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Insessores, or perchers. This order is represented by an innumerable variety, so that we can mention but a few of the most common; such as: Ruby-throated humming bird, chimney swallow, whippoorwill, night hawk, belted kingfisher, king bird, pewee or Phoebe bird, wood thrush, common robin, blue-bird, black and while creeper, Maryland yellow-throat, chestnut-sided warbler, scarlet tanager, barn swallow, cliff swallow, bank swallow, purple martin, shrike or butcher-bird, red-eyed vires or fly-catcher, catbird, brown thrush, house wren, winter wren, nut-hatch, titmouse or chickadee, horned lark, finch, yellow bird, white throated sparrow, tree sparrow, chipping sparrow, sing sparrow, rosebreasted grosbeak, indigo-bird, chewink, bobolink, cow-bird, redwinged black-bird, meadow lark, Baltimore oriole, orchard oriole, crow black-bird, blue jay, etc. The mocking bird breeds here, rarely. The crow is not common, though far more so than twenty years ago. The snow-bunting is found in winter. The black snow bird is seen in countless numbers, spring and fall, as it migrates to the north or south. The rose-breasted grosbeak has increased in numbers wonderfully in the last fifteen years, since the advent of the potato-bug, of which it is inordinately fond.
The order of Racores, which includes many of our game birds, is represented by the wild or passenger pigeon, Carolina dove. pinnated grouse or prairie chicken, which is scarce compared with the early years, ruffed grouse or partridge, and the quail. The wild turkey is said to have been fouad occasionally when the country was new, but if so they have long since disappeared.
Among the Grallatores, or waders, we have the sand-hill crane occasionally, the bittern, green heron, golden plover, killdeer plover, king plover, black-bellied plover, turnstone, woodcock, Wilson's snipe, rail, and others.
Among the Natatores, or swimmers, we might mention a great variety of species that tarry in our waters a greater or less period in passing to and from their northern breeding grounds in spring and fall, including the wild goose, brant, mallard, green and bluewinged teal, midgeon, red-head, canvas-back, golden-eye, butterball, and other varieties of ducks and geese; and the great northern diver, or loon. The summer duck, and some other species of this order, breed with us. The swan is sometimes found; as is also the whité pellican.
Reptiles are neither very numerous nor formidable, though, when first settled, several sections of the county were considerably infested by more or less dangerous specimens. The yellow rattlesnake and the massasauga or prairie rattlesnake were frequently encountered, and the former sometimes attained great sizes. It found a congenial habitat along the bluffs among the rocks, and there are traditions of dens of these hideous reptiles similar to that described by 0. W. Holmes in "Elsie Venner," inhabited by
monsters of fabulous number and size. Single specimens, and some quite large, are still found occasionally, and their possible presence is still, to the timid, a terror in those otherwise delightful dells that break through the bluff wall. The water-snake survives in the streams. The black-snake, the blue-racer, the ground snake and the garter-snake—the most common comprise the other species, and they are every year decreasing in number. There are three or four species of turtle, possibly one lizard, and one or two salamanders, besides the usual varieties of frogs and toads.
Fishes abound in all the streams of any size, ranging from the minnow to the gigantic buffalo and catfish. Among the more common are the perch, bass, pike, pickerel, sucker, sturgeon, eel, red horse, chub, gar-pike, dog-fish, etc. The only brook or . speckled trout found in Iowa are caught in the cold, swift creeks that empty into the Upper Iowa. They were formerly very numerous in Patterson, Silver and French creeks, but these streams have been so persistently fished that comparatively few are now to be found. The other varieties are caught in great numbers in both the Mississippi and the Iowa.
Of the crustaceous, the crawfish, or crab, is our best known representative; and of the mollusks, the snail.
