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Dewan Peishcar, Travancore kingdom
4. Fauna

Prefatory Note General

Mammals Birds

Reptiles Fish

Hymenoptera Diptera

Lepidoptera Series I. Rhopalocera

Series II. Heterocera Moths

Coleoptera Neuroptera

Orthoptera Rhynchota

Thysanoptera and Thysanura Myriapoda

Arachnida Crustacea


(Contributed by Harold S. Ferguson Esq. F. L. N., F. Z. S).

“The curly progenitors of man must have been once covered with hair, both sexes having beards: their ears wore probably pointed and capable of movement; and their bodies were provided with a tail, having the proper muscles. Their limbs and bodies were also acted on by many muscles which now only occasionally reappear but are normally present in the Quadrumana . . . These early ancestors of man, thus seen in the dim recesses of time most have been as simply, or even still more simply organised than the lancelet or amphioxus.“ Darwin


(Prefatory Note: — To my old friend and brother-officer, Mr. H. S. Ferguson FLS FZS, I am beholden for this chapter on the Fauna of Travancore — a subject upon which he is an authority having spent nearly the whole of his life in the country, first as a Planter for several years on the Travancore Hills, then as the Guardian of the Princes, then as Commandant of one of the battalions in the Travancore army (Nayar Brigade), and lastly as the Director of the Government Museum and the Public Gardens at Trivandrum. He is a good shikari and has always been a diligent student of Natural History, both of which qualifications entitle him to be reckoned as an authority on the subject. He has delivered several lectures on kindred subjects in pursuance of the scheme of Public Lectures instituted by the Travancore Government, and these lectures have generally drawn large audiences from among the educated classes of the Trivandrum Public. The value of the contribution has been enhanced by the fact that he himself kindly offered to write the chapter unsolicited by me — an offer with which I readily fell in as I could not think of a more competent authority.

He drafted this chapter about two years ago, but finally corrected it just as he was leaving Trivandrum on furlough in March 1904. As his contribution to the Natural History section of the State, he has discovered several species of reptiles and insects new to science his observations upon cetaceans have been received with interest and his study of the growth of tadpoles the result of which he has embodied in Notes which he has made known to the scientific world, all point him out to be a naturalist of no mean order.

The chapter is inserted here just as he left it. Not being a specialist myself on the subject, I have not taken the liberty to correct, abridge or modify it in any way.-------V.N.)



Travancore is a narrow strip of land more or less triangular in shape with a maximum breadth of 75 miles and a length of 174 miles. It is bounded on the west by the sea and on the east by the watershed of the hills which run from Cape Comorin to the extreme north, ending in the Kannan Devan hills or High Range, which is connected with the Anamalays on the north and the Pulneys on the east.

The annual rainfall varies in different parts but is abundant everywhere except in the extreme south. The average temperature in the low country is 85° and at 2,100 feet elevation it is ten degrees less. The dry season which lasts from the middle of January to the middle of April is well marked. As is usually the case where there are dense forests and a heavy rainfall, cases of melanism are not uncommon and seasonal variation in colour constantly occurs. All countries are characterised by the different kinds of animals that inhabit them and they can be grouped into regions, sub regions &c., in accordance with the way in which these animals are distributed. In this respect Travancore belongs to the great Indo-Malay, or Oriental Region, which includes the whole of India, Ceylon, Assam, Burma, Formosa, Hainan, Cochin China, Malacca, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, the Philippine Islands and part of China. It is divided into three sub-regions, Cisgangetic, Trans-gangetic and Malayan.

The first of these comprises India proper from the base of the Himalayas to Cape Comorin and from the Arabian Sea and eastern boundary of the Punjab tract to the Bay of Bengal and the hills forming the eastern limit of the Gangetic alluvium with the addition of the island of Ceylon’, and in this Travancore is included. It has, however, affinities in its hill fauna with that of the Himalayas and the south-western hill-group in Ceylon, but they are not sufficient, says Mr. Blanford, “to enable the S. Indian and Ceylonese areas to be classed with the Himalayan forest area in a separate subdivision or sub region”.

It has also affinities with the Malayan sub-region as is shown by the occurrence of such genera as Loris and Tragulm among Mammals, Draco among Reptiles, and Ixalus among Amphibians. Travancore itself may be divided into four divisions: — (1. The forest-clad hill range up to and including the Cardamom Hills with an average height of 4,500 feet. (2 The Kannan Devan Hills or High Range more open in character and with an average height of 6,500 feet. (3. The low country from the north as far as Nagercoil. (4 The low country south of Nagercoil. Here the rainfall is only 25 inches and the palmyra takes the place of the cocoanut palm. The fauna resembles that of the east coast and here only in Travancore are found among Mammals the S. Indian Hedgehog (Erinaceus micropus), among Birds the smaller white Scavenger-vulture (Neophorn ginginianus), the grey Partridge (Francolinus pondicerianus) and some others, and among Reptiles, Gongylophis conicus and Eryx johnii.


There are no Mammals peculiar to Travancore, but the Toque Monkey (Macacus pileatus), the Ceylonese Palm-civet (Paradoxurus aureus) and the Ceylon brown Mungoose (Herpestes fulvescens), formerly believed to be confined to Ceylon, are found in Travancore, and lately two Dolphins, Tursiops fergusoni and Sotalia fergusoni, have been taken off the coast.

There are four species of Monkeys, two of which, the grey, or Bonnet monkey (Macacus sinicus) and the Toque monkey (M. pileatus), are found only in the low country and do not ascend the hills to any height. The other two species are (Macacus silenus) the Lion-tailed monkey, and (Semnopithecus johnii) the Nilgiri Langur, which are only to be found on the hills at elevations over 2,000 feet. The former may be met with in small herds but often goes about solitary. The latter is always found in small troops. The loud booming note of the male is a familiar sound in the hills. They are very gentle and easily tamed and are clean in their habits in captivity. Coolies on the tea estates are very fond of the flesh of these animals and are always anxious to get them as medicine. The Malabar Langur (Semnopithecus hypoleucus), a grey monkey with a black face, is found in the Cochin hills and in the Kambam valley on the eastern slopes of the Cardamom Hills but I do not think it has been actually recorded from Travancore. Of the Lemuroids there is only one representative the Slender Loris (L. gracilis) found in the lowland forests; according to Jerdon it is “rare on the Malabar Coast’’, but so far as Travancore is concerned this does not hold good as it is decidedly common.

Some years ago I saw two specimens of a larger species and the Kanis about Ponmudi say they know of two kinds. To describe their respective sizes they point to their wrists and then to their thighs. I have failed to obtain a specimen, however, and have no record of the ones I saw.

The Carnivora are well represented in Travancore. To begin with, there are six Cats varying in size from the Tiger to the little Rusty-spotted Cat (Felis rubiginosa). Tigers are not uncommon on the hills, but in the south where there is an abundance of forest and very little grass, they are not easy to get. The next in size, the Leopard (F. pardus), is very common and many skins are brought in by villagers yearly for the Government reward. The black variety is common and is usually bolder and fiercer than the ordinary one. The Fishing Cat (F. viverrina) is a fine cat, coloured as its name implies, like the civets, grey with black spots and lines. It is usually found about the neighbourhood of the backwaters. I cannot agree with Blyth that it is “a particularly tamable species”. Those we have had in captivity in the Public Gardens have invariably been very shy, sulky and fierce. The Jungle Cat (F. Chaus) is the commonest of all and is found in the low country; in and about villages, it breeds freely with domestic cats. The Leopard Cat (F. bengalensis) used to be common some years ago about Kottayam but is now confined to the hills. This beautiful little cat is about the size of a domestic cat and is marked with black spots on a fulvous ground colour.

It is commonest now in the High Range. The smallest of the six cats is the Rusty-spotted Cat (F. rubiginosa) which is found in the low country but is not common. The young of the Jungle Cat are very like the young of this species and it is difficult to distinguish them till they grow up. There are two Civets one of which (Viverra civettina) is very much larger than the other. Both are kept in captivity for the sake of the “musk” secreted by a gland near the tail.

Three Toddy Cats are found, one of which, Paradoxurus jerdoni, is confined to the hills at elevations over 3,000 feet. They are all nocturnal and feed on fruits though they are not above taking a meat diet when they can get it. The common Toddy Cat (P.niger) is a perfect pest as it invariably finds its way into houses and takes up its abode between the roof and ceiling where its movements and its smell make it a most undesirable visitor. The third species (P. aureus) I have only found in Trivandrum.

The Mungoose family are represented by four species of which the stripe-necked (Herpestes vitticollis) is the largest. It is found only in the forests and has very strong claws which enable it to dig out any prey that it has run to ground. H. fuscus is confined to the hills, but the common mungoose H. mungo and H. fulvescens are found in the low country.

Fifty years ago Hyaenas were common in the neighbourhood of Trivandrum. Col. Drury in his Life and Sport in Southern India says “my shikari brought in this morning two Hyaenas he had killed about seven miles from this”. But now there are hardly any to be found. Jackals are plentiful and in the hills packs of wild dogs (Cyon dukhunensis) hunt and clear the district they happen to be in of every kind of game. When living on the hills I often heard them in full cry and on one occasion, attracted by the sound, three of us ran in the direction and arrived in time to find them pulling down a Barking Deer (Cervvlus muntjac). We drove them off and took the deer ourselves. On the other hand I have also seen them running mute. My own belief is that this is their usual habit but they give tongue when their quarry is in view. I am the more convinced of this as the sounds we heard were not continuous nor of long duration.

The Indian Marten (Mustela flavigula, var Gwatkinsi) is found on the hills, rarely in the south but more commonly in Peermade and the Cardamom Hills. They are nocturnal and sometimes give trouble by breaking into fowl-houses. In the backwaters both the common Otter (Lutra vulgaris) and the Smooth Indian Otter (L. Marcrodus) are to be met with. The last of the carnivora is the Sloth-bear or Indian Bear (Melursus ursinus). This is found on the hills at all elevations and is more dreaded by the hillmen than any other animal as it will attack at once if suddenly disturbed.

The next great group of Mammals is the Insectivores. About their habits there is little to be said. They are all nocturnal. The only Hedge-hog found in Travancore is the South Indian (Erinaceus micropus) and it is only found in the extreme south about Nagercoil. Of the Shrews the so called “Musk rat” (Crocidura murina) is the best known and there are one or two other species of this genus recorded from the hills, but I have not come across specimens and have failed to obtain them from the hillmen.

The bats are well represented from the great dull coloured fruit-eating Flying-lox (Pteropus medius), conspicuous everywhere by its habit of associating in large colonies, to the little richly coloured Painted Bat (Cerivoula picta), hardly larger than a good-sized butterfly, that hides itself in the recesses of a plantain tree. The Fruit-eating Bats play an important part in the dispersion of seeds as they usually carry off the fruits to some distance and drop the seed when they have fed on the pulp. Insectivorous Bats enter houses very frequently at night and feed on the insects that are attracted by the light. So far, I have identified about fourteen species; but there are many more, I am sure, to be found on the hills.

Of the Rodents, our next group which includes the Squirrels, Bats, and Mice, Porcupines, Hare &c., the Porcupine (Hystrix leucura) is the largest. It is found only in the hills and is very destructive to garden produce. The Black-naped Hare (Lepus nigricollis) is common in the low country and on the hills. There are two kinds of Flying-squirrel both found only on the hills, the larger (Pteromys oral) is not uncommon but the smaller (Sciuropterus fuscicapillus) is somewhat rare. The large black and red Squirrel (Sciurus indicus) is only found on the hills from 500 feet elevation upwards; its loud cry may be often heard in the forest. There are three small striped squirrels of which the Palm-squirrel (S. palmarum) is a familiar visitor to human habitations where its loud persistent chirrup when alarmed or exited renders it often most unwelcome. The other two kinds, (S. tristriatus) and (S. sublineatus), are found only on the hills, the latter only at elevations of over 2,000 feet. There is, however, one exceptional locality in the low country, seven miles from Trivandrum, where I have obtained specimens. Here there are remains of the old forest which once covered the whole of the country but is now confined to the hills. Of the Rat tribe the Malabar Spiny Mouse (Plata canthomys lasiurus) is the most interesting. It is found only on the hills where it lives in hollows made in old forest trees. It is something like a dormouse. The Antelope-rat (Gerbillus indicus) may often be seen at dark crossing the roads; it makes its burrows in open places such as the Parade grounds and the Public Gardens in Trivandrum. Of the remaining species, some six in all, the Bandicoot-rat (Nesocia bandicota) is the largest and the common Indian Field-mouse (Mus-buduga), an elegant little beast, the smallest. The common rat is ubiquitous and frequents human habitations most persistently; it is a splendid climber and runs up a punkah rope with the greatest ease.

