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- Moths of the Limberlost - 3/25 -

and found in their native haunts several moths needed to complete the book. It is to be hoped that these wonderful days afield have brought their own compensation, for kindness such as his I never can reward adequately. The book proves my indebtedness to the Deacon and to Molly-Cotton. I also owe thanks to Bob Burdette Black, the oldest and warmest friend of my bird work, for many fine moths and cocoons, and to Professor R. R. Rowley for the laborious task of scientifically criticizing this book and with unparalleled kindness lending a helping hand where an amateur stumbled.


If you are too fastidious to read this chapter, it will be your permanent loss, for it contains the life history, the evolution of one of the most amazingly complicated and delicately beautiful creatures in existence. There are moths that come into the world, accomplish the functions that perpetuate their kind, and go out, without having taken any nourishment. There are others that feed and live for a season. Some fly in the morning, others in the glare of noon, more in the evening, and the most important class of big, exquisitely lovely ones only at night. This explains why so many people never have seen them, and it is a great pity, for the nocturnal, non-feeding moths are birdlike in size, flower-like in rare and complicated colouring, and of downy, silent wing.

The moths that fly by day and feed are of the Sphinginae group, Celeus and Carolina, or Choerocampinae, which includes the exquisite Deilephila Lineata, and its cousins; also Sphingidae, which cover the clear-winged Hemaris diffinis and Thysbe. Among those that fly at night only and take no food are the members of what is called the Attacine group, comprising our largest and commonest moth, Cecropia; also its near relative Gloveri, smaller than Cecropia and oflovely rosy wine-colour; Angulifera, the male greyish brown, the female yellowish red; Promethea, the male resembling a monster Mourning Cloak butterfly and the female bearing exquisite red-wine flushings; Cynthia, beautiful in shades of olive green, sprinkled with black, crossed by bands of pinkish lilac and bearing crescents partly yellow, the remainder transparent. There are also the deep yellow Io, pale blue-green Luna, and Polyphemus, brown with pink bands of the Saturniidae; and light yellow, red-brown and grey Regalis, and lavender and yellow Imperialis of the Ceratocampidae, and their relatives. Modest and lovely Modesta belongs with the Smerinthinae group; and there are others, feeders and non-feeders, forming a list too long to irncorporate, for I have not mentioned the Catocalae family, the fore-wings of which resemble those of several members of the Sphinginae, in colour, and when they take flight, the back ones flash out colours that run the gamut from palest to deepest reds, yellows, and browns, crossed by wide circling bands of black; with these, occasionally the black so predominates that it appears as if the wing were black and the bands of other colour. All of them are so exquisitely beautiful that neither the most exacting descriptions, nor photographs from life, nor water colours faithfully copied from living subjects can do them justice. They must be seen alive, newly emerged, down intact, colours at their most brilliant shadings, to be appreciated fully. With the exception of feeding or refraining from eating, the life processes of all these are very similar.

Moths are divided into three parts, the head, thorax, and abdomen, with the different organs of each. The head carries the source of sight, scent, and the mouth parts, if the moth feeds, while the location of the ears is not yet settled definitely. Some scientists place hearing in the antennae, others in a little organ on each side the base of the abdomen. Packard writes: "The eyes are large and globose and vary in the distance apart in different families": but fails to tell what I want to know most: the range and sharpness of their vision. Another writer states that the eyes are so incomplete in development that a moth only can distinguish light from darkness and cannot discern your approach at over five feet.

This accords with my experience with Cecropia, Polyphemus, Regalis, and Imperialis. Luna either can see better, hear acutely, or is naturally of more active habit. It is difficult to capture by hand in daytime; and Promethea acts as if its vision were even clearer. This may be the case, as it flies earlier in the day than any of the others named, being almost impossible to take by hand unless it is bound to a given spot by sex attraction. Unquestionably the day fliers that feed--the Sphinginae and Choerocampinae groups--have fairly good vision, as also the little "Clear-wings" tribe, for they fly straight to the nectar-giving flowers and fruits they like best to feed upon, and it is extra good luck if you capture one by hand or even with a net. It must be remembered that all of them see and go to a bright light at night from long distances.

Holland writes: "The eyes of moths are often greatly developed," but makes no definite statements as to their range of vision, until he reaches the Catocalae family, of which he records: "The hind wings are, however, most brilliantly coloured. In some species they are banded with pink, in others with crimson; still others have markings of yellow, orange, or snowy white on a background of jet black. These colours are distinctive of the species to a greater or less extent. They are only displayed at night. The conclusion is irresistibly forced upon us that the eyes of these creatures are capable of discriminating these colours in the darkness. We cannot do it. No human eye in the blackness of the night can distinguish red from orange or crimson from yellow. The human eye is the greatest of all anatomical marvels, and the most wonderful piece of animal mechanism in the world, but not all of power is lodged within it. There are other allied mechanisms which have the power of responding to certain forms of radiant energy to a degiee which it does not possess."

