Friday, December 14, 2012

Old Entomological texts are the best

Seriously. I'm not sure if it's just because I'm reading papers published a hundred years and the context of the written text is different from what I'm used to today or what, but there are so many great paragraphs hidden away in yellowing papers that are now digitized. A great resource for these papers is the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a cooperative effort by libraries to digitize biodiversity records and make them available online--for free.

It has great search features and has provided me with a lot of great information that I wasn't able to find anywhere else. It's also a nice resource for finding beautiful old pictures of plants and animals, which led me to search it today for a picture of the wheel bug. Instead, I happened upon a page from a circular released by the United States Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology in 1904.

Instead of finding info about the wheel bug, I found a paragraph written by someone who did not like ambush bugs:
"A small, evil-smelling plant-bug, Phymata wolffii Tal. (fig. 6), secretes itself in flowers, such as thistle and goldenrod, and destroys numbers of the butterflies, capturing them and sucking out their vital fluids."
You just don't get that kind of bluntness nowadays; it's refreshing. The butterflies the circular is referring to are individuals of the imported Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae), if you were wondering.

For your viewing pleasure, figure 6 is below. Keep in mind that this little ambush bug is only about half an inch long.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Biodiversity Heritage Library! It's a real treasure trove.