Postby admin » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:01 pm


"Her bright gray form that spread so slimly,
Some fan she seemed of pygmy Queen;
Her silky cloak that lay so trimly,
Her wee, wee eyes that lookes so keen.
Poor moth! near weeping I lament thee,
Thy glassy form, thy instant woe;
'Twas zeal for 'things too high' that sent thee,
'Twas zeal for 'things
From cheery earth to shades below."
-- Carlyle.

Gold Io Seeking a Heliotrope and Yellow Mate


At the same time he gave me the Eacles Imperialis moths, Mr. Eisen presented me with a pair of Hyperchiria Io. They were nicely mounted on the black velvet lining of a large case in my room, but I did not care for them in the least. A picture I would use could not be made from dead, dried specimens, and history learned from books is not worth knowing, in comparison with going afield and threshing it out for yourself in your own way. Because the Io was yellow, I wanted it -- more than several specimens I had not found as yet, for yellow, be it on the face of a flower, on the breast of a bird, or in the gold of sunshine, always warms the depths of my heart.

Io Moth

One night in June, sitting with a party of friends in the library, a shadow seemed to sweep across a large window in front. I glanced up, and arose with a cry that must have made those present doubt my sanity. A perfect and beautiful Io was walking leisurely across the glass.

''A moth!" I cried. "I have none like it! Deacon, get the net!"

I caught a hat from the couch, and ran to the veranda. The Deacon followed with the net.

"I was afraid to wait," I explained. "Please bring a piece of pasteboard, the size of this brim."

I held the hat while the Deacon brought the board. Then with trembling care we slipped it under, and carefully carried the moth into the conservatory. First we turned on the light, and made sure that every ventilator was closed, then we released the Io for the night. In the morning we found a female clinging to a shelf, dotting it with little top-shaped eggs. I was delighted, for I thought this meant the complete history of a beautiful moth. So exquisite was the living, breathing creature, she put to shame the form and colouring of the mounted specimens. No wonder I had not cared for them!

Her fore-wings were a strong purplish brown in general effect, but on close examination one found the purplish tinge a commingling of every delicate tint of lavender and heliotrope imaginable. They were crossed by escalloped bands of greyish white, and flecked with touches of the same, seeming as if they had been placed with a brush. The back wings were a strong yellow. Each had, for its size, an immense black eye-spot, with a blue pupil covering three-fourths of it, crossed by a perfect comma of white, the heads toward the front wings and the curves bending outward. Each eye-spot was in a yellow field, strongly circled with a sharp black line; then a quarter of an inch band of yellow; next a heliotrope circle of equal width; yellow again twice as wide; then a faint heliotrope line; and last a very narrow edging of white. Both wings joined the body under a covering of long, silky, purple-brown hairs.

She was very busy with egg depositing, and climbed to the twig held before her without offering to fly. The camera was carried to the open, set up and focused on a favourable spot, while Molly-Cotton walked beside me holding a net over the moth in case she took flight in outer air. The twig was placed where she would be in the deepest shade possible while I worked rapidly with the camera.

By this time experience had taught me that these creatures of moonlight and darkness dislike the open glare of day, and if placed in sunlight will take flight in search of shade more quickly than they will move if touched. So until my Io settled where I wanted her with the wings open, she was kept in the shadow. Only when I grasped the bulb and stood ready to snap, was the covering lifted, and for the smallest fraction of a second the full light fell on her; then darkness again.

In three days it began to be apparent there was something wrong with the eggs. In four it was evident, and by five I was not expecting the little caterpillars to emerge, and they did not. The moth had not mated and the eggs were not fertile. Then I saw my mistake. Instead of shutting the female in the conservatory at night, I should have tied a soft cotton string firmly around her body, and fastened it to some of the vines on the veranda. Beyond all doubt, before morning, a male of her kind would have been attracted to her.

One learns almost as much by his mistakes as he profits by his successes in this world. Writing of this piece of stupidity, at a time in my work with moths when a little thought would have taught me better, reminds me of an experience I had with a caterpillar, the first one I ever carried home and tried to feed. I had an order to fill for some swamp pictures, and was working almost waist deep in a pool in the Limberlost, when on a wild grape-vine swinging close to my face, I noticed a big caterpillar placidly eating his way around a grape leaf. The caterpillar was over four inches long, had no horn, and was of a clear red wine colour, that was beautiful in the sunlight. I never before had seen a moth caterpillar that was red and I decided it must be rare. As there was a wild grapevine growing over the east side of the Cabin, and another on the windmill, food of the right kind would be plentiful, so I instantly decided to take the caterpillar home. It was of the specimens that I consider have almost "thrust themselves upon me."

My Childhood Enemy of the Corn

When the pictures were finished and my camera carried from the swamp, I returned with the clippers and cut off vine and caterpillar, to carry with me. On arrival I placed it in a large box with sand on the bottom, and every few hours took out the wilted leaves, put in fresh ones, and sprinkled them to insure crispness, and to give a touch of moisture to the atmosphere in the box, that would make it seem more like the swamp.

My specimen was readily identified as Philampelus Pandorus, of which I had no moth, so I took extra care of it in the hope of a new picture in the spring. It had a little flat head that could be drawn inside the body like a turtle, and on the sides were oblique touches of salmon. Something that appeared to be a place for a horn could be seen, and a yellow tubercle was surrounded by a black line. It ate for three days, and then began racing so frantically around the box, I thought confinement must be harmful, so I gave it the freedom of the Cabin, warning all my family to "look well to their footsteps." It stopped travelling after a day or two at a screen covering the music-room window, and there I found it one morning lying still, a shrivelled, shrunken thing, only half the former length, so it was carefully picked up, and thrown away!

Of course the caterpillar was in the process of changing into the pupa, and if I had known enough to lay it on the sand in my box, and wait a few days, without doubt a fine pupa would have emerged from that shrunken skin, from which, in the spring, I could have secured an exquisite moth, with shades of olive green, flushed with pink. The thought of it makes me want to hide my head. It was six years before I found a living moth, or saw another caterpillar of that species.

A few days later, while watching with a camera focused on the nest of a blackbird in Mrs. Corson's woods east of town, Raymond, who was assisting me, crept to my side and asked if it would do any harm for him to go specimen hunting. The long waits with set cameras were extremely tedious to the restless spirits of the boy, and the birds were quite tame, the light was under a cloud, and the woods were so deep that after he had gone a few rods he was from sight, and under cover; besides it was great hunting ground, so I gladly told him to go.

The place was almost "virgin," much of it impassable and fully half of it was under water that lay in deep, murky pools throughout summer. In the heat of late June everything was steaming; insect life of all kinds was swarming; not far away I could hear sounds of trouble between the crow and hawk tribes; and overhead a pair of black vultures, whose young lay in a big stump in the interior, were searching for signs of food. If ever there was a likely place for specimens it was here; Raymond was an expert at locating them, and fearless to foolhardiness. He had been gone only a short time when I heard a cry, and I knew it must mean something, in his opinion, of more importance than blackbirds.

Spinning, Cast Skin, and Pupa Case of Io

I answered "Coming," and hastily winding the long hose, I started in the direction Raymond had taken, calling occasionally to make sure I was going the right way. When I found him, the boy was standing beside a stout weed, hat in hand, intently watching something. As I leaned forward I saw that it was a Hyperchiria Io that just had emerged from the cocoon, and as yet was resting with wings untried. It differed so widely from my moth of a few days before, I knew it must be a male.

This was only three-fourths as large as mine, but infinitely surpassed it in beauty. Its front wings were orange-yellow, flushed with red-purple at the base, and had a small irregular brown spot near the costa. Contrary to all precedent, the under side of these wings were the most beautiful, and bore the decorations that, in all previous experience with moths, had been on the upper surface, faintly showing on the under. For instance, this irregular brown marking on the upper side proved to be a good-sized black spot with white dot in the middle on the under; and there was a curved line of red-purple from the apex of the wing sloping to the lower edge, nearly half an inch from the margin. The space from this line to the base of the wing was covered with red-purple down. The back wings were similar to the female's, only of stronger colour, and more distinct markings; the eye-spot and lining appeared as if they had been tinted with strong fresh paint, while the edges of the wings lying beside the abdomen had the long, silken hairs of a pure, beautiful red their entire length.

"One For the Blackbird, One for the Crow, One for the Cutworm, And Four to Grow."

A few rods away men were plowing in the adjoining corn field, and I remembered that the caterpillar of this moth liked to feed on corn blades, and last summer undoubtedly lived in that very field. When I studied Io history in my moth books, I learned these caterpillars ate willow, wild cherry, hickory, plum, oak, sassafras, ash, and poplar. The caterpillar was green, more like the spiny butterfly caterpillars than any moth one I know. It had brown and white bands, brown patches, and was covered with tufts of stiff upstanding spines that pierced like sharp needles. This was not because the caterpillar tried to hurt you, but because the spines were on it, and so arranged that if pressed against, an acid secretion sprang from their base. This spread over the flesh the spines touched, stinging for an hour like smartweed, or nettles.

When I identified this caterpillar in my books, it came to me that I had known and experienced its touch. But it did not forcibly impress me until that instant that I knew it best of all, and that it was my childhood enemy of the corn. Its habit was to feed on the young blades, and cling to them with all its might. If I was playing Indian among the rows, or hunting an ear with especially long, fine "silk" for a make-believe doll, or helping the cook select ears of Jersey Sweet to boil for dinner, and accidentally brushed one of these caterpillars with cheek or hand, I felt its burning sting long afterward. So I disliked those caterpillars.

For I always had played among the corn. Untold miles I have ridden the plough horses across the spring fields, where mellow mould rolled black from the shining shares, and the perfumed air made me feel so near flying that all I seemed to need was a high start to be able to sail with the sentinel blackbird, that perched on the big oak, and with one sharp "T'check!" warned his feeding flock, surely and truly, whether a passing man carried a gun or a hoe. Then came the planting, when bare feet loved the cool earth, and trotted over other untold miles, while little fingers carefully counted out seven grains from the store carried in my apron skirt, as I chanted:

"One for the blackbird, one for the crow;
One for the cutworm and four to grow."

Then father covered them to the right depth, and stamped each hill with the flat of the hoe, while we talked of golden corn bread, and slices of mush, fried to a crisp brown that cook would make in the fall. We had to plant enough more to feed all the horses, cattle, pigs, turkeys, geese, and chickens, during the long winter, even if the sun grew uncomfortably warm, and the dinner bell was slow about ringing.

Then there were the Indian days in the field, when a fallen eagle feather stuck in a braid, and some pokeberry juice on the face, transformed me into the Indian Big Foot, and I fled down green aisles of the corn before the wrath of the mighty Adam Poe. At times Big Foot grew tired fleeing, and said so in remarkably distinct English, and then to keep the game going, my sister Ada, who played Adam Poe, had to turn and do the fleeing or be tomahawked with a stick.

When the milk was in the ears, they were delicious steamed over salted water, or better yet roasted before coals at the front of the cooking stove, and eaten with butter and salt, if you have missed the flavour of it in that form, really you never have known corn!

Next came the cutting days. These were after all the caterpillars had climbed down, and travelled across the fence to spin their cocoons among the leaves of the woods; as if some instinct warned them that they would be ploughed up too early to emerge, if they remained in the field. The boys bent four hills, lashed the tassels together for a foundation, and then with one sweep of their knives, they cut a hill at a time, and stacked it in large shocks, that lined the field like rows of sentinels, guarding the gold of pumpkin and squash lying all around. While the shocks were drying, the squirrels, crows, and quail took possession, and fattened their sides against snow time.

Then the gathering days of October -- they were the best days of all! Like a bloom-outlined vegetable bed, the goldenrod and ironwort, in gaudy border, filled the fence corners of the big fields. A misty haze hung in the air, because the Indians were burning the prairies to round up game for winter. The cawing of the crows, the chatter of blackbirds, and the piping bob-whites, sounded so close and so natural out there, while the crowing cocks of the barnyard seemed miles away and slightly unreal. Grown up and important, I sat on a board laid across the wagon bed, and guided the team of matched greys between the rows of shocks, and around the "pie-timber" as my brother Leander called the pumpkins while father and the boys opened the shocks and husked the ears. How the squirrels scampered to the woods and to the business of storing away the hickory nuts that we could hear rattling down every frosty morning! We hurried with the corn, because as soon as the last shock was in, we might take the horses, wagon, and our dinner, and go all day to the woods, where we gathered our winter store of nuts. Leander would take a gun along, and shoot one of those saucy squirrels for the little sick mother.

Last came the November night, when the cold had shut us in. Then selected ears that had been dried in the garret were brought down, white for 'rivel' and to roll things in to fry, and yellow for corn bread and mush. A tub full of each was shelled, and sacked to carry to the mill the following day. I sat on the floor while father and the boys worked, listening to their talk, as I built corncob castles so high they toppled from their many stories. Sometimes father made cornstock fiddles that would play a real tune. Oh! the pity of it that every little child cannot grow, live, learn and love among the corn. For the caterpillars never stopped the fun, even the years when they were most numerous.

The eggs laid by my female never hatched, so I do not know this caterpillar in its early stages from experience, but I had enough experience with it in my early stages, that I do not care if I never raise one. No doubt it attains maturity by the same series of moults as the others, and its life history is quite similar. The full-fed caterpillars spin among the leaves on the ground, and with their spines in mind, I would much prefer finding a cocoon, and producing a moth from that stage of its evolution.

The following season I had the good fortune to secure a male and female Io at the same time and by persistence induced them to pose for me on an apple branch. There was no trouble in securing the male as I desired him, with wings folded showing the spots, lining and flushing of colour. But the female was a perverse little body and though I tried patiently and repeatedly she would not lower her wings full width. She climbed around with them three-fourths spread, producing the most beautiful effect of life, but failing to display her striking markings. This is the one disadvantage in photographing moths from life. You secure lifelike effects but sometimes you are forced to sacrifice their wonderful decorations.

