An EXPLANATION of the THIRTY-SECOND PLATE
THOUGH this little Creature is almost universally known to be a small brown
skipping Animal, very few are acquainted with its real Shape and Figure, with the
Structure, Strength and Beauty of its Limbs and Parts, or with the Manner of its Gene-
ration and Increase ; Circumstances which could never have been discovered but by the As-
sistance of the Microscope.
The Body of this Creature is of an oval Form, composed of several shelly Scales or Di-
visions most curiously jointed, and folding over one another ; those that cover the Back
meeting those that cover the Belly on each Side of the Body, and lying, alternately, over
one and under another of them.
Its Neck is finely arched, and much resembling a Lobster's Tail in Shape ; mov-
ing too like that, very nimbly, by means of the jointing and folding over of the Scales
that cover it.
The Head is small and shelly, having on each side a quick, round, and beautiful black
Eye K, in the Middle whereof may be seen a round blackish Spot, which is the Pupil of
, encompassed with a greenish glittering Circle or Iris, as bright and vivid as the
Eye of a Cat.
|Vid. Power's Obferw. p. 1.|
Behind each Eye a small Cavity appears at L, wherein a certain thin Film, beset with
many small transparent Hairs, may be observed moving to and fro, which our Author
imagines may probably be the Ear.
From the Snout-Part proceed the two Fore-Legs, and between them are two long
small Feelers (or Smellers, as our Author supposes) M M. Each of them has four Joints
and Abundance of little Hairs. Just below and almost between these Horns, lies the Pro-
boscis or Peircer N N O, consisting of a Tube N N, and a Tongue or Sucker O, which
can be put out or drawn in at pleasure. It has also two Chaps or Biters P P, shaped
somewhat like the Blades of a Pair of round-top'd Scissars, and seeming to open and shut
after the same manner. The Flea with these Instruments penetrates the Skin of living
Creatures, and leaves a round red Spot behind it, which we commonly term a Flea-Bite.
All the Shells and scaly Coverings of this pretty Insect are most exquisitely polished,
and in Colour resembling fine Tortoise-Shell ; the Scales on the Back and Belly have each
of them along its Middle a Row of strong sharp Bristles pointing towards the Tail, like
the Quills of Porcupines, and as large as they in proportion to the Animal. The Neck
and Shoulders are likewise armed in the same manner, and great Numbers of Bristles are
placed about the Tail.
But the curious Structure and Contrivance of its Legs are more particularly deserving
our Examination and Praise ; being such as have not been discovered in any other Crea-
ture, and are adapted peculiarly to the Exigencies of this ; for as it lives by sucking hu-
man Blood, or the Blood of other living Animals, which cannot be obtained without in-
flicting Wounds and causing Pain, which must necessarily produce Refentment, and a De-
sire of Revenge, it was absolutely requisite the little Invader should have some ready
Means of Escape ; since every Meal must otherwise be paid for with its Life. As therefore
it has no Wings, its Safety must be entirely owing to its Legs ; and indeed they are most
excellently sitted for this purpose, by folding short one within another, and then stretch-
ing out to their whole Length with a sudden Spring or Jerk, whereby they commonly d?-
liver the little Animal from the Danger of a Pursuit.
The Parts A A, of the Fore-Legs, lie within the Parts B B, and those again within
the upper and stronger Parts C C, parallel to, or side by side with each other. But the
Parts of the two next Legs are disposed directly contrary to these ; for in them the Parts
D D are placed without the Parts E E, and the Parts E E are likewise more outward still
than the Parts F F. In the hinder Legs the Parts G, H, and I, bend one within another,
like the Limbs of a double-jointed Ruler ; or like the Foot, Leg and Thigh of a Man.
When the Flea intends to leap, he folds up these six Legs together, then springs them all
out at the same instant, and thereby exerting his whole Strength at once, carries his little
Body to a considerable Distance. His Legs have three principal and larger strong Parts,
and below them many small Joints or Divisions as in the Legs of a Fly : From every
Joint proceed long Hairs or Bristles, and each Foot is furnished with a Pair of long-hooked