Cocoons





Everyone loves to go a-hunting. Our forebears were hunters for so many ages that the hunting spirit is strong in all of us, even though held in check by the horror of giving pain to a fellow being. But the pleasure of being outdoors, of seeking for hidden treasures, of finding something that looks at first like old rubbish, and then turns out to be a precious and beautiful thing, that is ours by right of the old law—finders, keepers. That is a kind of hunting that every healthy being loves, and there are many ways and chances for you to enjoy it.



Go out any time between October and April, and look in all the low trees and high bushes for the little natural rag-bundles called "cocoons." Some are bundle-shaped and fast to a twig their whole length. Some hang like a Santa Claus bag on a Christmas tree; but all may be known by their hairiness or the strong, close cover of fine gray or brown fibre or silk, without seams and woven to keep out the wet.



Cocoons Cocoons


They are so strongly fastened on, that you will have to break the twig to get the bundle down. If it seems very light, and rattled when you shake it, you will likely see one or more small, sharp, round holes in it. This means that an insect enemy has destroyed the little creature sleeping within. If the Cocoon is perfect and seems solid and heavy, take it home, and put it in a cardboard, or wooden box, which has a wire screen, or gauze cover. Keep it in a light place, not too dry, till the springtime comes; then one day a miracle will take place. The case will be cut open from within, and out will come a gorgeous Moth. It is like the dull, dark grave opening up at the resurrection to let forth a new-born, different being with wings to fly in the heavens above.



In the drawing I have shown five different kinds of bundle-baby, then at the bottom have added the jug-handled bundle-baby of the Tomato worm; it does not make a Cocoon but buries itself in the ground when the time comes for the Great Sleep. Kind Mother Earth protects it as she does the Hickory Horn-Devil, so it does not need to make a Cocoon at all.



There is a wonderful story about each of these bundle-babies. You will never get weary if you follow and learn them, for each one differs from the last. Some of them I hope to tell you in this book, and before we begin I want you to know some of the things that men of science have learned, and why a Butterfly is not a Moth.







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