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Postby admin » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:03 pm


The Sweetheart and the Bride of Limberlost Cabin


There are no moths so common with us as these, for throughout their season, at any time one is wanted, it is sure to be found either on the sweetbrier clambering over the back wall, among the morning glories on one side, the wistaria and wild grape on the other, or in the shade of the wild clematis in front. On very sunny days, they leave the shelter of the vines, and rest on the logs of the Cabin close [to] the roof of the verandas. Clinging there they appear like large grey flies, for they are of peculiar shape, and the front wings completely cover the back when in repose. A third or a half of the back wings show as they are lifted to balance the moths when walking over vines and uncertain footing. They are quite conspicuous on our Cabin, because it is built of the red cedar of Wisconsin; were it of the timber used by our grandfathers, these moths with folded wings would be almost indistinguishable from their surroundings.

Hiding Among the Roses

Few moths can boast greater beauty. The largest specimen of the "Sweetheart" that homes with us would measure three and one half inches if it would spread its wings full width as do the moths of other species. No moth is more difficult to describe, because of the delicate blending of so many intangible shades. The front wings are a pale, brownish grey, with irregular markings of tan, and dark splotches outlined with fine deep brown lines. The edges are fluted and escalloped, each raised place being touched with a small spot of tan, and above it a narrow escalloped line of brown. The back wings are bright red, crossed by a circular band of brownish black, three-fourths of an inch from the base, a secondary wider band of the same, and edged with pale yellow.

There is no greater surprise in store for a student of moths than to locate a first Catocala Amatrix, and see the softly blended grey front wings suddenly lift, and the vivid red of the back ones flash out. The under sides of the front wings are a warm creamy tan, crossed by wide bands of dark brown and grey-brown, ending in a delicate grey mist at the edges. The back wings are the same tan shade, with red next [to] the abdomen, and crossed by brown bands of deeper shade than the forewings. The shoulders are covered with long silky hair like the front wings. This is so delicate that it becomes detached at the slightest touch of vine or leaf. The abdomen is slightly lighter in colour on top, and a creamy tan beneath. The legs are grey, and the feet to the first joint tan, crossed by faint lines of brown.

The head is small, with big prominent eyes that see better by day than most night moths, for Catocala takes precipitate flight at the merest shadow. The antennae are long, delicate and threadlike, and must be broken very easily in the flight of the moth. It is nothing unusual to see them with one antenna shorter than the other, half, or entirely gone; and a perfect specimen with both antennae, and all the haif on its shoulders, is rare. They have a long tongue that uncoils like Lineata, and Celeus, so they are feeders, but not of day, for they never take flight until evening, except when disturbed. The male is smaller than the female, his forewings deeply flushed with darker colour and the back brighter red with more black in the bands.

Neogama, another member of this family, is a degree smaller than Amatrix, but of the same shape. The fore-wings are covered with broken lines of different colours, the groundwork grey, with gold flushings, the lines and dots of the border very like the Sweetheart's. The back wings are pure gold, almost reddish, with dark brownish black bands, and yellow borders. The top of the abdomen is a grey-gold colour. Underneath, the markings are nearly the same as Amatrix, but a gold flush suffuses the moth.

There are numbers of these Catocala moths running the colour scheme of yellow, from pale chrome to umber. Many shade from light pink through the reds to a dark blood colour. Then there is a smaller number having brown back wings and with others they are white.

The task of tracing the markings and colouring the general ground of the fore-wings of these moths, was one of the most difficult of the book. I did the best I could, and the engravers worked faithfully. I fear the Sweetheart is a trifle darker than she should be for an average representation; the Bride is better. But it must be remembered that these colours are copied from fresh specimens. The moths live the summer season and grow more of a grayish tan as they age. Like all others they fade rapidly when mounted. I never have seen either a Sweetheart or Bride among museum specimens that I would have recognized without its identifying label.

Just why these moths, when they are so very wild, seek the shade of my vines and veranda persistently, I do not understand. It is only by the use of extreme care in handling them when I was so fortunate as to capture one of each, that I have secured any likenesses at all. Very few are satisfactory, for the instant you approach these moths closely, they go battering against the logs, or tearing through vines until, if a photograph of one is taken, it frequently shows a broken antenna, hairless shoulders, or a torn wing. The only way I know to photograph them is to focus on some favourable spot, mark the place your plate covers in length and width, and then do your best to coax your subjects in range. If they can be persuaded to walk, they will open their wings to a greater or less degree. A reproduction would do them no sort of justice unless the markings of the back wings show. It is on account of the gorgeous colourings of these that scientists call the species "after-wings". Still, while writing, it appeals to me that a picture of Catocala with folded wings, as they cling to the logs of the Cabin in the "fly" position, would be worth while, and the coming summer I intend to try for one.

The Home of the Sweetheart and the Bride

In that attitude I must look twice in order to distinguish them from the Cabin tree toad. He shares the logs of the front veranda in common with the Sweetheart and Bride, though on very hot days, dry days, he abandons wood and lies on the earth of one particular big pot of palms that stands on a table close [to] a window. In damp weather he sings beautifully, and at night he is a never-ending source of amusement. Dozens of visitors at the Cabin have had the pleasure of watching him. His feeding ground is a six-foot square plate glass window, the same on which I found the Io and several other fine moths. As soon as the inside lights are on, myriads of mosquitoes, gnats, small flies, and moths gather at the top of this window. Then up comes Mr. Tree Toad, and no one can imagine just where he stores all he consumes. His method is to sit immovably in one spot until something approaches. Then, so quietly the thrust is almost invisible, out darts his tongue, and the insect is gone. After taking two or three in one place, he moves a few feet, and repeats the process. Several times I placed a camera, focused on a limb or tree trunk, gently transferred him and took his picture. If you see a tree toad among the illustrations of any book of mine, you may be reasonably sure that he posed for it, although I did once carry a pair from the swamps in Michigan and make several studies before releasing them.

During the summer of 1904 he slept among the flower pots by day, and went hunting on the window at night; where he wintered we did not know. The summer of 1905 he, or one that appeared similar to him, and pursued the same methods, homed among the palms, and hunted on the window. In the fall, this one entered the basement before the ventilators were closed. The furnace kept the temperature even, and above freezing. What he ate I cannot surmise; perhaps there were spiders. Anyway, he was alive, and singing throughout his time of hibernation. Every few days we heard him, and in the warm sunny weather of that December and the fore part of January he was especially tuneful, to our delight and the great amusement of many friends. In writing from college, Molly-Cotton always inquired concerning his welfare. He was all right until March, then his song ceased and the following summer the gray spots close [to] the veranda roof were Sweethearts and Brides, for the tree toad never came again.

One would suppose that with so many specimens of this beautiful species living with us and swarming the swamp close by, I would be prepared to give their complete life history; but I know less concerning them than any other moths common with us, and all the scientific works I can buy afford little help. Professional lepidopterists dismiss them with few words. One would-be authority disposes of the species with half a dozen lines. You can find at least a hundred Catocala reproduced from museum specimens and their habitat given, in the Holland "Moth Book", but I fail to learn what I most desire to know: what these moths feed on; how late they live; how their eggs appear; where they are deposited; which is their caterpillar; what does it eat; and where and how does it pupate.

Packard, in his "Guide to the Study of Insects," offers in substance this much help upon the subject: "The genus is beautiful, the species numerous, of large size, often three-inch expansion, and in repose form a flat roof. The larva is elongate, slender, flattened beneath and spotted with black, attenuated at each end, with fleshy filaments on the sides above the legs, while the head is flattened and rather forked above. It feeds on trees and rests attached to the trunks. The pupa is covered with a bluish efflorescence, enclosed in a slight cocoon of silk, spun amongst leaves or bark."

This will tend to bear out my contention that scientific works are not the help they should be to the Nature Lover. Heaven save me from starting to locate Catocala moths, eggs, caterpillars or pupae on the strength of this information. I might find moths by accident; nothing on the subject of eggs; neither colour of body, characteristics nor food, to help identify caterpillars; for the statement, "it feeds on trees," cannot be considered exactly illuminating when we remember the world full of trees on which caterpillars are feeding; and should one search for cocoon encased pupae among the leaves and bark of tree-tops or earth?

Sweethearts and Brides Come to Light From Places Such as These

The most reliable information I have had, concerning these moths of which I know least, comes from Professor Rowley. He is the only lepidopterist of four to whom I applied, who could tell me any of the things I am interested in knowing. He writes in substance: "The Bride and Sweetheart are common northern species, as are most of the other members of the group. The Amatrix, with its red wings, is called the Sweetheart because amor means love, and red is love's own colour. The caterpillar feeds on willow. The Catocala of the yellow "after-wings" is commonly called the Bride, because Neogama, its scientific name, means recently wedded. Its caterpillar feeds on walnut leaves.

"If you will examine the under side of the body of a Catocala moth you will find near the junction of the thorax and abdomen on either side, large open organs reminding one of the ears of a grasshopper, which are on the sides of the first abdominal segment. Examine the bodies of Sphinges and other moths for these same openings. They appear to be ears. Catocala moths feed on juices, and live most of the summer season. Numbers of them have been found sipping sap at a tree freshly cut and you know we take them at night with bait.

''New Orleans sugar and cider or sugar and stale beer are the usual baits. This "concoction" is put on the bodies of trees with a brush, between eight and ten o'clock at night. During good Catocala years, great numbers of these moths may be taken as they feed at the sweet syrup. So it is proved that their food is sap, honeydew, and other sugary liquids. Mr. George Dodge assures me that he has taken Catocala abbreviatella at milk-weed blooms about eight o'clock of early July evenings. Other species also feed on flowers."

You will observe that in his remarks about the "open organs on the side of the abdominal segment," Professor Rowley may have settled the "ear" question. I am going to keep sharp watch for these organs, hereafter. I am led to wonder if one could close them in some way and detect any difference in the moth's sense of hearing after having done so.

All of us are enthusiasts about these moths with their modest forewings and the gaudy brilliance of the wonderful "after-wings," that are so bright as to give common name to the species. We are studying them constantly and hope soon to learn all we care to know of any moths, for our experience with them is quite limited when compared with other visitors from the swamp. But think of the poetry of adding to the long list of birds, animals and insects that temporarily reside with us, a Sweetheart and a Bride!

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Postby admin » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:05 pm


Velvet Robed and Jewel Bedecked the Giant Seeks a Mate


Time cannot be used to tell of making the acquaintance of this moth until how well worth knowing it is has been explained. That it is a big birdlike fellow, with a six inch sweep of wing, is indicated by the fact that it is named in honour of the giant Polyphemus. Telea means "the end," and as scientists fail to explain the appropriateness of this, I am at liberty to indulge a theory of my own. Nature made this handsome moth last, and as it was the end, surpassed herself as a finishing touch on creatures that are, no doubt, her frailest and most exquisite creation.

A Cocoon Just Finished by Polyphemus

Polyphemus is rich in shadings of many subdued colours, that so blend and contrast as to give it no superior in the family of short-lived lovers of moonlight. Its front wings are a complicated study of many colours, for some of which it would be difficult to find a name. Really, it is the one moth that must be seen and studied in minutest detail to gain an idea of its beauty. The nearest I can come to the general groundwork of the wing is a rich brown-yellow. The costa is grey, this colour spreading in a widening line from the base of the wing to more than a quarter of an inch at the tip, and closely peppered with black. At the base, the wing is covered with silky yellow-brown hairs. As if to outline the extent of these, comes a line of pinkish white, and then one of rich golden brown, shading into the prevailing colour.

Close [to] the middle of the length of the wing, and half an inch from the costa, is a transparent spot like isinglass, so clear that fine print can be read through it. This spot is outlined with a canary yellow band, and that with a narrow, but sharp circle of black. Then comes a cloudlike rift of golden brown, drifting from the costa across the wing, but, growing fainter until it merges with the general colour near the abdomen. Then half an inch of the yellow-brown colour is peppered with black, similar to the costa; this grows darker until it terminates in a quarter of an inch wide band of almost grey-black crossing the wing. Next [to] this comes a narrower band of pinkish white. The edge begins with a quarter of an inch band of clear yellow-brown, and widens as the wing curves until it is half an inch at the point. It is the lightest colour of rotten apple. The only thing I ever have seen in nature exactly similar was the palest shade of "mother" found in barrels of vinegar. A very light liver colour comes close it. On the extreme tip is a velvety oval, half black and half pale pink.

The back wings are the merest trifle stronger in this yellow-brown colour, and with the exception of the brown rift are the same in marking, only that all colour, similar to the brown, is a shade deeper.

The "piece de resistance" of the back wing is the eyespot. The transparent oval is a little smaller. The canary band is wider, and of stronger colour. The black band around the lower half is yet wider, and of long velvety hairs. It extends in an oval above the transparent spot fully half an inch, then shades through peacock blue, and grey to the hairlike black line enclosing the spot.

The under sides of the wings are pure tan, clouded and lined with shades of rich brown. The transparent spots are outlined with canary, and show a faint line drawn across the middle the long way.

The face is a tiny brown patch with small eyes, for the size of the moth, and large brown antennae, shaped like those of Cecropia. The grey band of the costa crosses the top of the head. The shoulders are covered with pinkish, yellow-brown hair. The top and sides of the abdomen are a lighter shade of the same.

The under side of the abdomen is darker brown, and the legs brown with very dark brown feet. These descriptions do the harmonizing colours of the moth no sort of justice, but are the best I can offer. In some lights it is a rich yellow-brown, and again a pink flush pervades body and wings.

My first experience with a living Polyphemis (I know Telea is shorter, but it is not suitable, while a giant among moths it is, so that name is best) occurred several years ago. A man brought me a living Polyphemus battered to rags and fringes, antennae broken and three feet missing. He had found a woman trying to beat the clinging creature loose from a door screen, with a towel, before the wings were hardened for flight, and he rescued the remains. There was nothing to say; some people are not happy unless they are killing helpless, harmless creatures, and there was nothing to do.

