Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/399

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377
MISCELLANY.

Goode. Washington: Government Printing-Office. Pp. 82.

Tracts on Labor and Money Questions. Nos. III. and VI. By William Brown.

 

MISCELLANY.

Destruction of the Buffalo.—The average annual destruction of buffaloes during the last thirty or forty years is estimated by a writer in the Penn Monthly at between three and four millions. During the season of 1872-'73 no less than two thousand hunters, it is said, were engaged in hunting the buffalo along the line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé Railroad alone. By these men at least 250,000 buffaloes were slain, simply for their hides, the carcasses being left untouched on the plains. At this rate, the bison will have utterly disappeared before many years, unless Government interferes to prevent this wasteful slaughter. As yet, neither the central Government nor any of the States have taken any effectual measures to prevent the extermination of the noble animal. The author of the article in the Penn Monthly suggests that the traffic in hides might easily be checked and controlled by law. The killing of buffaloes should be restricted, he says, to certain seasons of the year, and the destruction of the females and young wholly prohibited. Further, he would have it made a grave offense to kill a buffalo at any time wantonly, or without properly utilizing it. Then, certain portions of the public lands now within the range of the buffalo might be made a preserve, wherein no buffaloes should on any condition be killed.

 

Distribution of the Rocky Mountain Locust.—Prof. Riley fixes the southern limit of the Rocky Mountain locust's ravages at the 44th parallel of latitude and the eastern limit at the 103d meridian. The conditions preventing the permanent settlement of this insect in regions outside of the above limits are considered by Prof. Riley in* his eighth annual report on the insects of Missouri. The native home of this locust he takes to be the higher treeless and uninhabitable planes of the Rocky Mountains—a sub-alpine habitat with dry and attenuated atmosphere. Now, a migration of insects accustomed to such conditions into a more dense and humid atmosphere must prove fatal to them. But another barrier to their permanent multiplication in the more fertile country to the southeast is found in the greater duration there of the summer season. As with annual plants, so with insects (like this locust) which produce but one generation annually and whose active existence is bounded by the spring and autumn frosts, the duration of active life is proportioned to the length of the growing season. "Hatching late and developing quickly in its native haunts, our Rocky Mountain locust, when born within our borders (and the same will apply in degree to all the country where it is not autochthonous), is in the condition of an annual northern plant sown in more southern climes; and just as this attains precocious maturity and deteriorates for want of autumn's ripening influences, so our locust must deteriorate under such circumstances. If those which acquired wings in Missouri early last June had staid with us long enough to lay eggs, even supposing them capable of doing so, those eggs would have inevitably hatched prematurely, and the progeny must in consequence have perished."

 

Fight between a Mouse and a Scorpion.—Frank Buckland, having witnessed the rare spectacle of a combat between a mouse and a scorpion, gives in Land and Water the following description of the fight: "The mouse having been dropped into the jar containing the scorpion, the battle at once commenced by the scorpion assuming the offensive. He made a lunge with his sting and struck the mouse. This woke up the mouse, who began to jump up and down like jack in the box. When he became quiet, the scorpion again attacked the enemy, with his claws extended like the pictures of the scorpion in 'The Signs of the Zodiac.' He made another shot at the mouse, but missed him. I then called 'Time!' to give both combatants a rest. When the mouse had got his wind, I stirred up the scorpion once more, and, as 'the fancy' say, 'he came up smiling.' The mouse during the interval had evidently made up his mind that he would have to fight, and not strike his colors to a