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III. MOTHS. (Phalænæ.)* The third great section of the Lepidoptera, which Linnæus named Phalæna, includes a vast number of insects, sometimes called millers, or night-butterflies, but more frequently moths. The latter term, thus applied, comprehends not only those domestic moths, which, in the young or caterpillar state, devour cloth, but all the other insects, belonging to the order Lepidoptera, which cannot be arranged among the butterflies and hawk-moths.
These insects vary greatly in size, color, and structure. Some of them, particularly those with gilded wings, are very minute; while the Atlas-moth of China (Attacus Atlas), when its wings are expanded, covers a space measuring nearly nine inches by five and a half; and the owl-moth (Erebus Strix) has wings, which, though not so broad, expand eleven inches. Some female moths are destitute of wings, or have but very small ones, wholly unfitted for flight; and there are species whose wings are longitudinally cleft into several narrow rays, resembling feathers. The stalk of the antennæ of moths generally tapers from the base to the end. These parts sometimes resemble simple or naked bristles, and sometimes they are plumed on each side of the stalk, like feathers. There is often a good deal of difference in the antennæ, according to the sex; feathered or pectinated antennæ being generally narrower in the females than in the males; and there are some moths the males of which have feathered antennæ, while those of the other sex are not feathered at all, or only furnished with very short projections, like teeth, at the sides. Most moths have a sucking-tube, commonly called the tongue, consisting of two hollow and tapering threads, united side by side, and when not in use rolled up in a spiral form; but in many, this member is very short, and its two threads are not united; and in some it is entirely wanting, or is reduced to a mere point. Two palpi or feelers are found in most moths. They grow from the lower lip, generally curve upwards, and cover the face on each side of the tongue. Some have, besides these, another pair, which adhere to the roots of the tongue. Many moths
* See page 229.
are said to have no feelers; these parts being in them very small, and invisible to the naked eye.
The caterpillars of these insects differ more from each other than the moths. In general they are of a cylindrical shape, and are provided with sixteen legs; there are many, however, which have only ten, twelve, or fourteen legs; and in a few the legs are so very short, as hardly to be visible, so that these caterpillars seem to glide along in the manner of slugs. Some caterpillars are naked, and others are clothed with hairs or bristles, and the hairs are either uniformly distributed, or grow in tufts. Sometimes the surface of the body is even and smooth; sometimes it is covered with little warts or tubercles; or it is beset with prickles and spines, which not unfrequently are compound or branched.
Many caterpillars, previous to their transformation, enclose themselves in cocoons, composed entirely of silk, or of silk interwoven with hairs stripped from their own bodies, or with fragments of other substances within their reach. Some go into the ground, where they are transformed without the additional protection of a cocoon; others change to chrysalids in the interior of the stems, roots, leaves, or fruits of plants. The chrysalids of moths are generally of an elongated oval shape, rounded at one end, and tapering almost to a point at the other; and they are destitute of the angular elevations which are found on the chrysalids of butterflies.
These brief remarks, which are necessarily of a very general nature, and comprise but a few of the principal differences observable in these insects, must suffice for the present occasion.
Linnæus divided the Moths into eight groups, namely, Attaci, Bombyces, Noctua, Geometræ, Tortrices, Pyralides, Tineæ, and Alucitæ ; and these (with the exception of the Attaci, which are to be divided between the Bombyces and Noctuæ), have been recognised as well-marked groups, and have been adopted by some of the best entomologists* who succeeded him.
* It is hardly necessary to say that among these are Denis and Schiffermuller, the authors of the celebrated “Vienna Catalogue,” besides Latreille, Leach, Stephens, and others, whose classifications of the Moths, how much soever varied, enlarged, or improved, are essentially based on the arrangement proposed by Linnæus.
1. SPINNERS. (Bombyces.) The BOMBYCES, so called from Bombyx, the ancient name of the silk-worm, are mostly thick-bodied moths, with antennæ, in the greater number, feathered or pectinated, at least in the males, the tongue and feelers very short or entirely wanting, the thorax woolly, but not crested, or very rarely, and the fore legs often very hairy. Their caterpillars have sixteen legs, are generally spinners, and, with few exceptions, make cocoons within which they are transformed.
This tribe has been subdivided into a number of lesser groups or families; but naturalists are not at all agreed upon the manner in which these should be arranged. We might place at the head of the tribe those large moths, whose Sphinx-like caterpillars are naked and warty, and which, in the winged state, are ornamented with eye-like spots like the Smerinthi ; or, we might place first in the series the moths whose caterpillars are wood-eaters, with the habits and transformations of the Ægerians; or, we may begin with the smaller species, with hairy caterpillars, whose habits and transformations are like those of the Glaucopidians, and which resemble the latter closely in the winged state; and thus the series, from Procris and other moth-like Sphinges to the true Moths, will be uninterrupted. The latter, on the whole, seems to be the most natural course, and it agrees with the arrangement of Dr. Boisduval, which I shall follow, with some slight changes only.
