This section is from the "The New Student's Reference Work Volume 5: How And Why Stories" by Elinor Atkinson.
"Were you speaking of me? Here I am."
A very dignified little visitor, about a quarter of an inch long, drops "out of the nowhere" in the most surprising way! But she is very polite about ringing a little buzzing door bell to let you know she is coming. "Buzz-z-zip! I'm Mrs. Musca Domestical"
What a name for such a little creature! One of the capital letters of it would almost cover her, and the length of it would make a nice distance for an evening stroll.
"It's just Latin for House Fly," she says. "Don't you think I deserve it? I come into the house whenever you leave the screen door open I'm neighborly and don't wait to be invited. I'm very fond of human society. You have such nice things to eat. But you are not very friendly," she added reproachfully. "Actually,
I've had the door shut in my face, and been 'shoo-ed' out like a hen."
"Well, you're not very clean, you know. You go to dirty places, and you don't wipe your feet."
"I would if I had a door-mat, I would, indeed. I wash my face and brush my clothes oftener than you do. Just watch me."
There she sits at a respectful distance, rubbing her little front hairy legs together vigorously. Then she balances herself on the other four, and rubs the hindlegs. When the middle pair are cleaned, she draws a leg across her mouth to wet it, and washes her face like a cat. Finally she flutters her silver gauze wings to shake the dust off. As a delicate hint she nibbles at a clean plate.
" Don't human people ask their visitors if they care for refreshments? Thank you! A grain of sugar is my favorite lunch. You may watch me eat, if you won't come too near."
A house fly magnified.
Tsetse Fly, found in Africa. Its bite kills cattle, horses and dogs, but is harmless to man.
She has no legs to spare for picking up food; but she has a little mouth that drops like an elephant's trunk. Out of that mouth comes a dew-drop of liquid to make syrup of the grain of sugar. The knob on the end of the mouth parts, and the two lips spread out flat over that drop. She stands there licking with a little rasp of a tongue blissfully until she has sucked it all up. Then she wipes her mouth with her foot, and cleans herself all over again.
"I have another name. It's Diptera. That means two-winged. My family is very important. It's the biggest one on earth, with thousands of members. You can always know a Diptera by the two wings. Most insects have four. One of my cousins is very musical, but I am sorry to say, he is also a blood-sucker. If he shows any fondness for people, it's because he likes to bite them. His name is mosquito. The horse-, or gad-fly, can make horses jump and even run away. The Hessian fly stings wheat. The saw fly lays her eggs on rose blossoms. The tsetse fly kills cattle sometimes; the gall fly stings plants and makes galls grow on them. And there are gnats and midges. They come in swarms. Did you ever hear of 'a plague of flies ?' "
"Yes, indeed, and 'the fly in the ointment.' You spoil a good many things. Your whole family seems to be a nuisance." " Not all. The dragon-fly and ichneumon fly are useful. And I don't see what you have against me ! I can't bite or sting, and I eat very little, compared with some people I could mention To be sure, I have little tickly hairs on my feet and scrapers on my tongue, and that makes people nervous. And I like to wake lazy people up in the morning. No one can sleep after daylight when I'm around. If you had only one summer to live, you'd want to get up early and make the most of every day.
" It's pretty hard to catch me, too. I have several thousand little flat eyes in the two in my head. They're like the facets on a diamond, only ever so many more of them. I can feel, and I can smell food with these two feather plumes on my head.
Ichneumon Fly; is useful because it destroys insects which injure trees and shrubs
" No, indeed, I never fold my wings, when I sit down, as foolish moths do. I keep them ready for business. Aren't they pretty? I make them of silver gauze, and paint them with bronze and purple. Do you notice cream-tinted scales behind them? Those are balancers. If I didn't have them I'd tumble head over heels when I tried to fly. I can tilt my head, too. It is set right down on my shoulders, on a kind of pivot.
"No, I never have dyspepsia, thank you! You see, I make syrup or broth out of everything I eat. The food goes into a little mill, with spiny teeth, to be chewed and mixed with something to digest it. Then it goes into a little bag of a stomach. I can tell you how not to have lung troubles, too. Don't have any lungs. I breathe through holes in my skin like the leaves on the trees. I fill little air bladders and pass the air back to blood vessels.
" If you really want to know how wonderfully I am made you ought to have a glass that would magnify me a hundred times. I have three silver girdles across my chest, or thorax, a yellow band on my abdomen and some golden spots. All six of my legs are fastened to the thorax. But if there is one thing I am vain of it's my feet. Just look at them. The legs are jointed, and on the last joint of each is a pair of claws like a lobster's. But they close over a pad or cushion covered with knobby hairs. All those hairs are sticky, and cling to things Really, the smoother you make your walls the better I like them. A gold picture frame, or a nice white gas globe just suits me for an evening stroll, or a bed to sleep on, upside down. But every thing sticks to those feet! I can't keep them clean, although I wipe them on every bit of bread or food you leave out for door-mats."
"Ah, so that's why you bring typhoid fever into the house, naughty fly!"