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ADVANCED THEORIESby@jeanhenrifabre


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There are many species of Sphex, but for the most part strangers to our country. As far as I know, the French fauna contains but three—all lovers of the hot sun in the olive region—namely, Sphex flavipennis, S. albisecta, and S. occitanica. It is not without keen interest that an observer notices in all three of these predatory insects a choice of provender in conformity with the strict laws of entomological classification. To nourish their larvæ each confines itself to Orthoptera. The first hunts grasshoppers, the second crickets, and the third ephippigers. These prey are so different outwardly that to associate them and seize their analogies, either the practised eye of the entomologist, or the not less expert one of the Sphex is needed. Compare the grasshopper with the cricket: the former has a round, stumpy head; it is short and thickset, quite black, with red stripes on its hind thighs; the latter is grayish and slim, with a small conical head, springing suddenly by unbending its long hind legs, and carrying on this spring with fanlike wings. Now compare both with the ephippiger, who carries his musical instrument on his back, two harshly toned cymbals, shaped like hollow scales, and who drags his obese body heavily along, ringed with pale green and butter colour, and ending in a long dagger. Place these three species side by side, and own with me that to be able to choose creatures so unlike, and yet keep to the same entomological order, the Sphex must have such an eye as not only a fairly observant person, but a practised entomologist would not be ashamed of.
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by Jean-Henri Fabre @jeanhenrifabre.I was an entomologist, and author known for the lively style of my popular books on the lives of insects.
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