The Great architect

Edward Simpson, Insect Lives, as told by themselves, Londres, The Religious Tract Society, circa 1910, pp. 70- 73.

« In my present state I have a long, soft body, my head and neck only being of a horny nature. Being thus, as you see, somewhat helpless against the attacks of my ennemies, it becomes necessary for me to take means for protecting myself and hence it is that I at once commenced building a house. If you look about you will notice that our houses do not resemble yours- that is, they differ in the material of which they are built, and also in their shape. There is yet another difference, and that is, that whilst your houses are designed by various architects, ours were all designed by the Creator- the one Great Architect. Our habitations are constructed of various materials, and no matter what their external form may be, they are all cylindrical and smooth in the interior . Some of my relations (P. rhombica) form their house of two leaves, fitted together face to face. Another takes short pieces of grass stems, cut into nearly equal lengths, and then fixed across each other, leaving a hollow in the centre. The pieces are sometimes made loger, and are laid side by side. One of us (P. fusca) makes use of the shells of various small living aquatic molluscs. These are all fastened together, and are dragged about whether agreable to them or not. Another relation (Seriscotomat multiguttatum) constructs his house of particles of sand, very small stones, and similar material, and forms them into a conical case, which is slightly curved like a horn. There are many different forms of houses, which I cannot refer to ; but here is one more. It is made of a leaf, or pieces of grass twisted round and round, and very much resembling a spill used for lighting a candle. But you will perhaps be thinking that our houses must be a great weight for us to draw about ; but no- each house is built with great care, that it shall not be too light ; for if it were, it would buoy us up, and perhaps bring us up to the surface away from all our food, or else it would require some exertion to keep it down ; whilst it it were too heavy it would tire us to pull it about all day, so we take care to avoid the former by adding a bit of stone or shell ; or if the latter, by fixing to it a little bit of wood or straw, and by these means we makes the house so very nearly in weight to the water that we can walk about without any inconvenience. But now my house is finished. It is round inside, and a little larger than my body, but in order to make it more comfortable it is lined with silk. It being only a little larger than my body, as we grow the house requires enlarging. But before I leave off talking about my house, it would perhaps interest you to hear of some vurious experiments that were made some years ago by Miss Smee. This lady was very fond of watching us, and having, procured a number of my relation from a small stream, she placed them in separate glasses of water, having first of all turned them out of their homes. This does not seem a very kind thing to do, but it is only fair to say that she supplied them with fresh materials to build other houses.

It was a strange collection of things that she gave them. Here is a list of them. They had bits of coloured glass- amethyst, cairngorm, carnelion, agate, onyx, coral, marble, shell, and mother-of-peal. Brass shavings, or gold and silver leaf, puzzled my relations sorely, as they could not make a regular case. One had bits of a tortoisehell comb, and when his house was finished, it looked like a hedgehog. Slate, coal, brick, and other substances were also given them ; but chips of various wood proved fatal to them.
Although most of us live in movable houses, there are some who prefer a fixed dwelling-place, and there-fore attach them firmly to a stone.