SCARAEXUS, in natural history, the beetle, a genus of insects of the order Co leoptera. Generic character : antenna clavate, the club lamellate ; feelers four; fore-shanks generally toothed. In this genus there are several hundred species, in four divisions, which are distinguished by the form of their S. Hercules, or Hercules beetle, is the most remarkable species, as well in size as in beauty. It is five or six inches long; the wing-shells are of a smooth surface, of a bluish-grey colour, marked with round, deep-black spots, of different sizes; from the upper part of the thorax proceeds a horn of great length in pro portion to the body; it is sharp at the tip, and is furnished, throughout its whole length with a fine, short, velvet-like pile, of a brownish-orange colour ; from the front of the head also proceeds a strong horn, like the other, but not furnished with any pile. This Insect is found in se veral parts of South America, where great numbers are said to be sometimes seen on the mammee-tree, rasping off the rind of the slender branches, by working nimbly round them with the horns, till they cause the juice to flow, which they drink to intoxication, and in this state fall senseless from the tree. This fact has been controverted by the learned Fa bricius.
In this country, the S. melolontha, or cock-chaffer, is very common. The lar va inhabits ploughed lands, and feeding on the roots of corn; and the complete insect makes its appearance during the middle and the decline of summer. This insect sometimes appears in such prodi gious numbers, as almost to strip the trees of their foliage, and to produce mis chiefs nearly approaching to those of the locust-tribe ; they are thus described in the "Philosophical Transactions" for the year 1697, by Mr. Molineux. "These in sects were first noticed in this kingdom in 1688. They appeared on the south west coast of Galway, brought thither by a south-west wind, one of the most com mon, I might almost say, trade-winds of this country. From hence they penetrat ed into the inland parts towards Hedd ford, about twelve miles north of the town of Galway : here and there, in the adja cent country, multitudes of them appear ed among the trees and hedges, in the day time, hanging by the boughs in clus ters, like bees when they swarm. In this posture they continued, with little or no motion, during the heat of the sun ; but towards evening or sun-set, they would all disperse and fly about, with a strange humming noise, like the beating of dis tant drums, and in such vast numbers, that they darkened the air for the apace of two or three miles square: Persons travelling on the roads. or abroad in the fields, found it very uneasy to make their way through them, they would so beat and knock themselves against their faces in their flight, and with such a force as to make the place smart, and leave • slight mark behind them. In a abort time after their coming, they had so entirely eaten up and destroyed all the leaves of the trees, for some miles round, that the whole country, though in the middle of summer, was left as bare as in the depth of winter : and the noise they made in gnawing the leaves, made a sound much tesembling the sawing of timber. They also came into the gardens, and destroyed the buds, blossoms, and leaves of all the fruit-trees, so that they were left perfect ly naked, nay many, that were more deli cate than the rest, lost their sap, as well as leaves, and quite withered away, so that they never recovered again. Their multitudes spread so exceedingly, that they infested houses, and became ex tremely offensive and troublesome. Their numerous young, hatched from the eggs which they had lodged under ground, near the surface of the earth, did still more harm in that close retirement than all the flying swarms of their parents had done abroad; for this destructive brood, lying under ground, eat up the roots of corn and grass, and thus consumed the support both of man and beast. This plague was happily checked several ways. Nigh winds, and wet milling weather, destroyed many millions of them in a day; and when this constitution of the air pre vailed, they were so enfeebled that they would let go their hold, and drop to the ground, from the branches, and so little a fall as this was sufficient quite to disa ble, and sometimes perfectly kill them.
Nay, it was observable, that even when they %%ere most vigorous, a slight blow would for some time stun them, if not deprive them of life. During these tin. Pasourable seasons of the weather, the swine and poultry of the country would watch tinder the trees for their falling, and feed and fatten upon them ; and even the poorer sort of the country people, the country then labouring tinder a scar city of provision, had a way of dressing them, and lived upon them as food In a little time it was found, that smoke was another thing very offensive to them, and by burning heath, fern, &c. the gardens were secured, or, if the insects had al ready entered, they were thus driven out again. Towards the latter end of sum. mer, they returned of themselves, and so totally disappeared, that in a few days you could not see one left. A year or two ago. all along the southwest coast of the county of Galway, for some miles toge ther, there were found dead on the shore such infinite multitudes of them, and in such vast heaps, that, by • moderate esti mate, it ass computed there could not be less than forty or fifty horse•loads in all ; which was a new colony, or a super numerary swarm, from the same place whence the first stock came in 1688, driven by the wind from their native land, which I conclude to be Normandy, or Brittany, in France. it being a country Rauch infested with this insect, and from whence England heretofore has bees pestered in a similar manner with swarms of this vermin; but these, meeting with a contrary wind before they could land, were stopped, and, tired with the voy age, were all driven into the sea, which, by the motion of its waves and tides, cast their floating bodies in heaps on the shore. It is observed that they seldom keep above a year together in a place, and their usual stages, or marches, are computed to be about six miles in a year. Hitherto their progress has been wes terly, following the course of that wind, which blows most commonly in this coun try." The larva of this insect is eagerly sought after and devoured by swine, bats, crows, and poultry : it is said to be two or three years in passing from its first form into that of the perfect insect. The eggs are laid in small detached heaps, beneath the surface of some clod, and the young, when first hatched, are scarcely more than the eighth of an inch in length, gra dually advancing in their growth, and oc casionally shifting their skins, till they arrive at the length of nearly two inches. At this period they begin to prepare for their change into a chrysalis or pupa, se lecting for the purpose some small clod of earth, in which they form a cavity, and after a certain time, divest them selves of their last skin, and immediately appear in the pupa state. In this they continue till the succeeding summer, when the beetle emerges from its retire ment, and commits its depredations on the leaves of trees, breeds, and deposits its eggs in a favourable situation, after which its life is of very short duration.— If the larva appear in autumn in consi derable quantities, they are said to prog nosticate epidemic disorders.
A species of great beauty is the S. au rains, or golden beetle, about the size of the common or black garden beetle : the colour is most brilliant, varnished, and of a golden-green. This is a fine object for the magnifying glass. It is not very un. common during the hottest parts of mum mer, frequenting various plants and flow ers; its larva is commonly found in the hollows of old trees, or among the loose dry soil at their roots, and sometimes in the earth of ant-hills.
Mr. Donovan has described, among his English insects, the S. stercorarius, or clock-beetle, which flies about in an even ing. in a circular direction, with a loud buzzing noise, and is said to ferule! a fine day. It was consecrated by the Egyp tians to the sun ; is infested with the sca ms and ichneumon ; the body is often co loured with a bluish or greenish gloss, sometimes brassy beneath; shells quently dull, rufous.
SCARIFICATION,in surgery,the ope ration of making several incisions in the skin by means of lancets, or other instru ments, particularly the cupping instru ment.