From the small Rodents to the lordly Elephant is a great step, but this animal is the first member of the next order we have to consider viz., the Ungulates. Elephants are protected in Travancore and their ivory is a royalty of the Government so that they are fairly numerous in the hills. Mr. T. F. Bourdillon in his Report on the Forests of Travancore writes as follows: —

“These animals are wild in the forests, and are in some places particularly abundant. They do not always remain in the same spot, but move about over large areas, their movements being regulated by the quantity and condition of the food available, and by the state of the weather. Over the greater part of Travancore they descend from the hills as soon as the water begins to fail there, that is to say about January, and they are then to be found in the thickest and coolest parts of the lower forests in the vicinity of some river. As soon as the showers begin to fall in April, their instinct tells them that they can again obtain water on the hills, and that fresh grass has sprung up where the dry herbage was so lately burnt, and they immediately commence an upward movement to the high ground. There they remain till about September when some, but not all of them, descend to the lower slopes of the hills and even to the low country, to see what they can get from the fields of hill-paddy then beginning to ripen, and they often destroy large quantities of grain. In November these migrants again ascend the hills and join their companions.

“Advantage is taken by us of the annual descent from the hills in the hot weather to catch these animals In pits, but in November no attempt is made to capture them as the pit are then full of water. The question has often been debated whether the number of elephants in the country is increasing or decreasing. I believe that most people would say that elephants are more numerous than formerly, but I am inclined to think that this impression is formed from the increased damage done to cultivation of all sorts. If we recollect that cultivation is yearly extending, we can well understand that elephants are much more troublesome now than formerly, without there being any increase in their numbers and if we could take a census of them we should probably find that their numbers are about stationary.

“I once attempted to estimate how many there are in the State and I came to the conclusion that there must be from 1,000 to 1,500, the greater number of them being found in North Travancore, especially the Cardamom Hills. Sometimes elephants die in large numbers, as in the year 1866, when a murrain attacked them in the forests near Malayathur, and 50 pairs of tusks were brought to the Forest Officers at that place and Thodupuzha in April and May of that year. Such epidemics would doubtless occur more frequently if the number of elephants increased unduly and the supply of food fell short and their rarity is a sign that the animals are not troubled for want of food though their migrations show that it is not always to be obtained in the same place.”

The Gaur, the so called “Bison” of Europeans (Bos gaurus), is the finest representative of the existing bovines. They go about in herds of which one old bull is the acknowledged leader and master. When age tells upon him he may be driven out after severe fight by a younger and a stronger one and he then abandons the herd and wanders about solitary. It is these solitary bulls that generally afford the finest trophies to the sportsman.

There are no wild Sheep in Travancore and the goats are represented by a solitary species, the Nilgiri Wild Goat (Hemitragus hylocrius) miscalled by Europeans the Ibex. They are to be found in herds on the hills in suitable localities where there are grassy slopes and precipitous rocks. The bucks leave the herd from December to April when the does breed and go about with their kids. No Antelopes are found in Travancore but the Deer are represented by four species, the Sambur (Cervus unicolor) found at all elevations where there is a forest; the Spotted Deer (Cervus axis) that go about in herds and frequent open forests and bamboo jungle at the foot of the hills the Rib-faced or Barking-Deer (Cervulus muntjac), usually found solitary, or in pairs at all elevations on the hills in thick forest and the tiny little Mouse-deer (Tragulus meminnia) that stands only about a foot high, and is also to be found only on the hills, where it leads a solitary and retired life except in the breeding season when the male and female keep together.

The Indian Wild Boar is the last of the Ungulates. Herds or “Sounders’* of these animals are to be met with at the foot of the hills and about the cultivated patches where they do much damage to the crops. The young are striped aud spotted. Of the Cetaceans that frequent the coast not much is known. The little Indian Porpoise (Neophocoena phocoenoides) the False Killer (Pseudorca crassidens) the Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis, Tursiops catalania, Tursiops fergusoni) and Sotalia fergusoni are the only ones so far identified. The Indian Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is the only representative of the order Edentata. It feeds almost entirely on white ants which it seeks at night; during the day it lies up in a burrow scooped out under ground. There is a Game Preservation Regulation which is in force in the hill districts of Central and North Travancore. The close season for all Big Game is from 31st May to 1st October.


The birds cannot be treated of at such length as the mammals, as there are about 330 species found in Travancore. Of these, two only are peculiar to it while the third is only found elsewhere on the Pulneys. They were first brought to notice by Mr. Bourdillon and two are named after him, Bourdillon’s Babbler (Rhopocichla bourdilloni) Bourdillon’s Black-bird (Merula bourdilloni). This extends to the Pulneys and Blanford’s Laughing-thrush (Trochalopteron meridionale) which is only found in the extreme south above 4,000 feet on the tops of the hills in forest. As it is not possible with the limited space at my disposal to enumerate all the birds, it will perhaps be the best way to point out those that are characteristic of the different divisions into which, as I have said Travancore may be separated.

To take the low country first. Two species of crows, the Indian House-crow (Corvus splendens) and the Jungle-crow (Corvus macrorhynchus) are ubiquitous, while the Drongo or King- crow (Dicrurus) ater is the next most conspicuous bird with the exception perhaps of the common House-sparrow which is found wherever there are human habitations. Flocks of Rose-ringed green Paroquets (Palaeornis torquatus) may be seen feeding on fruit trees or rapidly flying in search of food and uttering shrill cries as they fly. Perched on the telegraph wires or seated on the ground, a little green bird with a long bill and tail, the outer feathers of which are elongated and pointed, may be constantly met with moving from its perch in short flights after its insect prey. This is the common Bee-eater (Merops viridis). A relation of it, the white-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) is a much more gorgeously-clad bird; its white breast, chestnut brown head and blue black make it evident to the eye, while its high pitched tremulous cry forces itself on the ear. It frequents gardens and feeds on insects mainly, while a smaller edition of it Alcedo ispida, the common Kingfisher, is found on the banks of every tank or stream looking for fish to which its diet is limited. Another common Kingfisher is the Indian Pied (Cerylc varia), a black and white bird which may be seen hovering over water and shooting down with a direct plunge when it descries a fish. Towards dusk another relation, the Common Indian Nightjar (Caprimulgus asiaticus) may be heard. It is known as the ‘ice bird’ as its cry resembles the sound of a pebble skimming along the ice.

Another bird that forces itself on the ear is the Tailor-bird (Orthotomus sutorius), it is a tiny plain greenish brown bird, white below, with a remarkably loud voice which it constantly exercises in crying “pretty, pretty, pretty” or as some described it “towhee, towhee, towhee”. The prettiest of all our garden birds are the Honey Suckers or “Sun-birds,” tiny little creatures shining with glorious metallic colours. Nothing can be more charming than to watch a flock of the commonest kind, Arachnechthra zeylonica, skirmishing through a bush in flower, never still, at one time spreading their tails like fans, anon fluttering their wings np and down and keeping up a constant chatter. There are two other kinds, A. lotenia and A. asiatica but these are not so conspicuous. The smallest and brightest of all, A. minima, is abundant at the foot of the hills and may be found at all elevations. Every one has heard of the “Seven sisters” . This name is given to various kinds of babblers in different parts of India which have a strong family likeness and go about in small flocks of about half a dozen. They are mostly earthy brown and they vary in the colour of the throat. Our commonest species is the Southern Indian Babbler (Cratcropus striatus), but there are two other kinds found, C. griseus and C canorus, the latter chiefly at the foot of the hills.

Another well-known bird is the Madras red-vented Bulbul (Molpastes haemorrhous) a plain brown bird with a black head, white upper tail coverts and crimson lower ones. It is often kept as a pet by natives. A bright-coloured bird with a good deal of yellow and white about it may often be seen about the trees and bushes hunting for insects; this is the common lora (Ægithina tiphia). The female is green and white. Its presence may always be known by its peculiar note which sounds like a prolonged plaintive in-drawn whistle on D sharp falling to a short note on F sharp.

There are three Shrikes that may be seen not uncommonly, two of which go about in flocks. One, the common Wood-shrike (Tephrodarnis pondicerianus), a plain ashy-brown bird with a broad white eyebrow has a tuneful whistle well described by Mr. Aitken as “Be thee cheery”. The other, the small Minivet, has a finer dress of black orange and scarlet but this is only sported by the males, the females and young having it more subdued. The third, the Large Cuckoo Shrike, is a grey bird considerably bigger than the others. Conspicuous by their colour are the Orioles commonly known as ‘’Mango birds”, fine yellow fellows with some black about them. The Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus indicus), which is only a winter visitor, has it on the nape, while the other the Black-headed Oriole wears it on the head. They have a rich flute-like whistle.

No one can hil to notice the common Myna (Acridotheres tristis), a plain brown bird with a black head and breast shading off into vinous brown often seen walking after cattle and as its name implies hunting for grasshoppers, its favourite food. It is a splendid mimic and in captivity can be taught to talk and it readily picks up the notes of other birds. Another Myna, the Jungle Myna very like it in colouration and habits, is also common. It is a smaller- bird than the Common Myna and may be distinguished from it by its size and the absence of the bare skin round the eyes. A white bird with a black crested head and two very long white tail feathers may often be seen flitting in undulating flight from tree to tree. This is the Indian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi), commonly known as the “Cotton thief”, as he looks as if he were making off with a load of that staple. His wife, the “Fire thief”, has an almost equally long tail, only it is red; hence her nickname. The young males take after their mother at first and only get to the white stage in the fourth year.

Another common bird is the Fantail Flycatcher; it is dark brown with white forehead and eyebrows, it has a quaint song that reminds one of the opening of a valse tune. One of the few birds that has a really pretty song is the Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis, a familiar bird in its white and black livery, to be met with in the neighbourhood of human habitations. Its sweet notes are the first one hears just as the dawn is beginning to break. Another sweet songster is the Large Pied Wagtail also clad in black and white. The Indian Skylark too (Alauda gulgula), may often be heard both in the low country and on the hills in open ground. Another Lark, the Madras Bush-lark (Mirafra affinis), is common. It has a habit of sitting on some exposed spot such as the roof of a house, whence it rises in a short soaring flight while it utters a shrill trilling note. Both it and the Indian Pipit (Anthus rufulus) frequent grass land and are to be found in crowds on the rice fields after the crop is cut and the ground has dried.

Most people can recognise a Woodpecker when they see it and there are at least three species that are found in the low country, but it is not easy to describe them in a few words. The Yellow-fronted Pied Woodpecker (Liopicus mahrattensis) may be recognised by its bright yellowish brown head. The Malabar Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus gularis) is a uniform dull rufous. The third is well called the Golden-backed Woodpecker (Brachypternus aurantius), its loud screaming call, which it utters as it flies, is a familiar sound. So too is the call of the “Copper smith”, the Crimson-breasted Barbet (Xantholaema haematocephala). It is a green thick-set bird with a yellow throat bordered below by a crimson band and with a crimson forehead; it has a strong coarse beak.

A near relation the small Green Barbet (Thereiceryx viridis), is also common and to be heard frequently. Two not uncommon birds, the Hoopoe (Upupa indica) and the Indian Roller (Coracias indica), are conspicuous by their plumage. The latter is very like an English Jay. The former is a brown bird with a long bill and a large fawn-coloured crest, all the feathers of which are tipped with black.

Another bird that intrudes upon one’s notice by its persistent cry is the common Hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius). It is a grey bird very like a Shikra, hence its English name; but familiarly it is known as the “Brain-fever bird” for, as the hot weather approaches, its voice may be heard first running up a scale and at the end shrieking, time after time what sounds to one’s heated imagination like the words “brain fever,” again and again repeated. It is heard by night as often as by day which makes it all the more disturbing.

Of the birds of prey there are not a few that frequent the plains; many being, however, only winter visitors may be safely left out of account. The most familiar of our residents are of course the Brahminy and the Common Kite; these are too well known to need description. The Crested Hawk Eagle (Spizactus cirrhatus) is a fine bird, for the most part brown, the feathers having darker centres; it has a long crest black tipped with white. It is most destructive in the poultry yard as it takes up a station on a tree hard by and seizes its opportunity to dart down and carry off whatever it can; this it will do day after day unless it is driven off. The Sliikra is also a common bird, while at night the Little Spotted Owlets (Athene brama) and (Scops bakkamoena) may often be heard.

Of the Pigeons the only one common in the plains is the Indian Blue Rock (Columba intermedia) which may often be met with in the dry paddy fields after the crops are cut.

Turing now to the marsh and water birds, we find them pretty well represented as the backwaters along the coast afford them shelter and food. In or about every tank where there are bushes, a dark slaty grey bird with a white breast may be seen for a second, feeding in the open, but not longer, as it skulks ofif rapidly into cover with its perky little tail uplifted. This is the white-breasted Water-hen (Amaurornis phoeniscurus). The Water-cock (Gallicrex cinerca) is not its husband but has a wife of his own. They are larger birds clad alike, in winter in dark brown with paler edges to the feathers; in summer, however, the male dresses more or less in black with some white below. They are common in standing paddy.

