Popular Science Monthly/Volume 27/July 1885/Moths and Moth-Catchers II

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947692Popular Science Monthly Volume 27 July 1885 — Moths and Moth-Catchers II1885Augustus Radcliffe Grote




TO understand the way in which our North American moths are distributed (and by North American we mean the territory north of Mexico and the West Indies), we must study the physical geography of the continent. There is a perfect host of species and individuals, which depend on special kinds of plants, for the most part, and their diffusion is, of course, limited by the area of the plant upon which their caterpillars subsist. But the greater bulk of the species are not confined in their young stage to one sort of plant, while, from their activity, these flying flowers, the moths, range farther than the more slowly traveling blossoms whose honey they extract.

If we take a map giving a bird's-eye view of the continent, with the elevations marked, we can understand the problem better. Ranges of mountains obstruct, valleys and river-channels assist, the dispersion of moths. They travel on the wings of the wind, and an important factor is the prevailing seasonal direction of the air-currents. There is in North America a summer migration of many species from the South to the North, so that, toward the autumn, several tropical kinds have crept up along the coast, or inland, up the valley of the Mississippi. The "cotton-worm moth," which, in its caterpillar state, inflicts great damage at times upon the plantations, is a case in point. Individual specimens or flocks of other moths, such as the "great eyespot" (Erebus odora), the "blue and green hawk" (Argeus labruscæ), visit us yearly, coming up from the West Indies. They die out in the winter here, and leave no progeny behind them to continue the species in our high latitudes.

Rivers assist in the dispersion of insects, and, in a less degree, perhaps, the particular insects we are here discussing. Nevertheless, upon leaves and sticks the eggs of moths are floated on the current, while the commerce of the water-routes brings the cocoons with the vegetables and fruits which it carries from place to place in boats and ships.

A bird's-eye view of our continent shows us the elevations of the Rocky Mountains and parallel spurs in the West, and the Alleghanies in the East. Mountain-ranges stand in the way of the spreading of moths, which perish in the cold atmosphere and the storms which gather about the rocky summits. Our fauna? can be understood by studying the formation of the land in this way. Over the vast plain east of Colorado the same kinds of moths generally prevail. The valleys in the West, on the other hand, contain a majority of peculiar species or kinds, often more local than in the East. In New York we are cut off, again, by the Alleghanies from many species which are plentiful in Ohio and Indiana. Our tropical wanderers come to us up and along the coast. I have met, sailing on the Gulf Stream, flights of moths, mostly of a few kinds, which fell on the rigging and sides of the vessel in great numbers. In the autumn, on Staten Island, I have captured specimens whose true home was Cuba and Jamaica. Although smaller fauna?, or limits of particular species, are traced by naturalists, our mountain-ranges are the best general guide as to the changes in the sorts of moths which we may expect. From Ohio to Louisiana we meet much the same kind of moths, with a difference in the rarity of certain species, and in the presence of others dependent on particular kinds of plants. But, when we get into the valleys of the Rocky Mountains, we shall have taken leave of the most of our dusty-winged Eastern friends. Some kinds take the voyage with us completely across the continent, but these are comparatively few in number, and are sometimes almost cosmopolitan.

So true is it that one branch of a subject leads to quite different questions and to matters apparently foreign to the immediate inquiry, that here the subject of the range of North American moths leads us into myth and poetry. For, in finding out that we have species of moths which are found in other continents, the question arises at once, How did they get here? They could not fly over from Europe, nor could they now cross Behring Strait, with the Arctic climate there existing. Imaginative persons have supposed a submerged Atlantic Continent, which bridged the chasm in a remote geological period. The myth of the Atlantis has been recently furbished up under the facts supplied by the deep-sea soundings of the English steamer Challenger, and the discovery of a plateau at the bottom of the ocean, between North America and Europe. But, if it ever existed, it probably did so at a time before the ancestors of our present moths came into being.