The Home of My First Giant

The moth was useless for a study, while its broken antennae set it crazy, and it shook and trembled continually, going out without depositing any eggs. One thing I did get was complete identification, and another, to attribute the experience to Mrs. Comstock in "A Girl of the Limberlost,'' when I wished to make her do something particularly disagreeable. In learning a moth I study its eggs, caterpillars, and cocoons, so that fall Raymond and I began searching for Polyphemus. I found our first cocoon hanging by a few threads of silk, from a willow twig overhanging a stream in the Limberlost.

A queer little cocoon it was. The body was tan colour, and thickly covered with a white sprinkling like lime. A small thorn tree close [to] the cabin yielded Raymond two more; but these were darker in colour, and each was spun inside three thorn leaves so firmly that it appeared triangular in shape. The winds had blown the cocoons against the limbs and worn away the projecting edges of the leaves, but the midribs and veins showed plainly. In all we had half a dozen of these cocoons gathered from different parts of the swamp, and we found them dangling from a twig of willow or hawthorn, by a small piece of spinning. During the winter these occupied the place of state in the conservatory, and were watched every day. They were kept in the coolest spot, but where the sun reached them at times. Always in watering the flowers, the hose was turned on them, because they would have been in the rain if they had been left out of doors, and conditions should be kept as natural as possible.

Close [to] time for emergence I became very uneasy, because the conservatory was warm; so I moved them to my sleeping room, the coolest in the cabin, where a fireplace, two big windows and an outside door, always open, provide natural atmospheric conditions, and where I would be sure to see them every day. I hung the twigs over a twine stretched from my dresser to the window-sill. One day in May, when the trees were in full bloom, I was working on a tulip bed under an apple tree in the garden, when Molly-Cotton said to me, "How did you get that cocoon in your room wet?"

"I did not water any of the cocoons," I answered. "I have done no sprinkling today. If they are wet, it has come from the inside."

Molly-Cotton dropped her trowel. "One of them was damp on the top before lunch," she cried. "I just now thought of it. The moths are coming!" She started on a run and I followed, but stopped to wash my hands, so she reached them first, and her shout told the news.

"Hurry!" she cried. "Hurry! One is out, and another is just struggling through!"

Occupied and Deserted Tenements

Quickly as I could I stood beside her. One Polyphemus female, a giant indeed, was clinging to a twig with her feet, and from her shoulders depended her wings, wet, and wrinkled as they had been cramped in the pupa case. Even then she had expanded in body until it seemed impossible that she had emerged from the opening of the vacant cocoon. The second one had its front feet and head out, and was struggling frantically to free its shoulders. A fresh wet spot on the top of another cocoon, where the moth had ejected the acid with which it is provided to soften the spinning, was heaving with the pushing head of the third.

Molly-Cotton was in sympathy with the imprisoned moths.

"Why don't you get something sharp, and split the cocoons so they can get out?" she demanded. "Just look at them struggle! They will kill themselves!"

Then I explained to her that if we wanted big, perfect moths we must not touch them. That the evolution of species was complete to the minutest detail. The providence that supplied the acid, required that the moths make the fight necessary to emerge alone, in order to strengthen them so they would be able to walk and cling with their feet, while the wings drooped and dried properly. That if I cut a case, and took out a moth with no effort on its part, it would be too weak to walk, or bear its weight, and so would fall to the floor. Then because of not being in the right position, the wings would harden half spread, or have broken membranes and never develop fully. So instead of doing a kindness I really would work ruination.

"Oh, I see!" cried the wondering girl, and her eyes were large enough to have seen anything, while her brain was racing. If you want to awaken a child and teach it to think, give object lessons such as these, in natural history and study with it, so that every miraculous point is grasped when reached. We left the emerging moths long enough to set up a camera outside, and focus on old tree. Then we hurried back, almost praying that the second moth would be a male, and dry soon enough that the two could be pictured together, before the first one would be strong enough to fly.

The following three hours were spent with them, and every minute enjoyed to the fullest. The first to emerge was dry, and pumping her wings to strengthen them for flight; the second was in condition to pose, but a disappointment, for it was another female. The third was out, and by its smaller size, brighter markings and broad antennae we knew it was a male. His "antlers" were much wider than those of the first two, and where their markings were pink, his were so vivid as to be almost red, and he was very furry. He had, in fact, almost twice as much long hair as the others, so he undoubtedly was a male, but he was not sufficiently advanced to pose with the females, and I was in doubt as to the wisest course to pursue.

"Hurry him up!" suggested Molly-Cotton. "Tie a string across the window and hang him in the sunshine. I'll bring a fan, and stir the air gently."

This plan seemed feasible, and when the twine was ready, I lifted his twig to place it in the new location. The instant I touched his resting-place and lifted its weight from the twine both females began ejecting a creamy liquid. They ruined the frescoing behind them, as my first Cecropia soiled the lace curtain when I was smaller than Molly-Cotton at that time. We tacked a paper against the wall to prevent further damage. A point to remember in moth culture, is to be ready for this occurrence before they emerge, if you do not want stained frescoing, floors, and hangings.

In the sunshine and fresh air the male began to dry rapidly, and no doubt he understood the presence of his kind, for he was much more active than the females. He climbed the twig, walked the twine body pendent, and was so energetic that we thought we dared not trust him out of doors; but when at every effort to walk or fly he only attempted to reach the females, we concluded that he would not take wing if at liberty. By this time he was fully developed, and so perfect he would serve for a study.

I polished the lenses, focused anew on the tree, marked the limits of exposure, inserted a plate, and had everything ready. Then I brought out the female, Molly-Cotton walking beside me hovering her with a net. The moth climbed from the twig to the tree, and clung there, her wings spread flat, at times setting them quivering in a fluttering motion, or raising them. While Molly-Cotton guarded her I returned for the male, and found him with wings so hardened that could raise them above his back, and lower them full width.

I wanted my study to dignify the term, so I planned it to show the under wings of one moth, the upper of the other. Then the smaller antennae and large abdomen of the female were of interest. I also thought it would be best to secure the male with wings widespread if possible, because his colour was stronger, his markings more pronounced. So I helped the female on a small branch facing the trunk of the tree, and she rested with raised wings as I fervently hoped she would. The male I placed on the trunk, and with wide wings he immediately started toward the female, while she advanced in his direction. This showed his large antennae and all markings and points especially noteworthy, being good composition as well, for it centred interest; but there was one objection. It gave the male the conspicuous place and made him appear the larger because of his nearness to the lens and his wing spread; while as a matter of fact, the female had almost an inch more sweep than he, and was bigger at every point save the antennae.

Leaving Home

The light was full and strong, the lens the best money could buy, the plate seven by nine inches. By this time long practice had made me rather expert in using my cameras. When the advancing pair were fully inside my circle of focus, I made the first exposure. Then I told Molly-Cotton to keep them as nearly as possible where they were, while I took one breathless peep at the ground glass. Talk about exciting work! No better focus could be had on them, so I shoved in another plate with all speed, and made a second exposure, which was no better than the first. Had there been time, I would have made a third to be sure, for plates are no object when a study is at all worth while. As a rule each succeeding effort enables you to make some small change for the better, and you must figure on always having enough to lose one through a defective plate or ill luck in development, and yet end with a picture that will serve your purpose.

Then we closed the ventilators and released the moths in the conservatory. The female I placed on a lemon tree in a shady spot, and the male at the extreme far side to see how soon he would find her. We had supposed it would be dark, but they were well acquainted by dusk. The next morning she was dotting eggs over the plants.

The other cocoons produced mostly female living moths, save one that was lost in emergence. I tried to help when it was too late; but cutting open the cocoon afterward proved the moth defective. The wings on one side were only about half size, and on the other little patches no larger than my thumb nail. The body was shrunken and weakly.

At this time, as I remember, Cecropia eggs were the largest I had seen, but these were larger; the same shape and of a white colour with a brown band. The moth dotted them on the under and upper sides of leaves, on sashes and flower pots, tubs and buckets. They turned brown as the days passed. The little caterpillars that emerged from them were reddish brown, and a quarter of an inch long.

I could not see my way to release a small army of two or three hundred of these among my plants, so when they emerged I held a leaf before fifty, that seemed liveliest, and transferred them to a big box. The remainder I placed with less ceremony, over mulberry, elm, maple, wild cherry, grape, rose, apple, and pear, around the Cabin, and gave the ones kept in confinement the same diet.

The leaves given them always were dipped in water to keep them fresh longer, and furnish moisture for the feeders. They grew by a series of moults, like all the others I had raised or seen, and were full size in forty-eight days, but travelled a day or two before beginning the pupa stage of their existence.

The caterpillars were big fellows; the segments deeply cut; the bodies yellow-green, with a few sparse scattering hairs, and on the edge of each segment, from a triple row of dots arose a tiny, sharp spine. Each side had series of black touches and the head could be drawn inside the thorax. They were the largest in circumference of any I had raised, but only a little over three inches long.

I arranged both leaves and twigs in the boxes, but they spun among the leaves, and not dangling from twigs, as all the cocoons I had found outdoors were placed previous to that time. Since, I have found them spun lengthwise of twigs in a brush heap. The cocoons of these I had raised were whiter than those of the free caterpillars, and did not have the leaves fastened on the outside, but were woven in a nest of leaves, fastened together by threads.

Polyphemus moths are night flyers, and do not feed. I have tried to tell how beautiful they are, with indifferent success, and they are common with me. Since I learned them, [I] find their cocoons easiest to discover. Through the fall and winter, when riding on trains, I see them dangling from wayside thorn bushes. Once, while taking a walk with Raymond in late November, he located one on a thorn tree in a field beside the road, but he has the eyes of an Indian.

These are the moths that city people can cultivate, for in Indianapolis, in early December, I saw fully one half as many Polyphemus cocoons on the trees as there were Cecropia, and I could have gathered a bushel of them. They have emerged in perfection for me always, with one exception. Personally, I have found more Polyphemus than Cecropia.

These moths are the gamins of their family, and love the streets and lights at night. Under an arc light at Wabash, Indiana, I once picked up as beautiful a specimen of Polyphemus as I ever saw, and the following day a friend told me that several had been captured the night before in the heart of town. Of course the high bright lights attracted them, but they have a peculiar habit of alighting on the pavement, instead of on trees or bushes. I think this moth is as easy to capture, or to find in the cocoon and preserve through the winter, as any. To any army of Nature Lovers its rich shades, and wonderful markings will be most attractive.

I experienced great joy in painting the pair on the log, and also a very large, beautiful specimen secured several years later on my wistaria vines. Much delicate blending of shades was required to reproduce them, but their colours were so distinct there was no chance to fail. They were not nearly so difficult as Cecropia. In Polyphemus the colours softly blended, and the shadings were easily laid on. But the Robin moth with its sharp contrasts of fine coloured lines was a task, and with the exceptions of Regalis and the female Promethea, was the most difficult moth of all to paint. The first proof from my study of Polyphemus appeared as if in the exacting work of super-imposing colour, a tinge of green flushed the moths. If this cannot be removed it is wrong. They should be pure tans and browns as described, with pink flushing.

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Postby admin » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:08 pm


"When the fierce northwestern blast
Cools the sea and land so far and fast --
Thou already slumberest deep;
Woe and want thou cants outsleep;
Want and woe, which torture us,
Thy sleep makes ridiculous."
-- Emerson

Waiting for Wings


Protoparce Carolina is a "cousin" of Celeus, and so nearly its double that the caterpillars and moths must be seen together to be differentiated by amateurs, while it is doubtful if skilled scientists can always identify the pupa cases with certainty. Carolina is more common in the south, but it is frequent throughout the north. Its caterpillars eat the same food as Celeus, and are the same size. They are a dull green, while Celeus is shining, and during the succession of moults, they show slight variations in colour.

Garden Fly

They pupate in a hole in the ground. The moths on close examination show quite a difference from Celeus. They are darker in colour. The forewings lack the effect of being laid off in lines. The colour is a mottling of almost black, darkest grey, lighter grey, brown, and white. The back wings are crossed by wavy bands of brownish grey, black, and tan colour, and the yellow markings on the abdomen are larger.

In repose, these moths fold the front wings over the back like large flies. In fact, in the south they are called the "Tobacco Fly," and we of the north should add the "Tomato and Potato Fly." Because I thought such a picture would be of interest, I reproduced a pair -- the male as he clung to a piece of pasteboard in the "fly attitude.

Celeus and Carolina caterpillars come the nearest being pests of those of any large moths, because they feed on tomato, potato, and tobacco, but they also eat jimson weed, ground cherry, and several vines that are of no use to average folk.

The Carolina moths come from their pupa cases as featherweights step into the sparring. They feed partially by day, and their big eyes surely see more than those of most other moths, that seem small and deep-set in comparison. Their legs are long, and not so hairy as is the rule. They have none of the blind, aimless, helpless appearance of moths that do not feed. They exercise violently in the pupa cases before they burst the shields, and when they emerge their eyes glow and dilate. They step with firmness and assurance, as if they knew where they wanted to go, and how to arrive. They are of direct swift flight, and much experience and dexterity are required to take them on wing.

Both my Carolina moths emerged in late afternoon, about four o'clock, near the time their kind take flight to hunt for food. The light was poor in the Cabin, so I set up my camera and focused on a sweetbrier climbing over the back door. At that hour the sun was so low there was not good light in the garden on anything native to Carolina; besides, I had seen a free moth of this species darting over the roses the previous evening hunting sweets, so I knew I would be right in picturing one there.

The newly emerged moth was travelling briskly in that first exercise it takes, while I arranged my camera; so by the time I was ready, it had reached the place to rest quietly until its wings developed. Carolina climbed on my finger with all assurance, walked briskly from it to the roses, and clung there firmly.

The wet wings dropped into position, and the sun dried them rapidly. I fell in love with my subject. He stepped around so jauntily in comparison with most moths. The picture he made while clinging to the roses during the first exposure was lovely. The flowers were at their prime, and their delicate pinks and greens made a setting that could not have been surpassed in harmony, and it had the added attraction of being appropriate.

