“Some Little Things to See”
Chapter XV of Through A Microscope

There is no end to the beautiful and wonderful things one can see with the simple microscope…Seeds are highly interesting. One meets with many curious appendages by which the seeds are carried off and sown at a distance from the plant. Some, like the dandelion, have a parachute attachment; others have wings to catch the wind, and others still are covered with hooked spines whereby they become attached to the fur of animals...

Leaves and stems sometimes have on them beautiful hairs and oil-glands…These show best when a piece of the leaf broken off is looked at edgewise.

If you examine the fruit-dots on the backs of the different kinds of ferns you will be surprised to find how pretty they are and of how many different shapes...

By observing closely while out in the fields or woods, one sees hovering about in swarms, myriad tiny insects. Under the lens some of them are very odd, others very beautiful. The easiest way to catch these little midgets, is to wet the palm of the hand and then sweep it among them, or in the same way use a piece of sticky paper.

The study of the different parts of insects is one of the most fascinating of the many uses of the simple microscope. Although all insects are made up on the same general plan and corresponding organs occur in most of them, there is an endless variety in the forms under which we see the different organs and the uses to which they are put.

Take for example the antennae. In the grasshopper it is long and threadlike; in the butterflies always ending in a knob; in moths always tapering to a point, although sometimes threadlike and sometimes much branched, forming a beautiful plume; in the beetles, sometimes fan-like, sometimes like a comb; and in other insects assuming still other forms. Insects' eyes are often colored beautifully. A horse-fly's eyes are striped. Butterflies' eyes have usually a soft liquid coloring, and moths' eyes in the dark shine like little fiery beads…

In working with the simple microscope there is a fine chance to display ingenuity, not only in making the instruments and mounting the objects but in discovering new things to look at and in seeing how much can be found out about those things which are the most common.

Source: “Some Little Things to See”
Chapter XV of Through A Microscope

By Samuel Wells, Mary Treat & Frederick Leroy Sargent, 1886; Chapter 15 of Through a Microscope (abridged), Gutenberg.org, Public Domain

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