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Fig. 1. Side view of honey-bearer x 2 (honey-ant, Garden of the 

Fig. 2. Dorsal view of honey-bearer of Camponotus inflatus. 
(After Lord Avebury.) 

Fig. 3. Dorsal view of Fig. 1. 

Figs. 4 and 7. Views of males of Hortideorum. 

Figs. 5 and 10. Winged female, or virgin queen, of Hortideorum. 

Figs. 6 and 11. Node, or scale, of the petiole of queen of honey- 

Fig. 8. Worker-minor of M. Hortideorum x 4. The workers 
major and minim, or dwarf, are similar in form. 

Fig. 9. To show the striae (sir.), supposed stridulating organs of 
Myrmica ruginodis. 

Fig. 10. Winged female, or virgin queen, of Myrmica ruginodis. 

Fig. 11. Node, or scale, of the petiole of No. 10. 

For detailed description, see page 109 and following pages. 














Copyright, 1909, by HARPER & BROTHERS. 

All rights 
Published October, 1909. 












PREFACE ............... v 






V. FEEDING THE COMMUNE .......... 101 


VII. How ANTS COMMUNICATE .......... 130 




XI. How ANTS CARRY ON WAR ......... 211 





XVI. A NOTE IN REVIEW ............ 296 


INDEX 315 








































































ANTS 145 










FEMALE ANTS . . 176 





























THREE years ago, in his Nature's Craftsmen, the au- 
thor presented a series of original studies of the life 
history of sundry insects. Half of the book was given 
over to one of his specialties the ants. The remainder 
embraced accounts of another specialty, the spiders, 
and of certain insects that had received particular 
attention as a sort of by-product of his special studies. 
The author's purpose therein was to give his readers a 
veritable natural history of the subjects treated of, in 
popular form, and clothed in at least some measure of 
the simple graces of good literary style. 

The present volume, while aiming to preserve the 
above features, differs from Nature's Craftsmen, in that 
it is limited to the natural history of ants. Moreover, 
it considers mainly those phases of their life that are 
developed around their behavior as social animals. 
It is here that appear most clearly and fully the habits 
which have drawn to these insects from the earliest ages 
the attention of man, and have won for them a high 
reputation for wisdom. 

From this has arisen a secondary feature of the book 

-viz., the indication of parallels, more or less distinct, 

between the communal actions of ants considered 

simply as natural history, and the communal actions of 

man, considered, as all human beings are bound to 



consider them, in their relations to the highest welfare 
of the race. 

The association of separate groups of individuals to 
accomplish the primary aims of physical life is almost 
sure to develop resemblances in methods. What are 
those aims? Among ants, as the following pages will 
show, they are the establishment of a home; procure- 
ment of a livelihood; protection from enemies; preserva- 
tion and nurture of the young and other communal 
dependents; perpetuation of the species, and the prop- 
agation of the commune. 

Wherein do these differ from the common necessities 
and aims of men in their social aggregations? They 
are practically the same. The Great Hand of Sovereign 
Nature that has laid upon her children these common 
aims has so guided them in the achieving thereof, that, 
amid the endless variations which issue from an Infinite 
Fountain of Design and Force, one traces resemblances 
in methods that suggest their common origin. In our 
studies, these likenesses, as well as unlikenesses and 
contrasts, will be interesting to note. 

In many of the higher and complex duties of hu- 
man communities it is impossible that insects should be 
models for men, in whom there is an element that sep- 
arates from all other creatures by an impassable gulf. 
But in the great physical functions of a commune, which 
are a bond of sympathy between us, we may have 
something to learn from the ants, who manifestly have 
kept and still keep to the primitive ways of nature more 
closely than we. Sometimes these lessons have been 
pointed out, sometimes simply suggested, sometimes 
left for the reader to discern. But whether the one or 
the other, the author ventures to hope that they may 



stimulate thought and discussion, or at least interest, 
but in no wise divert from his main purpose: to increase 
knowledge of the natural history of creaturelings that 
have contributed so much to his own enjoyment of life. 
It has been more than thirty-two years almost a 
full generation of men since the author published in 
the Transactions of the American Entomological Society 
(Philadelphia) his first observations of American ants. 
Since then he has given to the world in books, in publica- 
tions of scientific societies, and in magazine articles, his 
studies of various species, chiefly devoting himself to 
their habits rather than to their systematic classification. 
In this volume, Ant Communities, taken together with 
the first part of Nature's Craftsmen, he presents a sub- 
stantial summary of these prolonged observations. 
And he has brought them down to date by associating 
therewith the latest observations of some of the leading 
naturalists of the scientific world. 

" Brookcamp," Devon, Pennsylvania. 






ORGANIZED society, whether among insects or 
men, implies some form of government; and that 
implies citizenship. And fidelity to the just and natural 
service of citizens is communal righteousness. May we 
apply such a term to insects? And if so, what is the 
character of such a quality; or, if one may venture so to 
put it, what is the quality of such a character? And 
is it in any measure comparable with communal right- 
eousness as the phrase goes among men? The inquiry 
will here be limited to ants; but the study requires the 
statement of some preliminary facts, so that readers 
may have a true conception of the field which our 
thoughts are to explore. 

Some insects are "solitary"; they live alone. Others 
are "social"; thev live in communities. There is such 


a striking contrast between the manners of the two 
groups that one wonders how the distinction arose. 
True, at the beginning of life most insects are massed, 
since their mothers lay their eggs in compact clusters. 
But if one start with the theory that this may have left 


in the germ of being a tendency which, under favorable 
conditions, might be transferred to the adult, he is met 
by certain facts that may confound his reasoning. 

For example, the eggs of ants and bees are dropped 
separately, yet they produce insects of the strongest 
social habits. The moth of the tent caterpillar oviposits 
in clusters, and her progeny keep together in the larval 
state. The eggs of the garden orbweaver, like those of 
most spiders, are laid in carefully sheltered masses, and 
the young are partly reared together in the silken tent 
which the mother overspins. Moreover, they start in- 
dependent life in a self- woven silken compound. The 
lycosid, a ground - spider, drags her round cocoon be- 
hind her until the eggs are hatched, and then bears the 
younglings about clustered upon her back. Yet soon 
the centrifugal factor in vital force drives the young 
of moth, orbweaver, and lycosid asunder, and thereafter 
their life is solitary. 

With social insects the tendency is reversed. Be- 
ginning life solitary, as in the case of the maternal 
founder of an ant's nest, the individual becomes a family, 
and the family a community, and this may develop into 
a vast commonwealth containing many thousands or 
even millions of individuals. When the circle of life is 
complete, the vital centripetal force which binds these 
communities together is relaxed, in a movement of im- 
passioned communal fervor, to allow the outgoing of the 
winged males and females, as with ants ; or the swarming 
of a new community, as with bees. This is the " com- 
mencement" time in the insect calendar, when a matured 
sliver of the community is struck off and pushed into 
independent life. 

Among ants these communities vary in population 



from a few score to many thousands. There are villages, 
towns, cities each, for the most part, independent of 
all others, and each complete within itself, a separate 
tribe, a sovereign state. That the orderly and successful 
conduct of such communities must spring, consciously 
or unconsciously, from some system, is self evident. 
What is that system? What are its laws, its customs, 
its methods of administration? Is an ant-hill a mon- 
archy, a republic, a democracy, a socialistic commune? 
How does its government compare if in any wise com- 
parable with the civil governments of men? And 
what lessons in civics can we learn therefrom? 

Surely, an interesting inquiry here opens up; for, 
whatever the result, it must give us a glimpse of nature 
pure and simple. To this the author's purpose is mainly 
directed; but, as a by-product of his studies, he con- 
fesses a keen interest in those reflections that traverse 
the field of human civics, and which inevitably arise 
as one pursues the history of life in ant communes. 

