Ephemeri vita, or, The natural history and anatomy of the Ephemeron, a fly that lives but five hours written originally in Low-Dutch by Jo. Swammerdam ...
Swammerdam, Jan, 1637-1680., Tyson, Edward, 1650-1708.
Page  39

CHAP. IX.

How long the Ephemeron liveth, and what it is which hasteneth its death.

THE Ephemeron as before is said, flying up and down on the Surface of the water, liveth in that state but between 4 and 5 hours; that is from 6 a Clock, or half an hour after in the Evening, till Eleven of the Clock in the night following; which I have observed by inclosing one in a Box in my Chamber, and with some care observed the time of its life; in that very short time they all die, and that which is observa∣ble, none of them all die a natural death on Land; for assoon as they have shed their second Skin, immediate∣ly they flye to the water.

Besides that the life of the Ephemeron in the state of a Flie is so short, an infinite number die ere they come out of the water, being devoured by the Fish; and of the other who escape that danger by flight out of the water, many are devoured by the Sea-Meawes, Swal∣lows, and other like Birds, while they are shedding their Skins and flying; and having escaped these two dangers, if in their flying they come too night the wa∣ter, or play therein on their Tails, they are caught by the Fish; and flying too high in the Air they are caught by the Birds.

When the Ephemeron is fledg'd, then are the Roch which feed thereon very fat, and of a sweet and plea∣sant taste, as Dr. Nic. Tulp Burgomaster of Amsterdam hath assured me.

If the reason be asked (the forementioned dangers excepted) of the short life of this Flie, it is to be con∣sidered that the Eggs in the Worm, while yet in the water are perfect, so that as soon as the Flie by shedding Page  40 its Skin, and extending its members is as it were New∣born, the Eggs are ready for ejection. Add hereto that these Eggs when first hatched have no need of the Parents care as in other Animals: and because the only reason of their Change into a Flie seemeth to be for Generation, which effected, the Flie dyeth; and to this end it is for three years growing in the water and Clay, in the form of a Worm, as also to this end it Changeth its Form into a Flie, till having cast its Seed, it endeth its life.

Other Insects, as the Flie of the Silk-worm, which are longer-liv'd, appear with their Eggs yet very im∣perfect and weak, and bear them so long, till they are hard and fit for ejection, and then they also end their life.

Some other Insects, although in time they lay their Eggs perfect, as the Ants and Bees, whereof the Fe∣male-Bee, vulgarly named the King, layeth in one year about 6 thousand Eggs, and yet they dye not then, for they must feed their young, and daily with much care and labour provide them food; which la∣bour and Care not being the duty of their Males, they soon die after they have Generated, or else are misera∣bly kill'd by their Consorts.

So that if we should rank all Animals, the Rational or Man not excepted, under one of these Three forenamed Orders of Living; we should reduce Man under the Third sort; for 12 or 13 years pass, before Man is fit for Generation; and also more number of years are required for the Second, Third, 5th, 10th and last Birth: the rest of the years are required to the necessary Education and Instruction of the Children. So that all well considered, we may say, that for Generation is the Beginning, Middle, and end of Man's life.