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to do, and hide themselves in the soil ; they cannot defend themselves against enemies, and indeed, according to M. Forel, are incapable of distinguishing precisely between the neuters of their own swarm and foreign foes; they depend on the neuters for guidance and for food ; if they wander away they must be brought back again by the neuters. But it is far otherwise with the female, which amongst ants at all events is the superior creature. They help the neuters in their work, transport the larvæ or nymphæ from place to place, on required occasions, and follow readily the movements of the neuters, which, however, surpass them in intelligence. The fecundation of ants has been admirably described by Huber, with, to use the words of M. Forel, “ an exactness which leaves nothing to • be desired ;' but Huber does not mention the innumerable varieties and exceptions which complicate this question. Speaking particularly of Lasius flavus, M. Forel tells us that males and females are hatched about the same time, that the two sexes are found nearly in all the swarms. As a rule the males are much more numerous than the females. After promenading about for some days, on some fine afternoon in August, increased agitation and bustle are seen on the surface of the ant-hill; some of the males fly away, other pursue the females; the scene becomes more and more lively, the neuters are more and more excited; now the males take flight and mount up to a great height, forming enormous swarms if the males and females of several adjacent ant-hills leave them on the same day. At this moment the males and females of the same species, and often of different species, mix together in the air promiscuously. The males of F. flavus, which are much smaller than the females, attach themselves to them, three or four together, and are thus carried through the air. The swarms thus sometimes obscure the heavens.
Such swarms are generally to be seen on a fine day after a period of rain. Meanwhile what are the wingless neuters doing ? They lose no time, but seek for the fertilised females for the preservation of the nest; these they discover on the surface of the ant-hill, or on stems of grass not far away, for before the general flight into mid-air, a certain number of females have there been fertilised; and now a curious spectacle presents itself. The neuters throw themselves upon the females, tear off their wings and make them enter the nest. The aerial males and females never return to their former abode, to which the fertilised females especially show a decided aversion. Our winged ants,' says Huber,' when they quit the ant-hill, keep their back continually towards it, and go off in a right line • to a distance, from which it would be no easy matter to per
ceive it. We might from this infer that they never return to it. ‘But I did not confine myself entirely to this observation, for 'I kept sentry from the time of their departure until night, and even several days in succession, to be fully assured that they did not return to the ant-hill. In this way I have arrived at the conclusion that their return is one of those
fables with which we have been a long time amused.' On this point also Huber is confirmed by Forel.
Everyone who has examined an ant-hill in the autumn must have observed a number of females without wings : what has become of these organs of flight just now so iridescent and beautiful? Huber shall tell us in his own graphic language. Having caught eight females, he placed them with some moistened earth in a garden vase covered with a glass receiver.
" It was nine o'clock in the evening; at ten all the females had lost their wings, which I observed scattered here and there, and had hidden themselves under the earth. I had allowed the occasion to pass by of witnessing the separation of these fragile members, and of determining if possible what had produced it. On the following day I procured three other females in union with their males, and this time I observed them with the greatest attention from the moment of their secundation until nine in the evening, a period of five hours. But during this time nothing was done to denote the approaching loss of their wings, which remained still firmly fixed. These females appeared to be in excellent condition; they passed their feet across their mouths, they glided them over the antennæ and rubbed the legs one against the other. I could not conceive what could retard the fall of their wings, whilst the other ants had lost them so readily. It is true that I placed those of which I am now speaking in a very strong box, completely closed, whilst the former were deposited in a transparent vault, offering not the slightest appearance of a prison, and upon a ground more natural than the bottom of a sand-box, where there was no earth. I had no idea that a circumstance 90 trifling would have any influence upon these ants; however, having learned that it was necessary to place them as the first, I took some earth and strewed it lightly over the table, and then covered it with a bell-glass. I yet possessed three fecundated ants, one of which I introduced under the recipient. I induced her to go there freely, by presenting to her a fragment of straw, on which she mounted, and upon this I conveyed her to her new habitation without touching her ; scarcely did she perceive the earth which covered the bottom of her abode, than she extended her wings, with some effort bringing them before her head, crossing them in every direction, throwing them from side to side, and producing so many singular contortions that her four wings fell off at the same moment in my presence. After this change she reposed, brushed her corselet with her feet, then traversed the ground, evidently appearing to seek a place of shelter. She seemed not to have the slightest idea that she was confined within a narrow enclosure. She partook of the honey I gave her, and at last found a hiding-place under some loose earth, which formed a little natural grotto.'
Huber repeated these experiments on several female ants of different species, and always obtained the same result. Here we see, then, that in some instances the neuters forcibly detach the wings of the females ; in others, that the act is a voluntary one self-inflicted by the females themselves. The mutilation when performed by the neuters takes place only in those cases in which the female ant is caught and forcibly detained by them. The wings of the females are very slightly articulated, much more slightly than are those of the males, so that but little effort is necessary to detach them, and doubtless very little pain is felt during the operation.
