Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/184

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

of time they would remain in a motionless condition. Similar experiments have been made on other insects by different observers, who have all arrived at the conclusion that conscious deception plays no part in the process.

The attitudes assumed by insects and other forms when feigning death are usually quite different from those of dead specimens. This general fact was pointed out by Darwin, who says that "I carefully noted the simulated positions of seventeen different kinds of insects (including an Iulus, spider and Oniscus) belonging to distinct genera, both poor PSM V72 D184 Larva of geometrid moth attached to a twig.pngFig. 1. Larva of a Geometrid Moth attached to a Twig. and first-rate shammers; afterward I procured naturally dead specimens of some of these insects, others I killed with camphor by an easy slow death; the result was that in no instance was the attitude exactly the same, and in several instances the attitudes of the feigners and of the really dead were as unlike as they possibly could be."

The attitudes of animals in the death feint are frequently very characteristic. Many beetles as well as other forms feign with the legs drawn up to the body and the antennæ closely appressed, so that the whole insect assumes as compact a form as possible. The woodlouse, Armadillo, rolls itself up into a ball with its legs drawn into the center, a habit which lias doubtless caused the name pill-bug to be given to this crustacean. A beetle, Geotrupes, according to Kirby and Spence, "when touched or in fear sets out its legs as stiff as if they were made of iron wire—which is their posture when dead—and remaining motionless thus deceives the rooks which prey upon them. A different attitude is assumed by one of the tree-chafers probably with the same end in view. It sometimes elevates its posterior legs into the air, so as to form a straight vertical line, at right angles with the upper surface of its body."