Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/50

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brings the first bees to the crocuses. A change of colour and of consistency passes over the tree-tops as they begin to show the purples and browns of swelling buds. The month of general awakening is to come, but is anticipated by the first sporadic revivals. Blindworms and newts still sleep in heaps of loose stones and piles of rubbish, but the toad is once more abroad at dusk and the surface of the pond is rippled by spawning frogs, which puff out their lily-white throats and croon a resonant double bass. The running spiders which race over bank sides are always the first to respond by their re-appearance to the revivifying warmth of the sun. Down at the brook we welcome the "skaters" (Hydrometra), which run upon the surface of the water, and the whirligig-beetles, which again weave their mazy dance, foretokens of the great stirring and quickening which is now at hand. Snugly stowed away in winter-quarters insects have nothing to fear from the frost. Split open this dry and hollow stem of hemlock or cow-parsnip, and we shall be surprised at the variety of its tenants—lanky, transparent-looking spiders, delicate gauze-winged gnats, and a fat caterpillar which has spun a white web for his greater comfort. So little ground is there for the supposition, so generally held, that a hard winter is fatal to noxious insects. As a matter of fact they suffer much more when unseasonable warmth tempts them out before their time.