In the eleventh volume of his "Natural History," Pliny the elder tells a strange story. "In the forges of Cyprus," he says, "one sees a large four-legged fly flying in the midst of the flames. Some call it Pyralis, others the Pyrausta. It lives as long as it remains in the fire; if it flies out for a short distance, it dies.'9 It is not necessary to go to Cyprus to see this strange creature. Pliny could have found it in the Roman Campagna with many others which possess the same title to these fabulous habits, and the summer gives us superabundantly the spectacle to which the Roman naturalist alludes in his account.
Like Pliny, we are sometimes in the fantasies of legend, but many legends touch strongly on reality, and here the truth will appear singularly instructive. Pliny gave the name " fly" to different insects that fly more or less well and, like all insects, his Cyprus fly should possess three pairs of legs. But with certain insects the front legs are scarcely visible, since they are reduced in size and are brought forward toward the head, so that at first glance one would believe that the insect was "four-legged." This character is especially marked with most of the night-flying moths (tin-eids, tortricids, geometrid's, noctuids etc.) and it is well known that these insects are attracted by flame and that they fly straight toward it and perish in it, victims of its destructive attraction. There was no entomologist at the forges of Cyprus, but the observation was not faulty. The four-legged flies of Pliny surely belonged to the nocturnal Lepidoptera, and among them were undoubtedly certain species which we designate today as pyralids or butterflies of the fire-the true Pyralidť of the systematic zoologists and the species popularly known as the "Pyralis of the Vine," which, however, is a tortricid (Cenophtira p´lleriana). Jacques Loeb has very exactly observed the attitude of these insects and others which fly toward the flame. The rapid flyers reach the flame before its heat has had time to stop their flight; but those that move slowly are affected by the increasing heat in the measure of their approach, the high temperature lessens this movement and they walk or fly about the light, burn their wings, and fall dying on all sides. This is the truth of the fabulous story of the old naturalist.