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laurel (daphne laureola), an evergreen shrub, with numerous lance-shaped leaves on the tops of the branches, and small yellowish green flowers; but so deep in the thicket, that, if the foliage were much advanced, the plant would be hidden from notice. Another, deserving attention, is the cuckoo-pint, or wake-robin (arum maculatum). This is not in flower till next month; but, as the leaves and flower fall off as the seed ripens, leaving nothing but a naked spike of red berries, the whole plant is never seen entire, and, to obtain a correct knowledge of it, the different stages should be attended to. In this month, the leaves will be found on hedge banks, and in the thickets in woods. They are of the arrow shape, of a glossy green; some spotted with irregular black spots, others without such marks. It will afford much amusement to watch the progress of vegetation in this plant.
To the interesting violet, we cheerfully add another. tribute to that already given in March (p. 81.) Sent to a Lady addicted to fashionable Hours with
Amidst the thorny brake,
Your pillow you'd forsake.
The cheek of sloth shall grow;
If once you let them go. J. HEYRICK, Jan. Various kinds of insects are now seen 'sporting in the sun-beams,' and living their little hour.' The jumping spider (aranea scenica) is seen on garden walls; and the webs of other species of spiders are found on the bushes, palings, and outsides of houses.
The iulus terrestris appears, and the death-watch (termes pulsatorius) beats early in the month. The wood-ant (formica herculanea) now begins to construct its large conical nest. The shell-snail comés out in troops; the stinging-fly (conops calcitrans) and the red-ant (formica rubra) appear.
The mole-cricket (gryllus gryllotalpa) is the most remarkable of the insect-tribe seen about this time. The blue flesh-fly (musca vomitoria) and the dragonfly (libellula) are frequently observed towards the end of the month. Little maggots, the first state of young ants, are now to be found in their nests. The great variegated libellula (libellula varia of Shaw), which appears, principally, towards the decline of summer, is an animal of singular beauty. The cabbage butterfly also (papilio brassica) now appears.
The black slug (limax ater abounds at this sedson. The common black slug, the brown, the yellow, and the smaller grey, are found in gardens and in fields, and wherever there are plants to support them. Where numerous, they are very injurious, particularly the field-slug, which is much the commonest. They feed on the young crops, on cabbages, lettuces, and other vegetables, especially on such as are just planted, or such as from any other cause are drooping or sickly. They are night-feeders, and only come abroad in mild and damp weather. They are occasionally to be seen during the whole winter, on rainy evenings, or early in the morning, and do not therefore remain torpid during the winter months, as the shelled snails do. In the summer during a drought not a slug is to be seen abroad; and there is reason to believe, that in such seasons they shrivel up, and remain torpid without food, capable of being recalled to activity on the approach of wet. This is likewise the case with snails; during dry weather they remain motionless, and shrivel up, as may be known both by their comparative lightness
in dry weather, and by their being so much retracted within their shells. The best mode of clearing the gardens from snails is to repair and point the walls very early in the spring, before the snails leave their winter's retreat; to search at the same time hollow trees, and other crevices, and to take by hand, and destroy every straggler, that can be found, particularly before Midsummer, which is their season of depositing their eggs.
For the destruction of slugs in gardens, we must recommend the same means as for taking other nightfeeding insects. Either late at night or very early in a morning search must be made, and care taken to secure every slug that can be found. Vegetables lately planted, half-decayed cabbages, and withered leaves, must be more particularly examined, as these are its favourite haunts. And be it remembered, that no search need be made but in wet weather.
A trap may be laid for the enemy, by which hundreds may be taken with very little trouble. In parts of the garden where they abound, and where their depredations are most to be dreaded, lay small heaps of dead leaves, and half decayed turnips, or cabbages, and if the season be dry, water them plentifully at night; in the morning remove these heaps, and you may be assured that at the same time you will remove great numbers of slugs. After the garden is once pretty well cleared, very little attention will keep it so. By pulling up the cabbages by the roots, instead of cutting them; by removing turnips and other plants, that are no longer fit for use; by removing all withered and decaying leaves, and by seizing every slug to be met with, you will effectually prevent any further injuries from this source. They are very slow in their motions, and never travel far; so that, if your own garden is freed from them, there is nothing to fear from the negligence of your neighbours.
Curlews, and other birds that live on worms, may
be kept in gardens for the purpose of destroying them with some advantage'.
The newt (lacerta aquaticaj lies buried during the winter months in the mud of stagnant waters, but may now be seen crawling along the bottoms of ponds and deep ditches, seeking for its food the minute insects that frequent those stations: they are commonly seen approaching the surface of the water with an undulating motion, where they discharge a bubble of air (hydrogen gas), and immediately return. In stagnant pools they attain a large size, annoying and tantalizing the young angler, by seizing his bait and agitating his float: on being drawn up by the line, the newt has occasionally a strange appearance, having a small shell-fish (tellina cornea) attatched sometimes to its feet. River fish leave their winter retreats, and again become the prey of the angler.
The spring flight of pigeons (columbæ ) appears in this month, or early in the next.
Dry weather is still acceptable to the farmer, who is employed in sowing various kinds of grain, and seeds for fodder, as buck-wheat, lucerne, saintfoin, clover, &c. The young corn and springing-grass, however, are materially benefited by occasional showers. The important task of weeding now begins with the farmer, and every thistle cut down, every plant of charlock pulled up, may be said to be not only an advantage to himself, but a national benefit.
It is customary with the farmers in some places, when they have finished barley-sowing, which is the last grain sown, to give their men a dinner. In other places they give them a supper of seed-cake sopped in ale. It is called the seed-lop or seed-lap cake, from the seed-lap, or basket, in which the seed is put by the sower for the purpose of sowing. This was, probably, done formerly from a lap, or coarse . 'Skrimshire's Essays on Natural History, vol. ii, p. 60.
apron, to which the basket succeeded, and in which the cakes were probably served afterwards at supper.
When the warmth of the season has caused the sap to rise in the oak, so that the bark will run, or strip off easily, this is the time for felling that sort of timber. The tree, when felled, consists of three different articles,—the timber, sold by the solid or cubic foot, for the carpenter and wheelwright; the lop, fit only for firewood, and making rural seats, gates and fences; and the bark, which is stripped off in lengths of a yard, and set up in pieces inclined to each other on each side of a long rod, with the larger pieces capping it: this is sold by the foot to the tanner. Gentlemen selling timber will do well to acquire some insight into the modes of measuring', as it is a business which certainly affords great opportunities for unjust practices, where the buyer or measurer is not actuated by The Golden Rule, of doing as he would be done by.
MAY. MAY is so called from Maia, the mother of Mercury, to whom sacrifices were offered by the Romans on the Lst of this month; or, according to some, from respect to the senators and nobles of Rome, who were named Majores, as the following month was termed Junius, in honour of the youth of Rome. Remarkable Days
In MAY 1821. In antient times, May-Day was celebrated as was fitting by the young. They rose shortly after midnight, and went to some neighbouring wood, attended by songs and music, and, breaking green branches
' Hoppus's Practical Measuring is a very excellent book for this purpose.