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Our Common Insects Part 8

The Linden tree borer (Fig. 103) is a greenish snuff-yellow beetle, with six black spots near the middle of the back; and it is about eight-tenths of an inch in length, though often smaller. The beetles, according to Dr. Paul Swift, as quoted by Dr. Harris, were found (in Philadelphia) upon the small branches and leaves on the 28th day of May, and it is said that they come out as early as the first of the month, and continue to make their way through the back of the trunk and large branches during the whole of the warm season. They immediately fly into the top of the tree, and there feed upon the epidermis of the tender twigs, and the petioles of the leaves, often wholly denuding the latter, and causing the leaves to fall. They deposit their eggs, two or three in a place, upon the trunk or branches especially about the forks, making slight incisions or punctures for their reception with their strong jaws. As many as ninety eggs have been taken from a single beetle. The grubs (Fig. 104, _e_; _a_, enlarged view of the head seen from above; _b_, the under view of the same: _c_, side view, and _d_, two rings of the body enlarged), hatched from these eggs, undermine the bark to the extent of six or eight inches, in sinuous channels, or penetrate the solid wood an equal distance. It is supposed that three years are required to mature the insect. Various expedients have been tried to arrest their course, but without effect. A stream, thrown into the tops of trees from the hydrant, is often used with good success to dislodge other insects; but the borer-beetles, when thus disturbed, take wing and hover over the trees till all is quiet, and then alight and go to work again. The trunks and branches of some of the trees have been washed over with various preparations without benefit. Boring the trunk near the ground and putting in sulphur and other drugs, and plugging, have been tried with as little effect.

[Illustration: 105. Poplar Tree Borer.]

The city of Philadelphia has suffered grievously from this borer.

[Illustration: 106. Broad-necked Prionus.]

Dr. Swift remarks, in 1844, that "the trees in Washington and Independence Squares were first observed to have been attacked about seven years ago. Within two years it has been found necessary to cut down forty-seven European lindens in the former square alone, where there now remain only a few American lindens, and these a good deal eaten." In New England this beetle should be looked for during the first half of June.

[Illustration: 107. Larva of the Plain Saperda.]

The Poplar tree is infested by an other species of Saperda (S.

calcarata). This is a much larger beetle than those above mentioned, being an inch or a little more in length. It is grey, irregularly striped, with ochre, and the wing-covers end in a sharp point. The grub (Fig. 105 _a_; _b_, top view of the head; _e_, under side) is about two inches long and whitish yellow. It has, with that of the Broad-necked Prionus (P. laticollis of Drury, Fig. 106, adult and pupa), as Harris states, "almost entirely destroyed the Lombardy poplar in this vicinity"

(Boston). It bores in the trunks, and the beetle flies by night in August and September. We also figure the larva of another borer (Fig.

107 _c_; _a_, top view of the head; _b_, under side; _e_, dorsal view of an abdominal segment; _d_, end of the body, showing its peculiar form), the Saperda inornata of Say, the beetle of which is black, with ash gray hairs, and without spines on the wing-covers. It is much smaller than any of the foregoing species, being nine-twentieths of an inch in length. Its habits are not known. We also figure the Locust and Hickory borer (Fig. 108; _a_, larva; _b_, pupa), which has swept off the locust tree from New England. The beautiful yellow banded beetles are very abundant on the flowers of the golden rod in September.

[Illustration: 108. Locust Borer.]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 4: The External and Internal Parasites of Man and Domestic Animals. By Prof. A. E. Verrill, 1870. We are indebted to the author for the use of this and the figures of the Bot fly of the horse, the turkey, duck and hog louse, the Cattle tick, the itch insect and mange insect of the horse.]

CHAPTER IX.

CERTAIN PARASITIC INSECTS.

