The Common Fly, Spider, and Death Watch, pp.331-333.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

   THE Fly, although the most numerous, most common, and domesticated, is perhaps the least known of insects as to its general habits. They appear in a troublesome number in the beginning of warm-weather, and remain with us, preying on tables, staining our mirrors and ceilings, till September, when they get benumbed, or what the vulgar call blind, and in a few days retire out of sight. Where do they hide themselves; where and what are the maggots which they lay for the next generation; how long do they live; whether they die in the course of winter, and are succeeded by a new set, are still problems in natural history. However it is certain they are oviparous, and carry their eggs, which are of a pink colour, under their belly. They feed upon any thing that comes in their way, and are particularly fond of any kind of sweets. 

The Spider. 

   THERE are several kinds of this insect, all according with the following characters. Eight crooked leg; eight eyes; the mouth furnished with two claws, and the arms provided with papillæ or nipples for weaving a web. This insect is very rapacious, and therefore endowed by nature with talents of a most curious kind to get its prey. Sagacity, industry, patience, and strength are the principal means through which he procures himself food. In this country spiders are not obnoxious; in warmer climates, the body is sometimes as big as an hen’s egg, covered with hairs, and the bite is venemous. The eyes, which are set on the head to a number not exceeding eight, are destitute of lids, but defended with a horney substance, which is supposed to assist the sight. The extremity of each leg is furnished with three crooked claws, the other claw is less, placed higher up the leg, and serves it to adhere to the threads of the web. The web is wonderful in its formation. 

“The Spider’s touch, how exquisitely fine! 

Feels at each thread, and lives along the line.” 

————————————————-POPE’S ESSAY ON MAN. 

He sits in the middle, and the least motion, caused by a fly or other insect rushing against it, soon gives him notice, and then he falls upon his prey, sucks the blood, and gets rid of the remains. This hunt is often attended with great detriment to his nets, which he is soon obliged to repair. The female lays generally from nine hundred to a thousand eggs, which are kept in a kind of bag, but the fowls of the air are ordered by Providence to check this tremendous population. The silk, which the Spider produces, has not consistence enough to be turned into any useful purpose, though out of curiosity, gloves and stockings have been woven out of it. 

The Death-Watch. 

   IS not as common people have been supposing it, an insect that foretells our exit from this life. It is a small, harmless animal, somewhat like a wood-louse or a beetle; and the ticking noise it makes seems to be produced by the upper lip, and be the call of the male to the female. Many thanks ought to be given to that learned naturalist, Mr. Allen, who has discovered the cause of the noise, and has, thereby, considerably reduced the superstition of which, for centuries, this insect had been the object. His description of the animal will be found in the Philosophical transactions. 

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