In many parts of the Alleghany Mountains, and in 
middle and eastern Pennsylvania, in New Jersey, in 
the White Mountains and elsewhere, are distributed 
the large conical nests of the mound-making ants of the 
Alleghanies, Formica exsectoides (Fig. 12). These vary in 
size from newly begun colonies a few inches high to 
mature hills, measuring thirty-seven feet in circumfer- 
ence at the base, though rarely more than three feet 
high. They occur in groups; and in one site near Holli- 
daysburg, Pennsylvania, within a space of fifty acres, 
the writer counted seventeen hundred well-developed 
mounds. At two other localities in these mountains sim- 
ilar groups were observed even more thickly placed. At 

"Pine Hill" about thirty acres were occupied, of which 



five were found to contain two hundred and ninety-three 
mounds, an average of fifty-nine to the acre, or eighteen 
hundred for the whole section. At u Warrior's Mark" 




^^^S^S^::?B:V::. . i>' ^ ; SSS ' tj. 

. -. p : ^^t^'/^iM^^^ 


\ ^ v ; >^;ffX; i i MmHfe 

v-V-:'- v-ym^^wffi^ 


(Formica exsectoides) 

another large settlement of nearly two hundred hills 
was visited. Experiments made in the Hollidaysburg 
group proved that all therein formed substantially one 

community, in complete fellowship, although the in- 



dividual mounds appeared to be conducted indepen- 
dently. The following will illustrate these experiments. 
[McC. 2, p. 282.] 1 

A small oak-branch covered with aphides and their 
attendant ants was broken from a tree and placed 
erect upon a mound twenty rods distant. It was 
thought that if anything would incite to hostility, it 
would be the intrusion of members of a separate com- 
munity upon a congener's feeding -grounds. On the 
contrary, the ants being called from the hill, came out 
and mounted the branch with the usual excited bearing, 
and then mingled with its original occupants on friendly 
terms, and began to feed quietly from the galls and 
aphides. A larger branch having many more ants 
upon it was cut, and planted upon a mound a consider- 
able distance beyond the first one. The insects were 
called out by tapping upon the surface. The usual 
whirl of angry sentinels and other workers followed, 
and then all blended with the intruded ants without a 
sign of hostility. 

A spadeful of earth was swiftly cut from the mound, 
and with ants, cocoons, and broken cells, thrown into a 
pail, carried to a cone fifty rods distant, and cast upon 
the surface and around the lower gates. One could not 
distinguish between the citizens of the two mounds as 
masses of excited ants poured out and began their 
usual movements, but no marks of hostility appeared. 
After the first sharp challenges with crossed antennae 
the imported ants melted away into the general com- 
munity as though at home. 

The only other test of this nature which need be 
mentioned was made with three hills (D, E, F), to 

1 See " Table of Authors," Appendix. 



which reference will be made hereafter as the " hysterical 
hills/' on account of the abnormal state of excitement 
which marked their inmates, and for which no reason 
was apparent. Large pieces of the mounds D and E, 
which were twelve feet apart, were interchanged, tossed 
violently from one to another. Although swarming 
with insects intensely agitated, there was no appear- 
ance of hostility at either mound. 

I then proceeded to F, one hundred and fourteen feet 
distant, and called out the ants until the cone was 
fairly black with them. From the densest centre of 
life was cut out a section about six inches square and 
borne hurriedly to D, catching en route the dropping 
ants in a hat. The contents of shovel and hat were 
thrown upon the cone in the midst of its hosts of in- 
habitants. Even this violent invasion which, with an 
alien species would have been a signal for war and 
slaughter, was not resented. There were sharp antennal 
challenging and quick response, and then the new- 
comers melted away into the mass of their enforced 
hosts, as fellow-citizens "to the manner born." There 
was complete fraternization, which was not afterward 
disturbed by any breach of the peace. 

The final test w y as an artificial nest prepared in a large 
glass jar within which earth, sticks, and surface litter 
were placed. Ants taken from a number of mounds 
situated in parts of the field and wood most remote from 
one another were put in. Cocoons from yet other 
cones were added. Aphides, water, and honey were 
then given them. This miscellaneous assemblage united 
with the utmost harmony in building galleries, caring 
for the cocoons, and defending the nest from intruded 

ants of separate species and from spiders. From time 



to time ants and cocoons collected from widely separated 
hills were put in, and these were always and at once 
adopted. This amity and co-operation in the duties 
and responsibilities of good citizenship continued until 
the composite republic of drafted citizens was broken up. 

The natural explanation of these rare conditions is 
this: the antennal interchanges between the various 
parties at once showed that all were fellow-citizens of 
one commonwealth, equally entitled to communal wel- 
come and place, which were accorded at once upon the 
recognition of the one common nest-odor which is the 
badge of citizenship. 

Thus it appeared (and to the writer it was then an 
astounding revelation) that among the myriads of 
creatures occupying these more than seventeen hundred 
mounds there was complete fraternity if, indeed, they 
were not one mighty confederacy! Here was a republic 
which in the number of its separate states for every 
mound was an independent community of ants and in 
the multitude of its total population exceeded the most 
sanguine prophecy of the future American republic. 
It would be hard to conceive of anything like local or 
communal loyalty, an inflated devotion to "state rights," 
or that jealousy and conflict of interests which are apt 
to develop among neighboring communities, as leading 
on to war among the insect commonwealths which were 
the subjects of the above experiments. 

If a city be (as it has been defined) "a place inhabited 
by a large, permanent, organized community," the 
name "Ant City," by which it is popularly known, is 
fitly given to this vast concourse of united emmets, or, 
indeed, to any one mature colony thereof. Naturally 
the question often occurred, How many ants are here 


assembled? An exact census in such a case is im- 
practicable, but at least a reasonable approximate is 
possible. Dr. August Ford, the eminent Swiss myr- 
mecologist, has described a community of two hundred 
mounds of a closely related species (Formica exsecta) 
among the mountains of Switzerland, as having each a 
population ranging from five thousand to five hundred 
thousand. If one were to apply the lowest estimate 
(five thousand) to our American community, it would 
give a total population of eight and a half million living 
creatures! That is quite enough to justify their claim 
to the title of "city," but, in truth, a conservative esti- 
mate would make them many times as numerous. 

In his Die N ester der Ameisen (Ants' Nests) [F. -1 and 
5], in commenting on my observations upon this sodality 
of the Alleghany Mountain ants, Doctor Forel says: 
"These ant kingdoms have, in all probability, a popula- 
tion of two hundred to four hundred million inhabitants, 
all forming a single community, and living together in 
active and friendly intercourse." Think of it! A 
population equal to that of the whole empire of China! 
And this is -not a wild guess of an enthusiastic vision- 
ary, but the sober calculation of the veteran chief of Eu- 
rope's myrmecologists, and one of its foremost medical 
specialists. I have spoken of this mighty concourse of 
organized insects as a city; but doubtless kingdom, or 
empire, might be a better title, for there was through- 
out the settlement a marked tendency to groups of 
mounds of different sizes, which might represent the 
cities or large centres of population distributed through- 
out a commonwealth. 

No North American ant exceeds these mound-builders 
in the size of the structures reared by them. But in 



some tropical lands even larger mounds are found. 
Livingstone speaks of ant-hills in South Africa that 
dotted the face of the country like haycocks in a harvest- 
field. In the woods they were twenty feet high and 
forty to fifty feet in diameter! [Li. 1, p. 590.] These 
rival the great gothic erections of the termites. Whether 
the African ants show the communal unity that exists 
among our Alleghany mound-builders has not been 
determined. But such unity must obtain among the 
vast hordes that occupy each hill. 

One who studies the economy of these communes 
soon notes a well-defined division of labor among the 
three worker castes viz. t workers-major, workers-minor, 
and minims or dwarfs. There are sentinels or police- 
men, masons or builders, foragers, nurses, and courtiers 
or queen's body-guard. These are not so differenced 
as to form fixed classes which embrace always the same 
individuals with duties limited to one sort of service, 
as is the case in some other species. Apparently, all 
branches of service have recruits from all the castes, and 
these pass from one duty to another at will. On the 
surface (as far as human intelligence discerns) it is a 
"go-as-you-please' 1 arrangement, which nevertheless is 
dominated by some occult principle that brings orderly 
results out of seeming chaos. 