The subject of our discourse is not only a disagreeable but too often a painful one. Not only is the mere mention of the creature's name of which we are to speak tabooed and avoided by the refined and polite, but the creature itself has become extinct and banished from the society of the good and respectable. Indeed under such happy auspices do a large proportion of the civilized world now live that their knowledge of the habits and form of a louse may be represented by a blank. Not so with some of their great-great-grandfathers and grandmothers, if history, sacred and profane, poetry,[5] and the annals of literature testify aright; for it is comparatively a recent fact in history that the louse has awakened to find himself an outcast and an alien. Among savage nations of all climes, some of which have been dignified with the apt, though high sounding name of Phthiriophagi, and among the Chinese and other semi-civilized peoples, these lords of the soil still flourish with a luxuriance and rankness of growth that never diminishes, so that we may say without exaggeration that certain mental traits and fleshly appetites induced by their consumption as an article of food may have been created, while a separate niche in our anthropological museums is reserved for the instruments of warfare, both offensive and defensive, used by their phthiriophagous hunters. Then have we not in the very centres of civilization the poor and degraded, which are most faithfully attended lay these revolting satellites!

But bantering aside, there is no more engaging subject to the naturalist than that of animal parasites. Consider the great proportion of animals that gain their livelihood by stealing that of others. While a large proportion of plants are more or less parasitic, they gain, thereby in interest to the botanist, and many of them are eagerly sought as the choicest ornaments of our conservatories. Not so with their zoological confreres. All that is repulsive and uncanny is associated with them, and those who study them, though perhaps among the keenest intellects and most industrious observers, speak of them without the limits of their own circle in subdued whispers or under a protest, and their works fall under the eyes of the scantiest few. But the study of animal parasites has opened up new fields of research, all bearing most intimately on those two questions that ever incite the naturalist to the most laborious and untiring diligence--what is life and its origin? The subjects of the alternation of generations, or parthenogenesis, of embryology and biology, owe their great advance, in large degree, to the study of such animals as are parasitic, and the question whether the origin of species be due to creation by the action of secondary laws or not, will be largely met and answered by the study of the varied metamorphoses and modes of growth, the peculiar modification of organs that adapt them to their strange modes of life, and the consequent variation in specific characters so remarkably characteristic of those animals living parasitically upon others.[6]

With these considerations in view surely a serious, thoughtful, and thorough study of the louse, in all its varieties and species, is neither belittling nor degrading, nor a waste of time. We venture to say, moreover, that more light will be thrown on the classification and morphology of insects by the study of the parasitic species, and other degraded, wingless forms that do not always live parasitically, especially of their embryology and changes after leaving the egg, than by years of study of the more highly developed insects alone. Among Hymenoptera the study of the minute Ichueumons, such as the Proctotrupids and Chalcids, especially the egg-parasites; among moths the study of the wingless canker-worm moth and Orgyla; among Diptera the flea, bee louse, sheep tick, bat tick, and other wingless flies; among Coleoptera, the Meloe, and singular Stylops and Xenos; among Neuroptera, the snow insect, Boreus, the Podura (Fig. 109) and Lepisma, and especially the hemipterous lice, will throw a flood of light on these prime subjects in philosophical entomology.

[Illustration: 109. Podura.]

Without farther apology, then, and very dependent on the labors of others for our information, we will say a few words on some interesting points in the natural history of lice. In the first place, how does the louse bite? It is the general opinion among physicians, supported by able entomologists, that the louse has jaws, and bites. But while the bird lice (Mallophaga) do have biting jaws, whence the Germans call them skin-eaters (_pelzfresser_), the mouth parts of the genus Pediculus, or true louse, resemble in their structure those of the bed-bug (Fig. 110), and other Hemiptera. In its form the louse closely resembles the bed-bug, and the two groups of lice, the Pediculi and Mallophaga, should be considered as families of Hemiptera, though degraded and at the base of the hemipterous series. The resemblance is carried out in the form of the egg, the mode of growth of the embryo, and the metamorphosis of the insect after leaving its egg.

[Illustration: 110. Bed-bug.]

