19 January 2011

For all my girl cousins

At the end of his so remote, so near, 1884 summer Van, before leaving Ardis, was to make a visit of adieu to Ada's larvarium...

"But, afterwards, when all these beasties have hatched," asked Van, "what do you do with them?"

"Oh," she said, "I take them to Dr. Krolik's assistant who sets them and labels them in glassed trays in a clean oak cabinet, which will be mine when I marry. I shall then have a big collection, and continue to breed all kinds of leps--my dream is to have a special Institute of Fritillary larvae and violets--all the specials violets they breed on. I would have eggs or larvae rushed to me here by plane from all over North America, with their foodplants--Redwood Violets from the West Coast, and a Pale Violet from Montana, and the Prairie Violet, and Egglestone's Violet from Kentucky...Of course, when the things emerge, they are quite easy to mate by hand--you hold them--for quite a while, sometimes--like this, in folded wing profile...male in your left hand, female in your right, or vice versa, with the tups of their abdomens touching, but they must be quite fresh and soaked in their favorite violet's reek." -Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, Vladimir Nabokov

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