There appears to be no specialized warrior caste among 
these lormicans, but there are sentinels, or policemen, 
whose duty it is to guard the community from hostile 
approach. Their internal affairs call for no domestic 
police. Among these millions of citizens there is not 
one criminal, not one degenerate! I do not recall, in 
all my long and varied observations, a single example of 

an ant whose actual offending called for the administra- 



tion of civil punishment. Nor do I remember to have 
read of such a case in natural history. Emmet out- 


lawry is unknown. These vast communities are self- 
policed. Their citizens are so perfectly self-controlled, 
so absolutely free from even the desire to violate law, 
that as against them a domestic police would be a sine- 
cure. Do you look for the perfect social commune whose 
citizens are all perfect in that " righteousness which is of 
the law"? One may find it here. 

But public enemies abound. Eternal vigilance is the 
price of peaceful industry and security. Here are 
millions for defence, though not an ant be needed to 
support home government. And to this end every 
citizen, if need be, is a soldier-policeman. Watchmen 
continually guard the various gates, or entrances, to the 
cone, most of which are ranged along its base just above 
the ground, but some are placed between that and the 
summit. These sentries lurk inside the gates, whence 
they issue, with every mark of intense excitement and 
watchfulness, if one approaches a finger or drops some 
object near them. Frequently they patrol the vicinity 

of the gates, and 
attack intruders 
with promptness 
and intrepidity 

IrLTrXt-fcW*?*;- >^/*.~- <*'A xr <T\J.*I tSVkVSJ '^,\ t 

This is a p rev- 

A HONEY-ANTS' NEST alent manner oi 

ants. There is 

but one large tubular entrance to the pound-cake-like 
mound of the honey-ants of the Garden of the Gods 
(Myrmecocystus hortideorunt) in Colorado. Around its 

upper rim, with their yellow heads and quivering antennas 



just in view, one sees a ring of sentinels. At the door 
into the pebble-sheathed cone of the Occident ant (Po- 
yonomyrmex occidentalis) of the American plains, which 
opens into the breast of the cone, the watchmen wait, 
intent and vigilant. So it is elsewhere, and almost 
everywhere, that ants are found in large communities. 
It is the law of emmet as it is of human society, that 

"Some must watch, while some must sleep; 
So runs the world away!" 

These watchmen do not always belong to a soldier 
caste. Every emmet citizen who has passed the brief 
callow stage of first emergence from pupahood is a 
policeman or soldier on occasion, and may, as far as the 
facts now appear, go on sentry as on any other duty. 
It would not be strange if, in the gradual development 
of such a social system, certain individuals should have 
shown special aptitudes for police service that kept them 
more or less continuously therein, and so have arisen 
something like a soldier class. In some species such 
has been the case, as with those of the genus Pheidole, 
and the leaf-cutting or parasol ants of Texas. 

But it is not so with our mountain mound-builders. 
They remind one of the militia organization of our earlier 
frontier States Ohio, for example, which made every 
adult male, not disqualified by age or otherwise, subject 
to military duty. Indeed, such is, in theory, the relation 
of all citizens of the American republic to the general 
government. Among our ants that duty is never dodged. 
There are no desertions. Lazy, cowardly, and skulking 
ants one does not see. With heartiest good-will the 
call to service is met, and a " clear call," apparently, is 
simply a perception of the commune's danger and need. 



Then, at a touch, every citizen becomes a warrior, and 
the outer walls swarm with defenders. 

Here one may note a remarkable trait of these ant 
citizens their devoted patriotism. At the approach 



(Photo by William S. Cooper, Detroit) 

of an enemy they attack it, absolutely regardless of con- 
sequences. The personal factor has no place nor even 
consideration in the act. Whether the supposed hostile 
be great or small, beast, bird, creeping thing, or man 
himself, the brave little creatures fling themselves upon 
it with the utmost abandon. 

For example, here comes to the edge of the mound a 
large black carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus), 
a ferocious and formidable insect, almost twice as large 
as the formican and a hereditary enemy. Forth from 
a gate leaps a sentinel, and launches its quivering body 
straight against the sable giant. One snap of the 
Camponotid's jaws, and the assailant's brown head is 



severed, and its beautiful life extinct. Another sentinel 
follows, and another, only to meet the same fate. But 
others crowd to the combat, eagerly facing and meeting 
wounds and death. Overwhelmed by numbers, the black 
warrior is at last conquered and dragged into the 
formicary, where its dismembered body is sucked dry 
and its shelly parts dumped upon the refuse-heap, or 
mayhap built into the growing walls, along with vegetable 
debris of various sorts. 

This courageous and unselfish disregard of person 
and absolute devotion to the communal safety at the 
cost of life or limbs is characteristic of ant citizens ; not 
of a few, but of all; not rarely and occasionally, but 
always; not under compulsion, but freely and without 



reward of any sort. Not even the high stimulus of 
applause of comrades and of honors from their fellows 
urge and sustain them. Such conduct is so much a 


matter of course that no one notes it as extraordinary, 
and a war-scarred veteran may be seen dragging its 
maimed limbs into action, or in some obscure corner 
licking its hurts and waiting for the end without nurse 
or comforter. It has done its duty, and accepts the 
result with imperturbable unconcern, as do its fellows. 

Apropos of these studies of police administration of 
our ant commonwealth is an observation incidentally 
made while conducting experiments to determine the 
mode of recognition among ants. Starting upon the 
theory that it was a specific odor or emanation analogous 
thereto by which our mound -makers recognize one 
another, the matter was tested by subjecting individuals 
to baths of clear water, and infusions of wintergreen, 
cold coffee, and tea, and then returning them to their 
mounds. The individuals thus treated were immediate- 
ly attacked by roundsmen, a dozen or more sometimes, 
and dragged away like culprits. These assailants were 
then taken with their victims, submerged, and festered 
to the hill with the same result. So with a third 
series; the assailants of the assaulted ants were in turn 
attacked, and invariably the same measure meted to 
them that they had measured to others. They had lost, 
for the time at least, the "mark" 1 of their citizenship. 
[McC. 2, p. 281.] 

In some cases the parties assailed were soon released, 
as though the mistake had been perceived. But for 
the most part there was every indication of a mortal 
purpose and a fatal issue. It was here that a curious 
trait was developed. The demeanor and conduct of the 
immersed and "tainted' 1 ' ants were in marked contrast 
with their character for valor in battle and pluck 

generally. They were quite passive under the fierce 



assault of their fellows, and succumbed with little or no 
effort to resist. They seemed to have the carriage of 
persons detected in some meanness or crime a " hang- 
dog'' sort of air. 

Could it be that these unfortunates tacitly recognized 
the fact that they had become obnoxious to the com- 
munal police? And, although this had come about by 
no fault of their own, was their instinctive sense of 
obligation to submit to the " legal authority' which 
dominated the commune so imperative that they 
yielded themselves to their fate, temporary captivity 
or death as the case might be, without the least show 
of resistance? One's judgment is so apt to be biassed 
by his interest in and sympathy with these wise little 
creatures that he is inclined to distrust even his most 
careful observations, and fear that unconsciously he may 
have interpreted their behavior by the operations of 
his own mind. But in this case so many tests were 
made, all yielding like results, that the above conclusion 
seemed to be justified. 

