of no use to us. It is only the female cochineal we use.

She is raised in great numbers in cactus gardens planted on purpose.

Here is the picture of a cactus with cochineal insects upon it.

These insects contain a very brilliant, red coloring matter that is used by us in dyeing leather and wool, and in making paints. The insects are gathered and dried, and thus sent to market.

Although a few of them are useful to us, the scale bugs, on the whole, are a serious pest; and they are found on nearly all kinds of plants all over the world.

You should think all the plants would soon be gone, so many insects eat them?

Well, they would, only other things eat the insects.

Insects have a great many enemies, after all.

Sometimes the weather is bad for them, the season is too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, and then they do not appear in large numbers.

Sometimes one kind of insect eats another kind.

Sometimes tiny plants, like moulds, grow on the insects and kill them; and birds destroy a very large number.

If the farmers only knew how much good the birds do them, they would never allow one to be killed. Even the crows that pull up their corn are worth many times the corn they eat in the insects they destroy. There is scarcely a bird but what is of value to the farmer.

The hawks that catch his chickens catch more mice and moles in his fields, than chickens in his barn-yard.

And as for the robins, the blue jays, and all the small birds, they do more to save the growing plants, than all the soap suds and kerosene emulsion that were ever made.

No one should ever shoot a bird. The birds are our natural protectors against the vast armies of insects, that, but for the birds, would soon destroy us by eating up our food plants.

What is that, May? You belong to an Audubon Society for the protection of the birds?

Yes, I know you do, and so do John and Ned and Mollie and little Nell.

I wish every child in the United States belonged to the Audubon Society. Then our birds would be safe. They would never be killed as they are now for foolish women to wear on their hats.

When the Audubon Society children grew up they would not wear dead birds, of course, and their children would be taught better, so that after a while the Audubon Society people would be the only ones left, and so the birds would be safe.

Let us get as many people to belong to the Audubon Society as we can.

What is that, Amy? You have learned more interesting things about birds in the Audubon Society than you ever knew in your life before?

Yes, I am sure you have, and what could be lovelier to study about than the birds.

What is that you are saying, Ned? You love to go bird hunting? Ah, I see your eyes twinkle, sir; I know how you go hunting. You hunt with your mother's opera glass! That is the proper way to hunt birds.

We can learn more from watching one bird with a glass than we could from shooting a hundred.

But you do shoot them, John? Yes, I know about that, too. I know what kind of a shooting instrument you got for Christmas, sir, and I have seen the birds you shot!

Yes, nearly all of us have seen them, and how well he does it!

What, Amy, you think John ought to be ashamed of himself to go about shooting birds, and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves to talk so about it?

There, now, don't be vexed with Amy, children. She has known us but a little while, and she has not seen John's birds, so I do not wonder she feels indignant.

What is that, May? You have one of John's birds right here in your school-bag? Show it to Amy.

Isn't it pretty! It is a very charming photograph of a catbird on its nest.

You see John shoots birds with a camera! His father gave him a beautiful one for Christmas, and he has made good use of it.

How long did it take you to get that bird, John?

Just hear! He spent more than a week getting acquainted with the bird so it would sit still on the nest while he took its picture.

I am sure that was a week well spent.

John says he feels better acquainted with the catbird than he would have been if he had read fifty books about it.

And I am sure he is right. The only way to enjoy a bird and to know it, is to watch it alive.

A camera is the very best gun in the world for catching birds. And it is really much better fun to take their pictures than to shoot and kill them.

It seems to me we have strayed a long way from bugs.

May says she thinks birds are much more interesting than bugs.

That may be, but still we want to know about bugs, too.

Do you think you will know a bug when you see it now?

No, I do not believe you can be sure of that. But at least you know something about a few bugs.

Some day you will study more carefully how insects are formed, and then you will understand better how we decide what order they belong to.

We group together the insects that are most like each other.




No more bugs, if you please.

We are to make the acquaintance of another order of insect folk this time.

I think we can find some worthy members of this new order if we go with John to a brook he knows of.

Here we are, and it certainly is a lovely brook, whether we find a dobson in it or not.

Yes, Nell, the dobson is the new insect we shall try to find.

Now, be careful and not get your clothes too wet, but we have to turn over the stones along the edge of the brook until we find what we are after.

Mollie wants to know how she is to know it if she finds it.