For a moment, let us leave this matter and look at the question of the affinities of our moths. I have shown, in the "American Journal of Science and Arts," the detailed characters of one family of our moths, the Sphingidæ, and what is true of them is true generally. Our moths, in regard to their structural relationship with the moths of the world, fall into three main categories: 1. Those which are peculiar to North America. 2. Those which have their nearest allies in South or tropical America. 3. Those which have their nearest allies in Europe or Northern Asia.

With these last we have here to deal, and to account for their presence with us. This class falls into two main groups—those which are absolutely the same, and those which differ more or less, but clearly reveal their common ancestry. But there exists in these respects every gradation. Some differ so little that there is much dispute as to whether they constitute different "species," and some, again, only differ perceptibly in certain stages. Others differ a little throughout in all stages, and form what are called "representative species." So, far off in Arizona, I have found a species (Copimamestra occidenta) which "represents" a common European species (Copimamestra brassicæ). What is this little moth, with its big name, doing in Arizona, and how did it get there? With regard to those kinds which are absolutely identical in America and Europe, some have evidently come over through commerce in historic times. We have found out almost the particular voyage which brought the "white-cabbage butterfly" from England to Quebec, whence the insect has spread over the New England and Middle States, to the great injury of our market-gardeners and cabbage-growers. But of some the distribution is such that this can not be the explanation of their presence here. Of others it may be doubtful. I am inclined to believe that another cabbage-insect, the moth called Pluria ni, has been brought over in this manner. But how about our Arizonian Copimamestra?

We shall have to leave entomology and go into geology to answer this question. Formerly there was a warm climate in the north during the Tertiary period. This was a certain measurable time ago, when the circumpolar regions had a warm average temperature, with no winter, and the moths of the period were then substantially the same species from Norway across Siberia to Greenland. During this happy time—happy, at least, so far as weather was concerned—we must imagine that no impediment existed to the migrations of animals across what is now Behring Strait. It is probable, even, that the Tertiary epoch, as it witnessed the first appearance of man, saw his first wanderings in North America. He, too, came from Asia by way of the north and Behring Strait. Evolution had performed surprising work in the mean while with one branch of the human family, members of which, landing from Scandinavian or Spanish ships, met, upon American soil, the descendants of a migration from Asia to America in a former geological period, and to the east! At the close of this Tertiary period of the earth's history, cold and snow and ice set in; the long winter of the ages made its appearance in the shape of the Glacial epoch. The circumpolar moths, whose more humble fortunes we must be content here alone to follow, were forced southward gradually by the change in climate which gathered its frigid strength in the north. The European, Asiatic, and American faunæ then became separated, the latter the most completely, and by barriers both of ice and ocean. The American species of moths, which formerly lived upon the shores of the Arctic Ocean, were gradually forced down, year by year, until they reached Mexico, or the elevated portions of the Southern States. When the glaciers subsided, and the floods of ice which had submerged the continents gradually melted and slowly drained away, the moths, much changed by the long conflict, also retraced their steps northward. As marks of the retreat and advance, colonies of moths were left on the mountains to tell of the flood. At this time our "Western clawed cutworm" (Copimamestra occidenta) had been long separated from its present European brothers, and the differences by which we now recognize the two species as distinct had become slowly established through a long series of succeeding generations. What miles of land and sea separate the two to-day! The descendants of a common circumpolar species find themselves partly in Germany, partly in Arizona, and the Southwestern territory of the United States!