And why should it not be so ? The higher animals are 
not insensible to the public sentiment of their kind, 
as one may see from the actions of domestic flocks and 
herds and of gregarious wild beasts. It is what might 
be looked for in social insects, though therein less notice- 
able by human senses; for ages of hereditary com- 
munal life must have wrought upon their sensibilities, 
so keen in certain quarters though defective in others, 
a marked response to an environment of active dis- 

One does not speak of this as a conscience, perhaps not 
even as a remote analogue thereof. But it seems to take 
the place of that sentiment, or experience, or inward 



impulse and restraint in man, without which no com- 
munal government is long possible. What is it that 
imparts to our genus elements of chaos, crime, misrule, 
and misery so far beyond the qualities of social insects 
(if also so vastly above them), and which starts up in 
the path of history records of communal disorder that 
one seeks in vain among ants, hornets, and wasps? 
Why should a creature with a conscience ever be less 
steadfast and exemplary in communal righteousness 
than a citizen of a commune of mound-making ants? 


THE housing of the commune is a duty that springs 
up side by side with the existence of the commune. 
In the typical beginning of an arit community by the 
single fertilized queen, the first act of the incipient 
foundress is to scoop out and heap around her, in earth 
or wood, a cell whose diameter is somewhat greater 
than the length of her own body. This is the rudimen- 
tary house of the commune the primitive cave which 
bounds the architectural aim of most animals, and 
which is the starting-point with man himself (Fig. 16). 

With great numbers of species, this cave will be found 
under a stone. A flat stone, not too large and not 
deeply imbedded in the ground, if lifted up in the early 
spring, or at any time during summer, will be found to 
serve as a rocky roof which overspreads the vestibule 
and protects certain galleries, halls, and passages into 
an underground formicary. The mere fact of choosing 
such a location for a nest is significant; for, besides the 
protection and defence afforded, the stone absorbs the 
sun's ravs and serves thus as a natural furnace, con- 


tributing to the warmth of the ants and of their imma- 
ture young. 

Like the ancient catacombs of Rome, which served 
primitive Christians equally for home, for sanctuary, 
and for cemetery, these subsurface chambers and 

v f 



galleries are arranged in irregular stories, one above 
another. They are simply the primitive cave in multiple, 
with intercommunicating passages. And they increase on 
the principle of any other social settlement to meet the 

communal growth. 

Manv of them reach 


i m m e n s e propor- 
tions ; most of them 
are comparatively 

With the great 
army of woodwork- 
ers the same simple 
type of architect- 
ure prevails, modi- 
fied simply and not 
largely by the ma- 
terial from which 
the public build- 
ings are wrought. 
The storied subdi- 
visions especially 
are crowded within 
a narrower space 

and ai'C leSS 

courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History) 


ANT QUEEN, AFTER WHEELER tmctty HI a 1' k C d . 

One who carefully 

studies the architecture of a long-established nest of 
carpenter ants will find himself unconsciously tracing 
out in miniature pillars, arches, aisles, vaults, and 
domes of different orders of architecture. It takes but 
a slight stretch of fancy to imagine that one is gazing 
upon the ruins of an ancient seat of a diminutive type 



of his own race, who had carved out their toy-like homes 
and temples in the solid wood. 1 

One of the most interesting examples of the storied 
type of underground architecture is that of the honey- 
ants of the Garden of the Gods (Myrmecocystus hor- 
tideorum), Colorado, the farthest north they had been 
observed. The approach to their nest was a small, 
low, pebble-covered mound with a large central gate 
which penetrated it vertically for a few inches, and then 
was diverted into various passages that followed the 
slope of the ridge on which the colony was planted 
(Fig. 17). 

In one nest, chosen for complete exploration, excava- 
tion was carried forward during three days and several 

^=%y 5p3$^fflp' -> 


GARDEN OF THE GODS (Myrmecocystus hortideorum) 

parts of days, two men working with mallet and chisel 
and with knife in the soft, red sandstone, or " pudding- 
stone," of which the ridge is composed. The entire 
length of the formicary was seven feet eight inches. 

1 Nature's Craftsmen, p. 120. 


The point at which it ended was forty and a half inches 
below the level of the main gate and twenty-nine and a 
half inches beneath the level of the hillside. In all, the 
ants had excavated thirty-six cubic feet of rock, and 
this space was honeycombed with galleries and rooms. 
The latter varied from five to six inches long, three to 
four wide, and about three-fourths of an inch high. 
The walls and floors of these rooms were smooth, but 
the roofs were left in their natural roughness, thus 
forming a better foothold for the rotunds, or honey- 
bearers, who were perched upon them, clinging thereto 
with their claws, and closely clustered together. [McC. 
4, pp. 36, 37.] 

The Occident ant (Pogonomyrmex occidentalis) is closely 
related to the agricultural ant in structure and habit 
(Fig. 18). But the typical forms vary decidedly in their 
exterior architecture, the Occident having its commune 
overbuilt with a prominent cone coated with pebbles, 
while the typical agricultural keeps the space around its 
gate free from all growth. Both species, like the mound- 
making ants of the. Alleghanies, are among those that 
found and maintain vast communities, and therefore 
have a special interest to us in our present studies. 
Their homes are often wrought in a tough clay that is 
almost as hard to excavate as the red sandstone of the 
Garden of the Gods, and equally taxes the resources of 
the workers. The arrangement of rooms into stories 
is here also carried out, and to a surprising extent. In 

one nest of the Occident ant a story was found at a depth 


of over eight feet beneath the surface (Fig. 19). 

Those who are curious in such comparisons might 
find grounds here for a striking parallel between the 
achievement of an ant three-eighths of an inch high 



(long), and of a man one hundred and seventy-six times 
as high (five and one-half feet). [McC. 4.] \Yere we 
to reckon a proportionate rate of progress between 
the two on the basis of height, our man would have to 


'-^ i- ";'' -^^fe^'"^ ' %,. 




be credited with a storied structure one thousand four 
hundred and eight feet deep. Apart from such fanciful 
comparisons, it is certainly well calculated to excite our 
wonder that such insignificant creatures can, by their 
united exertions, bring about results relatively so vast . 
unaided by mechanical contrivances. 

The numerous chambers which in honey-ant structures 



.;-.- ' ^ ' . -. .:.'/: 

: -. . '' .-...-. 

;.;.;..;: v . . v - .: 





are occupied by those living honey-pots, the rotunds, in 
the Occident nests are used as store-rooms. Herein 
one finds various sorts of seeds put away for food. In 
a few cases rooms were found rilled with husks and 
apparently sealed up, as if empty spaces had been 
utilized in trie rush of business for "dumping-grounds," 
to save transporting the waste matter of the seeds to 
the outer gates and the kitchen -middens. Perhaps 
these "relief chambers 75 were merely a temporary 
makeshift, and would have been cleared out in due 
course had not the commune suffered a destruction as 
dire as that of ancient Troy or Carthage. 

Such great structures as have been described here 
imply the work of years, and it is probable that some 
of them were several years old. They showed every 
mark of such age; in fact, the continuous life of an 
ant community, in such sharp contrast with that of our 
hornets and yellow - jackets, which do not survive 
October, would naturally demand permanent or con- 
tinuous residences, the permanency of the community 
and the permanency of their dwelling going naturally 
hand in hand. By calculations made from the levelled 
floors of the mountain charcoal-burners, which had been 
occupied by large mounds since their abandonment, I 
concluded that some communities of Formica exsectoides 
were at least thirty years old, and I believe that they 
remain active for a longer period if unmolested. 

Livingstone (South Africa) speaks of ant-hills which 
dotted the face of the country like haycocks in a harvest- 
field. In the woods they were seen twenty feet high 
and forty to fifty feet in diameter. He also notes the 
fact that these spots are more fertile than the rest of 
the land, and are the chief garden ground for maize, 
3 23 


pumpkins, and tobacco. This statement has a signifi- 
cant bearing upon the part assigned in nature to ants 
and other insects in making the earth habitable by 
agricultural man. [Li. 1, p. 590.] 

