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CHAPTER 1. THE HARMAS. This is what I wished for, hoc erat in votis: a bit of land, oh, not so very large, but fenced in, to avoid the drawbacks of a public way; an abandoned, barren, sun-scorched bit of land, favoured by thistles and by Wasps and Bees. Here, without fear of being troubled by the passers-by, I could consult the Ammophila and the Sphex (two species of Digger-or Hunting-wasps.—Translator's Note.) and engage in that difficult... more...

Among the manifold operations of living creatures few have more strongly impressed the casual observer or more deeply interested the thoughtful student than the transformations of insects. The schoolboy watches the tiny green caterpillars hatched from eggs laid on a cabbage leaf by the common white butterfly, or maybe rears successfully a batch of silkworms through the changes and chances of their lives, while the naturalist questions yet again... more...

CHAPTER I: THE BLACK-BELLIED TARANTULA The Spider has a bad name: to most of us, she represents an odious, noxious animal, which every one hastens to crush under foot.  Against this summary verdict the observer sets the beast’s industry, its talent as a weaver, its wiliness in the chase, its tragic nuptials and other characteristics of great interest.  Yes, the Spider is well worth studying, apart from any scientific reasons; but... more...

LET us now, in order to form a clearer conception of the bees' intellectual power, proceed to consider their methods of inter-communication. There can be no doubting that they understand each other; and indeed it were surely impossible for a republic so considerable, wherein the labours are so varied and so marvellously combined, to subsist amid the silence and spiritual isolation of so many thousand creatures. They must be able, therefore, to... more...

Our Pretty Dragon Flies Come, children; come with me. Come to a pond I know of. See how the water shines in the sun. Over there is an old log lying on the edge of the pond. It is covered with green moss, and a green frog is sitting on one end of it. Let us go and sit on the other end. Goop! he says, and—plump! he has jumped into the water. That is too bad, frog; we did not mean to disturb you. How pretty it is here! See the... more...


CHAPTER I THE GLOW-WORM Few insects in our climes vie in popular fame with the Glow-worm, that curious little animal which, to celebrate the little joys of life, kindles a beacon at its tail-end. Who does not know it, at least by name? Who has not seen it roam amid the grass, like a spark fallen from the moon at its full? The Greeks of old called it [Greek: lampouris], meaning, the bright-tailed. Science employs the same term: it calls the... more...

CHAPTER IV. Uncle Thomas introduces to the Notice of the Young Folks the Ettrick Shepherd's Stories about Sheep; and tells them some Interesting Stories about the Goat, and its Peculiarities. "I dare say, Boys, you have not forgotten the Ettrick Shepherd's wonderful stories about his dogs. Some of those which he relates about sheep are equally remarkable, and as he tells them in the same pleasing style, I think I cannot do better than read to... more...

CHAPTER I THE FABLE OF THE CIGALE AND THE ANT Fame is the daughter of Legend. In the world of creatures, as in the world of men, the story precedes and outlives history. There are many instances of the fact that if an insect attract our attention for this reason or that, it is given a place in those legends of the people whose last care is truth. For example, who is there that does not, at least by hearsay, know the Cigale? Where in the... more...

PREFACE. This little volume mainly consists of a reprint of a series of essays which appeared in the "American Naturalist" (Vols. i-v, 1867-71). It is hoped that their perusal may lead to a better acquaintance with the habits and forms of our more common insects. The introduction was written expressly for this book, as well as Chapter XIII, "Hints on the Ancestry of Insects." The scientific reader may be drawn with greater interest to this... more...

ON THE IMPREGNATION OF THE QUEEN BEE. SIR, When I had the honour at Genthod of giving you an account of my principal experiments on bees, you desired me to transmit a written detail, that you might consider them with greater attention. I hasten, therefore, to extract the following observations from my journal.—As nothing can be more flattering to me than the interest you take in my researches, permit me to   remind you of your... more...