Well, Mollie, whatever you find that is interesting you must show us. Even though it is not what we are searching for, we shall enjoy seeing it.

Look at little Nell! She has tumbled into the brook. Her foot slipped, and down she went.

Don't cry, deary, you are not wet enough to do any harm. The warm sun will soon dry you.

No, indeed, you will not have to go home.

Perhaps you will be the first one to find a dobson after all.

Hurrah! hurrah! hear John shout!

He must have found the first dobson.

Yes, he has.

What, May? It is a horrid monster, and you have a good mind to scream?

Well, scream if you want to; that won't do any harm.

It isn't pretty! but we shall like to look at it. You see it is a larva and a big one, dark gray in color and with a thick leathery skin.

Mollie says it reminds her a little of the larva of the May fly; that is, in shape.

Let us look at a picture of the May-fly larva.

You see it has a head, a thorax to which is attached the six legs and the rudimentary wings, and an abdomen, all distinctly separated from each other.

The dobson has a head, but no thorax.

The body behind the head is divided into segments that all look very much alike, and there is a pair of legs attached to each of the first three segments.

The dobson eats other larvae that it chews up with its strong jaws.

It lives almost three years in the larval state, so you see it has plenty of time in which to grow. Of course it moults. It is usually to be found under stones in swift, running water. Those two pairs of hooks at the tip of its body are its anchors.

It clasps them about a bit of stone or a stick that is firmly lodged, and then it can bid defiance to the swirling stream.

Ned wonders why it is always found hiding under stones.

Listen to John, he says fishes are very fond of dobsons, and that is why they hide away.

Fishermen hunt the dobsons for bait; so you see they have a hard time in spite of their large size and their strong jaws.

When they have lived nearly three years in the water they crawl out on the bank and hollow out a place under a stone.

Here they lie, apparently dead, but they are not dead.

They are undergoing a wonderful transformation.

It takes about a month for this transformation, or metamorphosis, as it is called, to be completed.

All of our other insect friends have changed gradually from larval to adult form. At each moult they became a little more like their parents, and finally at the last moult, without any resting period, out sprang the perfect insect.

Not so the dobson. It goes into its hole in the bank a larva, almost exactly like the larva that hatched from the egg, only, of course, it is larger. There is no hint of wings. It has no separate thorax and abdomen. Could we see under the bank where it has crept, to undergo its great metamorphosis, we should find, not a larva, but a strange-looking, motionless object.

Here is the picture of one. See its little wing pads. And now it has a thorax and an abdomen.

It seems to have changed and been turned to some hard substance.

In this state it is called the pupa, which means doll. Is it not a cunning insect doll? But it is not really a doll. Although so still and apparently lifeless, yet it lives.

Some day it will burst its pupa shell and pull itself out—not a larva now, not a pupa, but a strong-winged insect.

In its adult form, it is known as the horned corydalus.

There! I thought John was saving one for us. He had it in a box in his pocket. Now see what a—a—what shall I say? A beauty? or a monster? That is just as you feel about it.

It certainly is an alarming-looking insect.

This one is a male, as we can tell by the long, curved jaws that look very dangerous; but in this instance the creature's appearance is worse than its bite, and the real biter is the female whose jaws are smaller but very useful in nipping tormentors or biting prey.

Now here she is—a fit mate for her formidable-looking companion.

John, you were fortunate in your hunting.

In spite of its terrifying appearance, see what wonderful wings the corydalus has.

See! John has spread out the wings of the female.

They are indeed beautiful.

May cannot understand how those great wings came out of those little wing pads.

When the wings were first pulled out of the wing pads they were small, but they rapidly expanded and became thin and broad and long as the air touched them.

You will understand that better after a while.

The corydalus differs from all the other insects we have studied, in its metamorphosis.

It begins life far more unlike its parents than the other insects we have been looking at, for they had the thorax and abdomen distinct from the beginning. Instead of changing gradually and remaining active all the time up to the final metamorphosis, our corydalus goes into the pupa state, and in that motionless condition transforms to the perfect insect.

This is called a complete metamorphosis.

When the change is gradual, without any pupa form, any stopping place as it were, the change is said to be an incomplete metamorphosis.

Yes, the metamorphosis of the grasshoppers is incomplete, and of the katydids and the crickets and all the other insects we have studied until we came to the dobson.