The pebble roofing of the cone of the Occident ant is a 
permanent feature (Fig. 20) at least, of the immense 
number seen by me, all were covered with pebbles of the 
gravelly soil in which they stood. In the vicinage of the 
Garden of the Gods the pebbles were red sandstone. 
The mounds in Wyoming observed by Prof. Joseph Leidy 
were covered with a white stone. Mr. R. Hill saw them 



on the Sapa Creek, in northwestern Kansas, roofed with 
pellets of the limestone rock in which the great fossils 
are found, and in one or two cases even of portions of 
the fossils. Thus the conditions of the famous riddle 
of the Judipan Hercules are repeated in this far Occident, 
and the hymenopterous allies of the bees who nested in 
the skeleton of Samson's lion burrow and build a home 



among the bones of extinct creatures of the geologic 


These roofing pebbles are not i.or but sparsely) inter- 
mingled with the soil of which the interior bulk of the 


cone is composed, but form a stone covering, or roof, about 
a half inch thick, more or le . Mr. H. L. Viereck in- 
formed me that he had seen bits of cinder and coal, 
evidently gathered from the railroad track, for roofing. 
This is confirmed by the statement of Mr. G. A. Dean 
[D. 1, p. 1(59]. who further says that on the old town 
site of Wallace. Kansas, they used bits of glass, mortar, 
and small fragments of rusted iron from the debris of 
ruined house-. Thus the roofing habit, though it may 
have originated from the accidental deposit of ex- 
cavated pebblets. seems to have grown into a fixed 
purposeful instinct that prompts to gather supple- 
mentary material from any available quarter. 

The pebbles are handled with ease by the worker- 
ants, who nip them with their outstretched mandibles 
and then move off. rarely stopping en route to adjust 
the burden or to rest. The body is lifted up. the head 
well elevated to prevent bumping against the surface, 
and the load held well to the front or somewhat beneath 
the body. The portage was amply observed during 
ordinary excavations, in opening and closing gates, and 
in repairing breaks caused by rains or purposely made 
for experiment. In the last-named work the ants 
would descend to the clearing at the base of the cone, 
and carry the stones up the slope with as little apparent 
effort as when moving downward. 

This, however, must be an easier task than transport- 
ing them from distant sites or from their interior beds 
up the galleries to the surface. The space traversed in 



this underground portagf- is sometimes equal to a per- 
pendicular distance of nine feet, which has little me- 
chanical relief from the inclination or roughness of the 
gangways, sfome of the pebbles have from six to ten 
times the weight of their carriers. I never saw anv 

copartnerships in these port;._ s. No ant came to aid 
a struggling worker, and none seemed to need assistance. 

I have often admired the vigor and skill shown by 
baggage-porters in shouldering and bearing up several 
flights of stairs the immense trunks which American 
ladies take with them on their travels. But here, if 
we may be indulged in the comparison, is an insect 
three-eighths of an inch long and the worker-minors are 
shorter . who can cany up sharp inclines and perpen- 
dicular surfaces, over a distance three-hundred times 
its length, a burden six to ten times its weight. If. as 
heretofore, we estimate the average man at five and a 
half feet in length and one hundred and fifty pounds 
in weight, our baggage-porter would needs carry a half- 
ton trunk up one-tenth of a mile of stairway, to meet on 
equal footing the emmet athletes of the Occident ant- 

The simplest type of ant architecture, as we have 
seen, is a single cave excavated in the earth, or in wood, 
or formed bv detritus cemented bv salivarv secretions. 

. / 

This grows into (second) an enlarged chamber or cham- 
bers, with vestibule and connecting galleries. Thenre 
third) developing downward, the simple cave or con- 
nected chambers have grown into vast and deep-storied 
rooms and avenues, like those of the agricultural. Oc- 
cident, honey, and cutting ant- 

Expanding in the opposite direction a development 

upward instead of downward fourth) the little heaps 



of earth-pell . _ 1 thrown out around the gate of 

the cavern home of Pheidole. or the garden Lasius, be- 
come (fifth) the great conical structures of the mound- 
iking ante of the Afleghanies. which are in themsel 
ii ::.:. : . : :> This 15 an important difference. 7 
3 are thoroughly honeycombed with avenues and 
.nd galleries, which are the actual Kving- 
ters of the commune, and form, each mound in it- 

-. . -- 

_ _ - 

**= -: & 

Flff. 21 f H " - 7 _ ABTS-PEIXETS THBOWN' 

-_:- rr-iz - -. T j. - . - 

: i z ~ r : 

self, into a densely populated city although in full affi- 
ance of citizenship with all like mounds in the vicina^ 

We come nc vpe c: -:: jcture which 

char^ rues a number of genera in Europe and America, 
but which is particularly developed in varic - spe 
and varieties of Cremastogs-Trr. 7 - eeiea of t: 
genus are small, and are widely distributed throughout 
:errl: They have a hean-shaped abdomen or 

gaster. flat above and rounded below, and this th 
have the odd habit of turning up and directing forward 


(Fig. 22), so that it is almost parallel with the line of the 

thorax. [McC. 9, p. 188.] 

These ants, besides nesting in the earth near the 

surface and under stones, are apt to choose a site in a 

heap of stones, on an 
old stump, or in the 
debris of fallen and de- 
caying logs. A colo- 
ny settled among the 
crannies of a bowlder 
wall at our country 
home,Brookcamp, had 
built a covered ap- 
proach to their main 
entrance, using there- 
for particles of dust, 
earth, etc., that had 
accumulated upon the 
rocks. The nest itself 
was within the inter- 
stices formed by the 
rounded exteriors of 
the big bowlders, and 
was quite out of sight. 
This covered vestibule 
was a mild suggestion 
of the vast mud-cov- 

Fig. 22 CREMASTOGASTER LiNEOLATA 6i*ed ways made by 

a, b, c Worker, d, e Queen. the Eciton, or " driv- 

/ Worker with turned-up gnster. 

their route when out upon one of their devastating 

On a vine twined about the cloistered porch connect- 


(By courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History) 

PILOSA PERGANDE. (After Wheeler) 


ing my city manse with the church, I have noted similar 
enclosures built around the stock at points where a 
branch diverged therefrom. They were apparently 
wrought out of ''carton' -that is, a combination of 
wood-dust, loose earth, minute particles of straw, hay, 
and horse-feed (the droppings of passing animals), such 
as drift from the street into corners and crevices of walls 
and upon the foliage of city plants (Fig. 23). This 
material had been mixed into a sort of mortar and fixed 

by a natural cement secreted by the ants, until it formed 
a woody composite that easily crumbled between the 
fingers, but held together well enough to answer its 
purpose as a temporary tent. Structures of a similar 
character have been observed around the bases of the 
needle-like leaves of pine-trees in New Jersey and else- 

To what purpose are these rude shelters made? 
Chiefly to obtain exclusive and undisturbed possession 
of aphides and other insects that excrete the honey- 
dew of which they are so fond. [\V. 9, pp. 1-18, Plate 
ii. copied.] This enclosure not only serves to restrain 
the insect herds from wandering to inconvenient sites, 
but shuts out alien ants that, when strolling about, as 
is their wont, in search of food, might happen upon 
the pre-empted aphidian flock, and encroach thereon. 
In short, it is the Cremastogaster's way of " staking her 

It is interesting to notice that this tendency to build 
carton tents exists in this species not in full vigor as a 
thoroughly developed and fixed habit, but as a sub- 
sidiary tendency, a survival, it may be, of an ancestral 
habit once strong and persistent, but which, in course 

of time, has been gradually weakened and well-nigh 


K - ' ' - / .: 




(After Forel) 


atrophied. Still, under the stimulus of special favoring 
conditions, the latent ancestral tendency springs into 
active force, and shows itself in the occasional and 
temporary structures above described. 

I have alluded to this phase of ant industry and vent- 
ured on the suggestion of its origin, not simply because 
of the intrinsic interest of the facts, but because they 
lead up to what is (seventh) a distinct and well-defined 
form of nesting architecture. Not only Cremastogaster, 
but other genera have acquired the habit of making 
carton nests in and upon trees. They are at times quite 
large (a foot or more in diameter), and they form true 
habitations, as are the nests of hornets, in which larvae 
are reared, dependents housed, and all the functions 
of an ant commune carried on. 

