Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

ENGLAND

ing short half-circuits, and
all the time rapidly vibrat-
ing its wings and antennæ.
The spider, though well hid-
den, was soon discovered;
and the wasp, evidently still
afraid of its jaws, inflicted
two stings on the under side
of its thorax. At last, care-
fully examining with its an-
tennæ the now motionless
spider, it proceeded to drag
away the body. But I stopped both tyrant and prey.

[graphic]

WASP AND SPIDER.

THE SPIDER.

It is well known that most British spiders, when a large insect is caught in their webs, try to cut the lines and set free their prey, to save their nets from being entirely spoiled. I once, however, saw, in a hot-house in Shropshire, a large female wasp caught in the irregular web of a very small spider, and this spider, instead of cutting the web, most perseveringly continued to entangle the body, and especially the wings, of its prey. The wasp at first aimed in vain repeated thrusts with its sting at its little antagonist. Pitying the wasp, after allowing it to struggle for more than an hour, I killed it and put it back into the web. The spider soon returned; and an hour afterward I was much surprised to find it with its jaws buried in the opening

INDIAN OCEAN.

through which the sting is thrust out by the living wasp. I drove the spider away two or three times, but for the

THE SPIDER (Lycosa gyrophora).

next twenty-four hours I always found it again sucking at the same place. It became much swollen by the juices of its

prey, which was many times larger than itself.

THE CRAB.

THERE is found on Keeling Island a crab which lives on the cocoa-nuts: it is very common on all parts of the

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

KEELING ISLAND,

dry land, and grows to a monstrous size. The front pair of legs end in very strong and heary pincers, and the last pair are fitted with others weaker and much narrower. It would at first be thought quite impossible for a crab to open a strong cocoa-nut covered with the husk; but Mr. Liesk assures me that he has repeatedly seen this done. The crab begins by tearing the husk, fibre by fibre, and always from that end under which the three eye-holes are situated; when this is completed, the crab commences hammering with its heavy claws on one of the eye-holes till an opening is made. Then, turning round its body, by the aid of its narrow pincers behind it draws out the white meat. I think this is as curious a case of instinct as I ever heard of, and likewise of adaptation in structure between two objects apparently so unconnected by nature as a crab and a cocoa-nut tree. These crabs inhabit deep burrows, which they hollow out beneath the roots of trees, and where they accumulate surprising quantities of the picked fibres of the cocoa-nut husk, on which they rest as on a bed. They are very good to eat; moreover, under the tail of the larger ones there is a great mass of fat, which, when melted, sometimes yields as much as a quart bottle full of clear oil. To show the wonderful strength of the front pair of pincers, I may mention that Captain Moresby shut one up in a strong tin box, which had held biscuits, the lid being secured with wire; but the crab turned down the edges and escaped. In turning down the edges it actually punched many small holes quite through the tin.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »