« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
into three parts, the anterior as well as the posterior of which it may draw up at pleasure, wholly enclosing itself in the shell. The softshell species, which is often used for soups, belong to the genus Trionyx.
The waters of Illinois teen with fish, but few of which have been properly examined or classified.
The perch (Perca), the Centrarchus, Pomotis, Pimelodus, Leuciscus, salmon (Salmo), Corregonus, Lepidosteus, Pike (Esox), eel (Anguilla), tunny-fish (Anica), Noturus and Corvina, are the chief species, the largest of which is the Lepidosteus osseus,* bere called Alligator gar, because of the resemblance of his head to that of the real alligator. In the Peoria Lake one was once captured, which was fifteen feet long. A singular cartilaginous fish is a species of sturgeon called the paddlefish (Polyodon folium), whose upper gill is horizontally compressed, projecting about half the length of the whole body. This fish also attains a considerable size.
Besides these the waters contain crabs, and many molluskas; among the snails, the Helices and Lymneaceæ predominate; among the the shell-fishes, the Najads.
The greatest variety, however, prevails among the spiders and insects. Among the Scarabees, the family of the Cerambides has many different species excelling by their size and beauty, as, for instance, the Clytus pictus, which measures nearly 14 inches. Another Scarabee, belonging to the family of the spring beetles, or Elaterides (Alaus oculatus), is 14 inches in length. We have yet to notice many beautiful Cicindelæ, and the shining lantern-flies, myriads of which, in warm summer nights, alight on the flowers, or buzzing about, produce the most brilliant illumination of the forest. The scarabeus first noticed by every body, is the Caothon læve, which belongs
* The Ganoides populated the waters in the earliest times of animal formation; most of the genus disappeared in the course of time, and are now only to be found in a petrified state ; few belong to the present animal creation. Of the Holosteæ, with bony skeletons, the species Lepidosteus and Amia belong to North America ; the Polypterus, however, to Africa. Of the Chondrosteæ, with cartilaginous skeletons, the sturgeon (Scaphichynchus platyrhynchus), and the paddle. fish (Polyodon folium), may be found in the waters of the Missis
to the family of the Carabaides; these animals busy themselves with removing globules an inch in thickness from the excrements of the cows, on the roads, at which work two are invariably engaged, one of which, leaning on its fore feet, pushes the load with its hind feet, whilst the other climbs the front part of the globule, and draws it down by its weight. After depositing their eggs in these globules, these ingenious animals bury them on a place where the ground can be easily scratched up. The prairie teems with grasshoppers and crickets, and many a dwelling is pestered with mill-moths (Blatta). The most remarkable species of the Orthopteræ is the “wandering leaf,” (Mantis Carolina), bere called “devil's horse," because of its adventurous figure. Of the Heteropteræ, ap insect of the class of the Nepides, nearly three inches long, known as the Belostoma grandis, which lives in the water, subsisting on small fishes and frogs, deserves to be mentioned, as also a small but terrible insect, immense numbers of which are found in the beds, the Acanthia lectularia, or bed-bug; of the Homopteræ, many Cercopedes, and the improperly so-called locust (Cicada septemdecim). The mate of this noxious hardy insect, which at first sight resembles a great hornet, and attains the length of one and a half inches, deposits her eggs in the fresh twigs of trees, after having perforated their bark with her feeling saw. The twig soon withers, so that the tops of the trees of entire forests often appear as if desolated by fire. Within 52 days, the larva creeps out, falls down to the ground, and bores its way through the same to the roots, whose sap it greedily sucks, causing new damage even then. After this it changes into a chrysalis, that, toward the end of May, leaves the earth, so that the empty cases can be seen everywhere on trees and fences. In many seasons thousands of this plump animal can be seen flirting about, and clinging to the wheat-grains, which it bites off, thus destroying on many a corn-field, the crop which the farmer was all along so anxiously expecting. Another sworn enemy of the crops, fortunately not very frequent here, is the so-called "Hessian fly," a Cecidomyia, of the family of the Tipulidae (class Diptera). To these and the Culcides, the various species of the notorious musquitoes belong, which, if we are to assume that everything bas been created on account of man, must have been created to teaze and torment him; but only the female is the real tormentor; the male, whom you may easily tell
by his feathery feelers, is harmless, and never stings. High, airy dwellings, are little frequented by these terrible guests, which usually visit those which are low, or situated in the vicinity of waters. They harass people generally only at night, commissioning the house-fly to vex him in day-time. On walls and underneath roofs,
may be frequently seen, constructed of mud, in the same fashion in which bees use to build their own—a wasp-like insect, marked black and yellow, flies to and fro, fearless and undisturbed, for it fetches forward the building materials it wants without molesting men any further. The posterior part of the body is connected by a very long isthmus of muscles with the breast; the name of this industrious little animal is Pelopæus flavipes; it belongs to the Sphegides (class: Hymenoptera), as also the genera of Ammophila and Pompilus, whose species may often be seen bearing the former company. Xylocopa victima, which belongs to the bees, is another domestic resident; she selects wooden buildings, whose framewalls she perforates to deposit her eggs therein ; the honey-bee, bowever, builds her mellifluous cells in hollow trees, to the great joy of the raccoon. The nests of the paper-wasps, which belong to the Polistes fuscata, can be often seen on bushes. The greater, hornet-like wasp (Vespa maculata), frequently enters houses to hunt after flies. Of the ants, the large yellow ones enslave the smaller, black ones, so that we can only wonder why the human slave-bolders have not yet adduced this fact in proof and evidence of slavery being instituted by nature herself.