These tree-dwellers are for the most part habitants of 
tropical and subtropical countries, and the accounts of 
travellers give one a vivid conception of their power, 
when excited by intended or accidental aggression, to 
swarm forth in legions from their domiciles and punish 
invaders with stings that seem pointed with fire. 

Of the ants of this form of arboreal nest, Fig. 24 is 
taken from Dr. Forel's Ants' Nests, and shows a paste- 
board nest of Dolichoderus bituberculatus Mayr, taken 
from the bough of a tree from Bankok, Siam. Fig. 25 
is a tree-nest after a figure published by Dr. von Ihring 
[Yon 1. 1, p. 334] of Camponotus rufipes, of South America. 

We come now to note (eighth) the existence of nests 
for which the framers have called in the use of silk. 
That this should turn up at even the most unexpected 
points in the insect world will not seem strange to one 
who knows how largely the spinning habit enters there- 
into. Many ants in their larval forms follow the role 



(After Von Hiring) 


of other orders, and spin themselves within their tough 
pupa cases or cocoons. Thus we are quite prepared to 
learn of Professor Forel's Ceylon species (Polyrachis 
jerdonii), which builds upon leaves a small nest com- 
posed of pebbles and minute fragments of plants, 
cemented together by a fine web, or woven together to 
form a web-like wall of bright grayish brown. In the 
East Indian ant Polyrachis dives the nest wall is a pure 
silken web of a brownish yellow, by which the enclosing 
leaves are lined and bound together. 

Polyrachis spinigera, of Poonah, India, makes for its 
nest a fine brown silk web pliable as the finest gauze, but 
thicker. This is fixed on the ground, where it forms the 
lining of a funnel-shaped cave that widens out into a 

But among the woven ant -nests thus far made 
known the one that seems to show the highest type 
of nidification is that of Mcophylla smaragdina, a com- 
mon ant of tropical Asia and Africa. The workers are 
large, long, reddish to greenish in color, of a war-like 
and fiery temper. Their females are grass-green, their 
males black (a rather striking color combination), and 
they maintain populous communes among the branches 
of trees. The common habitation is formed by joining 
together the borders of leaves with white spinning-work 
and binding them into a large mass, something after the 
fashion of certain spiders and tent-caterpillars. 

According to Mr. Aitken [Ai. 1, p. 422], the method of 
construction is as follows: A worker stands at the point 
where two adjoining leaves diverge, and holding to one 
with its claws, seizes the other with its jaws and draws 
the two together. As the leaves gradually approach each 

other they are held in place by the outspun threads, 



until, as the leaves touch and overlap, they are overspun 
and firmly bound down. And so the work passes from 
leaf to leaf until a sufficient housing is provided. This 
process in essential method resembles that which I have 
studied among spiders, particularly those large native 
orb-weavers, like Epdra insularis and E. domiciliorum, 
that build as a domicile large leaf-tents above their 
great geometric orbwebs. 

It seems almost past belief as a bit of natural archi- 
tectural ingenuity, but the observer, whom Professor 
Forel thinks entitled to credit, states that if in clamping 
the leaves the space separating the edges be overwide 
for one ant to manage, other workers, from two to five 
in number, will "join hands" to form a chain, each 
grasping the body of its neighbor until the last link on 
one side holds a leaf in its mandibles, while the last link 
on the other side grasps a leaf with its claws. Thus, all 
drawing together, the chain is gradually shortened until 
the breach is closed and spun over. When enough 
leaves have been fastened together, the whole is over- 
spun with a compact silk web, and made water-proof. 
It is then divided into connected living-rooms as 

Many ants are opportunists in the choice of a habitat. 
Instead of working out a nest in earth or wood, they 
exercise a sort of "squatter sovereignty/' and preempt 
for use some available locality. For example, I found 
a large commune of Aphenogaster tennesseensis in an old 
pine-tree stump at Bellwood, Pennsylvania. Moss 
and lichens grew freely upon the stump and its great 
bare roots. In the scant soil that had formed upon 
the top sundry wild plants were growing, as in a roof- 
garden. At various places over the surface large, dry 



toadstools were attached, looking like ancient sea- 
shells. Within these the ants had settled. The in- 
teriors swarmed with workers and larvae; and, as evi- 
dence that the task of enlargement was going on inside 




of both toadstools and stump, the outer bark of one 
large root was covered with fresh wood-dust. 

In tropical and subtropical countries examples of this 
habit are common on certain thorn-bearing trees and 

shrubs, as the Acacia. These thorns 
are often quite formidable in size. 
I have had specimens of them which 
had been inhabited bv ants of the 


widely spread genus Pseudomyrma. 
Near the points circular gates were 
cut out for entrance and exit, and 
the commune was established in the 
hollow interior (Figs. 26 and 27). 
It is believed that some ant-inhabited plants, as 
Cecropia adenopus, furnish in themselves a supply of 





food in small pyriform or ovate albuminous growths 
(Midler's corpuscles), which are eaten by the insects, ap- 
parently without disadvantage to the tree. They present 
another example of that interesting form of symbiosis- 
a comradeship of support and defence which not infre- 
quently exists between plants and insects. 1 For in 
return for the nurture yielded by the plant, the ants 
protect them from the incursions of such enemies as 
the leaf-cutting Attidie, that defoliate them in their leaf- 


hunting expeditions. 

Our studies of what, for lack of a fitter name, has been 
called the "architectural' and " engineering'' skill of 
ants will now return for a while to the great confederacy 
of the communes of mound-making ants. Let us note 
the citizens of this large colony of Formica exsedoides, 
who are adding a story to their communal cone. It is a 
lively and interesting scene. The utmost activity pre- 
vails, greatly quickened by a smart shower which has 
made the building material more available for use; for 
hot, dry weather had left the soil powdery and un- 

We soon get an insight of their mode of operating. 
On the outer surface, especially around the gates, small 
warts or pillars are thrown up, as though to gauge the 
height of the addition; and between these the infilling 
is made with pellets of earth, most of which are brought 
from the interior, where new galleries and rooms are 
being excavated. The vehicles for this portage are the 
insects' jaws, that serve alike for carriage, as basket or 
barrow, and for digging, as pick and shovel. The irreg- 
ular faces of these pellets fit into and fasten upon one 

1 See Prof. A. F. W. Schimper's The Varying Relations Between 
Plants and Ants, Jena, 1888. 


another, uniting the whole in a way that, perhaps, may 
not be characterized as " do vetailing " or " ball-and- 
socket" jointing, but which raises the suggestion of 
such contrivances. 

It is said that formic acid, which is extruded freely 


by ants, forms with silica a natural cement. Can it be 
that these pellets, which are composed largely of sand, 
are thus cemented together? Probably not; but at least 
the moisture of the late rain has aided their adhesion. 
Grass straws, cut from tufts growing along the base and 
strewn over the summit of the cone, are dragged into place 
and skilfully wrought in with the pellets. Besides these, 
bits of decayed wood, the needle-like leaves of pine-trees, 
which are abundant here, and leaves of low shrubs are 
intermixed with the soil. These insect masons are not 
forced to the hard service laid by the Pharaoh upon 
ancient Israelites of making bricks without straw. 

At another hill the builders had undertaken a special 
work of construction, or, rather, of repair. An errant 
cow grazing on the mountain-slope we can hear the 
tinkle of her bell from a distant corner of the wood- 
had strolled by that way and set a hoof upon the edge 
of the mound, leaving a deep and wide impression. Just 
one; for a swarm of irate insects must have instantly 
attacked Brindle's legs and caused her to beat a rapid 
retreat. But she has left a footprint on the cone that 
must needs be repaired. As a full day's work is before 
us, let us bring camp-stool, note-book, and drawing-pad, 
and sit down before it. We shall see something that 
looks like a well-planned system of engineering in filling 
up the hole. 