On every weed-covered tank the elegant Jacanas, both the bronze- winged (Metopidius indicus) and the Pheasant-tailed (Hydrophasianus chirurgus), are to be seen like Agag treading delicately over the water leaves. The latter in its breeding plumage is a lovely sight. Two Lapwings, the Red-wattled (Sarcogrammus indicus) and the Yellow-wattled (Sarciophorus malabaricus), may be frequently heard and seen. The former prefers the neighbourhood of water and when flushed goes offf remonstrating “why did you do it”. The other prefers dry plains, where it circles about uttering much the same cry but with one note less. Its cry may be heard for some time after dark. These are residents and the Little Ringed Plover (Ægialitis dubia) may almost be reckoned so, as there are few months in which individuals may not be met with. It frequents the shores and paddy fields. Other winter visiors are the Sandpipers commonly called “Snippets”, the most numerous of which are the Common Sandpiper (Totanus hypoleucus) and the Wood Sandpiper (T. glareola). Both the Common and Fantail snipe afford sport to the gunner in winter while the beautiful Painted Snipe (Rostratula capensis) is a permanent resident. Seated on the posts that mark the channel in the backwaters, numbers of Terns are to be seen in winter, they are the Smaller-crested (Sterna media), and on the seashore the common Tern (Sterna fluviatilis is fairly numerous. In the paddy fields the Pond Heron (Ardeola grayi) is always abundant and so are the Little Green Heron (Butorides javanica) and the Chestnut Bittern (Ardetta Cinnamomea), So far as I have been able to ascertain, the Duck are represented by four species of Teal, the Whistling, the Cotton, the Common and the Blue-winged, while the Spotted-billed Duck is occasionally met with. The Little Grebe (Podiceps albipennis) completes the list of water birds to be found commonly in the plains.

Bird life is most abundant at the foot of the hills. Here the “Seven sisters” are represented by the Jungle Babbler (Crateropus canorus) which has the same colouring and habits as the others of its class. The Bulbuls are represented by Jerdon’s Chloropsis, a green bird with a black chin and a blue moustache, a cheerful little fellow frequenting trees and not to be easily distinguished as its colour harmonises so well with the foliage. The Southern Red-whiskered Bulbul (Otocompsa fuscicaudata) is even more abundant and might perhaps be considered to have a prescriptive right to the epithet ‘cheerful’ , I have used in describing the Choloropsis, for to Jerdon he was always “Jocosa” . If you see a plain brown bird with a snow white throat and breast and with a perky black crest bending forward over its beak you will know it at once.

Another bright coloured bird is the Yellow-browed Bulbul (Iole icterica). It is mostly yellow with brown wings. It is common up to 2,000 feet. Flocks of Malabar Wood-shrikes are to be met with up to 3,000 feet, grey birds with a black band through the eye. They keep up a harsh chattering as they search the trees for insect food. The Black-backed Pied Shrike (Hemipus picatus) is also fairly common and easily recognisable, some of the most familiar sounds are the notes of the Southern Grackle (Eluabes religiosa). It is a black bird, and its yellow beak, yellow legs and yellow wattles on the back of the head render it unmistakable. It has a powerful voice and a variety of notes, some harsh and some pleasing; towards sunset it makes itself particularly heard. Most of the Flycatchers are winter visitors and are to be found at high elevations, but the little Brown Flycatcher (Alseonax latirostris) is an exception. It is resident and is found from the foot of the hills to about 2,000 feet. It takes up its perch on a branch and sits motionless until it makes a dash after some passing insect when it returns to its perch again.

Flocks of little Munias, small finch-like birds of three kinds, the White-backed (Uroloncha striata), the Spotted (U.punctulata) and the Black-headed (Munia malacca) may be seen feeding on the ground or clinging to the lantana bushes in which they love to perch.

Two small Woodpeckers, the Ceylon Pigmy Woodpecker (Iyngipicus gymnophthalmus) and the Heart-spotted (Hemicercus canente), are fairly common. The latter is easily recognised in the first place by its peculiar cry something like that of the Kestril and secondly by its black plumage with heart- shaped black spots on the buff coverts of the wing. The former is a small bird brown with white streaks on the plumage about 5 inches long of which one and a half are tail. The Western Blossom- headed Paroquet (Palaecornis cyanocephalus) is here conspicuous going about in flocks and the Little Indian Grey Tit (Parus atriceps) maybe seen at almost all elevations. It has a black head with white cheeks and grey back. As one ascends the hills the Southern Tree-pie (Dendrocitta leucogastra) is commonly seen. It is a beautiful bird with a black head, a snow-white breast, cbestnut-bay back and a tail 12 inches long of grey and black. They go about in parties of three or four and are somewhat noisy. Another bird that is often heard is the Southern Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus horsfieldii). Its peculiar rolling chuckle tells one it is there, but the thick underwood it affects renders it difficult to discover. The peculiar inconsequent whistle of the Malabar Whistling Thrush (Myiophoneus horsfieldii) is to be heard near every stream in the forests. “The Drunken Plough Boy “ is the name it has obtained by its musical efforts. It is a fine bird to look at, black with a considerable amount of blue about it.

From the foot of the hills to about 2,000 feet, another bird, the Racket-tailed Drongo (Dissemurus paradiseus), makes it- self continuously heard and its rich metallic notes are characteristic of the forest. It is a glossy black bird with a fine crest, the lateral tail feathers are greatly elongated, bare for a certain distance and webbed at the end hence its English name. In the tops of the trees flocks of the fairy Blue Bird (Irena puella), one of the most beautiful of all our birds, are a feature of the jungle life to about 2,000 feet. At a distance they seem plain enough, but if you get a closer view the metallic blue of the back and crown of the male contrasting with the black of the other parts shows a scheme of colouring that cannot be surpassed.

Creeping among the leaves the Little White-eyed Tit (Zosterops palpebrosa) is a common sight. Its green plumage and the conspicuous ring of white round the eye render it easy to recognise. In the winter two Rock-thrushes are to be commonly met with, the Blue-headed (Petrophila cinclorhyncha) and the Western Blue (Petrophila cyanus), the former in forest in the neighbourhood of cultivation, the latter generally in open clearings or in grass land where there are rocks. The males are handsome birds; when in their winter plumage the former has a blue head, black back, red upper tail coverts and a blue spot in front of the shoulder. The latter is bright blue with dark brown wings and tail, the female is dull blue throughout with buffy white under plumage each feather of which has a black edge. The female of the Blue-headed Rock- thrush is quite unlike her husband being brown above and white below, thickly barred with dark brown.

On every path the elegant little Grey Wagtail (Motacilla melanope) may be seen tripping along. It is our earliest visitor and stays the latest.

Three Woodpeckers frequent the higher elevations, the common Golden-backed three-toed (Tiga javanensis), Tickell’s Golden-backed (Chrysocolaptes gutticristatus), and the Malabar Great Black Woodpecker (Thriponax hodgsoni). The first of these is common everywhere, the second in the neighbourhood of streams, while the third is the commonest in open jungle. The peculiarities noted in their names are sufficient to discriminate them. The presence of a pair of the great Horn-bill (Dichoceros bicornis) is manifested for some distance. Their hoarse croaking roar may be heard for miles and the beating of their wings as they fly across a valley attracts one’s attention at once. They are not abundant nor so common as their relation, the Jungle Grey Horn-bill (Lophoccros griseus). These also make their presence known by their peculiar cry which is like the laugh of our old friend Mr. Punch, but they frequent heavy forest and are not so often seen.

The “whish“ of the brown-necked Spine-tail (Chaetura indica) is a familiar sound as it rushes by at more than double the rate of the fastest express. They are more often heard than seen, but at times they play, and the rate of flight is then moderate. The Indian Edible-nest Swiftlet (Collocalia unicolor) is the other swift that is most common in the hills- A very beautiful bird that frequents heavy forests over 2,000 feet is the Malabar Trogon. It has a broad black head set on a thick neck, a yellowish brown back and a long black tail with chestnut centre feathers. The breast is black bordered by a white band and below this again it is pale crimson. The female has the head, neck and upper breast brown no white band and the under parts are brownish buff.

Another beautiful bird is the velvet-fronted Blue Nuthatch. At elevations of about 2,000 feet and upwards, it may be seen creeping about the trunks of trees. As its name describes, it is blue with a dark velvety-black band on the forehead.

At about this elevation or perhaps a little higher and up to the extreme summits, the Southern Indian Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes ganeesa) is very common; it is a dark grey bird with a black head and an orange-red beak. Its cheerful notes are a sure sign that you are a long way above the sea-level.

Flocks of the Blue-winged Paroquet (Palaeornis columboides) take the place of the Blossom-headed as one ascends the hills, and the little Indian Loriquet inconspicuous by its small size and green colouring is to be met with.

The note of the Brown Hawk-owl (Ninox scutulata) is frequently heard at night while by the day the scream of the Crested Serpent-eagle (Spilornis cheela) as it soars aloft, is equally common. The Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis) may be seen quartering the tops of the trees in search of small birds’ eggs and young at all seasons while the Kestril and the Indian Hobby are winter visitants.

The whistle of the Grey-fronted Green Pigeon (Osmotreron affinis) is not uncommonly heard and also the booming note of Jerdon’s Imperial Pigeon (Ducula cuprea). while the Bronze-winged Dove (Chalcophaps indica) may be seen in heavy jungles feeding on the ground. The Grey Jungle-fowl (Gallus sonnerati) may be met with on jungle paths either early in the morning or after sunset.

On the High Range the Palni Laughing-thrush (Trochalopterum fairbanki) takes the place of T.meridionale. Here too may be found the Nilgiri Babbler (Alcippe phceocephala), a plain brown bird with ashy brown forehead and crown that was called by Jerdon the “Neilgherry Quaker Thrush,” no doubt on account of the want of brilliancy in its plumage. In the grass lands the Red-headed Fantail Warbler (Cisticola crythroccphala) is fairly common.

The three Flycatchers that are most abundant at high elevations are the Nilgiri Blue Flycatcher (Stoporola albicaudata), an indigo blue bird with a lighter blue forehead and eyebrow, the Grey-headed Flycatcher (Culicicapa ceylonensis) and the Black and Orange Flycatcher (Ochromela nigrirufa), whose English names sufficiently describe them for purposes of identification. About Peermade and the High Range are found numbers of the Southern Pied Bush-chat (Pratincola atrata). They are always in pairs, the male is black with white upper tail coverts and a white patch on the wing, the female is grey with reddish upper tail coverts and black tail.

Other birds peculiar to the High Range are the common Rose Finch (Carpodacus erythrinus) which come there in flocks as winter visitants, the White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) is also to be found there only in winter, and the Nilgiri Pipit is a permanent resident in the grass lands.

Here too is often seen the Malabar Crested Lark (Galerita malabarica) also a permanent resident, and the great Alpine Swift (Cypselus melba) congregates in numbers and hawks for insects through the smoke of the grass fires. The commonest Quail is the Painted Bush-quail (Microperdiz erythrorhyncha), and of other game birds the Wood-cock and the Woodsnipe are sometimes met with in winter.

To return to the low country: the birds peculiar to the extreme south of Travancore are the White-throated Munia (Uroloncha malabarica) which is common there, though to my surprise I have not met with it elsewhere, the smaller White Scavenger Vulture (Neophron ginginianus), the Little Brown Dove (Turtur cambayensis), the Indian Ring Dove (Turfur risorius), the Grey Partridge (Francolinus pondicerianus), and the Brown-headed Gull (Larus brunneicephalus).

The Palm Swift (Tachornis batassiensis) though not confined to the south is far more abundant there, and the Little Scaly-bellied Green Woodpecker (Gecinus striolatus) I have only obtained near Cape Comorin.


All the backwaters and most of the larger rivers of Travancore are infested with crocodiles and in North Travancore small ones may be found even in the tanks, the water of which is used for various purposes; the people take no notice of them until they get fairly large (over 4 feet or so when they either destroy them or force them to move away. By far the commonest kind is Crocodilus palustris. In the South they do not generally exceed 8 feet in length but in North Travancore specimens are said to br found up to 20 feet. At the mouths of the rivers in North Travancore Crocodilus porosus is found. There is one specimen in the Museum taken at Tannirmukham and there was a skull presented by General Cullen of which he gives the following account: —

“The animal was killed several years ago in the backwaters between Alleppey and Cochin at a place called Tannirmukham. It had killed several natives and on the last occasion seized a woman far advanced in pregnancy as she was washing. She died of the injuries she received, and the husband and others vowing vengeance against the brute, at last caught and killed it. They brought it with another one and left it before me at Cochin. It was about 10 feet long. I have records of alligators up the river at Cochin near Verapoly of 18 to 22 feet in length.”

The sea yields four kinds of turtles, (Chelone imbricata) the one that produces the tortoise-shell of commerce, Chclonc mydas, Thalassochelys caretta and the great Leathery Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea. In the rivers the fresh-water turtles, Trionyx cartilagineus and Pelochelys cantori may be found.

In the tanks, the Ceylon Pond-tortoise, Emyda vittata and Nicoria trijuja, arc common, while on the hills in the extreme south, the land tortoise (Testudo elegans may be met with and Testudo platynota through-out the range.