Among the Neuropteras, numerous Libellas, part of which are of very vivid colors, a light green Hemerobide, and the ephemerides claim our attention. In summer, millions of the latter appear suddenly, especially in the vicinity of rivers; on houses, hedges and everywhere, the first dress can be seen banging, which they cast off in the first night. They float about in so dense swarms as to resemble a shower of snow, whenever their glassy wings gleam in the sun. Eight or ten days after their first appearance they all vanish again.
We conclude with the Papilios, the most beautiful and most admired of all insects. Among the Bombicides there is a magnificent Saturnia; among the “Spanners," a light-green Acæna. The genus Papilio here has many different species and varieties, among which is the Pa
pilio turnus, very similar to his European brother. Of swallow-tails, there are a great many varieties; the yellow color of the one is almost entirely superseded by black. Many European species are indigenous here, among other, many Vanessa species, the admiral (V. Atalanta), the morio (V. Antiopa), the great and small brownish-red Papilio (V. polychlorus and V. urticæ), and the C. bird (V. C. album). Very frequent is the painted lady (V. Cardui), which rocks on flowers in all parts of the globe.
The view of such a Papilio flying from flower to flower, and parading in the most magnificent colors, reconciles us with many of its troublesome fellow-creatures. An image of the fickleness of beauty and a symbol of transitoriness, he inculcates high wisdom, and while exhorting us, during the short span of our mortal life, to enjoy what God's beautiful world proffers us, he admonishes us that the end of our earthly career is not very far off.
STATE OF HEALTH AND DISEASES.
When people in the Eastern States speak admiringly of the extraordinary fertility of the soil of Illinois, they will often add some remark, expressing their fears in regard to the fever and ague said to prevail there, just as though the state of health in Illinois was so miserable as to counterbalance all the great advantages that a residence in the State offers to the industrious settler. Were this really the condition of things, how could the population of the State increase at such an enormous rate as it does now, and would not many of the families, after a residence of a few years in Illinois, leave the State in order to select a more healthy residence ? Just the contrary is the case, as will at once appear from the fact, that the tide of immigration from the Eastern States to Illinois, swells enormously every year, and but very few families residing in the State are known to remove beyond its limits.
Everybody knows that of all diseases the ague occurs most frequently in Illinois, but they will know also, that while new ground is annually subjugated to culture, the disease is confined to more and more narrow limits; and further, that it depends very much upon the particular plan of abode, and manner of living, whether the fever is to visit a family or not. Whosoever resides in the bottoms, or close by swamps, or in districts where the water—owing to the ground being rather too level, cannot rapidly flow off, will be more exposed to the fever, than one who resides on the high, rolling prairie. Moreover it is perfectly safe to presume that one-half of those who are down with this fever, have to ascribe this to nothing but their own imprudence, and the use of improper food.
To the latter cause must be added, drinking of stagnant water, or a too immoderate use of fruits, lard, eggs, or fish; and, further, nobody should needlessly expose himself to the night air, but live in substantially-built dwellings and sleep in well-ventilated rooms; wearing by