We have already seen that those female ants which have taken flight and have been fertilised in the air never return to their former abode; only those remain who have been fertilised on or near the ant-hill. What becomes then of the aerial fecundated females ? Carried away by the wind to a distance from their natal ant-hill, it is perhaps scarcely probable that they shall ever find it again. But then they might easily find other ant-hills to which they might seek admittance. But alas ! as amongst mankind, ants do not always treat their neighbours with kindness and hospitality; on the contrary, not only do they refuse to entertain a female stranger hospitably, they even attack and murder her. Should an. unprotected female' by chance find her way to a neighbouring ant-hill, even though the inmates may belong to her own species, she is almost certainly to be killed. I have often had occasion,' says Forel, • to see fecundated females of pratensis, cæspitum, and fusca ' which had been running in the meadows to fall into the middle
of an ant-hill of their own species and there to be killed by * the neuters.' Only once or twice did Forel succeed in persuading neuters to receive females of another ant-hill ; more readily they will ally themselves with strange neuters than with the females. Should one or two neuters, however, which by accident had lost their way, fall in with one of these females, they will not attack her; they will either get out of her way or seek to form an alliance. In the midst of great danger from enemies, what are the females to do? They seek out a convenient spot and hollow out a small house, in which they lay their eggs, which to some extent they watch over; these nascent ant-hills are situated at a little depth in the earth; according to Huber, sometimes they are constructed by a single female ant, sometimes by several in common. A small num
ber of neuters are generally seen by the side of the mother. Whence have these neuters come? Are they the first-hatched eggs of the mother herself which have already developed into neuters, or have they proceeded from elsewhere? Forel says that no positive case of a new ant-hill population (fourmilière) founded by a single fertilised female is as yet known. M. Perrot, however, assured Huber that he once found in a little under
ground cavity a female ant living solitary with four pupe, of • which she appeared to take great care.' But Forel limits the nursing and rearing capabilities of the females themselves :
pondent des eufs qu'elles soignent à moitié, sans savoir les mener seules à bien;' they lay eggs which they partly care ' for, without knowing how to bring them to good,' i.e. 'to rear
them. Forel is supported by Gould, who says of some three or four females under his observation which had laid eggs, that they did not seem to take any great notice of them.' These neuters of a nascent nest are, therefore, probably a few individuals that had wandered from some ant-hill and had allied themselves with the female in her newly made abode. The females which have been fertilised on or near to the nest are at first forcibly kept in the nest by the workers, but after a few days they get accustomed to their captivity and do not seek to go away. Sometimes there is only one female in the nest, at other times there may be as many as twenty or thirty; these lay eggs which will bring neuters and females the following year; they are generally attended by a court of neuters who lick them, feed them, take up their eggs, &c. The different females of the same ant-hill show no jealousy nor rivalry; · each has her court, they pass each other uninjured
and sustain in common the population of the ant-hill, but they possess no power, which it would seem entirely lodges with the neuters. The numbers of eggs deposited by the ' females vary according to the species; the relative size of the * abdomen will give a fair idea ; some lay thousands, others but ' few.' Forel considers the ordinary duration of life of both fertilised females and males is about one year. We must not forget to mention the presence of a certain number of female ants in a nest, which are not destined to become mothers; these do not voluntarily tear off their wings; neither do the workers do it for them; these virgin-ants act the part of neuters, and it is not long before the wings get torn away by working in the soil; they are to be recognised by their agility compared with that of the other females, and the small size of their abdomens; they do not receive honour from the neuters, and are not surrounded by a court ; compared with the intense activity of the neuters, these females may be considered rather lazy.
What becomes of the male ant after taking flight and leaving the abode which he will never visit again?
• The life of male ants cannot be of long duration ; deprived of their attendants, incapable of providing their own subsistence, and returning no more to the ant-hill that gave them birth, how can it possibly be of any long continuance? Their life is either naturally limited to a few weeks, or hunger will speedily terminate it; whatever it be, they disappear in a little time after the period of their amours, but they never fall victims, as happens with bees, to the fury of the labourers.
Nothing perhaps in the character of ants is more striking than the ferocity with which they fight, and of all the enemies those most dreaded are the ants themselves; the fury of these insects and the tenacity they exhibit in retaining hold of an enemy is perfectly astonishing ; the ant is the bull-dog amongst insects; it would be more easy to tear away their limbs and cut them in pieces than separate two hostile combatants. Here walks some individual with manifest proof that he has been in the wars, for he carries suspended to one of his legs the head of some foe whom he had conquered, and which he carries about as a pledge of victory! There goes another worker dragging along the body of a foe which not even in death would relax his hold !
'Ants make their attack openly; cunning is not in the number of their arms; those of which they make use are the saw-pincers they employ for carrying the materials of their nests, a sting resembling that of bees, and the venom which accompanies it, an acid liquid contained in their abdomen, which produces a slight irritation on the skin. These arms are only possessed by the females and workers to whom nature has confided the several interests of the colony. The females, doubtless too valuable to allow of their exposing their lives, always make their escape on the slightest danger. The workers are those only destined to defend their habitation. Several species are unprovided with a sting, but they supply its place by biting their enemy and pouring into the wound they inflict with their teeth a drop of venom, which renders it exceedingly painful. They bend for that purpose their abdomen, which contains the venomous liquid, and approach it to the wounded part at the very same moment they tear it with their pincers. When their adversaries keep only at a distance, and they are unable to reach them, they will raise themselves on their hind feet, and bringing their abdomen between their legs, spurt their venom with some degree of force. We see ascend from the whole surface of the nest a thick cloud of formic acid, which exhales an almost sulphureous odour.' (P. 183.)
We have had before us each day for some time past some