Page:Insects - Their Ways and Means of Living.djvu/31

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Their Ways and Means of Living

Chapter I

The Grasshopper

Sometime in spring, earlier or later according to the latitude or the season, the fields, the lawns, the gardens, suddenly are teeming with young grasshoppers. Comical little fellows are they, with big heads, no wings, and strong hind legs (Fig. 1). They feed on the fresh herbage and hop lightly here and there, as if their existence in no way involved the mystery of life nor raised any questions as to why they are here, how they came to be here, and whence they came. Of these questions, the last is the only one to which at present we can give a definite answer.

If we should search the ground closely at this season, it might be possible to see that the infant and apparently motherless grasshoppers are delivered into the visible world from the earth itself. With this information, a nature student of ancient times would have been satisfied—grasshoppers, he would then announce, are bred spontaneously from matter in the earth; the public would believe him, and thereafter would countenance no contrary opinion. There came a time in history, however, when some naturalist succeeded in overthrowing this idea and established in its place the dictum that every life comes from an egg. This being still our creed, we must look for the grasshopper's egg.