Among the lizards, the Flying-lizard (Draco dussumieri) is the most remarkable as it has a lateral wing-like membrane supported by the last five or six ribs which enables it to glide through the air from one tree to another in downward flight. It is found at the foot of the hills most commonly. In houses numbers of the House Gecko (Hemidactylus leschenaulti) are always to be seen stalking insects on the walls at night« The lizard that has been victimised with the name of “Blood-sucker” is Calotes versicolor. It is very common in the low country while its relation, C. ophiomachus, is equally common in the hills. On the sides of the roads in forest on the hills, a fat-bodied lizard, olive brown above, with a series of rhomboidal spots along the middle of the back, Sitana ponticeriana, is common at low elevations. While on the High Range Salea anamallayana is abundant.

Into houses Mabuia carinata, a brown lizard with a lighter band on each side, often finds its way. It is essentially Ground lizard and never climbs. The most formidable of the lizard tribe is the monitor called by Europeans “Guana” found in the neighbourhood of water both in the low country and in the hills. It has a powerful jaw and can kill rats as well as any terrier and then swallow them whole with the greatest ease. Lastly we have the well-known Chameleon (C. calcaratus) which is not uncommon about the low country.

Only two lizards are peculiar to Travancore, Ristella travancorica and Lygosoma subcoeruleum.

Snakes are fairly common in Travancore and there are about 67 species represented. When one is met with, the first question that is asked is, “Is it a poisonous one”, to this most of the people at once reply in the affirmative and, needless to say, they are generally wrong. There are only three poisonous snakes that are found in the low country and they are easily recognisable: —

1 The Cobra (Naia tripudians) whose hood at once proclaims it (2 The Russel’s Viper (Vipera russellii) whose thick body, broad head covered with little scales, and the chain pattern down the centre of its back easily identify it (3 The “Krait” (Bungarus caruleus,) this is bluish black above with narrow transverse white streaks or spots, a scheme of colouring which is adopted by a harmless snake (Lycodon aulicus) that is often found about houses and is mistaken for the Krait; the Krait, however, can be easily discriminated by its blunt head and by the fact that the scales running down the centre of the back are enlarged and hexagonal.

No other poisonous snakes than these are likely to be seen in the low country. On the hills and at their foot the Hamadryad (Naia bungarus) is found. Here again the hood betrays it. Two species of Callophis, C. nigrescens and C. bibronii, may be met with occasionally but so rarely as not to need description, and there are three Tree-vipers (Ancistrodon hypnale), Trimeresurus anamallensis, and T. macrolepis which are easily recognised by their broad flat heads and by the pit just in front of the eye. The bite of these last, though painful, in effect is not fatal to man.

There are several species of Sea-snakes, all of which are poisonous. They are entirely marine and may be distinguished by their compressed oar-like tails. The only harmless snake that lives entirely in water is Chersydrus granulatus which is found at the mouths of the rivers and along the coast, its tail is not compressed like that of sea-snakes.

Among the harmless snakes there is a family of burrowing ones, the Uropeltidae that have truncated tails. They feed on earth worms and may be met with on the roads on the hills after rain. The people call them “double-headed snakes”. Of these, two species, Rhinophis travancoricus and Rhinophis fergusonianus, the latter taken by Mr. Sealy on the High Range, are peculiar to Travancore. Rat Snakes (Zamenis mucosus) are common about the paddy fields and most tanks contain specimens of Tropidonotus piscator.

The commonest Tree-snake is the green one (Dryophis mycterizans), while Dipsas trigonata is sometimes found in bushes near houses. Snakes of this genus are sometimes mistaken for poisonous ones as their heads are somewhat flattened and triangular, but their long thin bodies and the presence of shields on the head distinguish them from vipers with which alone they are confounded. One species, Dipsas dightoni, is peculiar to Travancore having been taken by Mr. Dighton in Peermade.

The largest snake found in Travancore is the Python (P. molurus). I have seen a specimen 18 feet long and one now in the Public Gardens is 15 feet. It is harmless, but the next largest the Hamadryad is deadly. The largest specimen I have seen is 13½ feet long. It is said to make unprovoked attacks on people but though I have met many specimens they have always gone off as hard as possible and I have not heard of any one in Travancore being molested by this snake.

Batrachians, which include Frogs, Toads and Caecilians are naturally abundant in Travancore as there is plenty of water. There are 34 species of which three, Rana aurantiaca, Ixalus travancorius and Bufo fergusonii are peculiar to Travancore. The croaking of the frogs and toads in the paddy fields as the rains set in is a familiar sound at night. In the low country the largest and commonest frog is Rana tigrina, a great cannibal, of which large specimens may be caught in any tank by using a small one as bait. The commonest toad is Bufo melanostictus. Small specimens of this are very partial to taking up their abode under the edge of the matting in any room and here they sit and croak happily till the lights are put out when they sally forth to feed.

Two kinds of “Chunam frog”, Rhacophorus malaharicus and R.maculatus also come into houses and seat themselves on pictures or in between the Venetians or on any other convenient perch and thence make prodigious leaps, the discs on their dilated toes enabling them to stick even to a perpendicular surface. On the hills, Bufo parietalis is found in abundance and five species of the genus Ixalus may be met with. The Caecilians are not so abundant. They are worm-like burrowing Batrachians and are usually found in damp situations. There are three kinds found in Travancore, Ichthyophis glutinosus, Uracotyphlus oxyrus, and Gegenophis carnosus.


Several species of sharks are found along the coast. Of the family Carcharidae, some of which grow to a considerable size and are dangerous, the most curious looking is the Hammer-headed shark (Zygana blochii), which has the front portion of the head laterally elongated from which it derives its name.

The great Basking-shark (Rhinodon typicus) is sometimes found; one 27 feet and 1 inch in length was washed ashore at Puntura, Trivandrum in 1900. It is quite harmless. Another innocuous form is Stegostoma tigrinum which grows to 15 feet in length but feeds mostly on molluscs and crustaceans. Two kinds of Saw-fish, Pristis eupidatus and Printis perotteti, frequent the coast, the beaks of which are sometimes 5 feet long. In most of the rivers, Mahseer (Barbustor) are to be found. Shoals of Flying-fish (Exocaetus micropterus) are not uncommonly to be seen winging their way over the waters. The great Sword-fish (Histiophorus gladius) may occasionally be seen sunning itself on the surface with its great blue dorsal fin fully extended. It is a dangerous animal and cases of injury inflicted by it on unfortunate fishermen have been treated in the hospital at Trivandrum. In one of these, about nine inches of the sword were taken from the fleshy part of the shoulder of one man who while sitting on his catamaran had been wantonly attacked. Another species, H. brevirostris, is also found, one specimen in the Museum is 10 feet long.

A curious fish is Echencis, which has the first dorsal fin modified into an adhesive disc by means of which it clings to the bodies of sharks and so profits by the superior powers of locomotion of its host in finding food.

Goby fish of the genus Periothalmus, though only able to breathe by gills, are fond of the land and may be seen climbing about the rocks when pursued they use their tails and ventral fins to leap out of harm’s way. The fishermen call them Sea-toads. They are very wary and hard to catch.

The Sea-horse (Hippocampus guttulatus) is often found about Cape Comorin and there are many others of strange shape and varied colour. Of the former, Ostracion turritus having a solid coat of armour composed of angular bony plates is a quaint example. So are the fish of the genus Tetrodon, sometimes called Sea-porcupines, which are covered with small spines. They are able to inflate their bodies with air and float on the water upside down, hence they are called Globe-fish. Holocanthus annularis, a fish with a body vertically broad, coloured sienna, with a blue ring on the shoulder and six or seven curved blue bands upon the sides, and a yellow caudal fin, is an example of the latter, and so are Chaetodon vagabundus, Psettus argenteus and Heniochus macrolepidotus, There are many that are edible, of which perhaps the best are the Seer-fish of the genus Cybium, Bed Mullets of the family Mullidae, Grey Mullets of the family Mugilida, Pomfret of the family Stromateida (Strombillidae) and Whiting (Sillago sihama).

So far I have described the animals comprising the subkingdom of the vertebrates or as they are now called the Chordata. Formerly all the remaining animals were lumped into one subkingdom and called Invertebrates, but a fuller knowledge has shown that they must be split up into eight subkingdoms, each of which is equivalent to the subkingdom of the Chordata. They are: — (1 Arthropoda (Insects, Spiders and Crustaceans), (2 Echinodermata (Star-fish and Sea-urchins), (3 Mollusca (Cuttle-fish, Oysters &c.), (4 Mulluscoida (Lamp-shells and Corallines, (5 Vermes (Worms. Leeches &c.), (6 CaIenterata (Jelly-fish, Sea-anemones and Corals), (7 Porifera (sponges and (H Protozoa (Single-celled animals). Of these I can only speak of the Arthropods, and of them only imperfectly. The remaining seven subkingdoms have not as yet been worked at all in the Museum.

The Arthropods are divided into seven classes: — 1. Insects, 2. Centipedes, 3. Millipedes, 4. Scorpions. Spiders, Ticks &c., 5. Kingcrabs, 6. Crustaceans, and 7. Prototracheata. There are no representatives of classes 5 and 7 in Travancore. The remaining classes will be taken in the order given.

Insects are divided into nine Orders: — 1. Hymenoptera (Ants, Wasps), 2. Diptera (Flies, 8. Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths), 4. Coleoptera (Beetles), 5. Neuroptera (Dragon-flies, White-ants &c.), 6. Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets. Mantises), 7. Rhyncota (Bugs), 8. Thysanoptera (Thrips) and 9. Thysanura (Spring-tails and Bristle- tails).


The Order Hymenoptera which includes ants, bees, wasps, sawflies and Ichneumon-flies has, with the exception of the last two, been lately worked out for India. It contains some of the most familiar insects, and the habits of some of them are of particular interest. Those of the Fossors have been very well described by M. Fabre.

The young of this tribe are meat-eaters and have to be nourished on the flesh of other insects, the mother therefore lays up a store of these in readiness for the young one as soon as it emerges from the egg, but two things are necessary; first, that the stored-up insects should not decompose, and secondly, that they should not have the power of injuring the tender grub which is the first form of the perfect insect. There must be life but life only of the interior organs combined with absolute immobility of the limbs. This is marvellously insured by the instinctive power the Fossors have of stinging their prey at certain spots which are the seat of the nerve centres which control the movements of the limbs and so paralysing them.

One of the largest of the Fossors is Scolia indica. It is a large dark hairy insect with thick legs. Its colour is black throughout, with the exception of some ferruginous red bands on the abdomen, the wings are fuscous brown with beautiful purple reflections. Its young lives on the flesh of the larvae of beetles that undergo their metamorphosis beneath the ground. The Scolia burrows until it finds such a larva, stings it and renders it incapable of movement, lays an egg on it and leaves the egg to mature amid this supply of food. The family Pompilide may be at once recognised by their long hind legs. They have great powers of running rapidly over the surface of the ground and while so doing their wings are constantly quivering and their antenna’ vibrating. Most of them dig holes in the ground and lay up a store of spiders for the benefit of their young.

Macromeris violacea is a good example of the family; it is black with beautiful purple and blue reflections, the wings dark brown with brilliant purple effulgence changing in different lights. Others of the genus Salius i.e., S. flavus and S. consanguineus are common.

The family Sphegidac are rather a mixed lot of varying form. Liris aurata is a beautiful insect black with more or less red legs, with silvery bands on the abdomen and with a golden gloss on the face. It is common about Trivandrum; it makes its nest-hole in the ground and stores it with young crickets.

One often finds the back of a book or the folds of a paper filled with clay cells containing spiders. This is the work of Trypoxylon pileatum or T. intrudens, both are small black insects with very long bodies and transparent wings. “A slender waist, a slim shape, an abdomen much compressed at the upper part, and seemingly attached to the body by a mere thread, a black robe with a red scarf on its under parts “ is the very apt description M. Fabre gives of the genus Ammophila, three species of which are common about Trivandrum. They make vertical tunnels in the ground and store them with caterpillars.

In a corner of the glass pane of a window or on the side of a table or chair one often sees what looks like a splash of mud with rays of mud branching from it. This is the nest of Sceliphron madraspatanum a black insect with a long slender yellow waist and yellow and black legs; if the nest is opened it will be found to be made up of four or five cells filled with spiders. There are three more species of this genus common in Trivandrum. The genus Sphex contains some beautiful species, they all make burrows in the ground and store their nests with various species of Orthopterous insects (crickets, grasshoppers &c.). There are seven species common about Trivandrum, of which Sphex lobatus is the most striking as it is a brilliant blue green with transparent wings.

Ampulex compressa is another very beautiful insect. It is brilliant metallic blue with some deep red on the legs with transparent wings slightly clouded. It stores cockroaches. Bembex is the last genus of the Sphegidae I need mention. They are stout black insects with yellow bands on the abdomen, their prey consists of flies of different kinds. They make their burrows in sandy banks and use their legs like a dog in digging them. Unlike the other Fossors, they do not supply a store of food and close the burrow once for all, but return day by day and feed the young larva until it refuses to take more and settles down into the pupa stage towards its final transformation.

