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Te Pito Te Henua, or Easter Island, by William J. Thompson, [1891], at


Small lizards are frequently seen among the rocks; the natives claim that a large variety is not uncommon, but we saw nothing of it. No snakes exist, but there are centipedes whose bite is said to be extremely painful, though not attended with serious consequences. Several varieties of butterflies were observed. Myriads of flies infest every part of the island. Vliegen Island was the name given to Riroa, in the Pamotu group, or Low Archipelago, by Schouten in 1616, but we were tormented here by hundreds where we saw tens on the Atoll. From the earliest dawn of day to the close of the short twilight, hordes of flies annoyed us; it made no difference whether we skirted the cliff's to windward, climbed the breeze-swept hills, or burrowed in the musty caves and tombs, swarms of flies met its, prepared to dispute every foot of the ground. Whatever may have been the parent stock of the Polynesians, we came to the unanimous conclusion that we had discovered here the lineal descendants of the flies that composed the Egyptian plague, and can testify that they have not degenerated in the lapse of time.

Fleas occasioned us more annoyance than the flies, because this industrious little insect was untiring in its attentions by day and night. They were found in numbers in all the camping places, and we seemed to get a fresh supply every time a halt was called.

There are, fifteen or twenty mangy dogs of a mongrel breed on the island whose hides were literally alive with jumping insects. They had long ago given up all hope of relief, and made no ineffectual efforts in that direction, but they plainly expressed in their mute way the conviction that life in this flea-bitten state was not worth the living.

It was said that there were no mosquitoes on the island until cisterns were built by Messrs. Salmon and Brander to catch the rain-water. We saw none elsewhere.

Cockroaches about 2 inches long, with antennæ to correspond, infest every dwelling on the island, from the humble thatched hut to the comparatively comfortable residences of the foreigners. They partook of our food at meal-times with a freedom which showed that the presence of the stranger caused no restraint; while at night they made themselves familiar with our garments in whatever time could be spared from their gastronomic researches.

A, peculiar variety of snapping beetle made its appearance every evening just before sundown, appearing suddenly and vanishing with daylight.

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