Let us turn back to the other theory, that of a submerged Atlantic Continent. Whatever may be finally proved from geology as to the existence of such an Atlantic bridge, it is clear that the myth of the Atlantis must be separated from such facts, as being of much more recent origin. Primitive man existed æons before the notions which were worked into the poetic and semi-historical myth of the Hesperides and Atlantides. The setting sun was followed by human eyes for untold ages, as it bathed itself in the golden flush of evening, and was at last whelmed by the waters which were held to surround the supposed circular flat earth. The sun was the golden apple of the garden of the Hesperides, the Golden Fleece after which Jason sailed. The poet transformed the primitive notions into charming myths, which probably had their origin from the observation of low-lying clouds floating, like islands, in a sun-flushed western sky. In this region of imagination and romance it is, perhaps, better—at any rate, it is excusable to abandon prose and take to verse. So we shall quote a modern rhymer for the explanation of "the Atlantis":

The western sky is all ablaze,
And, floating on that golden sea,
The clouds, like islands in a maze,
Blest dwelling-places seem to be.

When first this sight was viewed by man,
He thought the earth was flat, not round;
That all about its rim there ran
An ocean which the land did bound.

The poet in those early days
Immortalized the sun-flushed seas;
He peopled those far slopes and bays,
And called the isles Atlantides.

And so the legend grew until
The clouds in evening's dreamy light,
With which the poet showed his skill,
Had vanished from the mental sight;

Instead, the story true appeared,
And every sailor did his best,
While straight from port the vessels steered
For those far islands in the west.

But none returned: of all who went,
Who sight of those fair islands caught,
Through the white waves the tempest sent
The barks which shattered home were brought.

And some returned no more—but these
Were fabled to have reached the strand,
Where, anchored in luxurious ease,
Their ships will never leave the land.

The crews lie on these sunny slopes,
Purple with fruit, with vintage blest;
The ships are held by flowery ropes
In sleepy bays content to rest.

The poet steps into his boat,
The sunset makes his starting fair;
Through the long night with Death he'll float,
And in the morning he'll be there.

The study of the geographical distribution of moths has led us a long way back in the history of our own race, to that East whence art and science sprang. There is only one other fact to be briefly mentioned here, and that is the discovery by Louis Agassiz, who accomplished so much toward an understanding of our entire fauna, of a tropical colony of moths inhabiting the southern extremity of the Peninsula of Florida. I have examined the specimens brought thence, now in the Museum at Cambridge. Standing in the way of the south winds and the Gulf Stream, Florida receives constant accessions to its tropical colony of insects. Not a few of the Florida moths seem to have changed a little, and the probability is that here also we may have to do with descendants of a very ancient colonization. Our continent, in fact, has harbored many immigrants besides the Pilgrim Fathers, who are distinguished among these by their greater importance, and the results of their adventurous voyage.

The celebrated receipt of Mrs. Glass, which is of such general application and has served so many literary purposes, must be employed before we can place our specimens of moths in the cabinet. And, indeed, everything depends upon the catching of them, and their appearance after being caught. The scales and the little fine fringes which edge the wings are but delicately fastened to the membrane of the wing itself, and are lost with the lightest rubbing. Some species can never be captured on the wing in a really perfect condition. When the "bee-hawks" (Hemaris sp.) emerge from the chrysalis, there is a dusting of fine scales over the glassy portions of the wings, which is scattered by the first fluttering flight of the insect:

"Like gold motes in the air it flies."

Again, several moths are ornamented with patches of looser and bright-colored scales which are readily lost, the specimens still appearing fresh after they have vanished. Thus the "dark-red under wing" (Catocala cara) has the fore-wings adorned with spots of a greenish hue when it leaves the pupa, but they are apt to fall and the wings then appear all of a dark-brown. Not knowing this, the fresh specimens have been described as a new variety, by an enterprising and unfortunately somewhat critical writer, under the name Carissima.

We have the choice of pursuing our entomological prey in each of its stages of growth—of eggs, caterpillar, chrysalis, or moth. If we gather them in either of the first three states, we have to nurse them until they are brought to the last, and, since in this way we can always obtain bright examples, it is much preferred by moth-fanciers. It is, indeed, the only way to obtain adequate information about these insects, and, as they are usually brought through them all with less difficulty than the other insects in captivity, the breeding of moths becomes an alluring and profitable pursuit.