The next tribe, the Diploptera are distinguished by having a fold in the wings when in repose; it includes the Eumenidia., solitary wasps, and the true or social wasps. Among the former are several familiar insects of the genus Eumenes, E. petiolata, E. conica, E. Flavopicta, all large conspicuous wasps with elongated waists. The thorax has usually some yellow about it and the abdomen also. They come into houses about August and September and build clay cells which they store with caterpillars.

Another very common wasp is Rhynchium brunneum, a stout insect brownish red with black bands on the abdomen. It comes into houses and builds a clay nest which it stores with caterpillars, or makes use of any hollow such as the mouth of an old gun barrel or the hole for a window bolt. Among the social wasps are some of the genus Ischnogaster. They are brown and yellow with a very long waist. They build cells of papery stuff more or less hexagonal in shape connected by a pedicel but without any exterior envelope. Others again of the genus. Icaria build from 5 to 48 cells attached by a stout pedicel to twigs. Icaria ferruginea is the commonest species. The great papery nests of Vespa cincta are often to be seen under the eaves of houses or in a bush. The insect is black with a broad yellow band on the abdomen. They form vast communities and are very dangerous if disturbed.

The next tribe includes the bees. The most conspicuous of these are the Carpenter-bees, Xylocopa latipes and Xylocopa bryorum. The former is a large robust hairy insect black all over with dark wings that shine with brilliant coppery or purple reflections. The latter is yellow in front and has a black abdomen and more or less dark wings with a purple effulgence. As their name implies, they bore holes in wood in which they make their nests. Megachile lanata, one of the leaf-cutting bees, a black insect with a good deal of fulvous red hair about it and with narrow transverse white bands on the abdomen, often comes into houses and makes use of any hollow space it finds, or the back of a book for its nests which forms of clay partitions,

Anthophora zonata is another familiar insect rufous in front with a black abdomen on which there are narrow bands of metallic blue hairs and wings more or less transparent. They form burrows and live in colonies. Then there are the true honey-bees of which there are three kinds, Apis indica, dorsata, and florea, and lastly the dammar-bees of the genus Melipona that make their nests in hollows of trees mostly of more «r less resinous wax.

Ants, which form another tribe of the Hymenoptera, are numerous, there being over sixty species in Travancore. They have in large communities consisting of a queen, a perfect female, of imperfect females which may include workers of two kinds and soldiers, and of young, the latter comprising all these forms and also perfect males. At certain seasons, generally after the first showers in April or May, the perfect males and females, which are winged, emerge from the nest and rise into the air for their nuptial flight they couple and the males die while the females cast their wings and are ready to lay eggs. They are divided into five sub-families.

The first of these, the Camponotide, have no true sting but are able to produce an acid poison and to eject it to some distance. The best known of all is the “red ant”, Ecophylla smaragdina. This forms shelters in the leaves of trees or bushes by fastening the edges together by a silky substance. The mature ants are unable to produce this but the larvae can, as they spin a silken cocoon for themselves in which to pupate when therefore it becomes necessary to form a new shelter, or to mend a damaged one, some of the mature workers hold the edges of the leaves close, while others carry a larva each in their jaws, apply the mouth of the larva to the edge of the leaf and the sticky secretion from it fastens the leaves together. The larva are not damaged by this operation but are carefully laid by when done with.

A small yellow ant, Plagiolepis longipes, which has, as its name implies, very long legs, is very common in houses. Companies of them may be seen dragging any dead insect up a wall to its nest. Prenolepis longicornis is an equally familiar ant but is black; it has no settled home and does not frequent houses so regularly as the last.

The large black ant that forms vast nests under ground is Campontus compressus. They are regular cattle keepers as they keep herds of caterpillars of certain of the family of the Lycaenid butterflies which includes the Blues and Coppers. These have two erectile tentacula near the end of the body and close to them is an opening from which exudes a sweet liquor that the ants very much appreciate. When an ant wishes to milk the caterpillar it gently strokes it with its antenna and a drop of liquid exudes which the ant licks up. The ants regularly attend the caterpillars and when they are about to pupate conduct them to a safe place in which to undergo transformation, and do not allow them to stray too far. They also attend and herd plant-lice or aphides. There are five species of the genus found in Travancore. The nests of ants differ very much, but those formed by a genus of ants called Polyrachis are peculiar in that they consist of a single cavity which is lined with a silky substance. They are built on leaves usually. There are four species known from Travancore.

The next family of the Dolichoderides is a small one, of which the most familiar member is a small ant, Tapinoma mclanocephalum, with a black head that contrasts with the semi-transparent abdomen. It has no sting, nor power of ejecting fluid to a distance, but it secretes a very strongly malodorous fluid from the anal glands which it uses for defence.

Among the next subfamily are some of the most elaborate nest builders, Cremastogaster rogenhoferi builds a more or less round brown-papery nest of vegetable fibre, often eighteen inches long and almost as broad, round a branch which it uses as a central support. These nests may be seen commonly on the hills. The ants have a curious habit of turning their abdomens over their backs. There are some species of ants that make roads for themselves and the result of their labours may be seen in partial tracks and tunnels running across the paths.

Of these the commonest is Solenopsis geminata, a reddish yellow ant. Holcomyrmex criniceps, a brown ant, also has this habit, both of them store grass seeds in their nest but ants of the genus Phidole are the best known harvesters: round the entrance to their nests may be seen the husks of the seeds they have stored below and to prevent rain penetrating to their galleries they make embankments round the nest which effectually protect them. There are four species in Travancore of which P.rhombinoda is the commonest. To this family also belongs a very small reddish-yellow ant, Monomorium destructor that is commonly to be met with in houses.

The next family, the Ponerina are hunting ants and are flesh eaters. They have a curious way of carrying their prey underneath their bodies between the forelegs. There are several genera represented in Travancore of which the best known is Lobopelta: long lines of Lobopelta chinenisis may be seen going, usually in single file, on foraging expeditions about four in the evening. They hunt by night and by eight in the morning they retire underground. They have a very fairly powerful sting which they use freely if disturbed. There are also L.dentilobis, L. dalyi, and L.ocellifera which behave in the same way.

The last family is Dorylides: they lead a nomadic social life not- withstanding the fact that the eyesight of the workers is very imperfect. ft includes the genera Dorylus and CEnictus: of the latter there are our species in Travancore. They are small ants and march three or four abreast with great regularity carrying their prey as does Lobopelta.


This Order which includes Mosquitoes, Gnats, Flies and Fleas has not had the attention paid to it that it deserves. Since however the connection between malaria and mosquitoes has been established, considerable study has been bestowed on the particular family the Culicidae, which includes the various species of those insects. In Travancore there are at least 4 species of the genus Anopheles, the members of which are the intermediate hosts of the Sporozoa which give rise to malarial fever. These four species are Anopheles fulinginosus, A. jamesii, A. sinnensis, and A. rossii. There are many other species of mosquitoes. Among them, Toxorynchites immisericors is conspicuous by its size and is known as the Elephant Mosquito.

Of the genus Culex there are five species. The family Tipulide contains the Daddy-longlegs or Crane-flies. There are several species in Trivandrum, one of which is conspicuous by its long legs being banded alternately black and white. The Tabanidae or Horse-flies are numerous, one species known as the Elephant Fly is most troublesome on the hills at considerable elevations in the dry weather. They can easily bite through thin cloths and can draw blood. The use of a folded newspaper is absolutely necessary when seated on a cane-bottomed chair.

Another species of the genus Pangonia has a stiff proboscis, more than half an inch long, which is a formidable weapon of offence. The Robber Flies constituting the family Asiliidae are common. The largest is more than an inch long having a black body with narrow grey bands, the wings are smoky. It preys on other insects but fortunately it does not suck the blood of vertebrates. Another very curious member of this family is Laphria xylocopiformis, a large hairy insect very like one of the carpenter-bees; hence its name.

The flies that one sees commonly hovering over flowers belong to the family Syrphidae or Hover-flies, their food is chiefly pollen. The family Muscida contains the House-flies, Blue- bottles &c., which are so common about our dwellings. They lay their eggs on dung or any kind of soft damp filth and the larvae feed on this. The so-called flying-tick which infects dogs is really a fly of the family Hippoboscidae. Lastly we have the Pulicida or Fleas which though wingless constitute the suborder Aphaniptra of the order Diptera.


Series I. Rhopalocera

This order includes the Butterflies and Moths. There are about two hundred and thirty species of the former and at least ten times the number of the latter to be met with in Travancore. So far as ornament is concerned, they are the highest of the insect world. Insect angels, they have been well termed by Wendell Holmes. In the larval form they are worm-like and are called Caterpillars and in this stage some are often very destructive to crops as they are nearly all vegetable feeders. They pass a considerable portion of their lives in the pupal state. Many of the butterflies differ according to the season; there being wet and dry season forms, the former being always darker than the latter. The pupa of butterflies is also called chrysalis from the fact that some of them are partially or entirely of a golden hue; this is found chiefly in the family Nymphalidae a good example of which is Euploea core a plain brown butterfly whose pupa is like a pear drop of burnished gold. There are six families, specimens of all of which are to be found in Travancore though one of them, Lemoniidae has only two species representing it. The family of the Nymphalidae includes the greatest number and is divided into six subfamilies.

The Euploeinae are characterised by their slow flapping flight and their fearless behaviour, this is probably due to the fact that they possess acid juices which render them unpalatable to birds and lizards with the exception of Limnus chrysippus and Salutura geutia which are bright ferruginous with black markings, the others are sombrely clad. The Euplaeas are mostly brown with some white spots. The most remarkable member of the subfamily is Hestia malabarica which is to be met with in the hills in dense forest. Whoever has seen a number of these floating aimlessly about in a forest grove like animated pieces of spotted tissue paper is not likely to forget the scene.

The Satyrinae are all very soberly clad and have the underside of their hind wings marbled or mottled in such a way as to render them almost invisible when settled. They have a way too of dropping the front wings between the lower ones which adds to the difficulty of seeing them. They never take long flights but may be seen on the sides of shady roads and in the forest, and many of them frequent grass lands. There are twenty one species in Travancore of which two are peculiar to it, Ypthima ypthimoides a meadow brown found only in the hills at considerable elevations and Parantirrhoea marshalli, a dark brown insect with a pale violet band on the forewing which is most commonly to be seen in Eetta jungle (Beesha travancorica) from May to October on the Peermade hills.

The caterpillar of Melanitis ismene is said in other parts of India to do damage to the rice plants, but in Travancore there is such an abundance of vegetation that it is not driven to rely on them for food. Seasonal dimorphism is well marked in this subfamily so much so that the wet and dry season forms of one butterfly have received different names, for example, Melanitis leda and Melanitis ismene, Orsotrioena mandata and Orsotrioena mandosa, Calysisme mineus and Calysisme visala.

The next subfamily Nymphalina has only one representative, Elymnias caudatata, which is very like Salatura genutia and is therefore said to “mimic” it. The morphine have two, both of which are very rare, the Acroeinae and Telchinia violae which is very common both in the low country and on the hills. It is red with a narrow black border to the forewing and a broader one on the hind on which are some yellow spots. The next subfamily Nymphalina are eminently sunshine-loving. They are mostly brightly coloured and have .a strong flight, but the habits of some are not so nice as their colouration, for the mango butterflies of the genus Euthalia are fond of rotten fruit and those of the genus Charaxes may be attracted by carrion and Charaxes fabius some times gets drunk on toddy. There are forty-seven species in Travancore; of which the largest are Cynthia saloma and Parthenos virens. Cyrestes Thyodamas, one of the Porcelains, is perhaps the most curiously coloured.

The leaf butterflies of the genus Kallima, of which there are two species, K. philarchus and K. wardi, are so called from the fact that the underside of the wings so exactly represents a leaf with the mid-rib marked that it is most difficult to discover the insect when it alights which it does very suddenly. They are only found in forest on the hills and are far from common. Pyrameis cardui the Painted Lady, is probably the most widely distributed of all butterflies as it is found everywhere except in the Arctic regions and South America.

The Family Lemoniidae, as I have said before, is only represented by two forms, Lybithea myrra common on the High Range and Abisara prunosa common on the hills at the sides of roads in jungle.

The Family Lycaeniae which includes the Blues, Coppers and Hairstreaks, is represented by nearly sixty species. The males and females are often very differently coloured on the upper side but are marked alike below. Some of them are very small, covering not much more than half an inch with the wings expanded. Those of the genus Centaurus, of which there are three species, are the largest, being nearly two inches in expanse. They are brilliant metallic blue above, and are unmistakable. Lampides elpis, a light blue insect, is about the commonest of all the family.

