National Geographic : 1958 Jun
lights and shadows of the forest, to blend uncannily with sun-splashed leaves. Volatile emanations from the decaying fruit summon splendid tropical beetles, one almost three inches long. This is a long-armed harle quin beetle (Acrocinus longimanus). Its great wing covers have all the beauty of a rich oriental rug. On a background of olive ocher are great splashes and arabesques of jasper red, framed in black. With a loud, insistent roaring hum, another harlequin beetle appears, flying through the jungle, legs spread wide, wing cases aloft, and membranous wings a pale blur. When it alights it begins a special song, a series of rapid, zizzing squeaks. In making the sound its head trembles like a doddering old man. Enormous eyes are wrapped around the front of the head, forming a sheet of facets. The thorax bears a colored cartouche of grace ful design. Slender antennae are nearly three times the length of the whole insect, but the most striking members are the forelegs. Upper and lower portions are enormously lengthened, the femur and the tibia each equaling the entire length of the insect. Yet when the beetle flexes its legs, the dis tant foot can clean the eyes and head as deftly as though the limbs were of normal length. No use is known for these exaggerated legs, but they are a decided liability when a beetle tipsy on fermented citrus juice takes a walk. Insects with Hobgoblin Faces FROM the opposite page stare eight bizarre faces, chosen from many score which have peered out as we walked through the jungle. To give each its proper body would test the knowledge of the best naturalist. Looking at just a part of an animal instead of the whole is rather like taking a single phrase or sentence out of context: the result may be surprising. This is particularly true when we look a common fly, a grasshopper, or a spider in the face without seeing the rest of its body. It may, in fact, be almost unrecognizable. Line-up of a Weird Rogues' Gallery Let us consider these faces, starting in the upper row and proceeding from left to right. No. 1 is most difficult to place, for it is as yet unnamed-and it defies description. It is certainly a tropical May fly. It is probably short lived, like its relatives, possibly emerg ing from the larval skin, molting once again, flying, mating, laying its eggs, and dying be tween dusk and dawn of a single night. No. 2 requires a side view to identify it as a membracid, a tree hopper (pages 850-51). From in front it appears to be a double-decked helicopter. Viewing it laterally, we realize the value of the elongated horny trident which arches over the soft body. The whole in sect is protected from above by this armored scaffolding. The artist has given face No. 3 enough body to show without doubt that it belongs to a caterpillar. The head is very like a Hal loween pumpkin face, reddish buff with false black eyes and nose. The adult is unknown, but it may well be a species of hesperiid. 840 Face No. 4 resembles a miniature horse with four eyes. It is the face of a tropical ant lion called ascalaphid, from the Greek word meaning owl, because of the nocturnal habits of some of the species. The head is covered with a strangely un-insectlike coat of hair, both around and between the eyes, and the eyes themselves are divided by a deep groove which seems to double them. The larvae lie in ambush to seize and devour unwary ants. Face No. 5, with its quartet of glaring head light eyes, can be nothing but a jumping spider. Four remaining eyes are hidden but are doubtless focused on the surrounding leaves, which hide the next creature to fall prey to this little tiger of the jungle. No. 6 is a terrifying animal of human ex pression, with small, fearful eyes peering over jade-green jowls ending in a pair of slender turquoise jaws. No less strange are the habits of this grasshopper, for it is carnivorous, a thing as unexpected as a cow leaping upon, killing, and devouring a hen. Eye Colors Fade in Death No. 7 is a fly-a tropical jungle fly, with enormous iridescent eyes and a scanty head covering of coarse, spinelike hairs. A few min utes after death all color fades from the eyes, but in life they show a variegated pattern as beautiful as a butterfly's scales. These are so characteristic that they could well be used for reliable classification. Last but not least we have No. 8, unques tionably a praying mantis, with head turned, its gaze directed straight at us, each eye a fabulous color scroll of changing brown, green, maroon, pink, and blue.