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Mix together a table-spoonful of red-lead and of Indian meal with molasses enough to make a thick batter, and place the mixture at night on a plate or piece of board in the closets or on the hearths frequented by the cockroaches. They will eat it and become poisoned thereby. The dose is to be repeated for several nights in succession. Dr. F. H. Horner* recommends the following preparation to destroy cockroaches. Mix one teaspoonful of powdered arsenic with a table-spoonful of mashed potato, and crumble one third of it, every night, at bedtime, about the kitchen hearth, or where the insects will find and devour it. As both of these preparations are very poisonous, great care should be taken in the use of them, and of any portions that may be left by the insects.
II. GRASPERS. (Orthoptera raptoria.)
These, which consist of the Mantes, called praying mantes and soothsayers, from their singular attitudes and motions, and camel-crickets, from the great length of the neck, are chiefly tropical insects, though some of them are occasionally found in this country. Moreover, they are exclusively predaceous insects, seizing, with their singular fore legs, caterpillars, and other weaker insects which they devour. They are, therefore, to be enumerated among the insects that are beneficial to mankind, by keeping in check those that subsist on vegetable food.
III. WALKERS. (Orthoptera ambulatoria.)
To this division belong various insects, mostly found in warm climates, and displaying the most extraordinary forms. Some of them are furnished with wings, which, by their shape, and the branching veins with which they are covered, exactly represent leaves, either green, or dry and withered; such are the walking leaves, as they are called (Phyllium pulchrifolium, siccifolium, &c.). Others are wingless, of a long and cylindrical shape, resembling a stick with the bark on it, while the slender
Downing's Horticulturist. Vol. II. p. 343 (Jan. 1848).
legs, standing out on each side, give to these insects almost precisely the appearance of a little branching twig, whence is derived the name of walking sticks, generally applied to them. The South American Bacteria arumatia, rubispinosa, and phyllina, and two species of Diapheromera? described and figured in Say's “American Entomology," under the names of Spectrum femoratum and bivittatum, are of the latter description. These insects are very sluggish and inactive, are found among trees and bushes, on which they often remain motionless for a long time, or walk slowly over the leaves and young shoots, which are their appropriate food. The American species are not so numerous, and have not proved so injurious as particularly to attract attention.
IV. JUMPERS. (Orthoptera saltatoria.)
These are by far the most abundant and prolific, and the most destructive of the Orthopterous insects. They were all included by Linnæus in his great genus Gryllus, in separate divisions, however, three of which correspond to the families Achetada,* Grylliade,f and Locustiadæ,in my “ Catalogue of the Insects of Massachusetts," and may retain the synonymous English names of Crickets, Grasshoppers, and Locusts. These three families may thus be distinguished from each other.
1. Crickets (AchetaDx); with the wing-covers horizontal, and furnished with a narrow, deflexed outer border; antennæ long and tapering; feet three-jointed (except Ecanthus, which has four joints to the hind feet); two tapering, downy bristles at the end of the body, between which, in most of the females, there is a long spear-pointed piercer.
2. Grasshoppers (GRYLLIDÆ); with the wing-covers sloping downwards at the sides of the body, or roofed, and not bordered; antennæ long and tapering; feet with four joints; end of the body, in the females, with a projecting sword or sabreshaped piercer.
3. Locusts (Locustadx); with the wing-covers roofed, and not bordered; antennæ rather short, and in general not tapering at the end; feet with only three joints; female without a projecting piercer.
* Gryllus Acheta, Linnæus.
† Gryllus Tettigonia, L. I Gryllus Locusta, L.