Some of them have very long tails, for example, Cheritra jaffra which is common at 2,000 feet on the hills, and Bindahara sugrira fairly common in the low country. The caterpillars of the family are very peculiar being usually short, broad in the middle and naked. As pointed out when describing the Hymenoptera, some of them yield a fluid of which ants are fond, hence they are domesticated and tended by the ants. The tastes of some are peculiar as they feed not, as is usual, on vegetable substance but devour aphides and scale insects. The caterpillars of the genera Lampides, Virachola and Deudorix, feed on the interior of fruits of different kinds. Lampides elpis, for example, bores into cardamoms. Deudorixepijarbus feasts on the pomegranate, but the most curious of all is the caterpillar of Virachola isocrates which feeds on the guava, pomegranate and some other fruits.

The mature female insect, which is dull purple with a patch of yellow in the forewing, deposits her eggs in the calyx of the flower; the caterpillar when hatched bores into the young fruit, where it remains throughout its transformation. By the time it is ready to change to a pupa it has so damaged the fruit that further growth is stopped and the fruit dies, there is therefore the danger that the fruit should drop and destroy the larva. This however is prevented by the extraordinary instinct of the caterpillar which leads it to emerge from the fruit just before pupating. It then spins a strong web over the base of the fruit and stem which effectually prevents the falling of the fruit even though it should separate from the stem and so it returns to its abiding place in the centre of the fruit and pupates in safety.

The Pieridae which form the next family include the Whites, Brimstones, Clouded-yellows and Orange-tips. White yellow and red are the predominant colours. There are about twenty-five species in Travancore. Terias hecabe, a small yellow insect, is about the most abundant in the hills and the low country. But the large yellowish white butterflies of the genus Cafopsilia of which there are three species are almost equally common. At times great migrations of these take place and hundreds of them may be seen flying in one particular direction.

The Papilionidiac are known as the swallow-tails and include the largest and most conspicuous of all the order. The great Ornithoptera minos, nine inches in expanse, a black butterfly with yellow on the hind wings, is fairly common in the low country and on the hills. Iliades polymnestor (black with lavender spots on the hind wings is also fairly abundant, as is too Menelaides hector, black with red spots on the hind wings.

On the hills, Charus helenus, black with a cream spot on each hind wing, is most conspicuous, while Achillides tamilana, black having a large metallic spot on each of the hind wings of blue with green reflections, is perhaps the most beautiful. The larvae of some, especially of Orpheides erithonius do considerable damage to orange trees by feeding on the leaves. They rest fully exposed on the upper side of the leaves, but are so coloured that they resemble birds’ droppings. Pattiysa naira is a rare butterfly peculiar to Travancore.

The members of the last family, the Hesperiidac are called skippers from their peculiar jerky flight. They are a very distinct family and closely allied to the moths. There are about forty species in Travancore. The largest is Gangara thyrsis which is common in the low country, its caterpillar which is covered with white fluff is destructive to palms as it feeds on their leaves cutting and rolling up a leaf to form its habitation. The caterpillar of Matapa aria behaves in the same way towards the leaves of the bamboo, while that of Chapra mathias is said to do damage to the rice plant.

Series II. Hetekocera


The old divisions of the moths into five subsections is now more or less abandoned and no larger division than that of families is recognised. There are thirty four of these: it will not therefore be possible to mention them all, a few examples of the most prominent are all that can be cited.

The family of the Saturniidae or Emperor-moths contains the largest individual of all, Attacus atlas which is twelve inches in expanse; one noticeable feature in this family is the presence of transparent spaces on the forewings. This is found in several other species. Actias selene, a large greenish white moth with long tails, is another beautiful example of the family; it is fairly common both in the hills and plains.

The most useful member is Antheraa paphia the Tussur-silk moth, which is to be found about Trivandrum; Loepa katinka in the Hills and Cricula trifenestrata on the plains also spin cocoons of silk. The family Eupterotidae is represented by three rather common insects, Eupterote mollifera, Nisaga simplex and Sangatissa Subcurvifera. The scheme of colouring is the same in all brown or drab with curved black lines on the forewings. Their larvae are hairy and the hairs produce great irritation if the caterpillar is handled. The family of the Sphingidae or Hawk-moths is perhaps the most easily recognisable. They have long stout bodies elongated narrow pointed forewings and small hind ones. They fly usually by day or in the evening.

The best known is Acherontia lachesis, the Death’s-head moth, so called from the marking on the thorax being like a skull, When handled the moth can produce a fairly loud squeak. One of the most beautiful is Calyjmnia panopus. Daphnis nerii, the Oleander Hawk-moth, is the most wide spread being found all over Europe, S. Africa and India. The Humming-bird Hawk-moths of the genus Macroglossa have a very long proboscis and the tip of the abdomen is furnished with a toft of dense long scales which is capable of expansion. Macroglossa gyrans is common on the hills and M, bengalensis in the low country. Cephanodes hylas is peculiar in having the wings clear and transparent. The larvae are remarkable for their colour and form. They nearly always have a conspicuous stiff horn-like tail. In the genus Chaerocampus of which six species may be met with about Trivandrum, the caterpillar can retract the front segments into the fourth which is capable of expansion and makes the caterpillar more or less like a small hooded snake. The Sesiidae are a small family of day-flying moths remarkable for having a large part of one or both wings clear of scales, hence they are known as clear-wings. Sesia flavipes which is a good example is found only on the hills.

Another family of semi-diurnal habit are the Snytomidae which have the body as well as the wings highly coloured. Many of them are like wasps. Euchromia polymena, a very common insect in the plains though not a mimetic form, is a good example of the family. The Zygaenidae or Burnet-moths number a good many day-flying insects that are very like butterflies. Cyclosia australinda which is not uncommon about Trivandrum, might very well be mistaken for one of Pieridae or Whites and Histia nilgira found on the hills is very like one of the Swallow-tailed butterflies, while Himantopterus caudatus, a tiny reddish moth with orange lined wings with black spots, is a regular miniature one. Heterusia virescens and Chalcosia affinis common on the hills.

The Psychida are interesting from the fact that their larva cover themselves with a case composed of grass sticks, bits of leaves and lined with silk. The female remains always in the case and is wingless. The males pass their pupa stage in the case but emerge from it as winged insect. Clania variegate which is fairly common, forms its case of small bits of stick. The Cossidae or goat-moths are chiefly interesting from the fact that the larvae bore into trees and often do considerable damage. Mr. Bourdillon has brought to notice the harm done to teak by the caterpillar of Cossus cadamba, a brown moth about an inch and a half in expanse. The family Callidulide which are day-flying moths of medium size, is represented by Cleosiris calamita a plain brown insect like one of the Nymphalid butterflies. The family Limacodidae contains one form peculiarly interesting to planters as the larva Thosea cana, an insignificant looking moth, does great damage to tea bushes by feeding on the leaves.

The Lasiocampidae, Eggers or Lappet moths, are mostly of large size. Suana concolor a somewhat sphinx-like moth having dark red brown wings with a lighter margin and one or two yellowish spots, is a good example, the caterpillars are hairy with the tufts directed downwards, the tufts causing irritation. The family Hypsidae though small contain some Impedes that are very common of which Hypsa alcephron is perhaps the most abundant; it has buff forewings with one white spot and yellow hind- wings with round black spots.

The Arctiidae are a very extensive family containing four subfamilies. Those constituting the Certhinae are known as Tiger-moths. They are well represented in Travancore. The caterpillar of Arctia ricini, as its name implies, is destructive of the castor oil plant. The moth has the forewings brown with numerous right-ringed blackish spots and the hind wing crimson with irregular wavy blackish bands

Nyctermera laticinia having brown forewings with a white band and white hind wings with a brown border is a very common moth both in the hills and plains. Argina cribraria, Deiopeia pulchella and Eligma narcissus are all abundant about Trivandrum; of these Deiopeia pulchella about an inch in expanse having white forewings with black and red spots ind white hind wings with an irregular black marginal band, is very wide spread being found in Europe, Africa, all over India, the Malay Archipelago and Australia. The Noctuidae or Owl-moths form a large assemblage of night-flying insects of sombre colours usually marked with large eye-like spots. Some of them are of considerable size. Many of the caterpillars feed under ground on the roots of plants and are in consequence very destructive. Nyctipao macrops, a dark coloured moth about five inches in expanse, often comes into houses in Trivandrum, and two other smaller species, N. crepescularis and N. hieroglyphica, sometimes do the same.

The moths of the genus Ophiderac, unlike them, are brightly coloured having green or red brown forewings and yellow hind ones with black markings and usually a black lunule. There are four species, Ophideres ancilla, Ophideres hypermnestra, Ophideres salaminia and Ophideres fullonica; the latter is said to have the power of piercing with its proboscis and to do damage to crops of oranges by thus inserting it through the peel and sucking the juices. The Uraniidae are not a large family but contain some conspicuous insects. They are more or less day-flying. Some are white with ample wings and light bodies. Two very common species in the hills are Strophidia fasciata and Micronia aculeata; the latter is also not uncommon about Trivandrum.

The Geometridae are a large family of moths of slender build with large wings and a narrow elongated body; they are semi-nocturnal, the larvae are called “loopers” from their mode of progression which consists in moving the fore and hind segments alternately the centre of the body being raised in a loop. Eumelia rosalia a yellow insect with crimson specks and a crimson baud across both wings common about the low country is a good example. Naxa textilis is white. Euschema percota is a day-flying brightly coloured insect blue with purple markings. Its caterpillar does great damage to the leaves of lilies.

Another common species is Macaria fasciata, slaty grey with a white band across both wings and two orange blotches on the hind-wings. The Pyralidae include a large number of small or moderate-sized moths of fragile structure often having long legs. The genus Glyphodes is very well represented in Travancore, there being five species that are common about Trivandrum. Glyphodes glauculalis is blue green, G. celsalis white with some brown markings, G. sinuata yellow with some crimson on the forewings, G. laticostalis white with a brown band, and G. actorionalis brown with diaphanous white bands. They arc all small and more or less insignificant. Dichocrocis punctiferulis is a small straw-coloured moth with black spots on both wings common about Trivandrum; Lepyrodes neptis, yellowish brown with black edged white bands, is also very common.


The Coleoptera or beetles are well known. Most of them arc possessed of a hard exterior, and the front pair of wings, called Elytra, are not used for flight but serve as cases to protect the body. They are very numerous and are divided into six series. The first of these, the Lamellicornia are so called as the terminal joints of the antennae are leaf-like. They include the Stag-beetles, Chafers. Dung-beetles and Rose-chalers. Odontolabis cuvera is an example of the first which is common on the hills. Its thorax is black and the wing cases are dull yellow with a triangular black mark down the middle. The male has the mandibles produced at least three quarters of an inch. The female is coloured like the male but the mandibles are not produced into horn-like processes. The Scarabaeidae or Chafers are divided into several subfamilies, one of the most interesting of which is that of the Scarabae whose members may be recognised by their habit of rolling about balls of dang and earth.

One species of Atcuthus, a black insect is very common about Trivandrum. They act as scavengers by breaking up and removing the droppings of cattle and other animals. Another subfamily includes the Cockchafers or Melolonthides. Agastrata orichal cea, which is brilliant metallic greenish all over with purple reflections, is a good example common about Trivandrum. So is Heterorhina elegans rar cyanoptera, a dark metallic blue insect also with purple reflections. Some of them do damage in cultivations for instance Seriea pruinosa which defoliates coffee bushes.

Another subfamily, the Dynastidae, though small contains some very large insects with curious horns and projections. Eupatorius cantori, 2½ inches long reddish brown with reddish yellow margin having a long recurved horn in front and two others rising from the middle of the thorax, is a good example; another is Oryctes rhinoceros, a large black or brown beetle with a minute rhinoceros-like horn in front. It does great damage to the palms in the Public Gardens in Trivandrum by boring into the stems. The second series, the Adephaga, contains the Tiger- beetles, Ground-beetles and Water-beetles; of the first Collyris insignis is a good example. It has no wings and the Elytra are firmly soldered together. It has a long rounded thorax somewhat globular in the middle. They are very swift on foot and prey on other insects. Cicidella sexpunctata is another example which is of use as it preys on the destructive Rice-sapper.

Of the Ground-beetles or Carabidae, a species of Calosoma is not uncommon in Trivandrum and a species of Brachinus which is able to eject an explosive liquid, also Pterosophus bimaculatus dark blue with yellow markings. The Water-beetles or Dytiscidae are carnivorous both in the larval and in the adult stage. Cybister limbatus is a common species in water about Trivandrum, and Hydaticus festivus and H. vittatus are also numerous. The former is a gaily coloured insect having a yellow or orange ground colour with shiny black or dark brown markings.

The third series, the Polymorpha, is a very large one containing about fifty families of which the most interesting are the curious Burying- beetles, the Lady-birds, Fire-flies and Glow-worms, Click-beetles and the beautifully coloured Buprestidae. The Histeridae or Burying-beetles are very compact insects with a very hard shell, they dig under any carcase and so gradually bury it and they were supposed to live on it, but it is now ascertained that they are really predaceous and live on the larvae of flies which are found in the carcase. There are several species of Hister to be found in Trivandrum. The Lady-birds are useful as they prey upon plant lice.

