National Geographic : 1914 Jul
© NOT GOOD TO EAT Have you never wondered at the temerity with which certain of these slow-moving, helpless creatures expose themselves totheattacks of their enemies? In a world so full of hungry, winged beings it does seem strange; and when the markings areblack and white, orsome such strik ing color in contrast with the leaves or bark, the temerity seems even more extraordinary, until one learns thesimple fact-these creatures are not good to eat. What a protection! It would seem to rival the sting of the bumblebee, the poison fangs ofthespider, orthevenom ofthe centipede in its efficacy as a protective weapon. Not good enough to eat! Supposing that the fly andthe mosquito were equipped with some flavor distasteful to the insectivorous birds, if cattle were not good to eat, nor sheep, nor hogs, nor anyliving, breathing things; what achange there would be in a world like ours! And yet to chemists there is very little difference between some compounds that aregood toeatand others that are deadly poison, no greater than that between the poison bitter almond and the sweet one of ourdinner table. "Not good enough toeat" is written on this creature's back in black and white so plainly that any bird with any sense or anypast experience will pass itbyuntouched, not even pecking at it. Photo and note by David and Marian Fairchild.