1. Crickets. (Achetade.) There may sometimes be seen in moist and soft ground, particularly around ponds, little ridges or hills of loose fresh earth, smaller than those which are formed by moles. They cover little burrows, that usually terminate beneath a stone or clod of turf. These burrows are made and inhabited by molecrickets, which are among the most extraordinary of the cricket kind. The common mole-cricket of this country is, when fully grown, about one inch and a quarter in length, of a light bay or fawn color, and covered with a very short and velvet-like down. The wing-covers are not half the length of the abdomen, and the wings are also short, their tips, when folded, extending only about one eighth of an inch beyond the wingcovers. The fore legs are admirably adapted for digging, being very short, broad, and strong; and the shanks, which are excessively broad, flat, and three-sided, have the lower side divided by deep notches into four finger-like projections, that give to this part very much the appearance and the power of the hand of a mole. From this similarity in structure, and from its burrowing habits, this insect receives its scientific name of Gryllotalpa, derived from Gryllus, the ancient name of the cricket, and Talpa, a mole; and our common species has the additional name of brevipennis,* or short-winged, to distinguish it from the European species, which has much longer wings. Mole-crickets avoid the light of day, and are active chiefly during the night. They live on the tender roots of plants, and in Europe, where they infest moist gardens and meadows, they often do great injury by burrowing under the turf, and cutting off the roots of the grass, and by undermining and destroying, in this way, sometimes whole beds of cabbages, beans, and flowers. In the West Indies, extensive ravages
• Serville. “Orthoptères,” p. 308.
have been committed in the plantations of the sugar-cane, by another species, Gryllotalpa didactyla, which has only two finger-like projections on the shin. The mole-cricket of Europe lays from two to three hundred eggs, and the young do not come to maturity till the third year; circumstances both contributing greatly to increase the ravages of these insects. It is observed, that, in proportion as cultivation is extended, destructive insects multiply, and their depredations become more serious. We may, therefore, in process of time, find molecrickets in this country quite as much a pest as they are in Europe, although their depredations have hitherto been limited to so small an extent as not to have attracted much notice. Should it hereafter become necessary to employ means for checking them, poisoning might be tried, such as placing, in the vicinity of their burrows, grated carrots or potatoes mixed with arsenic. It is well known that swine will eat almost all kinds of insects, and that they are very sagacious in rooting them out of the ground. They might, therefore, be employed with advantage to destroy these and other noxious insects, if other means should fail.
We have no house-crickets in America; our species inhabit gardens and fields, and enter our houses only by accident. Crickets are, in great measure, nocturnal and solitary insects, concealing themselves by day, and coming from their retreats to seek their food and their mates by night. There are some species, however, which differ greatly from the others in their social habits. These are not unfrequently seen during the daytime in great numbers in paths, and by the road side; but the other kinds rarely expose themselves to the light of day, and their music is heard only at night. With crickets, as with grasshoppers, locusts, and harvest-flies, the males only are musical; for the females are not provided with the instruments from which the sounds emitted by these different insects are produced. In the male cricket these make a part of the wingcovers, the horizontal and overlapping portion of which, near the thorax, is convex, and marked with large, strong, and irregularly curved veins. When the cricket shrills (we cannot say sings, for he has no vocal organs), he raises the wing-covers
a little, and shuffles them together lengthwise, so that the projecting veins of one are made to grate against those of the other. The English name cricket, and the French cri-cri, are evidently derived from the creaking sounds of these insects. Mr. White, of Selborne, says that “the shrilling of the fieldcricket, though sharp and stridulous, yet marvellously delights some hearers, filling their minds with a train of summer ideas of everything that is rural, verdurous, and joyous"; sentiments in which few persons, if any, in America will participate; for with us the creaking of crickets does not begin till summer is gone, and the continued and monotonous sounds, which they keep up during the whole night, so long as autumn lasts, are both wearisome and sad. Where crickets abound, they do great injury to vegetation, eating the most tender parts of plants, and even devouring roots and fruits, whenever they can get them. Melons, squashes, and even potatoes are often eaten by them, and the quantity of grass that they destroy must be great, from the immense numbers of these insects which are sometimes seen in our meadows and fields. They may be poisoned in the same way as mole-crickets. Crickets are not entirely confined to a vegetable diet; they devour other insects whenever they can meet with and can overpower them. They deposit their eggs, which are numerous, in the ground, making holes for their reception, with their long, spear-pointed piercers. The eggs are laid in the autumn, and do not appear to be hatched till the ensuing summer. The old insects, for the most part, die on the approach of cold weather; but a few survive the winter, by sheltering themselves under stones, or in holes secure from the access of water.
The scientific name of the genus that includes the cricket is Acheta, and our common species is the Acheta abbreviata, so named from the shortness of its wings, which do not extend beyond the wing-covers. It is about three quarters of an inch in length, of a black color, with a brownish tinge at the base of the wing-covers, and a pale line on each side above the deflexed border. The pale line is most distinct in the female, and is oftentimes entirely wanting in the male.