The cow's foot had made a nearly circular pit between 
eight and nine inches in diameter and depth. At the 



unbroken edge of the pit the task of filling up had begun. 
From the lower points (A) there extended a series of 
elevations (a, b, c, d), which marked the upper outline 
of an arc. Beyond this, toward the base of the hill, 
and parallel with it, was a like series (d, e, /), bending 
around the depression next to and parallel with its 


Mound-making ants filling up a break made in a mound 

by a cow's foot 

lower rim. These little pillars were not alike in shape, 
and it was quite noticeable that their height gradually 
increased from the unbroken margin of the mound 
toward the centre, where it was highest. Yet, through- 
out, their tops conformed to the general surface of the 
cone, the diminishing depth from centre to edge being 
met by a corresponding lowering of the columns. From 
these, and from similar elevations around the rim of the 
track, as centres of operation, the work of covering-in 
proceeded with great advantage (Fig. 28). A number 
of straws were worked into the columns apparently as 
braces ; and in one of the little hollows were piled many 
shells of cocoons from which antlings had just been 

4 30 


delivered, and which previously had been carried from 
the hill and dumped among the stones outside. Within 
three days, so vigorously did the work go on, two-thirds 
of the track had been filled up. The new work did not 
connect with the broken parts on the side toward the 
summit, but a deep trench, or open gallery, was there 
preserved all the way across. This seemed strange 
until it was considered that it was needful, or at least 
convenient, to keep such an opening into the network 
interior of galleries in order to allow easy entrance to 
and exit from the works within the track. 

Could this systematic order of work, with such plain 
marks of an intelligent plan, and carried forward much 
after the manner of men, in their like though larger 
undertakings, have come about by mere chance? It 
does not seem reasonable to think so. Yet there was 
no trace in any quarter or in any act of chief-engineer, 
or local foreman, or gang-boss, or of. any visible or- 
ganized directing body, or official supervisor, or regulator, 
or prompter. Every individual had a mind to work, 
and every one wrought, but unprompted and un- 
governed save by its own impulse. 

Here, also, the observer was impressed by the presence 
of that invisible, secret, mysterious Something which 
he has called the Spirit of the Commune bevond the 

i */ 

veil of science and philosophy, which kept all these 
active sovereign integers in such harmonious co-opera- 
tion in the execution of a fixed plan, sustained without 
intermission for half a week. Is analogous action 
possible among men? And if not, why not? And 
wherein lies the superiority if it be superiority in 
this respect of ants over men? 

Everywhere we note examples of this co-operating 



instinct of construction. In order to get a view of the 
interior of an ant city a mound was sawed through the 
centre with a large cross-cut saw and one-half thrown 
aside with shovels. This required vigorous and rapid 
movements to avoid the attack of the myriad of angry 
insects thus assaulted in their home. This, however, 
was less formidable, because the calamity was so unique 
and terrible like the earthquake shocks which lately 
wrecked Charleston and San Francisco, Messina and 
Reggio that the ants at first seemed stunned, and 
moved about as though distraught. Such an over- 
throw was beyond their limited powers to grasp. But 
they soon rallied, and promptly set themselves to restore 
their ruined commonwealth. Yet the blaze of passion 
was hot enough on the part of those who swarmed from 
the quarters untouched by the shovellers. Fortunately, 
the heat and fury thereof were soon expended. 

Let us examine the interior of the mound thus laid 
bare. The view of the perpendicular face of the half- 
cone exposed was truly remarkable (Fig. 29). Tubular 
galleries three-eighths to half an inch wide rose in regular 
series one above another, from the base to the domed 
summit. The cone within was a rough reproduction in 
soil, and on a gigantic scale, of the celled structure of the 
combs of bees, wasps, and hornets. 

Throughout this network of galleries were scattered 
cavernous rooms, the common lodging-places for the 
young and other dependents, although the galleries 
also served this end, as well as being the roadways be- 
tween all parts of the community. It is an amazing 
structure for so small a creatureling, and must have re- 
quired immense labor and pains to rear it. That this 
huge hill of sandy earth, mixed with and fixed by vege- 



table 1 matter, and perforated from top to bottom and 
from side to side with numberless tubes, could be made 
to stand the stress of mountain weather rains and 
floods, frosts and snows was marvellous. The inference 

' - Jl 

s> - "=:- ' " - *V^4s^ r .,^trv,>x ^^O'-sfl.M 



if ' 



seems inevitable that some sort of hardening material 
must have been used secreted from the jaws as saliva, 
or extruded from the stinging organs at least upon 
the inner surface of the galleries. But, however done, 



the ants had successfully solved their problem of build- 
ing a stable structure with friable materials, and had 
wrought it into a true communal home. 

To further learn their method, let us fix attention 
upon one point. A small cavity with a bit of projecting 
clod on the foundation of the removed part, and close 
to the remaining one, was the centre of active operations. 
Just above towered the perpendicular face of the half- 
cone, along which everywhere squads of workers were 


Covering-in a broken horizontal gallery and repairing a broken 

vertical one 

continually thrusting their brown heads out of gallery 
openings and dropping pellets of soil. They were clear- 
ing up the inner debris from the broken passageways, 
and doubtless some of them were calmly carrying 
forward the improvements begun before the Dearth- 
quake ' (Fig. 30) . These pellets were taken up by the 
workers beneath, who for some reason best known to 

themselves seemed to prefer them to those that lay 



everywhere around them, the crumbled particles of their 
.shattered home. Two galleries running side by side, 
the upper parts of which had been destroyed, were being 
covered over. They were directed along the bottom 
of the cavity for three inches, and then slanted up- 
ward to connect with the standing half-cone. 

The work progressed by continuously adding earth- 
pellets to the outer edges and pressing them into place. 
As the sides rose they were gradually arched, and the 
springing of the arch was plainly seen. The curved 
edges approached in irregular lines, and at various spots 
the two projecting points drew near and nearer until 
they almost touched. It was quite exciting now to 
watch the delicate manipulation of the masons. Here 
came a worker with a pellet of larger size than usual. 
She climbed the arch, moving more daintily as the top 
was reached. Holding on the while with her hind 
feet, she stretched across the wee chasm and dropped 
the ball of soil into the breach. The bridge was 

And now, with surprising rapidity, it widened as the 
roof of the arch was covered. Until this was done, 
openings were left through which the ants moved back 
and forth, and which were closed over as sections of the 
arch were completed. They were temporary arrange- 
ments " manholes," so to speak for the convenience 
of the builders. Through these one could see the ants 
at work upon the inner surface, smoothing it with their 
jaws, as a mason would work with his trowel and 
mortar. The outside of galleries and rooms was left 
rough, as laid, but the interior was smoothed. Salivary 
secretions probably gave the additional moisture needed 
for this. At one point the gallery was widened from 



half an inch, the usual diameter, to one and a half 
inch, as though a store-room or living-room were being 
formed. Close by, a vertical gallery, one side of which 
had been torn away, was being repaired by the infilling 
of the broken side, and this work was done precisely as 
in the case of the horizontal arches. 

One was reminded, in all these actions, of the methods 
of bricklayers at work upon an arched sewer or culvert, 
or of masons putting up a rubble-stone wall. There 
were some marked differences the profound silence of 
the worker ants and the absence of overseers. The 
ant is no "spendthrift of her tongue." She "talks to us 
in silence." No one is prompted or driven to work; 
no one needs to be, for here there are no shirks. No 
regular hours of service are kept, and there are no fixed 
intervals of rest. Labor goes on all the time; and, view- 
ed in the mass, there is no cessation, at least at this 
juncture, by day or night. Each individual determines 
for herself the period of work and the time for rest, and 
so strong is the sense of duty, or the instinct of fidelity, 
in every ant, that such individual liberty and respon- 
sibility are not abused, and the public works of the 
commonwealth are not damaged or delayed. 

