Observations upon captive specimens have led to the conclusion that it feeds principally on juices, especially of the sugar-cane, which it obtains by tearing open the hard woody circumference of the stalk with its strong incisor teeth; but it is said also to devour certain species of wood-boring caterpillars, which it obtains by first cutting down with its teeth upon their burrows, and then picking them out of their retreat with the claw of its attenuated middle finger.
It is among the Invertebrata that epidemics of destruction are referred to, though we should bear in mind that it is only the difference in numerical proportion that prevents our speaking of an epidemic of elephants or of rabbits, though we use the term when speaking of blight insects; there is little consistency in the matter, as it is usual to speak of an invasion or scourge of locusts, caterpillars, &c. Insect injuries are very varied in degree and in kind.
Locusts devour all before them; caterpillars defoliate plant, and necessitate the premature utilization of its reserves; other insects (e.g.
Erosions 01 leaves and herbaceous parts by caterpillars, slugs, earwmgs and sc forth.
General attacks of leaf-diseases invariably lead to starvation and necrosis of twigs, and similarly with the ravages of caterpillars and other insects.
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