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Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection

Alfred Russel Wallace

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .they present a very large proportion of gay-coloured and conspicuous insects. The lady-birds (Coccinellidæ) and their allies the Eumorphidæ, are often brightly spotted, as if to attract attention; but they can both emit fluids of a very disagreeable nature, they are certainly rejected by some birds, and are probably never eaten by any.

The great family of ground beetles (Carabidæ) almost all possess a disagreeable and some a very pungent smell, and a few, called bombardier beetles, have the peculiar faculty of emitting a jet of very volatile liquid, which appears like a puff of smoke, and is accompanied by a distinct crepitating explosion. It is probably because these insects are mostly nocturnal and predacious that they do not present more vivid hues. They are chiefly remarkable for brilliant metallic tints or dull red patches when they are not wholly black, and are therefore very conspicuous by day, when insect-eaters [73] are kept off by the. . . Read More