His slender, trim legs seemed to have three long joints, and two short on the feet. In his sidewise position toward the lens, the abdomen showed silver-white beneath, silvery grey on the sides, and large patches of orange surrounded by black, with touches of white on top. His wings were folded together on his back as they drooped, showing only the under sides, and on these the markings were more clearly defined than on top. In the sunlight the fore pair were a warm tan grey, exquisitely lined and shaded. They were a little more than half covered by the back pair, that folded over them. These were a darker grey, with tan and almost black shadings, and crossed by sharply zig-zagging lines of black. The grey legs were banded by lines of white. The first pair clung to the stamens of the rose, the second to the petals, and the third stretched out and rested on a leaf.

There were beautiful markings of very dark colour and white on the thorax, head, shoulders, and back wings next the body. The big eyes, quite the largest of any moth I remember, reminded me of owl eyes in the light. The antennae, dark, grey-brown on top, and white on the under side, turned back and drooped beside the costa, no doubt in the position they occupied in the pupa case.

The location was so warm, and the moth dried so rapidly, that by the time two good studies were made of him in this position, he felt able to step to some leaves, and with no warning whatever, reversed his wings to the "fly" position, so that only the top side of the front pair showed. The colour was very rich and beautiful, but so broken in small patches and lines, as to be difficult to describe. With the reversal of the wings the antennae flared a little higher, and the exercise of the sucking tube began. The moth would expose the whole length of the tube in a coil, which it would make larger and contract by turns, at times drawing it from sight. When it was uncoiled the farthest, a cleft in the face where it fitted could be seen. I tried to take a snapshot showing this tongue exercise, but the dark leaves made such a poor background that the picture is not much of a success.

The next day my second Carolina case produced a beautiful female. The history of her emergence was exactly similar to that of the male. Her head, shoulders, and abdomen seemed nearly twice the size of his, while her wings but a trifle, if any larger.

As these moths are feeders, and live for weeks, I presume when the female has deposited her eggs, the abdomen contracts, and loses its weight so that she does not require the large wings of the females that only deposit their eggs and die. They are very heavy, and if forced to flight must have big wings to support them. I was so interested in this that I slightly chloroformed the female, and made a study of the pair. The male was fully alive and alert, but they had not mated, and he would not take wing. He clung in his natural position, so that he resembled a big fly, on the smooth side of the sheet of corrugated paper on which I placed the female. His wings folded over each other. The abdomen and the antennae were invisible, because they were laid flat on the costa of each wing.

The female clung to the board, in any position in which she was placed. Her tongue readily uncoiled, showing its extreme length, and curled around a pin. With a camel's hair brush I gently spread her wings to show how near they were the size of the male's, and how much larger her body was.

Her fore-wings were a trifle lighter in colour than the male's, and not so broken with small markings. The back wings were very similar. Her antennae stood straight out from the head on each side, of their own volition and differed from the male's. It has been my observation that in repose these moths fold the antennae as shown by the male. The position of the female was unnatural. In flight, or when feeding, the antennae are raised, and used as a guide in finding food flowers. A moth with broken antennae seems dazed and helpless, and in great distress.

A Pair of Garden Flies Showing Tongue of Female

I have learned by experience in handling moths, that when I induce one to climb upon bark, branch, or flower for a study, they seldom place their wings as I want them. Often it takes long and patient coaxing, and they are sensitive to touch. If I try to force a fore-wing with my fingers to secure a wider sweep, so that the markings of the back wings show, the moths resent it by closing them closer than before, climbing to a different location or often taking flight.

But if I use a fine camel's-hair brush, that lacks the pulsation of circulation, and gently stroke the wing, and sides of the abdomen, the moths seems to like the sensation and grow sleepy or hypnotized. By using the brush I never fail to get wing extension that will show markings, and at the same time the feet and body are in a natural position. After all is said there is to say, and done there is to do, the final summing up and judgment of any work on Natural History will depend upon whether it is true to nature. It is for this reason I often have waited for days and searched over untold miles to find the right location, even the exact leaf, twig or branch on which a subject should be placed. Then I have used from one to three assistants, worked under the nerve racking suspense of fearing my moth would take sudden flight, and escape entirely or be broken and disfigured in recapture, in order that these studies may have an outdoor atmosphere, a proper background, middle distance and foreground, the subject sharply outlined in a natural pose, and nothing introduced that detracts from the central interest.

Almost without exception each illustration of this book conforms to these requirements; if one does not, I have explained why in the text of that chapter. Then with the finest water colours and brushes I could buy, using the living, newly emerged moth for my model, I have copied line and colour as exactly as lay in my power. Having undertaken the work with no knowledge of water colours and gone on with it by applying what I knew of work in oils to the different medium, it is very possible that some of it may appear crude in its finer details, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing you possess a handmade, homemade book, and that colour, markings, pose, and background are right.

Where Elnora Found the Most Garden Flies

Perhaps you have been smiling as you read because I have dignified my illustration by repeatedly referring to it as "studies," of differing subjects. If you have, think again before you indulge in any more mirth at my expense. I have undertaken all the work and used the time necessary to secure these illustrations as I have described, also I have gone farther and raised most of the subjects by hand, which begins with watching the egg period, runs through weeks of exacting and scrupulous work in feeding and cleaning after caterpillars, providing spinning locations, properly caring for cocoon or pupae through months of changing winter weather, delaying emergence until the season is sufficiently advanced to provide the natural, outdoor background for each species, then carrying them to it and inducing them to pose naturally. I frankly admit that I consider painstaking work, extending over a year in most instances, elevates these illustrations to the dignity of studies. I plead guilty to the use of an anesthetic in this chapter only to show the tongue extension of Carolina, because it is the extremest with which I am acquainted; and to coaxing wide wing sweep with the camel's hair brush; otherwise either the fact that my subjects are too close [to] emergence ever to have taken flight, or sex attraction alone holds them.

If you do not discover love running through every line of this text and see it shining from the face of each study and painting, you do not read aright and your eyes need attention. Again and again to the protests of my family, I have made answer --

"To work we love we rise betimes, and go to it with delight."

From the middle of May to the end of June of the year I was most occupied with this book, my room was filled with cocoons and pupa cases. The encased moths I had reason to believe were on the point of appearing lay on a chair beside my bed or a tray close [to] my pillow. That month I did not average two hours of sleep in a night, and had less in the daytime. I not only arose "betimes," but at any time I heard a scratching and tugging moth working to enter the world, and when its head was out, I was up and ready with note-book and camera. Day helped the matter but slightly, for any moth emerging in the night had to be provided a location, and pictured before ten o'clock or it was not safe to take it outside. Then I had literally "to fly" to develop the plate, make my print and secure exact colour reproduction while the moth was fresh. If these paintings appear brighter to you than any others you ever have seen, remember this; and also compare the positions in which these moths are reproduced with your favourite work on this subject. If a moth shows no feet, its antennae always stand stiffly forward, its abdomen is shrunken and shrivelled, and its wings are raised above a straight line crossing the top of the thorax level with the wing bases, by these signs you will know it is a dried, faded subject from a museum or private collection, and that its colours are as untrue to life as its position and form.

For this is a point to remember in photographing a moth. A free living moth never raises its wings higher than a straight line from the bases crossing the top of the thorax. It requires expert and adept coaxing to get them horizontal with their bases. If you do, you show all markings required, and preserve natural values, quite the most important things to be considered. Since 1904 I have been collecting subjects, reproducing them in half-tone and colour, and gathering data for this book.

All the big, non-feeding night moths of the Limberlost are here reproduced and some of day. Of the latter there are thousands, almost as beautiful, but one would require ten ordinary lifetimes and never a duty besides, to secure and reproduce all of them as I have these. There is a big brown moth with white lines and dark markings, Erebus odora, that I in all probability would lose my head completely if I found in the Limberlost. It is a South American species and has been taken as far north as Canada, so it is not impossible that I yet may find one. I am firmly convinced that a moth even rarer has been in the locality. One day coming from work on a cuckoo nest on the banks of the Wabash, I found Bob and Molly-Cotton scarlet of face, almost breathless and wailing like the paid mourners of an Arabian funeral, for volume, but with heartbreaking earnestness.

They had chased a moth neither ever before had seen, until reduced to this state, when it arose high, crossed the river and was lost in the Stanley woods. Pressed for description Bob said it was "gray Scotch plaid." Molly was more definite. She stoutly affirmed it was a big moth cut from a piece of her camel's-hair dress. Now the dress was purchased in Cincinnati, at greater expense than I could afford really, my excuse being that it was irresistibly beautiful. The cloth was soft fine camel's-hair, the background white, the plaid broad wavy bands covering the white, and these were made up of the softest of grays, half a dozen browns, almost a hint of yellow and delicate black lines. I was then and am yet convinced they pursued Thysania zenobia, an abundant Mexican species, that I do not know of having been taken north of Georgia.

I made a discovery with Carolina. Moths having digestive organs and that are feeders are susceptible to anaesthetics in a far higher degree than those that do not feed. Many scientific workers confess to having poured full strength chloroform directly on nonfeeders, mounted them as pinned specimens and later found them living; so that sensitive lepidopterists have abandoned its use for the cyanide or gasoline jar. I intended to give only a whiff of chloroform to this moth, just enough that she would allow her tongue to remain uncoiled until I could snap its fullest extent, but I could not revive her. The same amount would have had no effect whatever on a non-feeder.

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Postby admin » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:38 pm


Bloody Nose of Sunshine Hill


John Brown lives a mile north of our village, in the little hamlet of Ceylon. Like his illustrious predecessor of the same name he is willing to do something for other people. Mr. Brown owns a large farm, that for a long distance borders the Wabash River where it is at its best, and always the cameras and I have the freedom of his premises.

Thysbe Resembles a Big Bumble Bee

On the east side of the village, about half its length, swings a big gate, that opens into a long country lane. It leads between fields of wheat and corn to a stretch of woods pasture, lying on a hillside, that ends at the river. This covers many acres, most of the trees have been cut; the land rises gradually to a crest, that is crowned by a straggling old snake fence, velvety black in places, grey with lint in others, and liberally decorated its entire length with lichens, in every shade of grey and green. Its corners are filled with wild flowers, ferns, gooseberries, raspberries, black and red haw, papaw, wild grapevines, and trees of all varieties. Across the fence a sumac covered embankment falls precipitately to the Wabash, where it sweeps around a great curve at Horseshoe Bend. The bed is stone and gravel, the water flows shallow and pure in the sunlight, and mallows and willows fringe the banks.

Beside this stretch of river most of one summer was spent, because there were two broods of cardinals, whose acquaintance I was cultivating, raised in those sumacs. The place was very secluded, as the water was not deep enough for fishing or swimming. On days when the cardinals were contrary, or to do the birds justice, when they had experiences with an owl the previous night, or with a hawk in the morning, and were restless or unduly excited, much grist for my camera could be found on the river banks.

These were the most beautiful anywhere in my locality. The hum of busy life was incessant. From the top twig of the giant sycamore in Rainbow Bottom, the father of the cardinal flock hourly challenged all creation to contest his right to one particular sumac. The cardinals were the attraction there; across the fence where the hill sloped the length of the pasture to the lane, lures were many and imperative. Despite a few large trees, compelling right to life by their majesty, that hillside was open pasture, where the sunshine streamed all day long. Wild roses clambered over stumps of fallen monarchs, and scrub oak sheltered resting sheep. As it swept to the crest, the hillside was thickly dotted with mullein, its pale yellow-green leaves spreading over the grass, and its spiral of canary-coloured bloom stiffly upstanding. There were thistles, the big, rank, richly growing, kind, that browsing cattle and sheep circled widely.

Very beautiful were these frosted thistles, with their large, widespreading base leaves, each spine needle-tipped, their uplifted heads of delicate purple bloom, and their floating globes of silken down, with a seed in their hearts. No wonder artists have painted them, decorators conventionalized them; even potters could not pass by their artistic merit, for I remembered that in a china closet at home there were Belleck cups moulded in the shape of a thistle head.

Experience had taught me how to appreciate this plant. There was a chewink in the Stanley woods, that brought off a brood of four, under the safe shelter of a rank thistle leaf, in the midst of trampling herds of cattle driven wild by flies. There was a ground sparrow near the Hale sand pit, covered by a base leaf of another thistle, and beneath a third on Bob's lease, I had made a study of an exquisite nest. Protection from the rank leaves was not all the birds sought of these plants, for goldfinches were darting around inviting all creation to "See me?" as they gathered the silken down for nest lining. Over the sweetly perfumed purple heads, the humming-birds held high carnival on Sunshine Hillside all the day. The honey and bumble bees fled at the birds' approach, but what were these others, numerous everywhere, that clung to the blooms, greedily thrusting their red noses between the petals, and giving place to nothing else?

For days as I passed among them, I thought them huge bees. The bright colouring of their golden olive-green, and red-wine striped bodies had attracted me in passing. Then one of them approached a thistle head opposite me in such a way its antennae and the long tongue it thrust into the bloom could be seen. That proved it was not a bee, and punishment did not await anyone who touched it.

There were so many that with one sweep of the net two were captured. They were examined to my satisfaction and astonishment. They were moths! Truly moths, feeding in the brilliant sunshine all the day; bearing a degree of light and heat I never had known any other moth to endure. Talk about exquisite creatures! These little day moths, not much larger than the largest bumble bees, had some of their gaudiest competitors of moonlight and darkness outdone.

The head was small and pointed, with big eyes, a long tongue, clubbed antennae, and a blood-red nose. The thorax above was covered with long, silky, olive-green hair; the top of the abdomen had half an inch band of warm tan colour, then a quarter of an inch band of velvety red wine, then a band nearer the olive of the shoulders. The males had claspers covered with small red-wine feathers tan tipped. The thorax was cream-coloured below and the under side of the abdomen red wine crossed with cream-coloured lines at each segment.

