Little Mays brother had another cabinet in which there was a large collection of insects; and when he opened the door of this one, the little girl again saw two moths.
One of these moths is a gypsy queen, he said. Can you tell which one it is?
I think it is the one that wears the soiled white dress, replied the child; for it would be just like a gypsy queen to wear such a dress as that.
Her brother smiled. You are right, said he.
It is her mate that wears the coat of brownish yellow, and he is much smaller than she. See how prettily his hind wings are bordered at the margin with brown.
But they both have dark-brown lines on their fore wings, said the girl, and the fine fringe of their edges is broken by,let me count,yes, there are eight dark-brown spots along the edge of each wing. Isnt it pretty?
Very pretty, he said, but I can plainly see that you are not so well pleased with some of the queens finery.
I do not call that finery, replied the girl.
Her dress is of a dirty white; and her antennæ are not so prettily feathered as those of her mate. No, I do not like her at all.
Besides I can not see why she is any more a gypsy queen than the mother moth of the tent caterpillar in the other cabinet.
You are right, replied her brother. She is not a queen at allthat is only a title that I have given her. But she is a real gypsy moth, and now I will tell you why she has recieved this name; and then you will see that she has a right to it.
Many years ago, a gentleman who was studying the habits of moths brought a few eggs of this kind to our country, from over the sea.
One day, he laid them on the sill of an open window, and when he turned to look for them they were gone.
The wind had scattered them far and wide; and this proved to be a great misfortune, as you will presently learn.
The gypsy moth lays a large number of cream-yellow eggs; and these eggs she covers with soft hairs plucked from her own body.
She takes care to place them on the under side of leaves, twigs, and branches, in such a way that no harm can come to them; and so nearly every egg brings forth a caterpillar.
Even those eggs that were blown away by the wind soon hatched out; and I now will show you what the caterpillars were like.
Then little May saw, pinned fast to the back of the cabinet, a somewhat shriveled-up larval baby, nearly two inches in length.
It had a very black head; and its body was of a brownish yellow, having a pale-yellow line running along the middle of the back. On each side of this line was a row of spots, five of which were blue, and the others were of a deep-crimson shade.
There were tufts of hairs along the sides of the body; and although it was clothed, for the most part, in bright colors, it was an ugly thing to look at.
These caterpillars, said her brother, are very hungry creatures; and they travel about everywhere, devouring all the tender, green things that they chance to find.
When they have stripped a twig or a branch of its leaves, they spin a slender,
silken thread and let themselves down to the earth; and then, like the true gypsies that they are, they roam about till they find something to eat elsewhere.
But how can you be so cruel as to pin them fast? asked the child.
Oh, I never run a pin through the body of any insect while it is alive, little sister; that would be cruel indeed.
I put them in a covered box and smother them with something that kills them instantly; and when I am quite sure that they are dead, I place them here in the cabinet as you see them now; and in that way I make a good use of them.
For by this means, I have been able to show you a family of gypsies that are much more to be feared than that small band of sun-browned men and women who have pitched their tents in the edge of the forest yonder.
It is true, such people as those may now and
then carry off a few supplies from our gardens; but they will not destroy every green thing in their way, so as to leave nothing behind them but withered vines and leafless trees, as these gypsy insects do.
Little May was silent for a moment, and then she said, These gypsy moths are very bad insects indeed; but after all, they do not steal their babies, and our real, grown-up gypsies do.
And with that, she ran away to the attic to watch, at a safe distance, that strange company of restless rovers whose great-great-grandfathers, like those of the gypsy moth, were born in a far-away land beyond the sea.
A LITTLE CAPTIVE
So, Madam, Ive caught you at last;
Pray, why did you venture so near?
Your four dainty pinions are fast;
Tis useless to struggle, my dear.
Ah, little youve gained, pretty one,
In breaking your self-woven chain,
To flaunt your fine robes in the sun
If you must a captive remain.
To sit in the heart of the flowers,
To drink of their honey and dew,
To flit amid rose-scented bowers,
Gay butterfly, this is for you.
Tis yours in the sunbeams to sport
On bright, jeweled wings all the day;
And since youre glad life is so short,
Heres freedom, my lady,away!
MR. RANAS1 DINNER
A frog and his mate that had lain rolled up in their mud blankets all winter came up into the sunshine one spring day, and sat down on an old, mossy log.1 Ra´na, the family name of the frog.
Just before they leaped out of the water, the female laid a number of dark, round eggs, inclosed in a thin, gluey case.
This egg case of the frog swells out in the water and looks like a mass of jelly. It takes about a month for the egg of a frog to hatch out; and the little creature that comes out of it is called a tadpole.
Just as soon as it is hatched, it begins to swim about in search of food, and it is then very active; but it would quickly die if it were taken out of the water. It has a pair of small, horny jaws with which it feeds upon soft animal food, as well as upon the tender roots and leaves of water plants.
Upon its upper jaw there is a row of very fine teeth; but the lower jaw is toothless.
Its wide mouth extends more than half way round its head, and its two nostrils open upon the inside of the head.
Just back of each bulging eye there is a round patch of thin, tight skin that forms the eardrum.
This tadpole, or baby frog, is a queer-looking creature; it has a large head, a long flat tail, and no limbs at all.
But it does not remain in this condition long; for pretty soon it gets a pair of hind legs, and then a pair of fore legs; and as soon as its fore legs appear, it has a tongue. Then it can see, hear, taste, and smell.
But the tail of a tadpole never drops off, although some very ignorant people declare that it does. If they would collect a few tadpoles and put them into a wide-mouthed jar, they could easily watch their growth, and then they would see for themselves that the tail becomes a part of the young frogs body.
Its hind legs grow very fast, and as they get larger and larger, its tail becomes smaller and smaller, till at last it disappears altogether.
Now, as I have told you before, our baby frog can not live out of the water. How, then, does he breathe? I will tell you.
On each side of his head there is a small tuft that is made up of thin, horny plates. These tufts are called gills; and as the water passes through these small gills, it is separated from the air that is in it, and in this way the little tadpole gets all the air that he needs to support life.
But as soon as he becomes a frog, he can no longer live all the time under the water; for he is then a changed creature, and instead of breathing through gills, he has a pair of lungs.
So when he comes to the surface of the water for air, he gets his first glimpse of the great world around him; and what a strange sight it must be!
But while frogs breathe through lungs, they also breathe through the pores of the skin, which have to be kept moist most of the time; and if a frog is left out of the water too long, he will die.
It takes about five years for these animals to get their full growth, from the time they are hatched from the egg; and as they become too large for their skins, they pull them off over their heads.
Their cousins, the toads, do the same thing with their warty hides; and both toads and frogs have been known to live to be ten or twelve years of age.