National Geographic : 1929 Jul
INSECT RIVALS OF THE RAINBOW IN THE accompanying text pages will be found, in more detail than was pos sible in the general story, some of the outstanding events in the lives of the in sect families represented in the 24 accom panying Color Plates. A large number of the species por trayed in color come from the Tropics. But family relationships endure beyond CRICKETS, COCKROACHES, KATY DIDS, AND THEIR KIN (Order Orthoptera) Plates II and III This order embraces six families, represented respectively by the short-horned grasshoppers, the crickets, the katydids, the walking sticks, the mantids, and the cockroaches. The indi viduals of the first three families sing and jump, while those of the latter three are mute and creep. Almost all of the music of the in sect world comes from the three singing fami lies of the Orthoptera. Indeed, the cicada is the one famous maestro that does not belong to this order. Short-horned Grasshopper Family (Acrid idae). The short-horned grasshopper family, distributed all over the world, has about 500oo species in the United States. To it belong the Rocky Mountain locust, which in days gone by caused Kansas to be known as the "hopper" State, the Argentine locust, which frequently descends upon the pampa from the foothills of the Andes and eats everything bare before it, the locust that was among the Plagues of Pharaoh, and that other one which figured in the diet of "locusts and wild honey" mentioned in the Bible. The life histories of most of the short-horned grasshopper and locust species show little varia tion. The females deposit their eggs in small oval, or bean-shaped packets, either in the soil, at the base of the stems of grasses, or in soft wood. The fall-deposited eggs do not hatch until spring. The species reproduced are: Autumn Yel low Winged Grasshopper (Arphia xanthoptera Burm. Plate II, figure I), occurring in the northeastern United States in autumn; African Grasshopper (Atractomorpha aberrans Karsch. Plate II, figure 2), coming from central Africa; Eastern Lubber Grasshopper (Romalea microp tera Palis. Plate II, figure 6), occurring in the hay fields of southeastern United States; Yel low Winged Grasshopper (Arphia simplex Scudd. Plate III, figure 2), habitat the Missis sippi Valley; European Grasshopper (Mona chidium lunus Joh. Plate III, figure 4), occur ring alike in Europe, Asia, and Africa; Desert Grasshopper (Leprus cyaneus Cockerell. Plate III, figure 6), habitat the arid areas of south western United States; Old World Migratory geographic boundaries and are more per sistent than either color or cut of clothes. So, every brilliant tropical insect has its drab cousins and common family bonds in temperate lands. The biographies deal broadly with the families and give details that apply to those members most familiar to man in everyday life. Locust (Locusta migratoria Linn. figure 7), occurring in Europe. Plate III, Walking Stick Family (Phasmiidae). This bizarre group, some of whose members disguise themselves by simulating twigs and leaves, con tains about 600 species, mainly tropical. Six teen species are native American, the most familiar being the walking stick or devil's darn ing-needle. The eggs, one-eighth of an inch long, of polished black, with a whitish stripe on one side, are scattered on the ground in the fall, where they lie until the warm days of spring. The female, unlike most Orthopters, makes no provision for their safety. If certain species of walking sticks lose a leg another grows in its place. The species reproduced is: Walking Leaf (Pulchriphy'llinum bioculatum Gray. Plate II, figure 3), habitat African coast. Mantis Family (Mantidae). The mantids are a carnivorous tropical tribe, with many species, having wings resembling the leaves of plants, both in coloring and formation. Per haps a score of species are found in the South. one of them extending its habitat as far north as Maryland and Indiana. The egg cases ap proximate the size and shape of an almond. and the color of golden grain, the substance of which they are made being akin to silk-a frothy mass whipped until it turns to a foam and hardens. It has been remarked that although the atti tude the mantis assumes may seem to be that of devotion, such sanctimonious airs are a mask of evil habits; "those arms folded in prayer are cutthroat weapons; they tell no beads, they slay whatever passes within range." At the sight of one of the more formidable kinds of prey the mantis gives a convulsive shiver, strikes a terrifying pose, spreads its wings, curls the tip of its abdomen, and, standing firmly on four hind legs, holds the forward part of its body upright, with forelegs forming a cross. The victim comes within range, the forelegs fall, the claws strike, and the saws clutch the prey. The wretched victim writhes with pain. chews space with its mandibles, and helplessly kicks the air. The mantids are friends of man because they live so largely on insects that are destructive to crops (see, also, page 20). The species reproduced is: Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis Sauss. Plate II, figure 4), an immigrant from China.