Another name for the larva of insects that undergo an incomplete metamorphosis is nymph. Some books speak of the nymph of the grasshopper, and never of the larva of the grasshopper. Such books use the word larva only in speaking of the young of insects that undergo a complete metamorphosis.

Yes, Ned, they would speak of the nymph of the dragon fly, and the nymph of the May fly and the nymph of the cricket and the katydid, but they would speak of the larva of the corydalus.

Egg, nymph, adult,—those are the stages of insects that have an incomplete metamorphosis.

Egg, larva, pupa, adult,—those are the stages of insects that have a complete metamorphosis.

No, it is not wrong to say larva instead of nymph. I only want you to know how the word nymph is used, so that when you see it in reading about insects you will know what it means.

The corydalus lays its eggs near the water, and it lays a great many—sometimes nearly three thousand. Think of that! The young larvae crawl into the water as soon as they are hatched, and those that escape the hungry fishes grow into these large larvae and finally metamorphose into the big-horned corydalus.

It is such a remarkably fierce-looking creature that it has received many names that are neither complimentary nor beautiful, such as conniption bug, alligator, and dragon, and numerous others equally expressive.

Now, we must go home. Let us put the dobson back into the brook.

It does no harm, and we will not kill it.

Yes, Ned, there are smaller insects like the corydalus that are near relatives to it, and I am sure you have often seen them.


Here is our little Lacewing.

May says it is a darling, like a woodland fairy clad all in green.

And, oh, its eyes! Are they not beautiful? They shine like gold.

Do its wings not remind you a little of the wings of the corydalus?

May says no, indeed; that has ugly brown wings.

But look again, May. See how these wings are veined, and do you not remember how you admired the silvery wings of the corydalus when we spread them out?

Yes, it belongs to the same order as the corydalus.

The name of the insect order to which they both belong is Neuroptera, from neuron, a nerve, and pteron—who remembers what pteron means?

Yes, a wing. Nerve-winged.

What does that mean?

It means that the wings are crossed by many nerves or veins. Yes, that is what gives them their lacelike appearance.

Pretty golden eye, why do we not oftener see you on the trees and bushes? It is only by accident we found you to-day, down in the grass.

The truth is, this pretty fairy hides by day and comes out at night to lay its eggs. Like the May fly, the adult lacewing does not eat. It is a helpless little beauty, though it has one powerful means of defence, as you will discover if you touch it.

Ah, yes; you have already detected it! It gives forth such an offensive odor that nothing, one should think, could have the hardihood to eat it.

May says she supposes the larva of the lacewing is a little monster like that of the corydalus.

But you will not expect to find it as large as a dobson.

I think if we hunt about a little, we can find one.

Here is one on the leaf. See what a little fellow! And how fast it runs!

We shall have to take it captive, in order to get a chance to see it.

It is a funny little larva, with jaws that are tre-men-dous for one of its size.

Why do you suppose it has such jaws?

May says, for the usual reason, to eat up other larvae.

Yes; but wait till I tell you another name for this larva.

It is also called the aphis lion.

Aphis, you know, is the same as aphid, or plant louse. In other words it is the plant-louse lion.

Ah, yes; you are quite willing it should devour the aphids.

And it does. It is very fond of them, though it will also devour any unlucky insect it is strong enough to overcome.

It has a terrible appetite, this child of the pretty lacewing.

It would even eat its brothers and sisters before they hatched out of the egg if it could get at them.

The pretty lacewing knows what an appetite her ever hungry larvae will have, and so she protects them against each other.

Clever little mother! she lays the eggs in such a way that the larvae that hatch out first cannot devour the rest of the eggs.

How do you think she manages it?

Here are some of her eggs on this leaf.

Yes, John; each one is on top of a slender stalk.

The stalk is of stiff silk.

There they are, like a little forest, with an egg for each tree top.

When an egg hatches the young aphis lion drops down to the leaf and runs about like a ravening lion seeking some living thing to devour.

Above his head, quite unsuspected by him, are the eggs out of which his brothers and sisters have not yet hatched.

What a feast he could have if he knew about it!

And what a sad little cannibal he would be!

The larva of the aphis lion has no distinct thorax. Its legs are attached to the upper segments of the body, and its metamorphosis is like that of the corydalus.

When about to become a pupa, it makes for itself a little covering of white silk. Here it lies quite motionless and undergoes the final transformation.

