Imágenes de páginas

CUBIT (Lat. cubitus, elbow). A measure employed by the ancients, equal to the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. The cubit of the Romans was about 17% inches, and that of the Hebrews 22 inches, but its length is now generally stated at 18 English inches.

CUBITT, Sir WILLIAM (1785-1861). An English civil engineer, born at Dilham, Norfolk. In 1800-04 he was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker at Stalham, and at Swanton was associated with a manufacturer of agricultural machines and devised self-regulating sails for windmills. In 1818 he began the manufacture of his invention known as the treadmill, which was quickly introduced into the principal jails of Great Britain. From 1826 he was connected as engineer with important works in the improve ment of canals and rivers, and the construction

of bridges and railways. He conducted the improvement of the Severn and the building of the Southeastern Railway. The water-works of Berlin were also executed by him. In 1850-51 he was president of the Institution of Civil Engi


CUCKOO, kuk'oo (Fr. coucou, Lat. cuculus, Gk. KÓKKU, kokkyx, cuckoo, Skt. kōkila, cuckoo). A name given to many birds of the picarian family Cuculidæ, which contains about 175 species, mostly confined to the warmer regions of the globe, although some of them are summer visitors to cool climates. Only 35 of the known species live in the New World. The beak is slightly compressed and somewhat arched; the tail long, rounded, and usually of ten feathers; the wings rather long; the tarsi short, with two toes directed forward and two backward, the outer hind toe capable of being brought half round to the front. The feet are thus adapted for grasping and moving about upon branches rather than for climbing.

plished. It works itself under them, and then jerks them out by a motion of its rump. Other species of cuckoo, closely allied to the European cuckoo, inhabit Africa, Asia, and Australia, and have essentially the same habits, one, about the Mediterranean, victimizing pies alone, its eggs having a remarkable resemblance to those of the magpie. Equally parasitic are many Old-World tropical species of various other genera; yet some of them (see COUCAL) do not shirk parental responsibility, but incubate and rear their own offspring. This extraordinary practice of bird parasitism, in respect to its facts and probable origin and development, is thoroughly discussed by A. Newton, Dictionary of Birds, article "Cuckoo" (London, 1896).

Cuckoos of the Old World.-The name cuckoo is derived from the note of the male of the common European cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), which, although monotonous, is always heard with pleasure, being associated with all that is delightful in returning spring. A similar name is given to the bird in many languages. This common cuckoo is very widely diffused, as it is also found in India, Africa, and, in summer, even in Lapland and Kamchatka. It appears in Great Britain in April, and all except the young birds are believed to migrate southward again before the middle of August. The adult cuckoo is about a foot in length; ashy-gray, barred beneath with black; the wings are black, and the tail is black, marked with white. It frequents both cultivated districts and moors. There is no pairing or continued attachment of the male and female; and the female, after having laid an egg on the ground, takes it in her mouth and deposits it, by means of her beak, in the nest of some other smaller bird, leaving the egg to be hatched and the young one to be fed by the proper owners of the nest. This egg is very small for so large a bird, not larger than a skylark's; and the number laid is uncertain. The young one, soon after hatching, acquires size and strength enough to eject from the nest any eggs or young birds-the true offspring of its foster-parents-which may remain in it, and it seems restless and uneasy till this is accom

VOL. V.-42.

The American cuckoos represent three differthe tree-cuckoos. ent subfamilies-the anis, the road-runners, and The last compose the group Coccyzinæ, and are characteristic of and confined to America. The best-known species are the black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythrophthalmus) and the yellow-billed (Coccyzus Americanus). Both species occur commonly in summer throughout the United States and eastern Canada, but pass the winter in Central and South America. The black-billed cuckoo does not occur west of the Rocky Mountains. The two species are of about the same size, a foot long, and are olive-brown above, white beneath, but are easily distinguished by the color of the bill and the amount of white on the tail.


Unlike the Old-World cuckoos, they are not parasites, but build their own nests and incubate their own eggs. The nests are flimsy struc tures of twigs, the eggs large and pale blue. Incubation begins when the first egg is laid, so that no two of the eggs or young are in just the same stage of development. The American cuckoos are insectivorous and are very useful birds. Their note or call is a series of accelerated 'chucks,' not exactly harsh, but far from musical. In the Middle, Western, and Southern States the yellow-bill is known as 'rain-crow,' because its note is supposed to predict rainan idea prevalent in regard to these birds in other parts of the world. Consult Beal, Food of Cuckoos (Department of Agriculture, Washington, 1898). See Plate of CUCKOOS; and Colored Plate of EGGS OF SONG-BIRDS. CUCKOO AND THE NIGHTINGALE, A poem attributed in the sixteenth cen



tury to Chaucer, but probably not composed by The subject is the discussion between a nightingale and a cuckoo on the comparative blessings of love.

CUCKOO-BEE. A naked, somewhat wasplike bee of the family Nomadidæ, all the many species of which are parasitic in the nests of other bees, after the manner of the European

cuckoo. Each genus makes its home with some particular form or forms of wild bee; thus, our common Nomada imbricata is found in nests of Andrena and Halictus; Stelis lives on Osmia, etc. These iniquilines have no means of collecting or carrying pollen, and so have been forced to seek the hospitality of forms able to do so. The investigations of J. H. Emerton show that this forced association arouses no quarreling, but that there is frequently enough food for the larva of both the proper owner of the cell and of the guest, whose egg is laid in the same pollenmass. The term "cuckoo bee" is also applied to Hymenopterous insects of the family Chrysidida. See BEE; CUCKOO-FLY.