The front wings had the usual long, silky hairs. They were of olive-green shading into red, at the base, the costa was red, and an escalloped band of red bordered them. The intervening space was transparent like thinnest isinglass, and crossed with fine red veins. The back wings were the same, only the hairs at the base were lighter red, and the band at the edge deeper in colour.

The head of the male seemed sharper, the shoulders stronger olive, the wings more pointed at the apex, where the female's were a little rounded. The top of the abdomen had the middle band of such strong red that it threw the same colour over the bands above and below it; giving to the whole moth a strong red appearance when on wing. They were so fascinating the birds were forgotten, and the hillside hunted for them until a pair were secured to carry home for identification, before the whistle of the cardinal from Rainbow Bottom rang so sharply that I remembered this was the day I had hoped to secure his likeness; and here I was allowing a little red-nosed moth so to thrust itself upon my attention, that my cameras were not even set up and focused on the sumac.

This tiny sunshine moth, Hemaris Thysbe, was easy of identification, and its whole life history before me on the hillside. I was too busy with the birds to raise many caterpillars, so reference to several books taught me that they all agreed on the main points of Hemaris history.

Hemaris means "bloody nose." "Bloody nose" on account of the red first noticed on the face, though some writers called them "Clear wings," because of the transparent spaces on the wings. Certainly "clear wings" is a most appropriate and poetic name for this moth. Fastidious people will undoubtedly prefer it for common usage. For myself, I always think of the delicate, gaudy little creature, greedily thrusting its blood-red nose into the purple thistle blooms; so to my thought it returns as "bloody nose."

The pairs mate early after emerging, and lay about two hundred small eggs to the female, from which the caterpillars soon hatch, and begin their succession of moults. One writer gave black haw and snowball as their favourite foods, and the length of the caterpillar when full grown nearly two inches. They are either a light brown with yellow markings, or green with yellow; all of them have white granules on the body, and a blue-black horn with a yellow base. They spin among the leaves on the ground, and the pupa, while small, is shaped like Regalis, except that it has a sharper point at each end, and more prominent wing shields. It has no raised tongue case, although it belongs to the family of "long tongues."

On learning all I could acquire by experience with these moths, and what the books had to teach, I became their warm admirer. One sunny morning climbing the hill on the way to the cardinals, with fresh plates in my cameras, and high hopes in my heart, I passed an unusually large fine thistle, with half a dozen Thysbe moths fluttering over it as if nearly crazed with fragrance, or honey they were sipping.

"Come here! Come here! Come here!" intoned the cardinal, from the sycamore of Rainbow Bottom.

"Just you wait a second, old fellow!" I heard myself answering. Scarcely realizing what I was doing, the tripod was set up, the best camera taken out, and focused on that thistle head. The moths paid no attention to bees, butterflies, or humming-birds visiting the thistle, but this was too formidable, and by the time the choicest heads were in focus, all the little red fellows had darted to another plant. If the camera was moved there, they would change again, so I sat in the shade of a clump of papaws to wait and see if they would not grow accustomed to it.

They kept me longer than I had expected, and the chances are I would have answered the cardinal's call, and gone to the river, had it not been for the interest found in watching a beautiful grey squirrel that homed in an ivy-covered stump in the pasture. He seemed to have much business on the fence at the hilltop, and raced back and forth to it repeatedly. He carried something, I could not always tell what, but at times it was green haws. Once he came with no food, and at such a headlong run that he almost turned somersaults as he scampered up the tree.

The Crest of Sunshine Hill

For a long time he was quiet, then he cautiously peeped out. After a while he ventured to the ground, raced to a dead stump, and sitting on it, barked and scolded with all his might. Then he darted home again. When he had repeated this performance several times, the idea became apparent. There was some danger to be defied in Rainbow Bottom, but not a sound must be made from his home. The bark of a dog hurried me to the fence in time to see some hunters passing in the bottom, but I thanked mercy they were on the opposite side of the river and it was not probable they would wade, so my birds would not be disturbed. When the squirrel felt that he must bark and chatter, or burst with tense emotions, he discreetly left his mate and nest. I did some serious thinking on the "instinct" question. He might choose a hollow log for his home by instinct, or eat certain foods because hunger urged him, but could instinct teach him not to make a sound where his young family lay? Without a doubt, for this same reason, the cardinal sang from every tree and bush around Horseshoe Bend, save the sumac where his mate hovered their young.

The matter presented itself in this way. The squirrel has feet, and he runs with them. He has teeth, and he eats with them. He has lungs, and he breathes with them. Every organ of his interior has its purpose, and is used to fulfil it. His big, prominent eyes come from long residence in dark hollows. His bushy tail helps him in long jumps from tree to tree. Every part of his anatomy is created, designed and used to serve some purpose, save only his brain, the most complex and complicated part of him. Its only use and purpose is to form one small "tidbit" for the palate of the epicure! Like Sir Francis, who preached a sermon to the birds, I found me delivering myself of a lecture to the squirrels, birds, and moths of Sunshine Hill. The final summing up was, that the squirrel used his feet, teeth, eyes and tail; that could be seen easily, and by his actions it could be seen just as clearly that he used his brain also.

There was not a Thysbe in front of the lens, so picking up a long cudgel I always carry afield, and going quietly to surrounding thistles, I jarred them lightly with it, and began rounding up the Hemaris family in the direction of the camera. The trick was a complete success. Soon I had an exposure on two. After they had faced the camera once, and experienced no injury, like the birds, they accepted it as part of the landscape. The work was so fascinating, and the pictures on the ground glass so worth while, that before I realized what I was doing, half a dozen large plates were gone, and for this reason, work with the cardinals that day ended at noon. This is why I feel that at times in bird work the moths literally "thrust themselves" upon me.

I made a second effort with water colours, before I secured these dainty little red-nosed creatures at their feast of thistle nectar. When the first attempt was dry, the reds and olive-greens of the moths were too dull and so were the exquisite colours of the thistle heads and down. Being blest with more patience than any other trait I tried again, and worked with them until the dry painting exactly reproduced the colours of a living Bloody Nose.

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Postby admin » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:40 pm


"Insect lover of the sun,
Joy of thy dominion!
Sailor of the atmosphere;
Swimmer through the waves of air,
Voyager of light and noon,
Epicurean of June!"
-- Emerson.

The Modest Moth


Of course this moth was named Modesta because of modest colouring. It reminds me of a dove, being one of my prime favourites. On wing it is suggestive of Polyphemus, but its colours are lighter and softer. Great beauty that Polyphemus is, Modesta equals it.

Soft Grays and Browns

Modesta belongs to the genus Triptogon, species Modesta -- hence the common name, the Modest moth. I am told that in the east this moth is of stronger colouring than in the central and western states. I do not know about the centre and west, but I do know that only as far east as Indiana, Modesta is of more delicate colouring than it is described by scientists of New York and Pennsylvania; and, of course, as in almost every case, the female is not so strongly coloured as the male.

I can class the Modest moth and its caterpillar among those I know, but my acquaintance with it is more limited than with almost any other. My first introduction came when I found a caterpillar of striking appearance on water sprouts growing around a poplar stump in a stretch of trees beside the Wabash. I carried it home with a supply of the leaves for diet, but as a matter of luck, it had finished eating, and was ready to pupate. I write of this as good luck, because the poplar tree is almost extinct in my location. I know of only one in the fields, those beside the river, and a few used for ornamental shade trees. They are so scarce I would have had trouble to provide the caterpillar with natural food; so I was glad that it was ready to pupate when found.

Anyone can identify this caterpillar easily, as it is most peculiar. There is a purplish pink cast on the head and mouth of the fullg rown caterpillar, and purplish red around the props. The body is a very light blue-green, faintly tinged with white, and yellow in places. On the sides are white obliques, or white, shaded with pink, and at the base of these, a small oval marking. There is a small short horn on the head. But the distinguishing mark is a mass of little white granules, scattered all over the caterpillar. It is so peppered with these, that failure to identify it is impossible.

These caterpillars pupate in the ground. I knew that, but this was before I had learned that the caterpillar worked out a hole in the ground, and the pupa case only touched the earth upon which it lay. So when my Modesta caterpillar ceased crawling, lay quietly, turned dark, shrank one half in length, and finally burst the dead skin, and emerged in a shining dark brown pupa case two inches long, I got in my work. I did well. A spade full of garden soil was thoroughly sifted, baked in the oven to kill parasites and insects, cooled, and put in a box, and the pupa case buried in it. Every time it rained, I opened the box, and moistened the earth. Two months after time for emergence, I dug out the pupa case: to find it white with mould. I had no idea what the trouble was, for I had done much work over that case, and the whole winter tended it solicitously. It was one of my earliest attempts, and I never have found another caterpillar, or any eggs, though I often search the poplars for them.

However, something better happened. I say better, because I think if they will make honest confession, all people who have gathered eggs and raised caterpillars from them in confinement, by feeding cut leaves, will admit that the pupa cases they get, and the moths they produce are only about half size. The big fine cases and cocoons are the ones you find made by caterpillars in freedom, or by those that have passed at least the fourth or fifth moult out of doors. So it was a better thing for my illustration, and for my painting, when in June of this year, Raymond, in crossing town from a ball game, found a large, perfect Modesta female. He secured her in his hat, and hurried to me. Raymond's hat has had many wonderful things in it besides his head, and his pockets are always lumpy with boxes.

Although perfect, she had mated, deposited her eggs, and was declining. All she wanted was to be left alone, and she would sit with wings widespread wherever placed. I was in the orchard, treating myself to some rare big musky red raspberries that are my especial property, when Raymond came with her. He set her on a shoot before me, and guarded her while I arranged a camera. She was the most complacent subject I ever handled outdoors, and did not make even an attempt to fly. Raymond was supposed to be watching while I worked, but our confidence in her was so great, that I paid all my attention to polishing my lenses, and getting good light, while Raymond gathered berries with one hand, and promiscuously waved the net over the bushes with the other.

In the Valley of the Wood Robin

During the first exposure, Modesta was allowed to place and poise herself as seemed natural. For a second, I used the brush on her gently, and coaxed her wings into spreading a little wider than was natural. These positions gave every evidence of being pleasing and yet I was not satisfied. There was something else in the back of my head that kept obtruding itself as I walked to the Cabin, with the beautiful moth clinging to my fingers. I did not feel quite happy about her, so she was placed in a large box, lined with corrugated paper, to wait a while until the mist in my brain cleared, and my nebulous disturbance evolved an idea. It came slowly. I had a caterpillar long ago, and had investigated the history of this moth. I asked Raymond where he found her and he said, "Coming from the game." Now I questioned him about the kind of a tree, and he promptly answered, "On one of those poplars behind the schoolhouse."

That was the clue. Instantly I recognized it. A poplar limb was what I wanted. Its fine, glossy leaf, flattened stem, and smooth upright twigs made a setting, appropriate, above all others, for the Modest moth.

I explained the situation to the Deacon, and he had Brenner drive with him to the Hirschy farm, and help secure a limb from one of the very few Lombardy poplars of this region. They drove very fast, and I had to trouble to induce Modesta to clamber over a poplar twig, and settle. Then by gently stroking, an unusual wing sweep was secured, because there is a wonderful purple-pink and a peculiar blue on the back wings.

It has been my experience that the longer a moth of these big shortlived subjects remains out of doors, the paler its colours become; and most of them fade rapidly when mounted, if not kept in the dark. So my Modesta may have been slightly faded, but she could have been several shades paler and yet appeared most beautiful to me.

Her head, shoulders, and abdomen were a lovely dove grey; that soft tan grey, with a warm shade, almost suggestive of pink. I suppose the reason I thought of this was because at the time two pairs of doves, one on a heap of driftwood overhanging the river, and the other in an apple tree in the Aspy orchard a few rods away, were giving me much trouble, and I had dove grey on my mind. I had tried for a study of the brooding dove by the river five times, and the one in the apple tree fifteen. I had lived in the locality, practically. I had set up a tripod, first yards away, then slipped to it with a camera, but could only screw it on. After leaving half an hour I crept up and opened it, working in the sun until almost melted, to get a focus. I only hoped to make a little thumb-nail picture that would serve for an enlargement, and failure heaped on failure. When I was three rods away, those doves tore from the nest until I was afraid they would break their eggs. A joke on me is as good as on any one else, and the point to this is that I was trying to make these studies at times when the male bird was brooding, while the female went to hunt food and drink. After days of as difficult field work as I ever endured, I made exposures on both those female doves in the afternoon. The one on the river bank sat for a four foot focus, after an hour's work; and the one in the orchard endured three, after a half day's cautious approach. Perhaps I saw so much dove gray on that moth because I had seen it all day for days, and dreamed of it in my sleep.

This same dove grey coloured the basic third of the fore-wings. Then they were crossed with a band only a little less in width, of rich cinnamon brown. There was a narrow wavy line of lighter brown, and the remaining third of the wing was paler, but with darker shadings. These four distinct colour divisions were exquisitely blended, and on the darkest band, near the costa, was a tiny white half moon. The under sides of the fore-wings were a delicate brownish grey, with heavy flushings of a purplish pink, a most beautiful colour.

The back wings were dove colour near the abdomen, more of a mouse colour around the edges, and beginning strongly at the base, and spreading in lighter shade over the wing, was the same purplish pink of the front under-wing, only much stronger. Near the abdomen, a little below half the length, and adjoining the grey, each wing had a mark difficult to describe in shape, and of rich blue colour.

The antennae stood up stoutly, and were of dove grey on one side, and white on the other. The thorax, legs, and under side of the abdomen were more of the mouse grey in colour. Over the whole moth in strong light, there was an almost intangible flushing of palest purplish pink. It may have shaded through the fore-wing from beneath, and over the back wing from above. At any rate, it was there, and so lovely and delicate was the whole colour scheme, it made me feel that I would give much to see a newly emerged male of this species. In my childhood my mother called this colour aniline red.

I once asked a Chicago importer if he believed that Oriental rug weavers sometimes use these big night moths as colour guides in their weaving. He said he had heard this, and gave me the freedom of his rarest rugs. Of course the designs woven into these rugs have a history, and a meaning for those who understand. There were three, almost priceless, one of which I am quite sure copied its greys, terra cotta, and black shades from Cecropia.