Yes, its metamorphosis is complete.

It bites an opening through its silken walls, and out steps—not the hungry, little, all-devouring aphis lion, but this elegant lady with her pale-green lacelike wings and her large, golden eyes.

You see the aphis lion is our very good friend.

It helps us get rid of the aphids, and we should never kill a lacewing or a child of the lacewing.


John has found something he wants us all to see.

We will go with him.

Now we will sit down on this sand bank and look at what he has to show us. See! those smooth little funnels in the sand.

Those are what we have come out to see.

Let us watch them a while.

Mollie says an ant is walking close to the rim of the funnel she is watching. Now the ant slips over the edge and slides down the smooth sides of the funnel.

And see! from the bottom of the funnel leap out two curved jaws and—good-by, ant!

The ant has been dragged down out of sight through a hole in the bottom of the funnel.

What a strange proceeding!

Who can be living down there at the bottom of the funnel?

We are sorry to disturb such a pretty piece of work, but we shall have to dig out one of the funnels. We shall have to be quick, too.

There, there, under the trowel! No, it is gone. There it is again. Dig fast, Ned. That is right. He has put it with a trowelful of sand into our box.

We will gently shake out the sand until we uncover it.

Mabel says it is just what she thought it was—a larva.

Yes, it is a larva.

You see it looks a little like the lacewing larva, and it, too, belongs to the Neuroptera.

What jaws!

How do you suppose it makes its tunnel?

If we give it plenty of sand, and keep very quiet, perhaps it will go to work.

There! it is throwing the sand about.

May says it is using its own head as a trowel. Yes, it is shovelling the sand away with its head.

Why is Ned laughing? Oh, see the ant lion he is watching! An ant slid part way down its funnel and tried to climb out again, and the ant lion down below is flinging sand at it.

There! it has succeeded in making the poor ant slip; down it goes, and now the ant lion has seized it and dragged it down under the ground.

It is easy to find these pit-falls of the ant lion in sand banks in the summer-time.

Yes, May, the ant lions eat many ants, and they moult and grow, and, finally, they, too, make a little cocoon about themselves.

Yes, the little silken room they weave we call a cocoon, but the ant lions make theirs of silk and sand.

Within the cocoon they become motionless pupae, and finally appear as silver-winged little creatures that bear no resemblance to the large-jawed, ever hungry, ant lion.

May says she thinks the Neuroptera differ from all the other orders in the way the larvae transform.

That is true, May, they do.

In no other order that we have studied do the insects go into the pupal state to undergo the final transformation.

Who remembers what the young of insects that undergo an incomplete metamorphosis are sometimes called?

Dear me, you all remember!

Yes, the young are sometimes called nymphs.

The nymphs do not change into pupae.

The young grasshoppers do not change into motionless pupae, they just keep on growing until they are perfect adults.

Young grasshoppers are sometimes called nymphs instead of larvae.


Here we are in the woods again.

How sweet it smells!

Let us sit down by this brook and look into it.

It is such a clear little stream, with fine sand and little pebbles at the bottom.

What has Nell found that pleases her so?

She says she sees some little bars of sand moving about.

Ned says they are not sand bars but tubes of sand, containing a little live thing.

The truth is, this sand bag is a house, and its occupant is a larva.

See the black head come popping out, and the tiny fore legs.

The larva does not come entirely out, you see, but pulls its house along with it, and when it is frightened it pops back into its little stone case.

Mollie says it reminds her of a hermit crab.

A hermit crab, you know, lives on the seashore and takes possession of an empty snail shell for a house.

It comes partly out dragging its house with it, but if you disturb it, it draws back, sometimes quite out of sight.

This little larva lives in a house, too, but it is a house of its own making.

It is the larva of the caddice fly, or case fly.

Let us put one of these little sand cases in the saucer here.

Please fill the saucer about half full of water, John. Thank you.

Now, Mollie, I see you have picked up a fine big caddice case.

Put it in the saucer, and let us watch the larva crawl about.

It never comes entirely out of the case, you see. It holds on to it with the hinder part of its body.

Its little black head is hard, but its body is soft, and that is why it does not like to expose itself to hungry larvae that might be living in the water.

May says she wants to see the whole larva.

Suppose we carefully break away the little sand case.

No, indeed, little Nell, we are not going to hurt the larva; we are only going to open its house.