Egg-hunting is the least remunerating way of procuring moths, from the difficulty of detecting the little objects, like pins' heads, upon the leaves and flowers where they are laid. Eggs are usually stuck fast to the under side of the more tender leaves of the plant, though this rule is not invariable, either as to position or choice of leaf. Usually the outer leaves are chosen, and by turning them up with care and running the eye over them, and especially down the midrib, the little whitish or greenish egg may be seen. It requires good eyes and much patience, but I have found the eggs of about twenty species in this way: those of the "bee-hawk" on honeysuckle, of the "Cecropia" on apple and lilac bushes, the "white-lined-hawk" on purslane, etc. The "lackey-moths" (Clisiocampa) and the "deer-moths" (Hemileuca) lay their eggs in circular patches around the smaller branches of fruit and oak trees. The eggs are found sometimes to have been stung by a little clear-winged fly, and out of these, instead of the expected caterpillar, only the tiny but full-grown parasite escapes.

The rearing of larvæ or caterpillars may be conducted on a variety of plans. I have found an upright box, with glass in front, and perforated zinc for the sides, or fine wire netting and a solid door at back, by which the fresh food is introduced, very serviceable. A drawer at bottom is filled with fine washed sand, over which is placed a layer of garden-mold, and then a covering of moss. The food is placed in short water-bottles, to keep it fresh, and the caterpillars are placed on these. But, when a boy, I reared many species in an empty butter-tub, covered by common gauze. Almost all caterpillars may be handled with impunity. Some of them are ferocious-looking enough to inspire a fear of their biting powers, but they are unable to hurt us in this way. The caterpillars of the "hawk-moths" have a formidable looking horn on the last segment or ring of the body. I have noticed that inexperienced persons often mistake the position of this horn; they regard it as being in front, whereas it is attached to the tail-end of the larva. There is nothing "poisonous" about any of these caterpillars, but two kinds cause a painful irritation to the skin when touched with the hand, by means of the fine hairs which are thus forced into the pores, and, the tips breaking off, cause fever and pain as from a bee-sting. These two are the odd-looking caterpillar of the "brown hag-moth" (Empretia stimulea), and the delicate-green caterpillar, with pink and white stripe on the side, of the "corn emperor" (Hyperchivia so). Other hairy caterpillars may also produce more or less discomfort when handled, but the frightful stories which circulate in the newspapers from time to time, of people being stung to death by the caterpillars they chanced upon, are all false. Caterpillars can not sting, for the simple reason that they have nothing to sting with, and when an injury of this kind has been really inflicted it will be found to have been occasioned by something other than a caterpillar.

Hunting for caterpillars is attended usually by more success than the seeking for eggs of moths. One can readily detect the presence of these often unwelcome visitors by the damage they do to the treasures of the gardener and farmer. Many kinds feed in clusters, and make nests into which they retire in the daytime, separating usually before full grown and to make their cocoons. The larger species are all solitary, and some are the most beautiful objects one can wish to see. The caterpillar of the "imperial moth," which may be found on the horse-chestnut, tulip, and gum trees in Central Park every September, when it is full grown, is a thick, green worm, as long as the thumb, with four beautifully notched horns on the back, behind the head. Delicate hairs adorn the body, and the fleshy feet behind are ornamented by a design in black-and-white, looking like bead-work, and as if the creature wore Indian moccasins. In April and May we may find the larvae of species which pass the winter in that state. One of our handsomest caterpillars is that of the "great Indian moth" (Ecpautheria scribonia), black, studded with bristles and with the incisions of the rings of the body marked in scarlet. I have fancied that this caterpillar is the one noted by the Indians, and sung of by Longfellow in "Hiawatha."