There was another, a rug of pure silk, that never could have touched a floor, or been trusted outside a case, had it been my property, that beyond all question took its exquisite combinations of browns and tans with pink lines, and peacock blue designs from Polyphemus. A third could have been copied from no moth save Modesta, for it was dove grey, mouse grey, and cinnamon brown, with the purplish pink of the back wings, and exactly the blue of their decorations. Had this rug been woven of silk, as the brown one, that moment would have taught me why people sometimes steal when they cannot afford to buy. Examination of the stock of any importer of high grade rugs will convince one who knows moths, that many of our commonest or their near relatives native to the Orient are really used as models for colour combinations in rug weaving. The Herat frequently has moths in its border.

The painting of this moth I laboured over with loving care, and I think that to the reproduction I succeeded in giving the purplish cast, but what will become of it in engraving is a question. The female was used as a model, every colour was tested on a blotter beside her wing until it exactly matched, and then made a degree stronger, for water colours dry lighter in shade, and the subject was not fresh in the beginning.

The Modest moth has a wing sweep in large females of from five and one-half to six inches. In my territory they are very rare, only a few caterpillars and one moth have fallen to me. This can be accounted for by the fact that the favourite food tree of the caterpillar is so scarce, for some reason having become almost extinct, except in a few cases where they are used for shade.

The eggs are a greyish green, and have the pearly appearance of almost all moth eggs. On account of white granules, the caterpillar cannot fail to be identified. The moths in their beautiful soft colouring are well worth search and study. They are as exquisitely shaded as any, and of a richness difficult to describe.

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Postby admin » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:42 pm


The Pride of the Lilacs


So far as the arrangement of the subjects of this book in family groupings is concerned, any chapter might come first or last. It is frankly announced as the book of the Nature Lover, and as such is put together in the form that appears to me easiest to comprehend and most satisfying to examine. Yielding to the almost universal distaste for caterpillars, I have used them in this illustration only enough to make their important part in the life history of moths clearly understood. I decided that it would be sufficient to explain the whole situation to the satisfaction of anyone, if I began the book with a detailed history of moth, egg, caterpillar, and cocoon and then gave complete portrayal of each stage in the evolution of one cocoon and one pupa case moth. I began with Cecropia, the commonest of all and one of the most beautiful for the spinners, and ended with Regalis, of earth and the rarest. At the time I wrote the Regalis chapter, I thought the book finished, in so far that it contained faithful studies of one or more species of each important family, and afforded enough history to put any Nature Lover who wished to go farther, on the right road to glean what he desired from scientific works.

Three Promethea Cocoons on One Small Lilac Twig Prove These Caterpillars Feed and Spin in Groups

The luck I had in securing Regalis in such complete form seems to me the greatest that ever happened to any worker in this field, and it reads more like a fairy tale than sober everyday fact, copiously illustrated with studies from life. At its finish I said, "Now I am done. This book is completed." Soon afterward, Raymond walked in with a bunch of lilac twigs in his hand from which depended three rolled leaves securely bound to their twigs by silk spinning.

"I don't remember that we ever found any like these," he said. "Would you be interested in them?"

Would I? Instantly I knew this book was not finished. As I held the firm, heavy, leaf-rolled cocoons in my hand, I could see the last chapter sliding over from fourteen to fifteen to make place for Promethea, the loveliest of the Attacine group, a cousin of Cecropia. Often I had seen the pictured cocoon, in its neat little, tight little leaf-covered shelter, and the mounted moths of scientific collections and museums; I knew their beautiful forms and remembered the reddish tinge flushing the almost black coat of the male and the red wine and clay-coloured female with her elaborate marks, spots, and lines. Right there the book stopped at leaf-fall early in November to await the outcome of those three cocoons. If they would yield a pair in the spring, and if that pair would emerge close enough together to mate and produce fertile eggs, then by fall of the coming year I would have a complete life history. That was a long wait, thickly punctuated with "ifs."

The good work began by holding up the publication of the book. It progressed by making photographic studies of the cocoons that very afternoon. Then the twig was carried to my room and stood in a vase of intricate workmanship and rare colouring. A vase of silver, having a body of blue enamel, the decorations pale red, yellow, blue, green; many shades, each of silver bound enamel set to form patterns; my wildest extravagance, and of never ending interest, because in alternating shields of palest green and salmon, were reproductions of the Dragon and the Sacred Bird of Japan. Every time I fully made up my mind that the figure on the green ground was the Bird, and the other the Dragon, along came some discriminating soul whose judgment I respected, and brought forth strong points to prove that the figure on the salmon ground was the Bird, and that of the green the Dragon. I spent so much time trying to decide, that at last that vase became a personal possession and I carried it to my room and set it on the mantel where I could study it when no weightier matter was on my mind. It was not worth a cent for the purpose I used other vases. I learned that by putting one big pink Killarney rose, from the Deacon's choicest bush, in it and having the water run out and ruin my best table top. This may have helped to relegate it to my room where I seldom had time to decorate with flowers. Anything that would not hold water seemed to drift there and become the obvious receptacle for cocoon bearing twigs. It was the best place in the Cabin for cocoons, on account of its fireplace, outside door, and two big windows, all of which stood wide the year around, so outdoor conditions reigned as nearly as possible. Throughout the winter I watched the cocoons and occasionally studied the Bird and the Dragon. I may as well confess that the question is yet unsettled, but I know a Japanese who is coming to the Cabin some day for the express purpose of telling me surely.

Every few days I examined those cocoons and tested them by weight. I was sure they were perfect. That spring I had been working all day and often at night, so I welcomed an opportunity to spend a few days at a lake where I would meet many friends; boating and fishing were fine, while the surrounding country was one uninterrupted panorama of exquisite land and water pictures. I packed and started so hastily I forgot my precious cocoons. Two weeks later on my return, before I entered the Cabin, I walked round it to see if my flowers had been properly watered and tended. It was not later than three in the afternoon but I saw at least a dozen wonderful big moths, dusky and luring, fluttering eagerly over the wild roses covering a south window of the Deacon's room adjoining mine on the west. Instantly I knew what that meant. I hurried to the room and found a female Promothea at the top of the screen covering a window that the caretaker had slightly lowered. I caught up a net and ran to bring a step-ladder. The back foundation is several feet high and that threw the tops of the windows close under the eaves. I mounted to the last step and balancing made a sweep to capture a moth. They could see me and scattered in all directions. I waited until they were beginning to return, when from the thicket of leaves emerged a deep rose-flushed little moth that sailed away, with every black one in pursuit. I almost fell from the ladder. I went inside, only to learn that what I feared was true. The wind had loosened the screen in my absence, and the moth had passed through a crack, so narrow it seemed impossible for it to escape.

Only those interested as I was, and who have had similar experience, know how to sympathize. I had thought a crowbar would be required to open one of those screens! With sinking heart I hurried to my room. Joy! There was yet hope! The escaped moth was the only one that had emerged. The first thing was to fasten the screen, the next to live with the remaining cocoons.

The following morning another female appeared, and a little later a male. As soon as their down was dry, and before either had taken flight, the title page study of this chapter was made while each clung to the cocoon from which it emerged. They behaved beautifully, and posed in almost any shape they were coaxed to assume with the brushes. I was so happy I went singing through the Cabin as I worked.

The cocoons were long, slender, closely leaf-wrapped and hung from stout spinning longer than the average leaf stem. The outside leaf covering easily could be peeled away as the spinning did not seem to adhere except at the edges. There was a thin waterproof coating as with Cecropia, then a little loose spinning that showed most at top and bottom, the leaf wrapping being so closely drawn that it was plastered against the body of the heavy inner case around the middle until it adhered. The inner case was smooth and dark inside and the broken pupa case nearly black.

The River Bridge Used by Caterpillars

The male and female differed more widely in colour and markings than any moths with which I had worked. At a glance, the male reminded me of a monster Mourning Cloak butterfly. The front wings from the base extending over half the surface were a dark brownish black, outlined with a narrow escalloped line of clay colour of light shade. The black colour from here lightened as it neared the margin. At the apex it changed to a reddish brown tinge that surrounded the typical eye-spot of all the Attacus group for almost three-fourths of its circumference. The bottom of the eye was blackish blue, shading abruptly to pale blue at the top. The straggle M of white was in its place at the extreme tip, on the usual rose madder field. From there a broad clay-coloured band edged the wing and joined the dark colour in escallops. Through the middle of it in an irregular wavy line was traced an almost hair-fine marking of strong brown. The back wings were darker than the darkest part of the forewings and this colour covered them to the margin, lightening very slightly. A clay-coloured band bordered the edge, touched with irregular splashes of dark brown, a little below them a slightly heavier line than that on the fore-wing, which seemed to follow the outline of the decorations.

Underneath, the wings were exquisitely marked, flushed, and shaded almost past description in delicate and nearly intangible reddish browns, rose madder on grey, pink-tinged brown and clay colour. On the forewings the field from base to first line was reddish brown with a faint tinge of tan beside the costa. From this to the clay-coloured border my descriptive powers fail. You could see almost any shade for which you looked. There were greyish places flushed with scales of red and white so closely set that the result was frosty pink. Then the background would change to brown with the same over-decoration. The bottom of the eyespot was dark only about one-fourth the way, the remaining three-fourths, tan colour outlined at the top with pale blue and black in fine lines. The white M showed through on a reddish background, as did the brown line of the clay border. The back wings widespread were even lovelier. Beginning about the eighth of an inch from the top was a whitish line tracing a marking that when taken as a whole on both outspread wings, on some, slightly resembled a sugar maple leaf, and on others, the perfect profile of a face. There was a small oblong figure of pinkish white where the eye would fall, and the field of each space was brownish red velvet. From this to the clay-coloured band with its paler brown markings and lines, the pink and white scales sprinkled the brown ground; most of the pink, around the marking, more of the white, in the middle of the space; so few of either, that it appeared to be brown where the clay border joined.

The antennae were shaped as all of the Attacus group, but larger in proportion to size, for my biggest Promethea measured only four and a quarter from tip to tip, and for his inches carried larger antlers than any Cecropia I ever saw of this measurement, those of the male being very much larger than the female. In colour they were similar to the darkest part of the wings, as were the back of the head, thorax and abdomen. The hair on the back of the thorax was very long. The face wore a pink flush over brown, the eyes bright brown, the under thorax covered with long pinkish brown hairs, and the legs the same. A white stripe ran down each side of the abdomen, touched with a dot of brownish red wine colour on the rings. The under part was pinkish wine crossed with a narrow white line at each segment. The claspers were prominent and sharp. The finishing touch of the exquisite creation lay in the fact that in motion, in strong light the red wine shadings of the under side cast an intangible, elusive, rosy flush over the dark back of the moth that was the mast delicate and loveliest colour effect I ever have seen on marking of flower, bird, or animal.

For the first time in all my experience with moths the female was less than the male. Her wing sweep was scant four inches, her antennae very small compared with his. From base to first marking was not quite half the wing surface, the colour bright red-brown at the base shading browner, then a curved line of almost black, another of pinkish white, and the remainder of the space to the borders, a light brownish pink field peppered so closely with red wine and white scales, that nearest the costa, the wing showed red wine with a white frost over it, and the other edge pale brown with pink frosting. There was the usual rose madder shade at the apex, the straggling M of white, the blue-black eye-spot with its pale blue line outlining the top and the clay border, very light with its escalloped line of red. The back wing closest the abdomen for about one third of its surface was enclosed with a ragged wavering line of black and another of the whitish pink. This space was brownish in places, tan in others, pink flushed all over, and bore a white mark shaped as it shows in the pictures of the moth. This was surrounded by a very dark line that shaded to the vanishing point into the enclosing colour. The mark was like old yellow ivory.

"Prometheus Bound"

Then began a broad band of pale pink over a gray ground, that shaded into a terra cotta red at the border, the whole speckled so closely with white scales, as to give the frosty appearance; most of this at the top, the red at the bottom. The clay colour of the border was a shade deeper than on the fore-wings, the touches on it of red, and the waving line such deep red as to seem almost black. The under sides of the wings were marked and coloured similar to the upper, save that the red wine was more in evidence and silvery, pinkish white covered more space. All markings were a trifle stronger colour, so that the moth became most beautiful with lifted wings. Her thorax was covered with long red-wine hairs, also the top of the abdomen. Her face was like the male's, with the exception of being redder, her side bands wider white, and the dots on them almost black. The rings of the pale red-wine abdomen were outlined with white on the under side and the feet red.

I have followed these markings and copied them faithfully as I could in the painting, but my best effort appears feeble compared with the delicate shadings and flushings of the moth; and if the engravers fail me in exact colouring, I shall regret that I tried to reproduce them at all. Allowing for the worst that could happen, the work is sure to be close enough a copy that it can be used for identification. It is too much to expect that paper and ink can do the velvety, intangible red effects justice.

Even the eggs of this mated pair carried a pinkish white shade and were stained with brown. They were ovoid in shape and dotted the screen door in rows. The tiny caterpillars were out eleven days later and proved to be of the kind that march independently from their shells without stopping to feed on them. Of every food offered, the youngsters seemed to prefer lilac leaves; I remembered that they had passed the winter wrapped in these, dangling from their twigs, and that the under wings of the male and much of the female bore a flushing of colour that was lilac, for what else is red wine veiled with white? So I promptly christened them, "The Pride of the Lilacs." They were said to eat ash, apple pear, willow, plum, cherry, poplar and many other leaves, but mine liked lilac, and there was a supply in reach of the door, so they undoubtedly were lilac caterpillars, for they had nothing else to eat.

The little fellows were pronouncedly yellow. The black head with a grey stripe joined the thorax with a yellow band. The body was yellow with black rings, the anal parts black, the legs pale greyish yellow. They made their first moult on the tenth day and when ready to eat again they were stronger yellow than before, with many touches of black. They moulted four times, each producing slight changes until the third, when the body took on a greenish tinge, delicate and frosty in appearance. The heads were yellow with touches of black, and the anal shield even stronger yellow, with black. At the last moult there came a touch of red on the thorax, and of deep blue on the latter part of the body.

