"Dey don't bite at all! Dey jes' strike you with de tail, and dey's a pizen juice comes out, and den no doctor kain't save you! "
Newspaper stories confirming this belief occasionally go the rounds. I remember reading one particularly circumstantial account of the mishaps of a camping party somewhere in south Florida. "They were a long way," said this veracious chronicler," from any human habitation, and the loss of their one mule from the bite of this pestiferous scorpion brought with it no end of inconvenience and trouble."
The distressing story was told with great detail, and it was certainly not calculated to diminish the popular dread with which this supposed venomous creature is regarded. Even in scientific journals we find an occasional echo of this general belief. Dr. Packard, too, certainly good authority, in his Study of Insects accepts the current theory.
In the Proceedings of the Washington (D. C.) Entomological Society there is an interesting discussion of this very question (vol. ii, No. 2). Professor Howard stated that a case of the bite of the Thelyphonus with fatal results was vouched for by a Mr. Dunn, a professed naturalist, and that his testimony was entitled to weight. Mr. Ashmead and Mr. Banks, both of whom had been familiar with the Thelyphonus in Florida, had handled them frequently, and believed them harmless. Dr. George Marx confirmed this view by stating that dissection failed to show the presence of any poison sac or fangs, a statement which it seems has been confirmed by subsequent investigations.
Altogether here was a "muddle" of conflicting testimony, which could only be accounted for by supposing "some one had blundered."
A few months since, for my own satisfaction, I determined to make a special study of our Florida "grampus." Not the least curious question that first suggests itself is how this name, "grampus" (French, Grand poisson, great fish), one of the Cetacece, ever got tacked on as a popular label for our Florida Thelyphonus. I am utterly at a loss to account for it.
Before catching "my bird" I, of course, had to make a cage for it. This was constructed out of a large cigar box. About half of one end was removed and replaced by wire gauze. In addition to the hinged wooden cover, with which the box was furnished, I arranged a second one of wire gauze, hinged on the opposite side, and closing underneath the wooden one. This gave full control of light and air, both by day and night, without disturbing my future prisoner, and at the same time diminished the danger of his escape.
I knew very well that the scorpion I was after was of a very modest and retiring disposition, and was never seen above ground in