Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ichmeumonflies

Most persons know that every butterfly (the Greek name for which, it is remarkable, is the same that signifies also the Soul,- Psyche ) comes from a caterpillar or larvae. The last name which signifies literally a mask, was introduced by Linnaeus, because the caterpillar is a kind of outward covering, or disguise of the future butterfly within. For it has been ascertained by curious microscopic examination, that a distinct butterfly, only undeveloped and not full-grown, is contained within the body of the caterpillar; that this latter has its own organs of digestion, respiration, etc. suitable to its larva-life, quite distinct from and independent of the future butterfly which it encloses. When the proper period arrives, and the life of the insect, in this its first stage, is to close, it becomes what is called a pupa, enclosed in a chrysalis or cocoon and lies torpid for a time within this natural coffin, from which it issues, at the proper period, as a perfect butterfly.
But sometimes this process is marred. There is a numerous tribe of insects well known to naturalists, called Ichmeumonflies; which in their larva-state are parasitical; that is, inhabit, and feed on, other larvae. The fly being provided with a long sharp sting, which is in fact an ovipositor (egg layer) pierces with this the body of a caterpillar in several places, and deposits her eggs, which are there hatched, and feed, as larvae on the inward parts of their victim. A most wonderful circumstance connected with this process is that a caterpillar which has been thus attached goes on feeding, and apparently thriving quite as well, during the whole of its larva-life, as those that have escaped. For, by a wonderful provision of instinct, the ichneumon-larvae within do not injure any of the organs of the larva, but feed only on the future butterfly enclosed within it. And consequently, it is hardly possible to distinguish a caterpillar which has these enemies within it from those that are untouched.--- But when the period arrives for the close of the larva-life, the difference appears…..Of the unfortunate caterpillar that has been preyed upon, nothing remains but an empty skin. The hidden butterfly has been secretly consumed.
Now is there not something analogous to this wonderful phenomenon, in the condition of some of our race? May not, a man have a kind of secret enemy within his own bosom, destroying his soul—Psyche,--- though without interfering with his well-being during the present stage of his existence; and whose presence may never be detected till the time arrives when the last great change should take place?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting and disgusting indeed. However I wouldn't go so far as to suggest we don't know the state of our own souls, at least to some degree. Like the alchoholic that knows somewhere within his disease he needs help, we too somewhere in our being have an inkling of our own state. What one does or doesn't do about it is a whole other matter. -Matt

FCB said...

It is indeed interesting and disgusting. Such a graphic illustration; much of nature is that way, I will never forget when I fist say a foal born, I was spell bound and repulsed at the same time.
I agree we all know the state of our souls, or like you said "to some degree" denial is a powerful mechanism in man and as I look back over my life there were many times I played games with myself.
Anyway, glad you liked it.
Dad

fcb4 said...

Masterful is he that can find such stories and weave them into helpful parables. Yet again I bow at the feet of the masters. I will gather that fine arrow and put him in a treasured place in my quiver of truths. Thank you, many shall squirm in revelatory horror in the days to come. :)

FCB said...

"Many shall squirm in revelatory horror" you crack me up!