It is very interesting, no matter what the species is, to watch it through all its changes, and be rewarded finally by the moth disclosing all its fresh beauties before our eyes, as it hangs on the side of the breeding-cage. The caterpillars of the "hawk-moths," and many "owlet-moths," enter the ground to pupate; and for this purpose the sand and soil in the bottom of the breeding-cage must not be kept too dry, nor suffered to become hard. Those which do not go into the ground will transform within cocoons spun among the moss, or on the sides of the breeding-cage.

To collect the perfect moths, an empty quinine-bottle must be prepared by putting a few small lumps of cyanide of potassium on the bottom, and pouring on sufficient plaster of Paris to cover them perfectly. When the plaster is set, the fumes of the decomposing cyanide penetrate through the plaster, and the moth introduced into the bottle is almost instantly killed. Poison-bottles, so prepared, are indispensable to the collector, and they can be recommended on account of the speedy and probably painless death which they inflict. The objection to entomology is its apparent cruelty. I think that an unnecessary number of specimens are sometimes killed by the enthusiastic collector, but, after a little, this fault will be corrected by reflection and experience. When we recollect that insects are the main store of food to numberless birds and animals, besides falling a prey to each other, so that the greater proportion meet a violent death in any case, the comparatively small number which fall a sacrifice to the pleasure of the collector, or supply the studies of scientists, can not in reason be objected to. Our æsthetic pleasures are increased by the contemplation of the lovely colors and delicate patterns which adorn the wings of moths.

That man is feral, and a hunter by nature, is an obvious reflection, even when we step into the shop of an entomologist, such as Cooke's, in London. Nets, traps, and "fearsome gins" of all sorts and sizes meet the eye. Boxes, pins, dark-lanterns, in fact an array of implements too numerous to mention, are there displayed, and, whether we go a-hunting for game or for moths, the ingenuity of man has invented a large quantity of apparatus, by which the result may be obtained with the least exertion and the greatest certainty. Simplicity here as elsewhere is, after all, to be commended. A small folding-net which may be carried in the breast-pocket and afterward screwed to the end of a walking-cane, a poison-bottle, and a couple of boxes which may all be carried in the coat-pocket, are a sufficient outfit, and one with which great results in the moth line can be reached. The box for caterpillars should be of tin, and care must be exercised not to place too many together, since some kinds have strong cannibalistic tendencies and may devour each other before we get them safely home. But not only by day are moths captured. They fly readily to light in the evening, and the best results are obtained by spreading a bait, made of beer and molasses, with a paint-brush, on the trunks of trees standing free. In the spring and early summer this method of catching moths may be practiced with almost the certainty of taking many rarities. After this means the best plan is to watch the flowers which the moths frequent in the evening in search of natural sweets, and in which occupation we may fatally surprise them.

Having caught our moth in one way or another, it must be pinned and set, before placing it in the cabinet. In America the long German pins are used, especially manufactured for entomological purposes. The moth must be pinned directly through the center of the thorax, taking care to displace the scales as little as possible. Setting-boards are easily made by fastening two strips of soft pine-wood upon a thin board, near enough together to admit of the free passing of the body of the moth between them. They must be of several sizes, to correspond with the breadth of wing of the moths, which must be pinned with the body resting in the groove and the wings lying flat upon the strips. The board may be ruled across with lead-pencil, at different intervals, the lines serving as a guide to get the wings straight. With a bristle fastened to the end of a little stick, the front wings should be carried forward until their lower margin is about parallel with the hind edge of the thorax. They may be held in position by small three-cornered cardboard braces till all the wings are evenly placed, and then fastened down by strips of smooth paper, kept tightly in place by pins above and below the wings. It takes from a few days to a fortnight to properly dry the moths so that they can be placed in the cabinet.

Various and multiple are the store-boxes, implements, and "traps" of a moth-catcher. To describe them all would take a moderate-sized hand-book. My experience is, that simplicity is the most necessary guide for the collector, whether in the field or closet. A few tools and some cork-lined boxes will accomplish a great deal in the hands of an expert, while the expensive paraphernalia of the novice will fail of adequate result. As a rule, the most pleasure and information are yielded to the student who gradually increases his stores from his own catching, who follows the moths into their retreats, and by his industry and pertinacity compels Nature to yield to him a measure of her secrets.