This conclusion is not "irresistibly forced" upon me. I do believe, know in fact, that all day-flying, feeding moths have keener sight and longer range of vision than non-feeders; but I do not believe the differing branches of the Catocalae group, or moths of any family, locate each other "in the blackness of night," by seeing markings distinctly. I can think of no proof that moths, butterflies or any insects recognize or appreciate colour. Male moths mate with females of their kind distinctly different from them in colour, and male butterflies pair with albinos of their species, when these differ widely from the usual colouring.

A few moths are also provided with small simple eyes called ocelli; these are placed on top of the head and are so covered with down they cannot be distinguished save by experts. Mueller believes that these are for the perception of objects close to a moth while the compound eyes see farther, but he does not prove it.

If the moth does not feed, the mouth parts are scarcely developed. If a feeder, it has a long tongue that can be coiled in a cleft in the face between the palpi, which Packard thinks were originally the feelers. This tongue is formed of two grooved parts so fastened together as to make a tube through which it takes flower and fruit nectar and the juices of decaying animal matter.

What are thought by some to be small organs of touch lie on either side the face, but the exact use of these is yet under discussion, It is wofully difficult to learn some of these things.

In my experience the antennae, are the most sensitive, and therefore the most important organs of the head--to me. In the Attacine group these stand out like delicately cut tiny fern fronds or feathers, always being broader and more prominent on the male. Other families are very similar and again they differ widely. You will find moths having pointed hair-like antennae; others heaviest at the tip in club shape, or they may be of even proportion but flat, or round, or a feathered shaft so fine as to be unnoticed as it lies pressed against the face. Some writers say the antennae are the seat of scent, touch, and hearing. I had not thought nature so impoverished in evolving her forms as to overwork one delicate little organ for three distinct purposes. The antennae are situated close where the nose is, in almost every form of life, and I would prefer to believe that they are the organs of scent and feeling. I know a moth suffers most over any injury to them; but one takes flight no quicker or more precipitately at a touch on the antennae than on the head, wing, leg, or abdomen.

We are safe in laying down a law that antennae are homologous organs and used for identical purposes on all forms of life carrying them. The short antennae of grasshoppers appear to be organs of scent. The long hair-fine ones of katydids and crickets may be also, but repeatedly I have seen these used to explore the way ahead over leaves and limbs, the insect feeling its path and stepping where a touch assures it there is safe footing. Katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers all have antennae, and all of these have ears definitely located; hence their feelers are not for auricular purposes. According to my logic those of the moth cannot be either. I am quite sure that primarily they serve the purpose of a nose, as they are too short in most cases to be of much use as `feelers,' although that is undoubtedly their secondary office. If this be true, it explains the larger organs ofthe male. The female emerges from winter quarters so weighted with carrying from two to six hundred eggs, that she usually remains and develops where she is. This throws the business of finding her location on the male. He is compelled to take wing and hunt until he discovers her; hence his need of more acute sense of scent and touch. The organ that is used most is the one that develops in the evolution of any form of life.

I can well believe that the antennae are most important to a moth, for a broken one means a spoiled study for me. It starts the moth tremulously shivering, aimlessly beating, crazy, in fact, and there is no hope of it posing for a picture. Doctor Clemens records that Cecropia could neither, walk nor fly, but wheeled in a senseless, manner when deprived of its antennae. This makes me sure that they are the seat of highest sensibility, for I have known in one or two cases of chloroformed moths reviving and without struggle or apparent discomfort, depositing eggs in a circle around them, while impaled to a setting board with a pin thrust through the thorax where it of necessity must have passed through or very close the nervous cord and heart.

The moth is covered completely with silken down like tiny scales, coloured and marked according to species, and so lightly attached that it adheres to the cocoon on emergence and clings to the fingers at the lightest touch. From the examination of specimens I have taken that had disfigured themselves, it appears that a moth rubbed bare of down would seem as if covered with thinly cut, highly polished horn, fastened together in divisions. This is called `chitine' by scientists.

The thorax bears four wings, and six legs, each having five joints and ending in tiny claws. The wings are many-veined membranous sacs, covered with scales that are coloured according to species and arranged to form characteristic family markings. They are a

Moths of the Limberlost - 3/25

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