Schiodte, a Danish entomologist, has, it seems to us, forever settled the question as to whether the louse bites the flesh or sucks blood, and decides a point interesting to physicians, _i.e._, that the loathsome disease called phthiriasis is a nonentity. From this source not only many living in poverty and squalor are said to have died, but also men of renown, among whom Denny in his work on the Anoplura, or lice, of Great Britain, mentions the name of "Pheretima, as recorded by Herodotus, Antiochus Epiphanes, the Dictator Sylla, the two Herods, the Emperor Maximian, and Phillip the Second." Schiodte, in his essay "On Phthirius, and on the Structure of the Mouth in Pediculus" (Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 1866, page 213), says that these statements will not bear examination, and that this disease should be placed on the "retired list," for such a malady is impossible to be produced by simply blood-sucking animals, and that they are only the disgusting attendants on other diseases. Our author thus describes the mouth parts of the louse.

"Lice are no doubt to be regarded as bugs, simplified in structure and lowered in animal life in accordance with their mode of living as parasites, being small, flattened, apterous, myopic, crawling and climbing, with a conical head, moulded as it were to suit the rugosities of the surface they inhabit, provided with a soft, transversely furrowed skin, probably endowed with an acute sense of feeling, which can guide them in that twilight in which their mode of life places them. The peculiar attenuation of the head in front of the antennae at once suggests to the practised eye the existence of a mouth adapted for suction. This mouth differs from that of the Hemiptera (bed-bug, etc.) generally, in the circumstance that the labium is capable of being retracted into the upper part of the head, which therefore presents a little fold, which is extended when the labium is protruded. In order to strengthen this part, a flat band of chitine is placed on the under surface, just as the shoemaker puts a small piece of gutta-percha into the back of an India-rubber shoe; as, however, the chitine is not very elastic, this band is rather thinner in the middle, in order that it may bend and fold a little when the skin is not extended by the lower lip.

The latter consists, as usual, of two hard lateral pieces, of which the fore ends are united by a membrane so that they form a tube, of which the interior covering is a continuation of the elastic membrane in the top of the head; inside its orifice there are a number of small hooks, which assume different positions according to the degree of protrusion; if this is at its highest point the orifice is turned inside out, like a collar, whereby the small hooks are directed backwards, so that they can serve as barbs. These are the movements which the animal executes after having first inserted the labium through a sweat-pore. When the hooks have got a firm hold, the first pair of setae (the real mandibles transformed) are protruded; these are, towards their points, united by a membrane so as to form a closed tube, from which, again, is inserted the second pair of setae, or maxillae, which in the same manner are transformed into a tube ending in four small lobes placed crosswise. It follows that when the whole instrument is exserted, we perceive a long membranous flexible tube hanging down from the labium, and along the walls of this tube the setiform mandibles and maxillae in the shape of long narrow bands of chitine. In this way the tube of suction can be made longer or shorter as required, and easily adjusted to the thickness of the skin in the particular place where the animal is sucking, whereby access to the capillary system is secured at any part of the body. It is apparent, from the whole structure of the instrument, that it is by no means calculated on being used as a sting, but is rather to be compared to a delicate elastic probe, in the use of which the terminal lobes probably serve as feelers. As soon as the capillary system is reached, the blood will at once ascend into the narrow tube, after which the current is continued with increasing rapidity by means of the pulsation of the pumping ventricle and the powerful peristaltic movement of the digestive tube."

[Illustration:[7]111. Mouth of the Louse.]

If we compare the form of the louse (Fig. 112, Pediculus capitis, the head louse; Fig. 113, P. vestimenti, the body louse) with the young bed-bug as figured by Westwood (Modern Classification of Insects, ii,.p.

475) we shall see a very close resemblance, the head of the young Cimex being proportionally larger than in the adult, while the thorax is smaller, and the abdomen is more ovate, less rounded; moreover the body is white and partially transparent.

[Illustration: 113. Body Louse.]

[Illustration: 112. Head Louse.]

Under a high power of the microscope specimens treated with diluted potash show that the mandibles and maxillae arise near each other in the middle of the head opposite the eyes, their bases slightly diverging.

