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Pha Lena

wings, moth, black, red, colour, appearance, bars and body

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PHA LENA, in natural history, the moth, a genus of insects of the order Lepidop tera. Generic character : antennx gra dually tapering from the base to the tip ; wings, when at rest generally deflected : flight nocturnal. They fly abroad only in the evening and during the night, and feed on the nectar of flowers : the larva is active and quick in motion, mostly smooth, more or less cylindrical, and preys on the leaves of various plants : pupa quiescent, more or less cylindrical; pointed at the tip, or at both ends, and is generally inclosed in a follicle. This ge nus contains a vast number of species, and is divided into assortments according to the different habits of the animals : these are, 1. Attaci, or those in which the wings, when at rest, are spread out horizontally.

2. Bombyces, in which the wings are incumbent and the antenna pectinated.

3. Noctux, with incumbent wings seta ceous antenna.

4. Geometrx, with wings horizontally spread out, nearly as the attaci.

5. Tortrices, with very obtuse wings, curved on the exterior margin.

6. Pyralides, with wings converging into a deltoid, and slightly furcated fi gure.

7. Tines, with wings convoluted into a cylinder.

8. Alucitx, with wings divided into distinct plumes.

Of all the European species of the first division, the finest, by much, is P. junonia, a native of many parts of Germany, Italy, France, &c. but not yet observed in Eng land. It measures about six inches in extent of wings, and is varied by a most beautiful assortment of the steady colours. The caterpillar which feeds on the apple, pear, &c. is hardly less beautiful than the insect itself, and, when ready for its change, it envelopes itself in an oval web with a pointed extremity, and transforms itself into a large short chrysalis, out of which emerges the moth. See Plate IV. Entomology, fig. 1.

P. peronia, minor Peacock moth, is a native of England, and is commonly called the emperor moth.

Of the bombyces we must notice the P. caja, or great tiger-moth, which is one of the largest English moths, and is of a fine cream colour, with chocolate-brown bars and spots ; the lower wings red, with black spots ; the thorax chocolate brown, with a red collar round the neck, and the body red, with black bars. The caterpil lar is of a deep brown, with white specks, very hairy, and feeds on various plants.

P. vinula, of England, is remarkable for elegance of appearance without gaiety of colour, being a middle-sized white moth, variegated with numerous black streaks and specks : the thorax and abdomen are extremely downy, and the body is marked by transverse black bars. The caterpillar of this moth is far

more brilliant in its appearance than the complete animal ; it is of considerable size, measuring above two inches in length, and is of a most beautiful green colour, with the back of a dull purple, freckled with very numerous deeper streaks in a longitudinal direction : this purple of the back is separated from the green on the sides by a pair of milk-white stripes, which, commencing from the head, run up wards to the top oldie back ; that part be ing eleveated considerably above the rest into a pointed process ; and from thence are continued along the sides to the tail : the face is flat and subtriangular, yellow ish, surrounded first by a black, and then by a red border ; and is distinguished by two deep black eyes or spots on each side the upper part : from the tail, which is extended into two long, roughened, sharp pointed, tubular processes, proceed on the least irritation, two long, red, flexible tentacula, the animal seeming to exert them as if for the purpose of terrifying its disturbers ; lifting up the fore-part of the body at the same time, in a menacing attitude, and presenting a highly gro tesque appearance : it also possesses the power of suddenly ejecting from its mouth, to a considerable distance, an acri monious reddish fluid, which it uses as a further defence, and which produces con siderable irritation, if it happens to be thrown into the eyes of the spectator. This caterpillar is principally seen on willows and poplars, and when the time of its change arrives, descends to the lower part of the tree, and envelopes itself in a glutinous case, prepared by mois tening with its saliva the woody fibres of the tree, and covering itself with them, attaching the edges very closely to the bark : this case, having very much the colour of the bark itself, is not very con spicuous, so that the insect generally re mains secure under its covering through. out the whole winter, it being too close to be penetrated by the frost, and too strong to he successfully attacked by birds, &c. it requires even a very sharp knife, assisted by a strong hand, to force it open. The chrysalis is thick, short, and black, and in the month of May or June, according to the warmth or coolness of the season, gives birth to the moth, which, immediately on emerging from the upper part of the chrysalis, discharges a quanti ty of fluid sufficient to soften effectually the walls of its prison, and effect a ready escape. This moth, from its unusually downy appearance, has obtained the po pular title of the puss moth.

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