Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/256

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234
CHAP.
DARWINISM

black Telephoridae, commonly called "soldiers and sailors," were found, by Mr. Jenner Weir, to be refused by small birds. These and the allied Lampyridae (the fireflies and glow-worms) in Nicaragua, were rejected by Mr. Belt's tame monkey and by his fowls, though most other insects were greedily eaten by them. The Coccinellidae or lady-birds are another uneatable group, and their conspicuous and singularly spotted bodies serve to distinguish them at a glance from all other beetles.

These uneatable insects are probably more numerous than is supposed, although we already know immense numbers that are so protected. The most remarkable are the three families of butterflies—Heliconidae, Danaidae, and Acraeidae—comprising more than a thousand species, and characteristic respectively of the three great tropical regions—South America, Southern Asia, and Africa. All these butterflies have peculiarities which serve to distinguish them from every other group in their respective regions. They all have ample but rather weak wings, and fly slowly; they are always very abundant; and they all have conspicuous colours or markings, so distinct from those of other families that, in conjunction with their peculiar outline and mode of flight, they can usually be recognised at a glance. Other distinctive features are, that their colours are always nearly the same on the under surface of their wings as on the upper; they never try to conceal themselves, but rest on the upper surfaces of leaves or flowers; and, lastly, they all have juices which exhale a powerful scent, so that when one kills them by pinching the body, the liquid that exudes stains the fingers yellow, and leaves an odour that can only be removed by repeated washings.

Now, there is much direct evidence to show that this odour, though not very offensive to us, is so to most insect-eating creatures. Mr. Bates observed that, when set out to dry, specimens of Heliconidae were less subject to the attacks of vermin; while both he and I noticed that they were not attacked by insect-eating birds or dragonflies, and that their wings were not found in the forest paths among the numerous wings of other butterflies whose bodies had been devoured. Mr. Belt once observed a pair of birds capturing insects for