Epilachna innuba, a small red and yellowish beetle with black spots, is a not uncommon species in the low country. A nearly allied family contains those curious insects which have the elytra flattened to form a rim under which the legs are hidden. They look like animated golden nuggets. Unfortunately when dead the colour fades completely. Their identity has yet to be determined.

The family Bostrichidae are very injurious as they attack timber. There are several species some of which do damage to teak while Bostrichus aequalis attacks the cotton tree. Bombax malabaricum. A small brown beetle of a closely allied family, the Ptinidae of the genus Dinoderus, damages bamboos by boring into them. Another of this family Lasioderma testaceum, a small brown beetle with white grubs, is most destructive to cheroots into which the larvae bore holes.

A species of Glow-worm of the genus Lampyris is not uncommon, the female is wingless and luminous. The Fire-flies which are so numerous and beautiful at certain seasons belong, I believe, to this family of the Malacodermidae but their identity has not been made out.

The click beetles or Elateridae have the power when lying on their backs of jerking themselves into the air at the same time giving a distinct click. Agryphnus fuscipes, a brown insect, is common about Trivandrum and Alaus speciosus, a white insect with a curious black irregular line down the centre of the thorax and some black spots, is common in the hills. The last family I need notice, the Buprestidae, is a large one and contains many insects remarkable for the magnificence of their colour. A very common example is Sternocera dasypleura, a reddish brown insect having the thorax deeply pitted, and coloured metallic green with golden reflections while beneath it is uniform metallic green also with golden reflections. Belinota scutellarisis another example, it is uniform metallic golden green, with some violet on the posterior margin and on the sides of the thorax. The larva is said to do damage by boring into the wood of Acacia catechu.

Of the fourth series, Hetromera, the great family Tenebrionidae contains the greater number; they are mostly black ground-beetles. There are several species to be found in Trivandrum but they are as yet unidentified. The most interesting are the Cantharidae or Meloidae, Blister-beetles or Oil-beetles. One of the commonest is a species of Mylabris black with red markings on the elytra very common on grass.

The fifth series, the Phytophaga or plant-eaters, contains among other families, the Chrysomelidae, which are as a rule leaf-feeders and the Cerambycidae or Longicorns, which are wood and stem feeders. Of the former, Corynodes peregrines and Corynodes corulentus are examples as also Crioceris impressus. The larvae of some species of this genus have a peculiar method of protecting themselves. “The anus”, says Dr. Sharpe, “is placed on the upper surface and formed so that the excrement when voided is pushed forward on to the insect here it is retained by means of a slimy matter, and a thick coat entirely covering the creature is ultimately formed’’. Some of the longicorn-beetles are very large. One rather common species is quite four inches long dark brown and the male has the mandibles produced almost as largely as some of the stag- beetles. The name of this species I do not know. The well-known coffee-borer Xylotrechus quadrupes. a slender beetle some three quarters of an inch long belongs to this family. Other examples are Batocera albofasiata, about two inches long reddish brown with white spots and beneath dirty brown margined with white. Mecotagus gnermi (?) about an inch long is dull brown with some white lines on the thorax and head and white vermiculations on the elytra. Clytus annularis about half an inch long is yellowish white with reddish brown markings. Oleocumpus belobus rather more than half an inch long is ashy brown with four white round marks on the elytra, the first two approximating the sides of the head and thorax margined with white.

The sixth series, the Rhyncophora, contains the Weevils. They can be recognised by their having the head more or less prolonged in front to form a mouth or beak. Some of them are large, for instance, the Palm-weevil, a reddish brown insect some two inches long whose white fleshy legless grubs tunnel into the trunks of various palms. Another curious insect is Cryphtorrhyncus mangifera. It is an earth-coloured weevil and as a grub have inside the stone of the mango fruit finally eating its way out when full grown.


This is the last Order of insects that undergo a complete metamorphosis. The mouth organs in the adult are adapted for biting and grinding. The wings are membranous and are covered with a net- work of veins. It includes the Caddis-flies constituting the suborder Trichoptera, and the Scorpion-flies, Lace-wing Flies, Ant lions and Mantis-flies constituting the suborder Planipennia.

The larvae of the Caddis-flies are with few exceptions aquatic and construct cases of all sorts of materials. There are several species in Travancore but not yet identified. Among the Planipennia there is a remarkable insect of the family Sialidae that has large sickle-shaped mandibles, it belongs to the genus Corydalis, The Mantispidae or mantis-flies are well represented but have not been worked out. The Ant-lions are well known. The larvae make pit falls to catch crawling insects. Wherever there is a dry sandy spot these funnel-shaped pits may be seen and at the bottom the larva sits with its sickle-shaped jaws extended ready to seize its prey when it falls down the loose sandy sides of the pit.

The adult Ant-lions are winged insects whose wings when at rest spread like a roof over the hinder part of the body. Some have the wings plain, others spotted. There is one large species whose wings are marked with obliquely transverse brown bands. The expanse is over 4 inches. It often finds its way into houses at night and flutters about against the ceiling. When the larva is full-fed it encloses itself in a more or less spherical cocoon made of sand grains fastened together with silken threads, the interior of which is lined with silk, within this it undergoes its metamorphosis.


This Order includes the Dragon-flies, May-flies, Stone-flies, Termites or White-ants, Crickets, Grasshoppers, Locusts, Stick and Leaf-insects, Mantises, Cockroaches and Earwigs.

None of these undergo a distinct metamorphosis but by the gradual succession of changes pass from the larval to the adult stage, the larvae are wingless at first, and the wings are developed during the moults, being fully formed only at the last moult. The mouth organs are adapted for biting. Most of the members of the group are of large size.

The Dragon-flies (Odonata) live entirely upon insects, which they capture on the wing. In the larval and pupal stages they live in water and are equally carnivorous. In both stages there is a peculiar structure fixed under the head known as “the mask” which is a jointed weapon armed at the end with a pair of toothed processes. It can be protruded with great quickness and serves to seize the prey. There are three families, the Libellulidae, Aeshnidae and Agrionidae. In the two first the head is rounded but in the third it is much wider than long, almost cylindrical and set on the body like the head of a hammer on its handle. Many of the species are very beautiful as their wings often glitter with varied iridescence. There are many species in Travancore of all three families, but no attempt has yet been made to ascertain their specific names.

The Termites or White-ants (Termitadae) are well known on account of their destructive habits. They live in colonies which consist of a queen and king with some supernumerary individuals which may, by a system of diet, be matured into royalties if required, another lot of individuals with very large heads and formidable jaws, who may be called soldiers and finally the workers, who are by far the most numerous. The perfect individuals have compound eyes but the soldiers and workers are as a rule eyeless. The mouth parts are formed for biting. Just before the rains, when the first showers fall, great swarms of winged termites make their way out of the nest. Most of these are destroyed by birds or lizards but the survivors may form new colonies. Their food consists generally of decaying wood or other vegetable matter. On the hills a species may be seen which tunnel into the branches of trees and make nests round them. Another species seems to live on grass, but so far, these, like so many other insects, await identification.

Crickets (Gryllidae) belong to the suborder of true Orthoptera which differ from those so far mentioned in having the two pairs of wings un- like, the first pair being usually stiff and horny, and serving as covers to the hinder pair which are membranous and folded. The chirping noise made by crickets is produced by rubbing the base of one wing-cover over the other. It may often be heard at night in houses; it is uttered only by the male and is supposed to attract the female. The abdomen bears two flexible appendages and the female has in addition a long ovipositor.

A black insect of the genus Gryllus is common in houses and a green one of the genus Calyptotrypus is found in the fields, but the one that forces itself most into notice is the mole-cricket, Gryllotalpa vulgaris as it flies into the verandah attracted at night by the light and flaps about in an irresponsible way. It is a large insect and can at once be recognised by the form of its front legs which are greatly thickened for digging. It burrows underground and so destroys the roots of plants. All crickets lay their eggs in holes in the ground glued together in masses.

The long-horned Grasshoppers (Locustidae) are so called because they have very long bristle-like antennae. The true locusts do not belong to this family but to the next. They are usually green or brown in colour. Like the crickets they produce sound by rubbing the base of one wing- cover over the other. The females have a long sabre-shaped ovipositor.

Mecopoda elongataa large greenish brown insect with very long hind legs is a common species. Some have the wing-covers very much enlarged and veined like leaves. Onomarchus leuconotius is an example, the wing- covers are light green and quite leaf-like. A species of Aprion also has green wing-covers but is not so large an insect. Another very curious insect is Acanthodis ululina; its wing-covers are like lichen-covered bark.

The Locusts (Acridiidae) have short antenna and they produce sound in a different way to that by which the crickets and grasshoppers produce it namely, by rubbing the innerside of the hind legs, which has certain bead-like prominences, against the outer face of the wing-cover in which there is a prominent sharp-edged vein. The females have only a short ovipositor. In Travancore we are not troubled by swarms of migratory locusts but there are several species of locusts to be found. One of the largest is Acridium flavicorne. The most abundant and widely distributed of the migratory locusts is Pachytylus cinerascens which may be found throughout the Oriental Region, in Europe and even in New Zealand.

It is common in Travancore but does not swarm.

Another species of short-horned grasshopper common about Trivandrum is Aularches miliaris. Its thorax is curiously rugose, highly polished and with a yellow margin, the wing-covers are bluish green with round sealing-wax-like yellow spots and in fact it is highly ornamental. another species, Ædaleus marmoratus has the wing-covers and the base of the hind wings yellow bordered with brown. A very curious looking insect is Acrida turrita which has the head very much prolonged into a cone-shape with the antennae and eyes near the apex.

The Leaf and Stick-insects (Phasmidae) are very curious and derive their name from their likeness to dry sticks and leaves. The wings of the stick-insects are rudimentary and their legs very long and are usually stretched out unsymmetrically. They are generally to be found amongst underwood or on the stems of long grasses. They are vegetable feeders.The female lays eggs singly dropping them casually on the ground. Each is enclosed in a capsule and they are very like seeds of plants. One species over a foot in length is found on the hills. It is, I believe, a species of Lonchodes. Wingless species of the genus Bacillus are common about Trivandrum. The only leaf-insect found here is Phyllium scythe. Its body is flat and broad and the wing-covers are leaf-like. Its colour is more or less green. The legs have broad leaf-like expansions. It is not very common.

The Praying Insects (Mantidae) usually have the prothorax very much longer than the other two segments of the thorax. The two hinder pairs of legs are long and are used for progression but the front pair are peculiarly formed and are used to seize their prey, for they are carnivorous, the thighs are strong and are provided with two rows of spines and the shanks arc also furnished with two rows of spines and can be folded back on the thighs, when at rest these joints are thus kept folded as if the insect were at prayer, hence their name. They lay eggs in masses which are attached to plants and are surrounded by a parchment-like capsule. The commomest form is (Gongylus gongyloides). Another species very like Harpax ocellata of Africa has eye-like marks on the wing-covers. There are many species and they often come into the verandah at night attracted by the light.

Cockroaches (Blattidae) are very common. Their legs are eminently fitted for running and they can move very quickly. They have strong horny jaws well fitted for biting. They generally have two pairs of wings, the front pair being stiff and horny, while hinder pair are more membranous. The ordinary large form that infests houses is Periplaneta americana. Periplaneta decorata is a smaller insect having some brown markings. Leucophaca surinamensis is another common insect about Trivandrum. On the hills a rather ornamental form is found, Corydia petiveriana. The under wings and sides of the body are yellow and the upper side of the front wings are black with cream-coloured marks. The eggs are laid in a capsule formed in the interior of the females. The capsule is a honey case which is carried about for sometime by the mother protruding from the hinder part of the body. Eventually it is laid in some suitable locality and the young make their way out. Earwigs (Forficulidae can be at once recognised by the fact that they bear at the end of the body a pair of forceps or callipers. Many are wingless but in those forms that possess wings they are folded in a complicated way. They are not common and so far none have been identified in Travancore, though there are several species. The females lay eggs and are said to watch over them with great care.


This Order also called Hemiptera includes the Bugs tad is well represented in Travancore. It is divided into two suborders, Hemiptera heteroptera and Hemiptera homoptera. Few however have given attention to the order and only lately has any attempt been made to work it out in India. The insects constituting it may be readily recognised by the possession of a long proboscis which is usually bent under the body. Some are vegetable feeders and some carnivorous. Many of them are brilliantly coloured.

In the family Pentatomidae or Shield-bugs, which is one of the largest and most important, there are several such, Seutellera nobilis is metallic bluish green or purplish with indigo blue spots and bars. It is a common insect about the low country. Chrysocoris stokerus, also common, is bluish green with black spot and Catacanthus incarnatus is reddish yellow with black spots. The best known members of the family, however, is the green bug Nezara viridula on account of its evil scent. Most bugs possess the power of emitting an unpleasant odour but the green bug seems to exercise it more particularly. Some are injurious to plants as the well-known Rice-sapper, Leptocorisa acuta, which destroys young paddy, also those of the genus Helopeltis which are most destructive to the tea plants. On the other hand Aspongopus nigriventis 18 of use in effecting the pollination of the Sago palm. Some bugs feed exclusively on other insects, especially those of the family Reuviidae of which Conorhinnus rubrofasciatas and Euagoras plagiatus, common insects about Trivandrum, are examples. Unlike the other land-bugs they have no smell.

