Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/228

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


2 22 POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

than one case when I have removed from the intact beetles found among the cochineal the parts just mentioned; and in the second place, I have noticed this marked discrepancy, the abdomen of the beetle is never marked by more than six or at the most seven distinct rings, but the number of these in every grain of cochineal generally runs as high as 12, as can be seen with the naked eye, or more distinctly with the aid of the microscope, especially if the insect has been softened in water. Furthermore, a third difference will be noticed at the same time — you will certainly observe the anterior half of the cochineal to be furnished with some little swellings, beneath which lurk the feet of the insect which are going to appear, and which the engraver has tried to show in the cut. On the other hand, that the hinder parts of the beetles are always entirely devoid of these swellings an examination places beyond limits of doubt. Add to all these the fourth circumstance that the abdomen of the beetle does not produce any purple color, and for that reason could little serve the purpose for which this ware is imported from such distant shores. Although I. subjected certain of these trunks of the lower belly to different treatments, I never was able to see even a tiny point of the desired color in them, while conversely, any tiny cochineal will discharge the color in sufficient abundance and at once. And finally, I have never been able to find in the belly of the beetle a single little grain or egg, although I sought most zealously; whereas such are found in great abundance in any cochineal which is broken up after having been suffi- ciently macerated.

What an excellent argument! It is proven beyond doubt that the cochineal is no part of the ladybird, notwithstanding the assertions of the most eminent authority then living. We have no fault to find with particulars given, except that the little prominences on the coch- ineal, where the legs were hereafter expected to appear, were in reality the bases of the minute legs of that insect.

Eeturning now to the constinictive argument, the author gives his conclusion that the cochineal must be derived from the aforesaid beetles, and yet is not any part of them. The simple explanation is that the cochineal, when mature, transforms into a beetle, and in doing so utterly loses the power of staining, and hence is no longer to be termed a cochineal, JSTow this loss of color at maturity is paralleled by other phenomena already recorded. In the case of the dye-coccus of the oak, the Kermes, so long as the little berries are full of little worms or animals, they are rich in the colored juice. After a while, when the little worms [the larvae of the Kermes, in reality] are called by the heat of the sun from their sacs [that is, the bodies of their moth- ers] they can be destroyed by the pressure of the hand, and forced into a mass which is appropriately termed vermillion. Otherwise, before the exclusion of the worms, the dried berries will equally preserve the desired color. It is just the same in the coccus polonicus [Margarodes polonicus of modern entomologists], which is said to cling to the roots of several herbs. These little bodies at a stated time turn into little winged insects, as is stated by several authors, including Martin Bern- hard in his description of the Eoyal Garden of Varsovie. As soon as

�� �