Scientific American Supplement, No. 508, September 26, 1885 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 112 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 508, September 26, 1885.

THE PEACOCK BUTTERFLY.

Another well known insect is illustrated in the figure in the upper portion—­the peacock butterfly (Vanessa Io).  The curious spiked and spotted caterpillar feeds upon the common nettle.  This beautiful butterfly—­common in most districts—­is brilliantly colored and figured on the upper side of the wings, but only of a mottled brown on the under surface, somewhat resembling a dried and brown leaf, so that it is no easy matter to detect the conspicuous, brightly-decked insect when it alights from flight upon foliage, and brings its wings together over its back after the manner of butterflies.  At the left-hand corner is seen the head of the insect, magnified, showing the long spiral tongue.

This is a curious structure, and one that will repay the trouble of microscopic examination.  In the figure the profile is seen, the large compound eye at the side and the long curved tongue, so elephantine-looking in form, though of minute size, is seen unrolled as it is when about to be inserted into flowers to pump up the honey-juice.  This little piece of insect apparatus is a mass of muscles and sensitive nerves comprising a machine of greater complexity and of no less precision in its action than the modern printing machine.  When not in use, the tongue rolls into a spiral and disappears under the head.  A butterfly’s tongue may readily be unrolled by carefully inserting a pin within the first spiral and gently drawing it out.—­The Gardeners’ Chronicle.

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THE BHOTAN CYPRESS.

(CUPRESSUS TORULOSA.)

This cypress, apart from its elegant growth, is interesting as being the only species of Cupressus indigenous to India.  It is a native of the Himalayas in the Bhotan district, and it also occurs on the borders of Chinese Tartary.  It forms, therefore, a connecting link, as it were, between the true cypresses of the extreme east and those that are natives of Europe.  It is singular to note that this genus of conifers extends throughout the entire breadth of the northern hemisphere, Cupressus funebris representing the extreme east in China, and C. macrocarpa the extreme west on the Californian seacoast.  The northerly and southerly limits, it is interesting to mark, are, on the contrary, singularly restricted, the most southerly being found in Mexico; the most northerly (C. nutkaensis) in Nootka Sound, and the subject of these remarks (C. torulosa) in Bhotan.  The whole of the regions intervening between these extreme lateral points have their cypresses.  The European species are C. lusitanica (the cedar of Goa), which inhabits Spain and Portugal; C. sempervirens (the Roman cypress), which is centered chiefly in the southeasterly parts of Europe, extending into Asia Minor.  Farther eastward C. torulosa is met with, and the chain is extended eastward by C. funebris, also known as C.

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 508, September 26, 1885 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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