CUCKOO - FLY. One of a family (Chrysidida) of diminutive, beautiful, metallic green wasps, in which the abdomen has only three, four, or five visible segments, and can be turned under the thorax and closely applied to it. This 'fly' seeks out the nest of a solitary wasp or bee, and, when the rightful owner is absent collecting food, the cuckoo-fly deposits an egg in each cell. These eggs are walled in by the bee, together with her own eggs. The cuckoo-fly larvæ hatch, eat the food stored up in the cell by the bee, and perchance even the rightful larvæ. The adult fly, when seen by the wasp, is fought desperately, and during such encounters it rolls itself up in a defensive ball. In Europe, where the Germans call them Goldivespen, one of the cuckoo-flies is parasitic on the currant-worm.


[ocr errors]

CUCUJIDÆ (Neo-Lat. nom. pl., from Cucujus, of South American origin). A large family, chiefly tropical, of oblong, flattened beetles, most

of which live under bark. See CORN-INSECTS.

CUCUMBER (OF. cocombre, Fr. concombre, from ML. cucumer, from Lat. cucumus, cucumber), Cucumis sativus. A common garden vegetable, native of Asia, and cultivated from the earliest times. The plant is vine-like, and somewhat similar in appearance to the musk melon. The oblong fruit (4 to 30 inches long) is eaten in the green state as a salad, and is extensively used for pickling. The smaller sorts of pickling cucumbers are sometimes called gherkins. The many varieties of cucumber in cultivation differ greatly in size and shape of the fruit. Cucumbers are very sensitive to frost. They are grown during the warm months in nearly all parts of the United States. The seeds are planted in hills 4 by 6 feet apart. The soil should be a fertile, warm loam, and the hills made rich with a few shovelfuls of well-rotted manure. The long English varieties extensively used for forcing in Europe are less used in America, the white-spine varieties being used more extensively for this purpose. To this genus belong other species valued for their edible fruit. Cucumis anguria is known as the West Indian gherkin. The snake cucumber (Cucumis melo, variety flexuosus) grows to a great length, and is similiar in quality to the common cucumber. Cucumis serotinus is cultivated in Turkey; Cucumis macrocarpos in Brazil; the conomon (Cucumis conomum) is much cultivated in Japan. The dudaim (Cucumis dudaim) is very generally cultivated in gardens in the East, for the fragrance of its fruit. The musk cucumber is Cucumis moschata.

CUCUMBER - BEETLE. Of several beetles whose grubs attack cucumbers, the most important ones are described under MELON INSECTS (q.v.). A species of flea-beetle found about cucumber-vines is Haltica cucumeris, which is about the size of a small grain of wheat, black, with clay-colored antennæ and legs. The larvæ mine the seed-leaves of the young plants, and both old and young feed upon the mature vine-leaves and also upon other garden vegetables.

CUCUMBER DISEASES. The cucumber is subject to the attack of a number of fungi, only the more important of which can be mentioned. In the seed-bed it is liable to the attack of

Pythium debaryanum, the disease being called 'damping off' (q.v.). In the field one of the worst pests is Plasmopara, or Peronospora cubensis, producing mildew. It attacks the foliage, causing the leaves to turn yellow, to wilt, and die, the whole vine being involved. Spraying with some fungicide (q.v.), as Bordeaux mixture or potassium sulphide, will prevent this disease if applied early and often. Care must be taken to spray the mixture upon the under sides of the leaves. In addition to cucumbers, this mildew occurs on muskmelons, squashes, and pumpkins. Another fungus, Cladosporium cucumerinum, attacks the fruit of the cucumber and melons, producing upon the young fruits small, sunken areas that later become black, rotten places. Often a sort of gummy exudation is associated with this disease. The treatment. given above is recommended for this disease. In the greenhouse the most serious trouble to cucumber-forcing is the powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum). It may be known by the white, flour-like splashes on the leaves. The leaves become yellow, then brown, and dry up, killing the plant. The disease spreads with great rapidity, but may be kept under control as in the above cases. A disease known as the wilt disease is often of great destruction to cucumbers, melons, etc. It is caused by a kind of bacteria to which the name Bacillus tracheiphilus has been given. The organisms fill the water-ducts of the plant, causing it suddenly to collapse. The leaf-blades shrivel and dry up, and later the petioles and stem become flaccid and the whole plant perishes. If a stem be cut across, a sticky, milk-white substance exudes. The disease is readily produced by inoculation, and is largely spread through the agency of insects. A somewhat similar disease is caused

by a species of Fusarium, a fungus.

CUCUMBER-INSECTS. See MELON-INSECTS. CUCUMBER - TREE. An American foresttree, growing in nearly all the Eastern States. The fruit, which looks like a cucumber, when macerated in spirit, makes a bitter tonic drink. The timber is light and useful for boat-building. See MAGNOLIA.

CU'CURBITA/CEE (Neo-Lat. nom. pl., from Lat. cucurbita, gourd). An order of dicotyledonous plants (the gourd family), consisting chiefly of herbaceous plants, natives of the warmer parts of the world, having succulent stems which climb by means of lateral tendrils, the morphology of which has been a subject of much contention. The flowers are monœcious or diecious, and often sympetalous. The calyx and corolla are five-parted and more or less co

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][subsumed][graphic][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »