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birds were not in the habit of doing so at any other time, she thought some serious calamity was portended by it. My mother comforted her as well as she could; and I undertook to rid her of the annoyance. By setting a horse-hair noose on one of the window-ledges which it was in the habit of frequenting, I soon caught it; and, by plucking out the under tailcoverts, which I wanted to dress yellow duns with, I effectually cured it of the propensity, whether the stimulus had been love or hatred; whether, Narcissus-like (see VI. 513, 514.], it was in an ecstasy of self-admiration; or whether, like the cock which attacked its own image in the boot (and which Mr. Robert Warren's poet and painter have exalted to lasting fame), it would admit of no rival.
Clitheroe, Lancashire, May 29. 1834.
Art. VII. Notes on Luminous Insects, chiefly of the West Indies ;
on Luminous Meteors ; on I'gnes Fátui ; on the Luminousness of the Sea, and on the Powers possessed by the Races of Lizards, of voluntarily changing their Colour : with other Information on the Habits of Lizards. By the late Rev. LANSDOWN GUILDING, B.A. F.L.S. &c.
The Luminous Matter of the Lampýride of the Tropics seems to afford a much stronger and more durable light than that of the glowworm of England (I. 156.; VII. 250.); which faintly sheds
“ A beam of soften'd splendour through the gloom,
And feeds his lamp in solitude's recess.” The matter taken from the vesicles, and rubbed on the wall, long retains its brilliance, after the manner of phosphoric preparations. The occurrence, too, of luminous insects in Britain is more rare. Seldom does the same bank support a dozen of these inactive midnight sparklers: but what can equal the splendour of those fairy scenes which the inhabitant of the tropics has nightly before his eyes ? The fireflies of the West Indies,
“ Stars of the earth, and diamonds of the night," are said to be more numerous in rainy weather : the truth, perhaps, is, that, in dark and cloudy evenings, their tiny lamps and coruscations are more visible, and attract greater notice. As twilight dies away you see, at one step, some gigantic tree peopled by these magic rovers glowing with all the green, the gold, and emerald lustre of precious stones.
“ Around Myriads of insect meteors, living lamps
People the glittering air ; a fairy world.” At another step, some long lane in the darkness of night seems to have been consumed by fire, and to be throwing up its last expiring sparks. The insects, as they present their backs, conceal their floating lantern for a moment, and render the resemblance perfect,
“ And every hedge and copse is bright,
With the quick firefly's playful light;
Which blaze in Eastern diadems.” Presently, with a steady and bold sweeping course, the luminous Eʻlater (E. noctilucus L.) crosses your path,
“ A meteor swift and bright And the wide space around, on high,
Gleams with his emerald light.” It forms a strong contrast to the twinkling phosphoric fires of the lesser stars, and resembles a wax taper borne rapidly through the gloom, by some invisible hand: while the ear is assailed by countless tribes of sonorous insects, and frogs raising their nuptial cries.
How glorious is such a scene! From the innumerable host of insects which light up the earth, and from their proximity to the eye of the spectator, they have all the brilliance of real stars. Above our heads the broad firmament of stationary lights; below is a second firmament of luminous points, moving with all the eccentric courses of comets and meteoric balls, and with all the glory that tracks the shooting stars. [See V. 672.]
[Luminous Meteors. (A note made in relation to the remarks on “ Falling Stars," in II. 305.). ]-The meteors called falling stars are very common in these islands. I lately observed one of vast magnitude traversing slowly the Bay of Kingston, a most splendid body, and at a very trifling elevation.
Ignes Fatui. (I. 156.)— The reviewer is undoubtedly right in his supposition that the far-famed ignes fatui,
“ Which dance and glimmer on the marshy mead,” may sometimes owe their origin to the phenomena attending the gaseous exhalations of the earth. They sometimes also proceed (as the reviewer has deemed probable] from the lanterns of luminous insects. When a boy in Worcestershire, I have repeatedly seen these
“ aerial lights betray And charm th' unwary wanderer from his way;" and from comparison with the motions of luminous animals,
which I have since seen in other lands, I have no doubt whatever of their origin. In the generality of cases, perhaps, these lights proceed from orthopterous ? or other insects attached to swampy grounds, and luminous only during the season of their nuptials.
Luminousness of the Sea. (I. 156.)— The most satisfactory information on the luminousness of the sea, and the animals producing these lovely sparks, will be found in one of the numbers of Thomson's Zoological Researches (see IV. 256.), a work, of course, in the hands of all naturalists. While sailing in the more shallow parts of the Caribbean Sea, and looking over the vessel's side when becalmed in these dangerous waters, in the midst of reefs, I have seen at the bottom huge molluscous or radiate animals emitting the splendour of a lamp, but could never ascertain the species.
Putrescent matter is occasionally highly luminous in the West Indies. [Mr. Guilding has a note, in another part, upon the remarks of some correspondents given in II. 209.— The gelatinous mass containing portions of the frog was probably vomited by the heron. I have known similar matter in the West Indies to become highly phosphorescent.]
It has been already observed that the larvæ of some insects emit light. The larva of an E'later ? as far as I can determine, was lately sent to me, which was said, by the respectable person from whom I obtained it, to have been very luminous between every segment of the abdomen.