When writing of carnivorous bugs mention must be made of the common Bed-bug, Cimex lectularius, which is unfortunately too well known throughout the world. The water-bugs, like the Reduviidae are innocent of smell. A species of Naucoris which swims about on its back is very common, also one of Hydrometra. These fly well and at night are often attracted by the lights to enter houses.

A species of Belostoma, a huge brown insect over three inches long, is sometimes attracted in this way. Water-scorpions of the genus Nepa are also common; their forelegs are specially modified to serve as prehensile organs and they have a long slender siphon behind. Of the suborder Hemiptera homoptera, Cicadas are most in evidence. One does not meet with them in the low country but from the foot of the hills to the summits their voices are to be heard at times in a chorus which is almost deafening. The males alone possess the power of emitting sound, hence a Greek poet has written “Happy the Cicadas lives, for they all have voiceless wives”. There are several species in Travancore but they have not yet been indentified.

The Lantern flies of the family Fulgorida have a horn-like extension of the top of the head which was supposed to be luminous, hence their name. The species common on the hills here is Fulgora delesserti. Its forewings are brown with yellow spots and the hind are blue with the apical area dark brown. The genus Flatta is represented by F. acutipemis and F. tunicata, their forewings are green and the hind are white. The family Mernbracida have the prothorax prolonged backwards into a hood or into other strange forms. There are several curious examples to be seen about the low country, of which Centrotypis flexuosus is about the commonest. The frothy masses seen at times hanging to branches of trees or bushes are the work of the larva of the frog-hoppers or Cercopidae of which there are many species.

Others of this family secrete fluid so abundantly as to make it appear to drop like rain from the trees in which they are. The Plant-lice or Aphidae are another family of this sub- order and, though small, are from their enormous numbers most injurious to trees and plants. There are many species in Travancore. The Scale-insects or Mealy-bugs of the family Coccidae are also very injurious but on the other hand some produce useful substances, as for instance white wax is formed by a Lecaniid, Ceroplastes ceriferus and lac is the shelly covering of Carteria lacca unfortunately neither of these species occurs in Travancore but only the injurious forms of which there are many.

Thysanoptera and Thysanura

The insects comprising the first of these Orders are all very small and feed upon the juices of flowers and sometimes do great injury as they are often found in large numbers. The most familiar member of the Thysannca are the little silver-fish which may always be found among papers or books, that have been allowed to lie tor any length of time undisturbed. They do damage to books by feeding on the paste used in binding them and they also eat old paper.


This group includes the Millipedes and Centipedes. The former are distinguished by their slow movements and are exclusively vegetable feeders. They have no weapons of offence but are able to secrete a strong smelling liquid. Their bodies are more or less cylindrical. They include the Pill-millipedes Oniscomorpha and the worm-like Millipedes or Helminthomorpha. The former are not quite so much in evidence as the latter, but one species which I believe to be Arthrosphoera inermis is fairly common. There are several species of the latter of which Spirostreptus malabricus is the commonest; it is a long black millipede about ten inches to a foot in length and is found abundantly both in the hills and on the plains the liquid it secretes smells strongly of iodine and leaves a brown stain on the hands.

A species of Trachyiulus each segment of which carries from 11 to 18 warty spines, is also common on the hills. Another, a species of Leptodesmus, brown with yellow lateral line is common on the low country; it is about 2 inches long. The Centipedes are more or less soft and flat-bodied, they are active and swift and live for the most part in dark places under stones, logs of woods &c., they prey upon insects or worms which they kill by means of their large poison claws or maxillipedes. One of the most peculiar is Scutigera longicornis; it is about an inch and a half long with a small body and about 15 pairs of long legs so arranged as to give it on oval shape. Unlike most it enjoys sunlight and may be seen in its native haunts darting about and catching insects regardless of the blazing sun. It is common about Trivandrum. Of the Scolopendridae, Rhysida longipes and Scolopendra morsitans are the commonest. They live on cockroaches, beetles, worms, &c., and are frequently found about houses. The Geophilidae are long worm-like centipedes with from thirty-nine to over one hundred segments; they are subterranean in their habits and feed almost entirely on earth worms. Mecistocephalus punctiferus is the commonest species.


This class includes the Scorpions, Spiders, Mites &c. Of the former so far as six species have been identified in Travancore of which one Chiromachetes fergusoni is peculiar to it. The great black scorpions of the genus Palamnaeus are to be found under stones. P. scaber is about four inches long and has the hands and vesicle tinged with red. Lychas tricarinatus, a brownish yellow scorpion about two inches long, is often found in houses especially about the bath-rooms.

The Whip-scorpions or Pedipalpi resemble the true scorpions but may be recognised by the fact that the abdomen is sharply marked off from the cephalothorax by a constriction. They are divided into a tailed group Uropygi and a tailless Amblipygi. The former have a movable tail corresponding to the sting of the scorpions. They live in damp places under stones or in crevices of wood or rock. There are two species of Uropygi identified, Telyphonus indicus and Thelyphomus sepiaris subspecies muricola, about an inch and a half long and with a tail rather more than an inch. It is black above with red legs. There are some smaller species which have not yet been identified. Of the Amplipygi the only species yet found is Phrynichus phipsoni; the body is much flattened and kidney-shaped, the abdomen oval. The body is about an inch and a quarter long and black. All the legs are long especially the first pair which are like antennae. Except for the long prehensile chela, it is outwardly like a spider. The true spiders or Aranea are well represented. Of the larger species some twenty have been identified but there are many more as yet unnamed. Of the named ones six have not been found elsewhere, but this is probably due to the fact that very little attention has been paid to this order.

The six species peculiar to Travancore are Sason armatoris and Sanonichus sullivani, Ground-living burrowing spiders, Paecilotheria rufilata, a large hairy red spider obscurely mottled, total length of body two inches legs about three, which lives in trees there is another species P. striata grey with dark stripes not quite so large. They hunt by night and feed on beetles, cockroaches. &c. Pscchrus alticeps, about three quarters of an inch long with slender legs about two inches which spins a large web, is found in the hills and in the plains. It is yellowish brown variegated with black. Feccnia travancorica, au allied species has been found at Madatora. Pandercetes celatus, a hunting spider, coloured grey and mottled with brown so as to match the lichen-covered bark of trees is the last of the spiders peculiar to Travancore. Of the others those most frequently met with are Nephila maculata and Nephila malabarensis.

The former is about an inch and a quarter long with long strong legs. It has the thorax black, the abdomen olive brown with yellow lines and spots. The latter is less than an inch long, the thorax is black with yellow hairs on it, the abdomen greyish brown mottled darker. They spin webs composed of radiating and concentric threads. That of Nephila maculata is often found across bridle paths in forest on the hills, and the threads are very elastic and strong and appear to be covered with some glutinous substance as they stick if one comes in contact with the web. Some spiders of the genus Gasterocantha are curiously shaped.

G. geminata has the abdomen twice as broad as long, with paired spines sticking out on each side and behind, it is yellow with two transverse black stripes. Of the hunting spiders, Peucetia viridana is common on the hills. It is about half an inch long more or less green all over and lives amongst grass and other plants where it seeks its prey. In houses Heteropoda venatoria is very common. It is a greyish brown spider about three quarters of an inch or more long with legs about twice this length and moves sideways running very quickly. Of the Acari or Mites, I can say little, a species of velvety mite of the genus Trombidium about half an inch long, looking as if it were covered with plush, is found at Udayagiri, but probably the commonest is the microscopic itch-mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, which tunnels under the skin of man where it lays eggs which hatch and the young then start burrowing also. Ticks of the genus Ixodes are very common on cattle and in fact they attack all land vertebrates including snakes and lizards. They are common in grass lands,


The Crustaceans comprise a large assemblage presenting great diversity of structure. They are divided into two subclasses, the Malacostraca, and Entomostraca. The former comprises, among others, the familiar Crabs, Lobsters and Cray-fish, the latter the Barnacles and the tiny water-fleas.

The Crabs form the short-tailed group of the order Dccapoda and the Lobsters and Cray-fishes are members of the long tailed division. Both are well represented in Travancore, and so far some 30 species have been identified. The crabs are divided into five tribes, representatives of three of which have so far been found; the first of these, the Cyclometopa, are distinguished by having rounded fore- heads. Most of the commoner species are included in this tribe. The field-crab, Thelphusa leschenaulti, which is so abundant, is an example. Some of the sea-crabs belonging to this tribe are very large, for example Scylla scrrata, dull greenish blue and Charybdis crucifera, which is also conspicuous by its colour, purplish red with creamy white markings suffused with lighter purple, one of them forming a more or less conspicuous cross. The edible crabs, Neptunnus sanuinolentus, reddish yellow with bright reddish round marking and Neptunnus pelagicus orange markings, belong to this tribe, as also Cardiosoma carnifexa dark reddish brown crab having the appendages covered with hairs. It is found on the margins of lakes. The second tribe Catometopa has the frontal region of the carapace broad and square and bent downwards.

The crabs which are so commonly seen on the sands belong to this tribe, they have very long eye-stalks and apparently see remarkably well. They are gregarious and each one forms a burrow for itself; they run very swiftly and are by no means easy to catch; two species, Ocypoda platytarsus and Ocypoda, cardimana, have been identified. Nearly allied to them are the curious Calling-crabs, Gelasismus annulipes, found on the shores of the backwaters. The male has one pincer enormously developed and it brandishes this as if it were beckoning hence the name of calling-crab has been given to it. This claw is highly coloured and Major Alcock has suggested that the males wave it to attract the females. Another example is Grapsus grapsus which is bright reddish brown and possesses long and powerful legs which enable it to dart about the rocks very quickly and its flattened carapace enables it to find shelter in amongst the crevices. It is fairly common at Cape Comorin.

The third tribe, the Oxyrhynca, is unrepresented so far in the Museum collection.

The fourth tribe, the Oxystomata, or sharp-nosed crabs have the carapace produced in front into a short beak-like prominence. They vary in habit; for instance, a species of Matuta found in the beach at Trivandrum, a pale olive-coloured creature having a roughened carapace with two prominent lateral prolongations forming spines, is an active swimmer. Calappa lophos, on the other hand, leads a sluggish life on the floor of the sea. It is found at Tiruvallam and Puvar. It has a strongly convex carapace with the sides produced into shelf-like plates covering the legs, and the pincers are enlarged and compressed, so that when folded they form a covering to the face and so give it complete protection. Leucosia craniolaris, another example of this tribe, is remarkable for the porcelain-like appearance and texture of its pale bluish carapace. It is found on the Trivandrum beach.

The remaining tribe, the Anomala, is so far without a representative in the collection.

There are several species of Hermit-crabs, which, having the integument of the abdomen soft, use empty shells of the Mollusca to protect themselves. None of these have been identified as yet.

The Lobsters, Prawns and Shrimps are numerous. Palinnurus dasypus is perhaps the commonest; it is a large lobster reaching a length of over a foot. The cephalo-thorax is olive green with dull reddish yellow markings, the abdominal rings are finely spotted with orange. It has long antennae and the cephalo-thorax is thickly covered with spiny tubercles and there is a large spine over each eye. Pannsirus fasciatus, another lobster, has even longer antennae; it is a bluish green with orange transverse lines a little above the posterior margins of the somites. A specimen 9 inches long has the antennae 2 feet 4 inches in length. It is found among rocks. Thenus orientalis, also found on rocky shores, is reddish brown and the head appendages are curiously produced into leaf-like processes.

Shrimps and prawns are common; a species of Palaemon grows to nine inches in length and is commonly sold in the market. In the back- waters a very large prawn, Palaemon carcinus, is found. The cephalo-thorax and the anterior portions of the somites are light purplish green followed by deep blue with orange spots on the sides and tail. Its length is 12 inches and the pincers are 19 inches.

The order Stomapoda is represented by a species of Mantis-shrimp (Squilla which makes burrows in the sand. They have a very short carapace and their seizing limbs are not chelate, but toothed, like the forelimbs of a mantis, hence their name. The Isopoda are represented by Hippa asiatica, pale bluish ashy, which lives in the sands also by Spaeroma whose convex body is capable of being rolled into a ball; they live under stones. The fish-lice, some of which attain a length of 2 inches, also belong to this group. On land the wood-lice represent it; there are several species to be found, but they are as yet unidentified.

The Entomostraca are well represented. A species of Lepas is common and so is Balanus tittinabulam one of the Acorn Barnacles. Of the remaining subkingdoms, the Echinoderms, Molluscs, Worms, and Coelenterates, I can say nothing, as it has not been possible hitherto to collect them systematically and to ascertain how far they are represented in Travancore.