Long ago I remember catching moths one summer night in the country, back of Newburg, on the Hudson. What a lovely and perfect night it was! A sheen lay over the grass, and the field-daisies stood tall and pale and spectral in the moonlight. Their white flowers looked like silver crowns, waiting for some love-sick damsel to pluck and gather her fate from the number of their petals. They stood in silver and gold, without envying the yellow and brown daisies of the meadows which were hardly open yet. The air was traversed by leather-winged bats, also out after insects, and I felt convicted by being in their company. A pale-green moon-moth fluttered by the skirt of the dark wood, the long "tails" to her wings trailing like the court-dress of a queen. I stayed my hand and let her sweep by, hoping that those marauding bats might not espy her as she floated in the night-air, heavy with the scent of roses. For aught I saw, she escaped them, and the peril of having her white body devoured, her green wings clipped from her shoulders, falling idly, like the petals of dying flowers, upon the ground.

Painters have not yet learned all they can from the coloring of moths. Some moths are pale-pink and yellow, only these two colors, reminding one of apple-blossoms and yellow moonlight. I saw a panel of C. Colman's once, for the contrast of colors of which it seemed he must have studied the wings of moths. As the musician can use the songs of birds, so the painter may copy the colors of the moths for our greater pleasure and his own benefit. A great deal may be said of the unconscious schooling we get from Nature.

"All sorts and conditions of men" and not a few talented and accomplished women are among the American students and collectors of moths. Before the last quarter of a century, those who interested themselves in America with this department of our fauna were few, and those who published the results of their investigations might be counted on the fingers of one hand. Harris in Massachusetts, Fitch in New York, Kirtland in Ohio, Gosse in Canada, were the best known. Thomas Say, of Philadelphia, published two species in his "American Entomology." But since that time, Professor Packard, Professor Fernald, Mr. Henry Edwards, Mr. F. Pepper, Mr. Lintner, and a number of talented writers, have become familiar names to those interested in the subject in the pages of its literature. The "New York Entomological Club" publishes a monthly magazine, entirely devoted to Lepidoptera. The Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences has issued three handsome volumes chiefly devoted to studies on our moths. In Cambridge, where Harris lived and studied, a very useful journal—"Psy. che"—appears, while in London, Canada, Mr. Saunders edits "The Canadian Entomologist" in monthly parts. The various State entomologists publish yearly reports, and the Department of the Interior has published valuable monographs and papers relating to our moths in the publications of the geological survey. The great work which has been done in the United States in science has helped also the increase of information upon this comparatively small branch of natural history. I should have mentioned the ladies first, but it is not out of politeness that the conscientious historian records the services to science of Mrs. Eliza Bridgham, of New York; Mrs. C. H. Fernald, of Orono, Maine; and Miss Mary Murtfeldt, of St. Louis, Missouri. Mrs. Bridgham's extensive collection, commenced under the eye of Agassiz himself, is a model of useful collecting for scientific purposes. The species are not represented by single individuals, but the varieties of each species, and a sufficient number of duplicates to allow of the study of the structure and changes, are all carefully placed and labeled. Years of patient and careful toil have their reward in the most interesting local collection, from a scientific stand-point, I have yet seen.

