The Locust, Cricket, and Mole Cricket, pp.333-336.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

   THE Locust is a voracious insect well-known in Egypt and all the coast of Barbary, where they are found in such a quantity, that when they take their flight they obscure the air, and appear like a cloud of several hundred yards square. Wherever they alight, devastation and misery follow them. They ruin all the hopes of the husbandman, and the effect of their unwelcome visits may be felt for several seasons. They are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. The Locust is not unlike the grasshopper, except that it is of a brown colour. In many parts of India they are used for food, being kept in earthen pots or pans, and appear like boiled shrimps. 

   Whether they are of the same kind with those that were the instruments of God’s wrath upon the relentless king of Misraim, we are not able to decide. This plague is most beautifully alluded to in the following lines from the first book of Milton’s Paradise Lost, where the sublime bard compares the fallen angels to them. 

“ – to their general’s voice they soon obey’d 

Innumerable. As when the potent rod 

Of Amram’s son, in Egypt’s evil day, 

Wav’d round the coast, up call’d a pitchy cloud 

Of Locusts, warping on the eastern wind, 

That o’er the realms of impious Pharaoh, hung 

Like night, and darken’d all the land of Nile; 

So numberless were those bad angels seen, 

Hovering on wings, under the cope of hell, 

‘Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires.” 

The Mole Cricket. 

   IS the largest of the genus, and is very particularly formed; the two fore feet which are placed very near the head, have the shape of wheels, and resembling those of the Mole, are contrived to help the insect in borrowing under ground. It is very obnoxious to gardeners, as it attacks the roots of young plants and causes them soon to rot and die. The female forms a nest of clammy earth in which she deposits her eggs, like the grasshopper, to the number of one hundred and fifty, white, and not bigger than a small pin’s head. The nest is carefully closed up on every side, to secure the brood from the incursions of the grubs and other subterraneous depredators. It has no particular voice, and is, as all other insects, composed of a head with two long antennæ, a hard corcelet, and a belly composed of several rings moving upon each other. It undergoes the same changes as do all the insects of the same species. 

The Cricket. 

   THERE are two distinct kinds of these insects, the field crickets and the domestic ones; these generally abide in houses, selecting for their place of retirement the chimneys or backs of ovens; live upon any thing that comes in their way, flour, bread, meat, and especially sugar, of which they seem to be partially fond. The chirping noise, which they make nearly without intermission, is produced by a fine membrane at the base of the wings; they are generally of a brown rusty colour, and the organ of vision appears in them to be very weak and imperfect, as they find their way much better in the dark than when dazzled by the sudden light of a candle. The field-cricket has the same form, and is of the same species, with the house one, except that it is of a true black colour, with a fine gloss. Its noise is heard at a great distance, and is so similar to that of the grasshopper, that it is difficult to distinguish the one from the other. 

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