Agreeably to this arrangement the first family of the Bombyces will be the Lithosians (LITHOSIADE), so named from two Greek words,* meaning a stone, and to live; for the caterpillars of many of these insects live in stony places, and devour the lichens growing on rocks. (Such also are the habits of Glaucosis Pholus, one of the Glaucopidians.) On this account they are not properly subjects for notice in this essay; but as some of the larger species are grass-eaters, are conspicuous
This is the derivation given by M. Godart. Hist. Nat. Lepidopt. de France. Vol. V., p. 10.
for their beauty, and naturally conduct to another family, particularly obnoxious to the cultivators of the soil, it may be interesting to point out their distinguishing traits.
The Lithosians are slender-bodied moths, mostly of small size, whose rather narrow upper or fore wings, when at rest, generally lie flatly on the top of the back, crossing or overlapping each other on their inner margins, and entirely covering the under wings, which are folded longitudinally, and, as it were, moulded around the body; more rarely the wings slope a little at the sides, and cover the back like a low roof. The antennæ are rather long, and bristle-formed; sometimes naked in both sexes, more often slightly feathered with a double row of short hairs beneath, in the males. and one pair of feelers are very distinct and of moderate length. The back is smooth, neither woolly nor crested, but thickly covered with short and close feather-like scales. The wings of many of the Lithosians are prettily spotted, and they frequently fly in the daytime like the Glaucopidians. Their caterpillars are sparingly clothed with hairs, growing in little clusters from minute warts on the surface of the body. They enclose themselves in thin oblong cocoons of silk interwoven with their own hairs. The rings of their chrysalids are generally so closely joined as not to admit of motion. Of about a dozen kinds inhabiting Massachusetts, I shall describe only two. The first of these may be called Gnophria vittata, the striped Gnophria. It is of a deep scarlet color; its fore wings, which expand one inch and one eighth, have two broad stripes, and a short stripe between them at the tip, of a lead-color, and the hind wings have a very broad lead-colored border behind; the middle of the abdomen and the joints of the legs are also lead-colored. The caterpillar lives upon lichens, and may be found under loose stones in the fields in the Spring. It is dusky, and thinly covered with stiff, sharp, and barbed black bristles, which grow singly from small warts. Early in May it makes its cocoon, which is very thin and silky; and twenty days afterwards is transformed to a moth.
By far the most elegant species is the Deïopeia bella, the beautiful Deïopeia. This moth has naked bristle-formed an
tennæ; its fore wings are deep yellow, crossed by about six white bands, on each of which is a row of black dots; the hind wings are scarlet red, with an irregular border of black behind; the body is white, and the thorax is dotted with black. It expands from one and a half to one inch and three quarters. Its time of appearance here is from the middle of July till the beginning of September. The caterpillar is unknown to me; but Drury states that he was informed it was of the same color as the fore wings of the moth, (that is yellow and white dotted with black), and that it feeds upon the blue lupines.* The European Deiopeia pulchella, which is very much like our species, feeds, in the caterpillar state, on the leaves of the mouseear, Myosotis arvensis and palustris; and it is probable that ours may be found on plants of the same kind here.
Some of the large and richly colored Lithosians resemble, in many respects, the insects in the next family, called, by the English, tiger and ermine moths. The caterpillars of most of these tiger-moths are thickly covered with hairs, whence they have received the name of woolly bears, and the family, including them, that of ARCTIADE, or Arctians, from the Greek word for bear. The Arctians, or tiger-moths, have shorter and thicker feelers than the Lithosians; their tongue is also for the most part very short, not extending, when unrolled, much beyond the head; their antennæ, with few exceptions, are doubly feathered on the under side; but the feathering is rather narrow, and is hardly visible in the females; their wings are not crossed on the top of the back, but are roofed or slope downwards on each side of the body, when at rest; the thorax is thick, and the abdomen is short and plump, and generally ornamented with rows of black spots. Their fore wings are often variegated with dark colored spots on a light ground, or light colored veins on a dark ground; and the hind wings are frequently red, orange, or yellow, spotted with black or blue. They fly only in the night. Their caterpillars are covered with
* Drury's Illustrations, Vol. I., p. 52, pl. 24, fig. 3.
+ To this character there is an exception in the Lophocampa tessellaris, the wings of which are closed like those of Lithosia quadra.