In spinning they gummed over the upper surface of a leaf and, covering it with silk, drew it together so that nothing could be seen of the work inside. They began spinning some on the forty-second, some on the forty-third day, when about three inches in length and plump to bursting. I think at a puncture in the skin they would have spurted like a fountain. They began spinning at night and were from sight before I went to them the following morning.

Because they were much care to tend I had released most of the caterpillars, only keeping six spinners; but all of them were healthful and their cases fine pieces of work. I had reason to guard them with especial care, for on developing my plates, for the first time in my experience, I found myself the victim of a cracked plate holder slide. A streak of light crossed the lower half of one plate and one wing of the male moth. That was a great disappointment, but I expected to overcome it with many studies from the half dozen cocoons I now had. So I hunted a box and packed them away with utmost care, instead of keeping them in the Dragon and Bird vase as I had the others.

The result of this especial attention was disastrous. I selected a box in which some mounted moths had been sent me by a friend in Louisiana, and when I went to examine my cocoons toward spring, to my horror I found the contents of the box chopped to pieces and totally destroyed. Pestiferous little "clothes" moths must have infested the box, for there were none elsewhere in the Cabin. For a while this appeared to be too bad luck; but when luck turns squarely against you, that is the time to test the essence and quality of the word "friend." So I sat me down and wrote to my friend, Professor Rowley, of Missouri, and told him I wanted Promethea for the completion of this book; that I had an opportunity to make studies of them and my plate was light-struck, and house-moths had eaten my cocoons. Could he do anything? To be sure he could. I am very certain he sent me two dozen "perfectly good" cocoons.

I pinned them on a heavy piece of corrugated paste-board and they emerged in bunches. It was with the first of these to appear, that I had the experience with free males locating a confined female, recorded in the second chapter. From these living moths as they emerged, I made studies until I impoverished myself on plates. When it came to painting, my old light-struck plate of my first study was the most pleasing pose of all to me, so as I could paint out the light, I used a print from that negative for outline and these moths for colour-guides.

From the abundance of males that have come to seek females of this species at the Cabin, ample proof seems furnished that they are a very common Limberlost product; but I never have found, even when searching for them, or had brought to me a cocoon of this variety, save the three on one little branch found by Raymond, when he did not know what they were. Because of the length of spinning which these caterpillars use to attach their cocoons, they dangle freely in the wind, and scientists say this gives them especial freedom from attack by birds.

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"With their rich, restless wings that gleam
Variously in the crimson beam
Of the warm west, -- as if inlaid
With brilliants from the mine, or made
Of tearless rainbows, such as span
The unclouded skies of peristan!"
-- Moore.

King Citheroni


To the impetuosity of youth I owe my first acquaintance with the rarest moth of the Limberlost; "not common anywhere," say scientific authorities. Molly-Cotton and I were driving to Portland-town, ten miles south of our home. As customary, I was watching fields, woods, fence corners and roadside in search of subjects; for many beautiful cocoons and caterpillars, much to be desired, have been located while driving over the country on business or pleasure.

Preliminary Exercise

With the magnificent independence of the young, Molly-Cotton would have scouted the idea that she was searching for moths also, but I smiled inwardly as I noticed her check the horse several times and scan a wayside bush, or stretch of snake fence. We were approaching the limits of town, and had found nothing; a slow rain was falling, and the shimmer on bushes and fences made it difficult to see objects plainly. Several times I had asked her to stop the horse, or drive close the fields when I was sure of a moth or caterpillar, though it was very late, being close [to] the end of August; but we found only a dry leaf, or some combination that had deceived me.

Just on the outskirts of Portland, beside a grassy ditch and at the edge of a cornfield, grew a cluster of wild tiger lilies. The water in the ditch had kept them in flower long past their bloomtime. On one of the stems there seemed to be a movement.

"Wait a minute!" I cried, and Molly-Cotton checked the horse, but did not stop, while I leaned forward and scanned the lilies carefully. What I thought I saw move appeared to be a dry lily bloom of an orange-red colour, that had fallen and lodged on the grasses against a stalk.

"It's only a dead lily," I said; "drive on."

"Is there a moth that colour?" asked Molly-Cotton.

"Yes," I replied. "There is an orange-brown species, but it is rare. I never have seen a living one."

So we passed the lilies. A very peculiar thing is that when one grows intensely interested in a subject, and works over it, a sort of instinct, an extra sense as it were, is acquired. Three rods away, I became certain I had seen something move, so strongly the conviction swept over me that we had passed a moth. Still, it was raining, and the ditch was wet and deep.

"I am sorry we did not stop," I said, half to myself, "I can't help feeling that was a moth."

There is where youth, in all its impetuosity, helped me. If the girl had asked, "Shall I go back?" in all probability I would have answered, "No, I must have been mistaken. Drive on!"

Instead, Molly-Cotton, who had straightened herself, and touched up her horse for a brisk entrance into town, said, "Well, we will just settle that 'feeling' right here!"

At a trot, she deftly cut a curve in the broad road and drove back. She drew close [to] the edge of the ditch as we approached the lilies. As the horse stopped, what I had taken for a fallen lily bloom, suddenly opened to over five inches of gorgeous red-brown, canary-spotted wing sweep, and then closed again.

"It is a moth!" we gasped, with one breath.

Molly-Cotton cramped the wheel on my side of the carriage and started to step down. Then she dropped back to the seat.

"I am afraid," she said. "I don't want you to wade that ditch in the rain, but you never have had a red one, and if I bungle and let it escape, I never will forgive myself."

She swung the horse to the other side, and I climbed down. Gathering my skirts, I crossed the ditch as best I could, and reached the lily bed, but I was trembling until my knees wavered. I stepped between the lilies and the cornfield, leaned over breathlessly, and waited in the pelting rain, until the moth again raised its wings above its back. Then with a sweep learned in childhood, I had it.

While crossing the ditch, I noticed there were numbers of heavy yellow paper bags lying where people had thrown them when emptied of bananas and biscuits, on leaving town. They were too wet to be safe, but to carry the moth in my fingers would spoil it for a study, so I caught up and drained a big bag; carefully set my treasure inside, and handed it to Molly-Cotton. If you consider the word "treasure" too strong to fit the case, offer me your biggest diamond, ruby, or emerald, in recompense for the privilege of striking this chapter, with its accompanying illustration, from my book, and learn what the answer will be.

The King of the Wild Tiger Lilies

When I entered the carriage and dried my face and hands, we peeped, marvelled, and exclaimed in wonder, for this was the most gorgeous moth of our collections. We hastened to Portland, where we secured a large box at a store. In order that it might not be dark and set the moth beating in flight, we copiously punctured it with as large holes as we dared, and bound the lid securely. On the way home we searched the lilies and roadside for a mile, but could find no trace of another moth. Indeed, it seemed a miracle that we had found this one late in August, for the time of their emergence is supposed to be from middle May to the end of June. Professor Rowley assures me that in rare instances a moth will emerge from a case or cocoon two seasons old, and finding this one, and the Luna, prove it is well for nature students to be watchful from May until October. Because these things happened to me in person, I made bold to introduce the capture of a late moth into the experience of Edith Carr in the last chapter of "A Girl of the Limberlost." I am pointing out some of these occurrences as I come to them, in order that you may see how closely I keep to life and truth, even in books exploited as fiction. There may be such incidents that are pure imagination incorporated, but as I write I can recall no instance similar to this, in any book of mine, that is not personal experience, or that did not happen to other people within my knowledge, or was not told me by someone whose word I consider unquestionable; allowing very little material indeed, on the last provision.

There is one other possibility to account for the moth at this time. Beyond all question the gorgeous creature is of tropical origin. It has made its way north from South or Central America. It occurs more frequently in Florida and Georgia than with us, and there it is known to have been double brooded; so standing on the records of professional lepidopterists, that gives rise to grounds for the possibility that in some of our long, almost tropical Indiana summers, Regalis may be double brooded with us. At any rate, many people saw the living moth in my possession on this date. In fact, I am prepared to furnish abundant proof of every statement contained in this chapter, while at the same time admitting that it reads like the veriest fairy tale "ever thought or wondered."

The storm had passed and the light was fine, so we posed the moth before the camera several times. It was nervous business, for he was becoming restless, and every instant I expected him to fly, but of course we kept him guarded.

A Royal Couple

There was no hope of a female that late date, so the next step was to copy his colours and markings as exactly as possible. He was the gaudiest moth of my experience, and his name seemed to suit rarely well. Citheronia -- a Greek poet, and Regalis -- regal. He was truly royal and enough to inspire poetry in a man of any nation. His face was orange-brown, of so bright a shade that anyone at a glance would have called it red. His eyes were small for his size, and his antennae long, fine, and pressed against the face so closely it had to be carefully scrutinized to see them. A band of bright canary-yellow arched above them, his thorax was covered above with long silky, orange-brown hairs, and striped lengthwise with the same yellow. His abdomen was the longest and slenderest I had seen, elegantly curved like a vase, and reaching a quarter of an inch beyond the back wings, which is unusual. It was thickly covered with long hair, and faintly lined at the segments with yellow. The claspers were very sharp, prominent brown hooks. His sides were dotted with alternating red and orange-brown spots, and his thorax beneath, yellow. The under side of the abdomen was yellow, strongly shaded with orange-brown. His legs and feet were the same.

His fore-wings were a silvery lead colour, each vein covered with a stripe of orange-brown three times its width. The costa began in lead colour, and at half its extent shaded into orange-brown. Each front wing had six yellow spots, and a seventh faintly showing. Half an inch from the apex of the wings, and against the costa, lay the first and second spots, oblong in shape, and wide enough to cover the space between veins. The third was a tiny dot next [to] the second. The hint of one crossed the next vein, and the other three formed a triangle; one lay at the costa about three-quarters of an inch from the base, the second at the same distance from the base at the back edge of the wing, and the third formed the apex, and fell in the middle, on the fifth space between veins, counting from either edge. These were almost perfectly round.

The back wings were very hairy, of a deep orange-brown at the base, shading to lighter tones of the same colour at the edge, and faintly clouded in two patches with yellow.

Underneath the fore-wings were yellow at the base, and lead colour the remainder of their length. The veins had the orange-red outlining, and the two large yellow dots at the costa showed through as well as the small one beside them. Then came another little yellow dot of the same size, that did not show on the upper side, and then four larger round spots between each vein. Two of them showed in the triangle on the upper side full size, and the two between could be seen in the merest speck, if looked for very closely.

The back wings underneath were yellow three-fourths of their length, then next the abdomen began a quarter of an inch wide band of orange-brown, that crossed the wing to the third vein from the outer edge, and there shaded into lead colour, and covered the space to the margin. The remainder of the wing below this band was a lighter shade of yellow than above it. From tip to tip he measured five and a half inches, and from head to point of abdomen a little over two.

While I was talking Regalis, and delighted over finding so late in the season the only one I lacked to complete my studies of every important species, Arthur Fensler brought me a large Regalis caterpillar, full fed, and in the last stages of the two days of exercise that every caterpillar seems to take before going into the pupa state. It was late in the evening, so I put the big fellow in a covered bucket of soft earth from the garden, planning to take his picture the coming day. Before morning he had burrowed into the earth from sight, and was pupating, so there was great risk in disturbing him. I was afraid there were insects in the earth that would harm him, as care had not been taken to bake it, as should have been done.

A day later Willis Glendenning brought me another Regalis caterpillar. I made two pictures of it, although transformation to the pupa stage was so far advanced that it was only half length, and had a shrivelled appearance like the one I once threw away. I was disgusted with the picture at the time, but now I feel that it is very important in the history of transformation from caterpillar to pupa, and I am glad to have it.

Two days later, Andrew Idlewine, a friend to my work, came to the Deacon with a box. He said that he thought maybe I would like to take a picture of the fellow inside, and if I did, he wanted a copy; and he wished he knew what the name of it was. He had found it on a butternut tree, and used great care in taking it lest it "horn" him. He was horrified when the Deacon picked it up, and demonstrated how harmless it was. This is difficult to believe, but it was a third Regalis and came into my possession at night again. My only consolation was that it was feeding, and would not pupate until I could make a picture. This one was six inches from tip to tip, the largest caterpillar I ever saw; a beautiful blue-green colour, with legs of tan marked with black, each segment having four small sharp horns on top, and on the sides an oblique dash of pale blue. The head bore ten horns. Four of these were large, an inch in length, coloured tan at the base, black at the tip. The foremost pair of this formidable array turned front over the face, all the others back, and the outside six of the ten were not quite the length of the largest ones.

The Queen Gives Us Her Jewels

The first caterpillar had measured five inches, and the next one three, but it was transforming. Whether the others were males and this a female, or whether it was only that it had grown under favourable conditions, I could not tell. It was differently marked on the sides, and in every way larger, and brighter than the others, and had not finished feeding. Knowing that it was called the "horned hickory devil" at times, hickory and walnut leaves were placed in its box, and it evinced a decided preference for the hickory. As long as it ate and seemed a trifle larger it was fed. The day it walked over fresh leaves and began the preliminary travel, it was placed on some hickory sprouts around an old stump, and exposures made on it, or rather on the places it had been, for it was extremely restless and difficult to handle. Two plates were spoiled for me by my subject walking out of focus as I snapped, but twice it was caught broadside in good position.

While I was working with this caterpillar, there came one of my clearest cases of things that "thrust themselves upon me." I would have preferred to concentrate all my attention on the caterpillar, for it was worth while, but in the midst of my work a katydid deliberately walked down the stump, and stopped squarely before the lens to wash her face and make her toilet. She was on the side of the stump, and so clearly outlined by the lens that I could see her long wavering antennae on the ground glass, and of course she took two plates before she resumed her travels. I long had wanted a katydid for an illustration. I got that one merely by using what was before me. All I did was to swing the lens about six inches, and shift the focus slightly, to secure two good exposures of her in fine positions. My caterpillar almost escaped while I worked, for it had put in the time climbing to the ground, and was a yard away hurrying across the grass at a lively pace.