There, the larva is outside now, and you can see what a tender, pale little thing it is.

It does not like to have its soft body exposed.

See! it is already gathering little bits of sand together.

It seems to be sticking them fast to its body.

It is really binding them together by a saliva-like substance from its mouth.

It draws out little glistening threads that harden into silk as soon as they touch the water.

Queer saliva you think.

But the caddice larva does not find it queer. It is used to saliva that hardens into silk.

Yes, that is the way the larva of the aphis lion and of the ant lion made their cocoons. They spun out silk in this manner.

The caddice larva makes its house of silk and sand and also lines it with a beautiful covering of fine silk.

Yes, May, it papers its walls with silk.

You see it did not hurt the caddice larva to take away its house; it immediately went to work to build another.

Why not pull it out, instead of breaking its house to pieces?

Because if it had been pulled hard enough to come out, it might have been torn to pieces, it is such a tender little thing, and it holds fast so tightly.

So the best way to remove it safely is to break its case bit by bit from around it.

It does no harm to break its case if one is careful. It will soon build another.

Yes, this larva has no distinct thorax. It is like the larvae of the dobson, the aphis lion, and the ant lion in that respect.

See! John has found one whose tube is made of quite large stones as compared with this tube of fine sand that we have broken open.

Some caddice larvae build houses of wood instead of stone. They stick little twigs together, and some use little pieces of leaves.

Others again use tiny snail shells which, as you can imagine, make very pretty cases.

Our little caddice has made a neat little house of fine sand grains very nicely put together.

Some others make much rougher houses.

You will be apt to find the caddice larvae in any brook and in some ponds, and I hope you will always look for them.

Notice the tracery in the soft mud of the brook.

Those lines that look as though some one had been ornamenting the bottom of the brook are made by our caddice larvae.

They drag their cases along and thus make these lines.

Sometimes such lines are made by the little fresh-water snails; but you can always find the decorator by following along the lines he makes.

What, May? How is the delicate larva able to cling to the case tightly enough to pull it along? If you look at it very carefully, you will find a pair of tiny hooks at the tail end by which it can hold on to the silk lining; and some caddice larvae have hard points on their backs which help them to hold fast.

The caddice larvae are carnivorous; that is, they eat animal food.

Yes, May, their food is usually the larvae of other insects, but you will be glad to know that some of them eat plants too.

They eat the larvae of the May flies when they can find them and no doubt they build these strong cases about themselves to prevent the May fly larvae from returning the compliment.

Frank has found some empty cases, yes, and some that are closed at both ends.

Now, let us look at this one closed at both ends. What do you suppose is in it?

We will open just one of these closed cases.

There! It is a pupa! Yes, Nell, a very pretty doll is this.

It has a thorax, you see, and an abdomen. Its long antennae lie close to its body as do its little wing pads.

Yes, the caddice larva grows and moults in the usual way. It keeps adding to its house as it grows longer. Finally, it closes the end of its little tube and lies quite still.

You know what happens next. Its wormlike form divides into thorax and abdomen. Legs and wings appear, attached to the thorax. In short, it is no longer a wormlike creature.

Finally, it comes forth from its case. It never goes into it again.

It does not need to, for now it is a dainty little nun, with a long, tan-colored cloak. Its cloak, of course, is its wings folded down about its body. Like the fairy May flies it has no mouth and eats nothing in the adult form.

It looks like a dainty brown moth as it flutters about the bushes and goes flying up and down the brook.

You will always find these little brown-cloaked figures flitting about the brooks, where the caddice larvae live.

You see the caddice undergoes a complete metamorphosis.

No, it does not belong to the Neuroptera.

Examine its wings very carefully. Look at them through the magnifying glass, and you will see they are clothed with hairs.

So these are the hair wings.

The name of the order to which they belong is Trichoptera, from pteron, a wing, and thrix, a hair.

Sometime you must take a caddice larva from its house and put it in a saucer of water with fine bits of mica, which you know is another name for the isinglass that makes the little windows in our stoves.

If you are fortunate, your caddice will build for itself a little glass house, through whose walls you can look and see what is going on inside.

- Transcribers note: In this text letters with a macron or breve are represented thus: "a" with a macron ā "a" with a breve ă "e" with a macron ē "e" with a breve ĕ "i" with a macron ī "i" with a breve ĭ "o" with a macron ō "o" with a breve ŏ -

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