Thence they converge to the mouth, over which they meet, and beyond are free, being hollow, thin bands of chitine, meeting like the maxillae, or tongue, of butterflies to form a hollow tube for suction. The mandibles each suddenly end in a curved, slender filament, which is probably used as a tactile organ to explore the best sites in the flesh of their victim for drawing blood. On the other hand the maxillae, which are much narrower than the mandibles, become rounded towards the end, bristle like, and tipped with numerous exceedingly fine barbs, by which the bug anchors itself in the flesh, while the blood is pumped through the mandibles. The base of the large, tubular labium, or beak, which ensheathes the mandibles and maxillae, is opposite the end of the clypeus or front edge of the upper side of the head, and at a distance beyond the mouth equal to the breadth of the labium itself. The labium, which is divided into three joints, becomes flattened towards the tip, which is square, and ends in two thin membranous lobes, probably endowed with a slight sense of touch. On comparing these parts with those of the louse, it will be seen how much alike they are with the exception of the labium, a very variable organ in the Hemiptera. From the long sucker of the Pediculus, to the stout chitinous jaws of the Mallophaga, or bird lice, is a sudden transition, but on comparing the rest of the head and body it will be seen that the distinction only amounts to a family one, though Burmeister placed the Mallophaga among the Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) on account of the mandibles being adapted for biting. It has been a common source of error to depend too much upon one or a single set of organs. Insects have been classified on characters drawn from the wings, or the number of the joints of the tarsi, or the form of the mouth parts. We must take into account in endeavoring to ascertain the limits of natural groups, as the internal anatomy and the embryology and metamorphosis of insects, before we can hope to obtain a natural classification.

The family of bird lice is a very extensive one, embracing many genera, and several hundred species. One or more species infest the skin of all our domestic and wild mammals and birds, some birds sheltering beneath their feathers four or five species of lice. Before giving a hasty account of some of our more common species; we will give a sketch of the embryological history of the lice, with special reference to the structure of the mouth parts.

[Illustration: 114. Embryo of the Louse.]

[Illustration: 115. Mouth Parts of the Louse.]

The eggs (Fig. 114, egg of the head louse) are long, oval, somewhat pear-shaped, with the hinder end somewhat pointed, while the anterior end is flattened, and bears little conical micropyles (_m_, minute orifices for the passage of the spermatozoa into the egg), which vary in form in the different species and genera; the opposite end of the egg is provided with a few bristles. The female attaches her eggs to the hairs or feathers of her host.

[Illustration: 116. Mouth Parts of the Louse.]

[Illustration: 118. Mouth Parts of Louse.]

[Illustration: 117. Mouth Parts of Louse.]

After the egg has been fertilized by the male, the blastoderm, or primitive skin, forms, and subsequently two layers, or embryonal membranes, appear; the outer is called the amnion (Fig. 114, _am_), while the inner visceral membrane (_db_) partially wraps the rude form of the embryo in its folds. The head (_vk_) of the embryo is now directed towards the end of the egg on which the hairs are situated; afterwards the embryo revolves on its axis and the head lies next to the opposite end of the egg. Eight tubercles bud out from the under side of the head, of which the foremost and longest are the antennae (_as_), those succeeding are the mandibles, maxillae, and second maxillae, or labium. Behind them arise six long, slender tubercles forming the legs, and the primitive streak rudely marks the lower wall of the thorax and abdomen not yet formed. Figure 115 represents the head and mouth parts of the embryo of the same louse; _vk_ is the forehead, or clypeus; _ant_, the antennae; _mad_, the mandibles; _max_1, the first pair of maxillae, and _max_^2, the second pair of maxillae, or labium. Figure 116 represents the mouth parts of the same insect a little farther advanced, with the jaws and labium elongated and closely folded together. Figure 117 represents the same still farther advanced; the mandibles (_mad_) are sharp, and resemble the jaws of the Mallophaga; and the maxillae (_max_^1) and labium (_max_^2) are still large, while afterwards the labium becomes nearly obsolete. Figure 118 represents a front view of the mouth parts of a bird louse, Goniodes; _lb_, is the upper lip, or labrum, lying under the clypeus; _mad_, the mandibles; max, the maxillae; _l_, the lyre-formed piece; and _pl_, the "plate."