Two days later it stopped travelling, and pupated on the top of the now hardened earth in the bucket that contained the other two. It was the largest of the pupae when it emerged, a big shining greenish brown thing flattened and seeming as if it had been varnished. On the thin pupa case the wing shields and outlines of the head and different parts of the body could be seen. Then a pan of sand was baked, and a box with a glass cover was filled. I laid the pupa on top of the sand, and then dug up the first one, as I was afraid of the earth in which it lay. The case was sound, and in fine condition. All of these pupae lived and seemed perfect. Narrow antennae and abdominal formation marked the big one a female, while broader antlers and the clearly outlined "claspers" proved the smaller ones males. A little sphagnum moss, that was dampened slightly every few days, was kept around them. The one that entered the ground had pushed the earth from it on all sides at a depth of three inches, and hollowed an oval space the size of a medium hen egg, in which the pupa lay, but there was no trace of its cast skin. Those that pupated on the ground had left their skins at the thorax, and lay two inches from them. The horns came off with the skin, and the lining of the segments and the covering of the feet showed. At first the cast skins were green, but they soon turned a dirty grey, and the horns blackened.

High Piled Treasure

So from having no personal experience at all with our rarest moth, inside a few days of latter August and early September, weeks after hope had been abandoned for the season, I found myself with several as fine studies of the male as I could make, one of an immense caterpillar at maturity, one half-transformed to the moth, and three fine pupa cases. Besides, I had every reason to hope that in the spring I could secure eggs and a likeness of a female to complete my illustration. Call this luck, fairy magic, what you will, I admit it sounds too good to be true, but it is.

All winter these three fine Regalis pupa cases were watched solicitously, as well as my twin Cecropias, some Polyphemus, and several ground cocoons so spun on limbs and among debris that it was not easy to decide whether they were Polyphemus or Luna. When spring came, and the Cecropias emerged at the same time, I took heart, for I admit I was praying for a pair of Regalis moths from those pupa cases in order that a female, a history of their emergence, and their eggs, might be added to the completion of this chapter. In the beginning it was my plan to use the caterpillars, and give the entire history of one spinning, and one burrowing moth. My Cecropia records were complete; I could add the twin series for good measure for the cocoon moth; now if only a pair would come from these pupa cases, I would have what I wanted to compile the history of a ground moth.

Until the emergence of the Cecropias, my cocoons and pupa cases were kept on my dresser. Now I moved the box to a chair beside my bed. That was a lucky thought, for the first moth appeared at midnight, from Mr. Idlewine's case. She pushed the wing shields away with her feet, and passed through the opening. She was three and one-half inches long, with a big pursy abdomen, and wings the size of my thumbnail. I was anxious for a picture of her all damp and undeveloped, beside the broken pupa case, but I was so fearful of spoiling my series I dared not touch or try to reproduce her. The head and wings only seemed damp, but the abdomen was quite wet, and the case contained a quantity of liquid, undoubtedly ejected for the purpose of facilitating exit. When you next examine a pupa, study the closeness with which the case fits antennae, eyes, feet, wings, head, thorax, and abdominal rings and you will see that it would be impossible for the moth to separate from the case and leave it with down intact, if it were dry.

Immediately the moth began racing around energetically, and flapping those tiny wings until the sound awakened the Deacon in the adjoining room. After a few minutes of exercise, it seemed in danger of injuring the other cases, so it was transferred to the dresser, where it climbed to the lid of a trinket case, and clinging with the feet, the wings hanging, development began. There was no noticeable change in the head and shoulders, save that the down grew fluffier as it dried. The abdomen seemed to draw up, and became more compact. No one can comprehend the story of the wings unless they have seen them develop.

Full-Fed and Ready to Transform

At twelve o'clock and five minutes, they measured two-thirds of an inch from the base of the costa to the tip. At twelve fifteen they were an inch and a quarter. At half-past twelve they were two inches. At twelve forty-five they were two and a half; and at one o'clock they were three inches. At complete expansion this moth measured six and a half inches strong, and this full sweep was developed in one hour and ten minutes. To see those large brilliantly-coloured wings droop, widen, and develop their markings, seemed little short of a miracle.

Changing to Pupa

The history of the following days is painful. I not only wanted a series of this moth as I wanted nothing else concerning the book, but with the riches of three fine pupa cases of it on hand, I had promised Professor Rowley eggs from which to obtain its history for himself. I had taxed Mr. Rowley's time and patience as an expert lepidopterist, to read my text, and examine my illustration, and I hoped in a small way to repay his kindness by sending him a box of fertile Regalis eggs.

The other pupa cases were healthful and lively, but the moths would not emerge. I coaxed them in the warmth of closed palms -- I even laid them on dampened moss in the sun in the hope of softening the cases, and driving the moths out with the heat, but to no avail. They would not come forth.

I had made my studies of the big moth, when she was fully developed, but to my despair, she was depositing worthless eggs over the inside of my screen door.

Four days later, the egg-laying period over, the female, stupid and almost gone, a fine male emerged, and the following day another. I placed some of the sand from the bottom of the box on a brush tray, and put these two cases on it, and set a focused camera in readiness, so that I got a side view of a moth just as it emerged, and one facing front when about ready to cling for wing expansion. The history of their appearance was similar to that of the female, only they were smaller, and of much brighter colour. The next morning I wrote Professor Rowley of my regrets at being unable to send the eggs as I had hoped.

At noon I came home from half a day in the fields to find Raymond sitting on the Cabin steps with a big box. That box contained a perfect pair of mated Regalis moths. This was positively the last appearance of the fairies.

Raymond had seen these moths clinging to the under side of a rail while riding. He at once dismounted, coaxed them on a twig, and covering them with his hat, he weighted the brim with stones. Then he rode to the nearest farm-house for a box, and brought the pair safely to me. Several beautiful studies of them were made, into one of which I also introduced my last moth to emerge, in order to show the males in two different positions.

Male and Female Encased for Winter

The date was June tenth. The next day the female began egg placing. A large box was lined with corrugated paper, so that she could find easy footing, and after she had deposited many eggs on this, fearing some element in it might not be healthful for them, I substituted hickory leaves.

Then the happy time began. Soon there were heaps of pearly pale yellow eggs piled in pyramids on the leaves, and I made a study of them. Then I gently lifted a leaf, carried it outdoors and, in full light, reproduced the female in the position in which she deposited her eggs, even in the act of placing them. Of course, Molly-Cotton stood beside with a net in one hand to guard, and an umbrella in the other to shade the moth, except at the instant of exposure, but she made no movement indicative of flight.

I made every study of interest of which I could think. Then I packed and mailed Professor Rowley about two hundred fine fertile eggs, with all scientific data. I only kept about one dozen, as I could think of nothing more to record of this moth except the fact that I had raised its caterpillar. As I explained in the first chapter, from information found in a work on moths supposed to be scientific and accurate, I depended on these caterpillars to emerge in sixteen days. The season was unusually rainy and unfavourable for field work, and I had a large contract on hand for outdoor stuff. I was so extremely busy, I was glad to box the eggs, and put them out of mind until the twenty-seventh. By the merest chance I handled the box on the twenty-fourth, and found six caterpillars starved to death, two more feeble, and four that seemed lively. One of these was bitten by some insect that clung to a leaf placed in their box for food, in spite of the fact that all leaves were carefully washed. One died from causes unknown. One stuck in pupation, and moulted in its skin. Three went through the succession of moults and feeding periods in fine shape, and the first week in September transformed into shiny pupa cases, not one of which was nearly as large as that of the caterpillar brought to me by Mr. Idlewine. I fed these caterpillars on black walnut leaves, as they ate them in preference to hickory.

I am slightly troubled about this moth. In Packard's "Guide to the Study of Moths," he writes: "Citheronia Regalis expands five to six inches, and its fore-wings are olive coloured, spotted with yellow and veined with broad red lines, while the hind wings are orange-red, spotted with olive, green, and yellow."

Leaving Winter Quarters

He describes two other species. Citheronia Mexicana, a tropical moth that has drifted as far north as Mexico. It is quite similar to Regalis, "having more orange and less red," but it is not recorded as having been found within a thousand miles of my locality. A third small species, Citheronia sepulcralis, expands only a little over three inches, is purple-brown with yellow spots, and is a rare Atlantic Coast species having been found once in Massachusetts, oftener in Georgia, never west of Pennsylvania.

This eliminates them as possible Limberlost species, and leaves it certain that the moths here photographed, painted and described, from eggs back to moth again, with such full demonstration of life processes as never has been given by anyone in the history of lipidoptera, can be nothing save Regalis. Professor Rowley raised this moth from the eggs I sent him.

The trouble is this: Packard describes the fore-wings as "olive," the hind as "olive, and green." Holland makes no reference to colour, but on plate X, figure three, page eighty-seven, he reproduces Regalis with fore-wings of olive-green, the remainder of the colour as I describe and paint, only lighter. In all the Regalis moths I have handled, raised, studied minutely, painted, and photographed, there never has been tinge or shade of green. Not the slightest trace of it! Each moth, male and female, has had a basic colour of pure lead or steel grey. White tinged with the proper proportions of black and blue gives the only colour that will exactly match it. I have visited my specimen case since writing the preceding. I find there the bodies of four Regalis moths, saved after their decline. One is four years old, one three, the others two, all have been exposed to daylight for that length of time. The yellows are slightly faded, the reds very much degraded, the greys a half lighter than when fresh, but showing today a pure, clear grey.

An Hour Later

What troubles me is whether Regalis of the Limberlost is grey, where others are green, or whether I am colour blind or these men. Referring to other writers, I am growing "leery" of the word "Authority," half of what was written fifty years ago along almost any line you can mention, today stands disproved; all of us are merely seekers after the truth, so referring to other writers, I find the women of Massachusetts, who wrote "Caterpillars and Their Moths," and who in all probability have raised more different caterpillars for the purpose of securing life history than any other workers of our country, possibly of any state that the front wings of Regalis have "stripes of lead colour between the veins of the wings," and "three or four lead-coloured stripes" on the back wings. The remainder of my description and colouring also agrees with theirs. If these men worked from museum or private collections, there is a possibility that chemicals used to kill, preserve, and protect the specimens from pests may have degraded the colours, and changed the grey to green. But to accept this as the explanation of the variance upsets all their colour values, so it must not be considered. This proves that there must be a Regalis that at times has olive-green stripes where mine are grey, but I never have seen one.

I think people need not fear planting trees on their premises that will be favourites with caterpillars, in the hope of luring exquisite moths to become common with them. I have put out eggs, and released caterpillars near the Cabin, literally by the thousand, and never have been able to see the results by a single defoliated branch. Wrens, warblers, flycatchers, every small bird of the trees are exploring bark and scanning upper and under leaf surfaces for eggs and tiny caterpillars, and if they escape these, dozens of larger birds are waiting for the half-grown caterpillars, for in almost all instances these lack enough of the hairy coat of moss butterfly larvae to form any protection. Every season I watch my walnut trees to free them from the abominable "tent" caterpillars; with the single exception of Halesidota Caryae, I never have had enough caterpillars of any species attack my foliage to be noticeable, and these in only one instance. If you care for moths you need not fear to encourage them; the birds will keep them within proper limits. If only one person enjoys this book one-tenth as much as I have loved the work of making it, then I am fully repaid.

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Postby admin » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:49 pm

Our Rarest Moth

All Diamonded with Panes of Quaint Device

Developing Regalis

At the Edge of the Limberlost

Under No Restraint

A Moth Worth Knowing

Study the Ensuing Illustrations

Citheronia Regalis Scattering Pearls

Modest and Lovely Modesta

Moth Mullein

Cocoon Inside Hollow Log


Caterpillar at Maturity

Pupa Case of Feeder and Non-Feeder

Winter Quarters

Life-Size Pupa Case of Earth

The Robin Moth

My First Cecropia

Slender Cocoons

Baggy Twin Cocoons

Where Philip Found a Girl of the Limberlost

Cecropia Life History Begins with Eggs

Cecropia Caterpillar Ready to Spin

Interwoven Twin Cocoons

Twin Cecropia Emerging

Male Out and Female Coming

Both Out

Expanding and Drying Wings

Ready to Travel

Interior of Winter Quarters

Moths of the Carnival

Facing the Audience

"On the Banks of the Wabash"

The Lady Bird

Lineata Moth

Works of Art

Favourite Haunt of the Lady Bird

The Trailed Aristocrat

Luna Moth

A Luna Courtship

Good Luna Hunting

Luna Caterpillar

King of the Hollyhocks

Celeus Moth

A Limberlost Cabin

No Other Celeus So Big and Beautiful

Gold Io Seeking a Mate

Io Moth

My Childhood Enemy of the Corn

Io Pupa Case

"One for the Blackbird," Etc.

The Sweetheart and Bride of Limberlost Cabin

Hiding Among the Roses

The Home of the Sweetheart and Bride

Sweethearts and Brides Come to Light

Velvet Robed and Jewel Bedecked

New Polyphemus Cocoon

The Home of My First Giant

Occupied and Deserted Tenements

Leaving Home

Waiting for Wings

Garden Fly

A Pair of Garden Flies

Where Elnora Found Garden Flies

Bloody-Nose of Sunshine Hill

Thysbe Resembles a Big Bumblebee

The Crest of Sunshine Hill

The Modest Moth

Soft Grays and Browns

In the Valley of the Wood Robin

The Pride of the Lilacs

Three Promethea Cocoons

The River Bridge

Prometheus Bound

King Citheronia

Preliminary Exercise

King of the Wild Tiger Lilies

A Royal Couple

The Queen Gives Us Her Jewels

High Piled Treasure

Full-Fed and Ready to Transform

Changing to Pupa

Encased for Winter

Leaving Winter Quarters

An Hour Later
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