The insects include representatives of all the great families. The lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) have many species, varying greatly in size, from the great cecropia moth, five inches across the wings, to the tiny tinea, less than half an inch, which does so much damage to uncared for carpets, etc. The hymneoptera include the membraneous winged insects, such as bees, wasps, ichneumons, saw-flies, ants, and their allies; the dipterea, the twowinged insects, as flies, mosquitoes, etc.; the coleoptera, or sheathwinged insects, are numerous, and many of them large and beautifully colored. This class embraces the beetles, among the troublesome and destructive borers of many species, the scavenger bugs, and the potato bug. The beautiful and useful ladybugs belong also to this division. Many of the borers are remarkable for the length of their antenniæ, and for the strangeness and elegance of their forms. The apple-tree borer is about three-fourths of an inch long in its beetle state. It lays its eggs on the bark, near the foot of the tree. The larvæ are whitish, with small, horny, brown-colored heads. They remain in the larvæ state two or three years, during which time it is they do the damage. Their transformation is usually completed in June, when the perfect beetle emerges. The lady-bug is destructive to aphides, or plant lice, and should therefore be preserved. The Colorado potato bug first appeared in this county, we believe, in the season of 1867. It is a native of the Far West, and when making this "invasion” spread over the country to the eastward at an average rate of about sixty miles a year.
The hermiptera comprise bugs, cicadas or harvest-flies, and the like. In this division we find the chinchbug, which has been very destructive to wheat in this county for a number of years. It is of the same family and genus (cimex) as the bed-bug. The seventeen-year locust" also comes under this class. It appeared in this county, or portions of it, in immense numbers in 1864, and again in 1881. There are several different broods throughout the country, so that in various sections they are found in different years. Entomologists tell us there is another variety which reappears in thirteen years. They are short-lived and harmless, except that they injure the looks of the foliage where they are abundant.
Orthoptera are the straight-winged insects, like the grasshoppers, katydids, cockroaches, crickets, etc.; and the neuroptera are nervewinged, like the dragon-flies, or "devil's darning needles," and their allies. The arachnida, or spiders, and the myriapoda, or centipedes, are of course found everywhere in their accustomed haunts.
It will be seen that the geology and natural history of this county offers an ample field for the amateur collector, or for the naturalist who seeks to lay a broad foundation for future investigation by first acquiring a thorough knowledge of the local flora and fauna. It is far from creditable to the scientific spirit of the county, and especially to its high schools, that no better collections illustrating local geology, botany, zoology, or entomology, exist within its borders. Teachers, especially the able principals of schools, could easily awaken an interest in the minds of their pupils that might not only result in the developement of enthusiastic practical naturalists, but in the formation of collections that would be both of value in teaching and objects of interest through the future. Moreover, knowledge derived from the study of nature has a pecuniary value not easily estimated. The man who has a knowledge of botany is not liable to be tricked into buying worthless vegetable wonders. The existence of the borers, the potato beetle, the chinch bug, and the many other eneemies of the horticulturist and the farmer, demonstrate the need of at least a passing acquaintance with insects and their habits, in order to the better combat with them, and teachers should lead in impressing on the minds of all the importance of such knowledge. The loss annually sustained by Iowa farmers by the ravages of insects is several millions of dollars, of which'Allamakee county bears her full share; and a large portion of this immense sum might be readily saved by a proper popular knowledge of them and the measures to be taken for their destruction.
In general, the air of this region is bracing, healthful and invigorating. Miasma and malaria are not prevalent, except along the sloughs of the Mississippi where attacks of ague are imminent at
certain seasons. It is seldom that consumption is contracted here, although our climate is not now considered, as formerly, a specific for that disease. The prevailing winds are westerly-northwest being most prevalent, the southwest next, and southeast third in order. The annual precipitation of moisture averages about 36 inches; and the mean annual temperature is not far from 45 degrees Fahrenheit. In general the winters are cold and long continued, with plenty of snow, though exceptions are not infrequent. The
open winter of 1877-78 will long be remembered, when mud prevailed and roads were nearly impassible for weeks. Flowers bloomed on the open ground the last week in December; bees were at work on Christmas day; and at Lansing an excursion by ferry boat on the Mississippi was indulged in. Peas and greens grew five inches high in gardens in early January, ducks were flying north, and considerable plowing was done. So, also, will be remembered the severe winter of 1880–81, with its long continued and frequently repeated snow-blockades; and the winter of 1856– 57, when the deeply drifted snow was covered with a crust that supported ox teams in places, and deer were run down by men on foot because their sharp hoofs penetrated the crust which impeded their speed and lacerated their legs.