[Illustration: 119. Louse of Cow.]

We will now describe some of the common species of lice found on a few of our domestic animals, and the mallophagous parasites occurring on certain mammals and birds. The family Pediculina, or true lice, is higher than the bird lice, their mouth parts, as well as the structure of the head, resembling the true Hemiptera, especially the bed bug. The clypeus, or front of the head, is much smaller than in the bird lice, the latter retaining the enlarged forehead of the embryo, it being in some species half as large as the rest of the head.

All of our domestic mammals and birds are plagued by one or more species of lice. Figure 119 represents the Haematopinus vituli, which is brownish in color. As the specimen figured came from the Burnett collection of the Boston Society of Natural History, together with those of the goat louse, the louse of the common fowl, and of the cat, they are undoubtedly naturalized here. Quite a different species is the louse of the hog (H. suis, Fig. 120).

[Illustration: 120. Louse of Hog.]

The remaining parasites belong to the skin-biting lice, or Mallophaga, and I will speak of the several genera referred to in their natural order, beginning with the highest form and that which is nearest allied to Pediculus.

[Illustration: 121. Louse of Domestic Fowl.]

The common barn-yard fowl is infested by a louse that we have called Goniocotes Burnettii (Fig. 121), in honor of the late Dr. W. I. Burnett, a young and talented naturalist and physiologist, who paid more attention than any one else in this country to the study of these parasites, and made a large collection of them, now in the museum of the Boston Society of Natural History. It differs from the G. hologaster of Europe, which lives on the same bird, in the short second joint of the antennae, which are also stouter; and in the long head, the clypeus being much longer and more acutely rounded; while the head is less hollowed out at the insertion of the antennae. The abdomen is oval, and one-half as wide as long, with transverse, broad, irregular bands along the edges of the segments. The mandibles are short and straight, two toothed. The body is slightly yellowish, and variously streaked and banded with pitchy black. The duck is infested by a remarkably slender form (Fig.

122, Philopterus squalidus). Figure 123 represents the louse of the cat, and another species (Fig. 124) of the same genus (Trichodes) lives upon the goat.

The most degraded genus is Gyropus. Mr. C. Cook has found Gyropus ovalis of Europe abundant on the Guinea pig. A species is also found on the porpoise; an interesting fact, as this is the only insect we know of that lives parasitically on any marine animal.

[Illustration: 122. Duck Louse.]

The genus Goniodes (Fig. 125, G. stylifer, the turkey louse) is of great interest from a morphological and developmental point of view, as the antennae are described and figured by Denny as being "in the males cheliform (Fig. 126, _a_, male; _b_, female); the first joint being very large and thick, the third considerably smaller, recurved towards the first, and forming a claw, the fourth and fifth very small, arising from the back of the third." He farther remarks, that "the males of this [which lives on the turkey] and all the other species of Goniodes, use the first and third joints of the antennae with great facility, acting the part of a finger and thumb." The antennae of the females are of the ordinary form. This hand-like structure, is, so far as we know, without a parallel among insects, the antennae of the Hemiptera being almost uniformly filiform, and from two to nine-jointed. The design of this structure is probably to enable the male to grasp its consort and also perhaps to cling to the feathers, and thus give it a superiority over the weaker sex in its advances towards courtship. Why is this advantage possessed by the males of this genus alone? The world of insects, and of animals generally abounds in such instances, though existing in other organs, and the developmentist dimly perceives in such departures from a normal type of structure, the origin of new generic forms, whether due at first to a seemingly accidental variation, or, as in this instance, perhaps, to long use as prehensile organs through successive generations of lice having the antennae slightly diverging from the typical condition, until the present form has been developed. Another generation of naturalists will perhaps unanimously agree that the Creator has thus worked through secondary laws, which many of the naturalists of the present day are endeavoring, in a truly scientific and honest spirit of inquiry, to discover.

[Illustration: 124. Louse of the Goat.]

[Illustration: 123. Louse of the Cat.]

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