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THE story goes that long ago,
when the lower animals were at peace with each other, and had not
learned to regard their neighbours with an eye to a possible palatable meal, they with one accord
met together to choose a king. The virtues and attainments of numerous aspirants to so exalted a position were discussed, and at last the unanimous choice rested on the lion as being the strongest and noblest of them all, his res Junding roar giving weight no doubt to his other claims to pre-eminence. From that time to this the lion has been regarded as king of the animal creation.
If, however, intellect had been sought for and selected instead of physical beauty and strength, the choice would, we think, have fallen in a very different quarter, and upon a small and, at first sight, insignificant insect.
So tiny and strengthless is this little creature, that, according to the accounts of some observers, to carry a grain of corn about half as large as a grain of our English wheat tasks the strength of eight or ten individuals. And yet so great is the intelligence of its kind that they form communities, lay up stores, act as architects, as builders, as carpenters, as masons, as horticulturists, as farmers, as cow-keepers, as animated honey-pots, as nurses, as soldiers, as scavengers, as slave-holders, and are held up as examples of industry, forethought, patience, sagacity, and perseverance.
By this time curiosity will no doubt have arisen as to the kind of organism which lays claim to such a number and variety of gifts. Therefore we will at once proceed to describe the ant, for this is the tiny creature to which we have attributed these manifold accomplishments—how truly, we shall presently prove.
Any person who is at all familiar with our beautiful meadows, fields, and woods, or who has had the misfortune to harbour an ant's nest in his garden in town, or has inadvertently seated himself upon an ant-hill, is acquainted with the appearance of this busy little insect. It may not, however, be generally known that in every nest there are three kinds of ant-namely, the female or queen-mother, the male, and the neuter. We place the queen first, as she is the largest, the male being somewhat smaller, and the neuter the smallest of them all. The lastnamed are sometimes subdivided into two classes
workers and soldiers ; the former having pre-eminence in point of numbers, while the latter have the advantage in size.
Ants—as do all the insect tribe, with a few exceptions-undergo four stages of existence :
First, the egg
It is the imago that we shall first briefly describe. The body is divided into three distinct parts—the head, the thorax or trunk, and the abdomen.
The proportions of the ant are very remarkable, the head being unusually large. It is in shape triangular, and to it are attached the antennæ, long thread-like members which seem to be continually moving, and which contain the principal organs of touch, taste, smell, hearing, &c. The ant is possessed of a strong pair of jaws or mandibles, which are useful for manipulating the materials used in its various occupations, and for carrying purposes. There are also another pair of jaws (maxillæ), and an upper
THE LARVA AND NYMPH OF THE RED ANT.
and lower lip, each provided with a pair of feelers. The eyes, of which every ant has two kinds, vary in number according to the sex and species. There are sometimes as many as 1,200 facets, or separate reflecting surfaces, for each insect. To the thorax are attached three pairs of legs, each armed with sharp claws; and in the case of males and females, two pairs also of gauze-like wings. The neuters never possess these latter appendages. The females strip themselves of their wings directly they enter a nest to become the queen-mothers of a community.
The abdomen contains the stomach and intestines, the sting, and sacs for secreting poison.