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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/49

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41
SPIDER BITES AND KISSING BUGS.

guisugus, are given the general geographical distribution of "Southern States." C. dimidiatus and C. maculipennis are Mexican forms, while C. gerstaeckeri occurs in the Western States. The more recently described species, C. protractus Uhl., has been taken at Los Angeles, Cal.; Dragoon, Ariz.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. All of these insects are blood-suckers, and do not hesitate to attack animals. Le Conte, in his original description of C. sanguisugus,[1] adds a most significant paragraph or two which, as it has not been quoted of late, will be especially appropriate here: "This insect, equally with the former" (see above), "inflicts a most painful wound. It is remarkable also for sucking the blood of mammals, particularly of children. I have known its bite followed by very serious consequences, the patient not recovering from its effects for nearly a year. The many relations which we have of spider bites frequently proving fatal have no doubt arisen from the stings of these insects or others of the same genera. When the disease called spider bite is not an anthrax or carbuncle it is undoubtedly occasioned by the bite of an insect—by no means however, of a spider. Among the many species of Araneidæ which we have in the United States I have never seen one capable of inflicting the slightest wound. Ignorant persons may easily mistake a Cimex for a spider. I have known a physician who sent to me the fragments of a large ant, which he supposed was a spider, that came out of his grandchild's head." The fact that Le Conte was himself a physician, having graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1846, thus having been nine years in practice at the time, renders this statement all the more significant. The life history and habits of C. sanguisugus have been so well written up by my assistant, Mr. Marlatt, in Bulletin No. 4, New Series, of the Division of Entomology, United States Department of Agriculture, that it is not necessary to enter upon them here. The point made by Marlatt—that the constant and uniform character of the symptoms in nearly all cases of bites by this insect indicate that there is a specific poison connected with the bite—deserves consideration, but there can be no doubt that the very serious results which sometimes follow the bite are due to the introduction of extraneous poison germs. The late Mr. J. B. Lembert, of Yosemite, Cal., noticed particularly that the species of Conorhinus occurring upon the Pacific coast is attracted by carrion. Professor Tourney, of Tucson, Arizona, shows how a woman broke out all over the body and limbs with red blotches and welts from a single sting on the shoulders. Specimens of C. sanguisugus re-


  1. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, vol. vii, p. 404, 1854-'55.