« PreviousContinue »
OCCASIONAL REMARKS ON THE LAWS, CUSTOMS, HABITS, AND
MANNERS, OF VARIOUS NATIONS.
- The sounding Cataract
BY CHARLES BUCKE.
AUTHOR of “THE BOOK OF HUMAN CHARACTER,” &c.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
A NEW EDITION, GREATLY ENLARGED.
BEAUTIES, HARMONIES, AND SUBLIMITIES
WITH bees we may associate Ants,—so variously treated of by Lewenhoek, Swammerdam, Linnæus, Geoffrey de Geer, Bonnet, Latreille, and Huber. Ants, like bees, are divided into males, females, and neuter; or rather. females, who, being barren, from their sexual organs not being developed, are labourers for the benefit of the entire community. Like those of bees, the males and females of ants seem to have no other duties, than just to live and to procreate. The barren ones provide food, construct the habitations, nurture the young, and guard the citadel.
In building they exhibit much ingenuity; every one seeming “ to follow his own fancy.” Both the male and the female have wings; and when the heat has arisen to a certain height, they issue from their habitations, escorted by the labourers, who offer them food during the first stage of
their emigration. Then the males and females take flight a, during which the act of fecundation is frequently performing. When the females are impregnated, the males are left to themselves; and being unprovided with food, and incapable of procuring it, they soon die of want; while the females pursue their course to some little distance, and seek out habitations; where, finding themselves destitute of labourers, they begin to work, in order to procure food for themselves.
Those few females, which remain behind in the immediate neighbourhood, having been impregnated in their nests, are forcibly taken back by the labourers, who deprive them of their wings, feed them, and attend them till they have deposited their eggs. Ants are totally unacquainted with the economy of hoarding. They are almost entirely carnivorous ; living upon other insects, and portions of other animal substances; and on the nutritious juices of gall insects and kermes ; also on exudations from several species of the aphis, which the labourers take home for the males and females, that do not work. This secretion of the aphis is supposed to be destined, not only for its own subsistence, but for that of ants : for the aphis is always in the neighbourhood of ant colonies; and they become torpid precisely at the same temperature. Some species of ants even collect the eggs of the aphis, and bestow upon them the same care, they do upon those of their own species. They also construct habitations for them, at a small distance from their own nests; where they go to them, and rob them of their secretions, whenever they are in want. These secretions the aphis yields with the same willingness and docility, that sheep and cows give down their milk.
Ants have parental and filial affections ; friendly dispositions and social sympathies; and when any of the impreg
a The flights of ants are sometimes very wonderful : De Foe records one 'over his lands and neighbourhood, vol. iv. 377. 379.