Friday night, April 27, 1877, an old-fashioned northeast snow storm set in, and continued almost steadily until Sunday afternoon. The roads were blockaded by drifts which rose in places to the depth of four feet. Very late heavy frosts are on record for the 11th, 12th and 13th of May, 1878, and ice formed to considerable thickness May 220 and 23d, 1882. Although these are exceptional cases, frosts have been known in June and July. Aug. 220 and 23d, 1875, severe frost injured corn in low lands; and frosts are usually liable to occur after Sept. 10th. The beautiful Indian summer weather of late fall is one of the prominent features of our climate, though it is sometimes crowded out of the annual programme entirely.
Our county has so far since its settlement escaped the ravages of severe tornadoes to a great extent, the most serious storm of that character which has visited us entered the county from the southwest, on the afternoon of the 26th of September, 1881; passing just north of Postville, it demolished the houses of several farmers in Post township, especially at Lybrand, and passed northwardly through Jefferson Township, unroofing houses and twisting off or uprooting trees in its course, finally disappearing east of Waukon. Undoubtedly had the storm struck a town there would have been loss of life as well as property. As it was, several were very severely injured in Post township and all their personal effects swept away. Sept. 24, 1872, several buildings were blown down at Monona, including the depot and the Catholic church, but no lives were lost.
Of the other severe storms, the following are the most noteworthy: A severe wind and hail storm destroyed the crops in its path in July, 1854, unroofing Scott Shattuck's large barn at Waukon, and blowing down the frame of the Makee school_house. May 21st, 1870, a storm passed eastwardly through Union Prairie, Makee, Center and Lafayette, unroofing the West Ridge Catholic church, and the hail broke window glass all along its course. July 14th of the same season severe hail, rain and wind destroyed crops in Ludlow, the hail destroying a great deal of window glass and cutting the heads of people exposed to its fury. April 29th, 1872, a severe storm visited the southern portion of the county, unroofing houses and blowing down trees. August 4th, 1872, a hail storm extended over a good share of the county, doing great damage to crops in Post and Franklin. One of the most terrible "blizzards" erer experienced in this region raged January 7th, 8th and 9th, 1873, when the snow was drifted to unprecedented heighths, the air was filled with the fine, cutting particles so that travel was impossible, and the mercury ranged from 20 to 36 degrees below zero. This was the time trains were showed in for three days, in Winneshiek County, and passengers passed forty-eight hours of suffering therein. In the night of June 23d, 1875, a terrific rain flooded the valleys of Paint and Village creeks, the Iowa and its tributaries, sweeping away many county bridges, mill dams, etc. The Yellow river was treated to a similar destructive flood June 1st, 1878.
On the 10th of July, 1878, began our heaviest rain fall on record, raging at intervals from Wednesday evening until Friday morning, when the rain gauge showed 6.70 inches of rain in thirtysix hours (at Waukon), and on Sunday .66 in addition fell. This flood was general all over the county and did untold damage at Lansing and Village Creek; several had narrow escapes from drowning; almost every bridge along Village Creek was swept away, and the damage along the valley was estimated at $50,000. The valleys of the Iowa and Yellow Rivers did not escape with less injury.
But the rainy season of 1880 was more remarkable in many respects, though generally not so destructive, except on Yellow River where the damage was unprecedented. This series of rains began May 24th, and continued nearly through June, the months of May and June showing a rain fall of 14.68 inches at Waukon. The first storms was most severe in the northern portion of the county, while that of June 141h was particularly destructive along Yellow River, sweeping away crops, bridges, dams, and even mills. Great rains prevailed throughout the Upper Mississippi valley, so that river was higher than ever before known, during the latter part of June. Along our border it reached its highest about June 22d, nearly a foot higher than the previons high water mark of April, 1870.