In Europe our moths have been described and studied by two French scientists, MM. Boisduval and Guenie. In Germany, Professor Zeller and Dr. Speyer, together with Herr Moeschler and the lamented and talented Viennese lepidopterist Julius Lederer, have published interesting studies upon our North American fauna. In England, the late Mr. Walker accomplished less satisfactory work in the precincts of the British Museum, and is now succeeded by Mr. Arthur G. Butler, whose work merits all praise. But our best incentive to the study of our moths has been afforded by the example of Lord Walsingham. It is ten years ago since his lordship visited the United States, where, unlike many of his countrymen who come to hunt buffalo, he went West to hunt moths. Lord Walsingham visited California and Oregon, and camped out like a true hunter. While his companions took the rifle, he handled the entomological net, and to such good effect that science has been the gainer by hundreds of new species, and a much clearer general knowledge of the subject than before existed. The delicate operation of setting his tiny captures, Lord Walsingham accomplished successfully even on horseback, as the camp was shifted from place to place—quite a feat, when it is recollected that the tiny specimens, many not a quarter of an inch in expanse of wing, require a steady hand and the most favorable conditions to be successfully prepared for the cabinet. This memorable trip of Lord Walsingham's had the result of directing the attention of our collectors to the richness of Western fields for moth-catching. Their cabinets soon presented new "beauties," vying with Indian and Brazilian species in varied colors and far surpassing them in general interest.

I said that "all sorts and conditions of men" were among those interested in forming collections of moths, and it may be inferred that there are queer specimens among the owners of the cabinets as well as in the drawers of the cabinets themselves. Moth-catching is a hobby, and, like other hobbies, it depends upon how it is ridden to pronounce upon its value from a social or scientific point of view. Some collectors amass their material from an apparent simple satisfaction in possessing rare or odd specimens. They have no appreciation of the bearing which the subject has upon general science, and no higher artistic interest in their possessions than the one that they have something no one else has got, and which it is difficult to obtain. A sort of purposeless mania seems to fall upon many of them, and they might as well get together a lot of old bottles or stones as moths. They deceive each other as to the locality for their rarities. I have even heard of one rabid collector, now happily deceased, who destroyed every specimen he had or could buy up of a certain rare exotic species, except one pair in his own collection, so that he could say he was the only one who had it! Another openly stated in an advertisement that he "coveted" certain specimens, which he offered to buy; thus, probably unintentionally, using a word which expressed his condition exactly, and in this way succeeding in breaking a commandment and exposing his state of mind at the same time.

While the "brethren of the net," as the moth-catchers are fond of styling themselves, are, generally speaking, a friendly and useful class, they necessarily include many who follow the occupation, but are yet not truly of them. From such the gentler student will soon turn away, sometimes not detecting them until he has suffered in purse and cabinet. Like other "confidence operators," they generally take in uninformed and young collectors, whose rarities are speedily transferred out of their keeping by the false statements and industrious letter-writing of these moth-poachers. They are the dark side of a picture which would be otherwise too bright and happy.

Among the figures of moth-catchers which have crossed my own path, I finally recall that of a kindly old gentleman, now no more, who for many years was a visitor to my humble study. His beardless, wrinkled face, framed in gray hair, had ever such a good and serene expression as betokened a mind which had caught its serenity from the countenance of Nature herself. I visited him in turn and not unfrequently, and I remember on one particular occasion that he showed me a new capture which he had made on Long Island, a new butterfly, not then described in the books. As he took it from the box and placed it on the table before him, pinned, dried, and set, in all its beauty, a little dog, which was his pet and companion, sprang at his knee and with one blow of his paw broke the butterfly. To the old gentleman it was as to Sir Isaac Newton—the loss was great, and the shock must have been intense. Although I had hardly seen the specimen, I was profoundly affected by the mischance. But he neither struck the dog nor spoke loudly. With a trembling hand and flushed face he set to work at once to gather up carefully the disjointed wings of his specimen, which was happily accomplished, and, with a little gum and much patient dexterity, the damage which seemed at first irreparable was remedied. It taught me a lesson I have never since forgotten. The butterfly was the rare Papilio Calverleyi, of which up to the present time but one other specimen has been found. I have now new faith in that old story, from having witnessed a similar occurrence, and fresh belief in the goodness of that human nature which science and its pursuit often tend to strengthen and confirm.