1902 Encyclopedia > Arabia > Arabia - Reptiles, Insects, Locusts.

(Part 18)


(18) Arabia - Reptiles. Arabia - Insects. Arabia - Locusts.

Reptiles in Arabia

Reptiles, except those of the lizard species, are comparatively rare in Arabia, though serpents are occasionally met with; but, except the "afai" and the "rukta," both snakes of the viper class, the former brown and the latter banded, and considered the deadlier of the two, none are venomous. Boa-constrictors, resembling the Indian rock-snake, have been also seen,-none, however, large enough to warrant the wonderful stories told about them by the Arabs themselves, whose love of the marvelous often leads them beyond the limits of truth.

Insects in Arabia

Insects are, however, numerous enough" little scorpions scarce an inch in length, but capable of inflicting by their sting extreme pain, swarm in the desert sands; and large ones, four or even six inches long, infest the houses. Centipedes, too, are common; wasps and wild bees tenant the rocks; flies are troublesome everywhere, and mosquitoes on the coasts; ants of all kinds, some enormous in size and venomous in bite, are tobe found here; and a very poisonous spider, called, from it double pincers, "aboo hanekein,’ inhabits the crevices of old walls on the western coast, and is much dreaded by the natives. Scolopendras, too, are not rare. It is some compensation, however, for these serious yet only occasional inconveniences, that no fleas or bugs exist in any part of Arabia. But -- a serious drawback -- the "arda," or white ant, the Termes fatalis of Linnaeus, is hardly less troublesome and destructive in the southern provinces than in India itself.

Locusts in Arabia

Lastly, vast swarms of locusts, larger and darker in colour than those commonly seen further north, often infest the peninsula, and commit great ravages, especially when, as too frequently happens, their visit is in the spring or early summer. Their course is usually from east to west. However, the Arabs, by converting these insects into an article of food, make up to themselves in some measure for the damage suffered by the crops and pastures; indeed, locusts, boiled and slightly salted, are a favourite article of sale in every Arab market, but particularly in Nejd and the eastern districts.

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