The Voluntary Changing of Colour in Several Genera of Lizards, and more especially in Chamæleon and Anòlis. (I. 157.) - There is not in nature a more singular phenomenon than this. The mode of effecting this miraculous change does not seem to have been yet fully determined. It may depend upon some small, peculiar, and supplementary system of vessels pouring a coloured fluid to the integuments, or withdrawing it from the skin; or it may proceed from the more simple action of the arterial system, from the rapidity or lethargy of the circulation : though one would suppose a temporary stagnation would deprive the creature of all activity. It is strange that the power is within the perfect control of the lizard, and is not abandoned even at the eager moment of springing on the
on the prey. The passions of the human mind do indeed change the colour of the face, and distort the countenance; but these changes indicative of strong feeling are transitory, if not momentary, and almost in all cases involuntary : whereas the lizards can regulate this protean power for hours, days, or months. By inflating the body, the numerous scales might be separated to certain degrees, and thus affect the general colour
ing: but I do not observe that the outline of the Anólidae is at all altered, however great may be the varying of the tints. The number of a green species of Anólis (Lacérta bullāris L., from its throat being supposed to be inflated into a ball: the Anólis variábilis Guild., variable) is, in some of our islands perfectly incredible, and one only wonders that the race of insects is not extinct. Indeed, one never sees here moths and other objects settling on walls and trees, as in England: from the danger of such exposure, it often happens that insects whose larvae are readily obtained for breeding are never taken in a state of liberty. On large trees whole families of lizards are actively employed in their insect chase, while every rock, fence, or smaller tree, has one at least resting in readiness for its prey, or jumping from spray to spray with its sucker-bearing toes. Yet few will be found alike in colouring, though there are some tolerably permanent varieties. The general unassumed colour is a lively yellowish green: yet this is varied at will, and changed to grey, dark dirty brownish green, or is curiously varied. The aspect of each individual is adapted admirably to the spot it chooses as a cruising ground, which it commonly retains, unless disturbed, for very long periods; a fact which is easily determined by the notice of mutilated individuals. But, whatever may be the assumed colouring of the individual, place it in confinement, and its mask is withdrawn as if by magic, and the bright green of nature is restored. If a dark mass of volcanic trap [rock] is selected for a cruising station, the darkest colour is adopted: if the light foliage of trees and plants is preferred, a tint is acquired resembling its resting-place, and calculated for concealment and deception. [In another place, Mr. Guilding has noted thus; in relation to the remarks, in II. 469., on “the chamaeleon's antipathy to black:”—Many of our lizards reside constantly on the darkest rocks blackened by the air, and decayed cryptogamic plants: in which case the skin assumes a corresponding tint.] In these cases the mute sexes separated from each other would have difficulty in meeting during the season of their loves; but nature, without enforcing the necessity of their returning to their proper colour, which would betray them to their prey and their enemies, has given to the diurnal species, which alone can need it, a retractile dewlap process, of a light and striking colour, which is never altered; of larger size in the males, which, with a vertical motion of the head, is often extended into a broad membrane to attract the notice of the other sex, as birds are known to display their plumose and other ornamental appendages for the like object.
I had once thought that at the time of developement from the egg, the colour was determined, and the animal had only to proceed in search of a spot suited to the natural varieties of its coat: but this idea is immediately contradicted by a captured specimen placed under a vase. The Guana has in its youth much more lovely colours than its parents; and, during the periods of casting off the cutaneous exuviae, the tints of lizards are affected: but the power of change in the chamaeleons and the Anólidae is altogether as voluntary and premeditated as it is inexplicable. In the latter tribe it is not, perhaps, so rapid as it is said to be in the former. [In another part of Mr. Guilding's notes, there is the following remark on the guana, made in reply to the query on “ edible lizards" in I. 495. The common guana is eaten over the whole West Indies, and is reckoned equal in delicacy to a rabbit or fricasseed chicken. The eggs, also, are said to be delicious. I have a friend who shoots all he can find, and purchases every one brought to him, for his table.] I may probably institute a course of experiments on our lizards, and communicate the results in a future Number. [These results have not been communicated to us. As this remark was written in 1830, and the author died in 1832, he might not have instituted the experiments.] | Lizards like Music.]—The assertion that spiders are attracted by music (I. 158.) is by no means incredible. Every child in the West Indies is aware how much the lizards are delighted with musical sounds, and how quickly they are drawn from distant spots to listen to the melody. I often whistle to some curious listener, and can easily discern his delight at my rude attempts: his ears are turned in mute attention, his eyes are soon closed, and he is totally absorbed and absent. In this state it is of course easily destroyed. Our Common Green Species is a harmless, pretty, graceful, and useful animal: in houses where they are protected and caressed, I have known them tame enough to eat sugar from one's hand. As in other species, the mutilated tail soon buds, and is restored, and sometimes with monstrous appendages, or multiplication. Cats which feed on them, on my grape arbours, where they are troublesome among the ripe fruit, grow lean and sickly. [St. Vincent, May 1. 1830.]
[For other facts on the habits of lizards, in Jamaica, see Mr. Sells in V. 476, 477. 653.]