Building operations were not limited, as in the above 
cases, to the original site of the cone. A fragment half 
the size of one's head, which had been shovelled to one 
side, was a centre of special activity. It had already 
been made the nucleus of a new mound. Columns, 
corridors, and halls, corresponding closely with those out- 
lined upon the under side of the fragment and united 
therewith, had been erected. In one of these halls was 
a small collection of dead ants, a token of a custom 
sometimes observed among these insects to show a sort 



of funereal respect to the dead of their own household 
(Fig. 31). 

This was one of the most interesting and puzzling of 
the activities developed by the cutting-down of the 
mound. Access to the uninjured part was easy, and 


a, a, a Double gallery, c, c, c Chambers. 

knowing the habits of these Fonnicans and their wide 
range of daily venture, it seemed strange that they did 
not at once, as did so many of their fellows, rally to the 
reconstruction work on the old foundation. Had they 


been found huddled impassively underneath the scat- 
tered fragments, keeping refuge for the nonce and wait- 
ing results, it would have seemed natural. But this 
immediate launching upon an apparently fresh enter- 
prise turning to housemaking instead of home-repair- 
ing, so near the gates of the old republic beginning the 
upbuilding of a new this mystified a mere human brain. 
Did the familiar savor and associations of a bare lump 
of their former home deceive them ? Were they so little 



impressed by the commune's partial wrecking as to 
think that nothing serious had happened? Was this 
an instinctive act of self-protection, for the present 
exigency alone, a sort of bivouac and makeshift, like 
the temporary camps around a despoiled city? Would 
these adventurers persist, and build up a permanent seat, 
or soon return to the old quarters? Was this a proof of 
superior wisdom, the act of keen opportunists quickly 
adapting themselves to strange conditions, or of faculties 
far more limited than we have been wont to credit to 
ants? Was it simply the result of a physical necessity 
to be doing, an uncontrollable impulse finding vent in 
action ? 

But here we stand, vainly speculating and philoso- 
phizing, while the field of observation just before us is 
alive with busy insects who have much to show us. Let 
us go back to the practical and objective. We have 
seen something of the way in which the citizens of an 
ant community labor in mass on their public buildings 
and roads. The manner of the individual now requires 
to be noted. And here comes a worker-minor who will 
answer our quest. She has strolled along over the 
irregular surface of the old foundation of her home, 
feeling with her antenrue here and there without any 
visible purpose. At last she pauses. She seems to be 
reflecting upon the ruin around her and without apparent 
emotion. Ah ! if we could but command the mediation 
of some fairy interpreter of her thoughts ! 

But see! Suddenly she leaps upon a pile of earth- 
crumbs, and, seizing one in her jaws, lays it down at a 
little distance with a sharp pat. Another and an- 
other and many others follow, all gathered and placed 
with amazing activity. The little body, from the tips 



of her ever-moving antemue to the apex of the abdomen, 
quivers with the intensity of her energy. She reminds 
one of a small harbor tug, forging ahead, trembling from 
stem to stern under her great engine as she draws in 
her wake a huge ship. Only, there is no puffing! All 
goes on "in solemn silence, " like the shining orbs in "the 
spangled heavens/' as sung in Addison's paraphrase of 
the nineteenth Psalm. 

Will the day ever come when even a remote approach 
to this noiseless toil shall characterize human communes ? 
To be sure, since men's work is so largely wrought by 
the aid of machines, the racket thereof and the audible 
strain of their motors cannot be wholly subdued. But 
it is certain that some of our mightiest and most effective 
machinery does its work with the minimum of friction, 
and so of noise. Really a mechanical contrivance might 
be fairly counted valuable in proportion to the silence 
of its operation. Always force is wasted in noise- 
physical and mental as well. Silence is a mighty 
economist of man's wealthiest powers. Racket is a 
ruinous waster. 

Beyond doubt, at least, abatement in large degree of 
our city noises is not only desirable, but wholly prac- 
ticable. They are needless. They are wasteful. They 
are often cruel to the invalid and nerve-worn. They 
are remainders of a crude stage of development, and 
an enlightened people should not tolerate them. They 
are chiefly the products of thoughtlessness, stupidity, 
penuriousness, unthrift, and a selfish rudeness. Here 
also our city magnates and lords of industry might go to 
the ant and consider her ways with profit. 


A TJ"E return to our lone pioneer laborer of the mound- 
T T making ants, left, at the close of the last chapter, 
in the act of beginning a work of repair upon her desolat- 
ed commune. Her movements will give us an insight 
of some emmet methods in this field of engineering 
construction. One soon begins to see some purpose in 
her work, for slowly the suggested outline of a gallery 
takes shape. Meanwhile a second ant has wandered 
that way. She halts and, with \vhat appears a. careless 
mien, surveys the scene. Then, struck by an impulse 
that probably is as mysterious in its origin to her as to 
her observer, she joins the first adventurer in her attack 
upon the pile of earth-pellets and in their transfer to 
the growing gallery. By a like process the squad of 
workers increases from two to four, from four to ten, 
from ten to fifty or more, until a busy company swarms 
over the works, which are rapidly taking distinct form 
as an arched gallery. 

The pioneer of this enterprise has long ago been lost to 
sight among her comrades, and one regrets the lack of 
brush and white paint wherewith he might have marked 
the black abdomen, and thus have kept track of her. 
It is certain, however, that the fact of her having been 
the first citizen and founder of that settlement had 

given her no claim to authority or superiority of any 



sort. Her fellow-citizens seemed ignorant of the fact, 
and it is doubtful if she remembered it herself. Such 
sentimental considerations have no weight in this wholly 
utilitarian government and society. 

Perhaps this is she who slips out of the throng, and, 
ascending a bit of a clod hard by, squats upon her hind 
legs and begins to preen her downy coating. What to 
her now is all the busv scene beneath her? Let the 


emmet world wag on as it will; she must be clean. 
And so, in peaceful unconsciousness of all and sundry in 
her sphere of being, she proceeds with the one present 
purpose of life, and thoroughly cleanses herself in the 
approved mode, as hereafter will be described. And now, 
her purifications being finished, she yawns, stretches 
her limbs, gives her antennre a final brush, and 
leisurely descends from her perch. A moment she 
stands as though undecided, then plunges again into the 
whirl of activity on and around the new works, and 
soon is indistinguishable from her fellows. 

In the review of these building operations several 
reflections arise. Here was a test of the ability of ants 
to meet a new experience, such as was the destruction 
of one-half of their republic. Accidents like the breach 
made by a cow's foot they had known and remedied, 
but no such misfortune as then faced them had ever 
befallen. Yet they met it with admirable spirit and 
method, and with success. They set themselves at once 
to the work of reconstruction, not only with vigor but 
with practical wisdom, and with ready adaptation of 
means to the new conditions. Their instinct was 
sufficiently elastic to cover a strange and colossal ad- 
versity; or, may we infer that the appeal in the 

emergency was to something other than routine instinct 



-something, in fact, that nearly approached and cer- 
tainly suggested a process of adapting means to ends, 
that bore the earmarks of reasoning? 

Again, their swift and perfect reaction from the first 
shock and excitement of a disaster that well might have 
overwhelmed ambition and endeavor was noteworthy. 
They went straight on with the ordinary duties of life 
in the uninjured part of their city, and took up the ex- 
traordinary ones without a sign, understandable by 
human intelligence, of grief, or passion, or discourage- 
ment, or deep emotion. No time was wasted in useless 
moping, no vigor in aimless schemes. At once they 
aroused themselves to action, and attacked the emer- 
gency with admirable energy and poise. Among men 
such self-control has been called the fruit of philosophy. 
If such it be, will we be able to deny our mound-making 
ants the title of insect philosopher? Certainly they are 
apt are they automatic? imitators of the philosopher's 
role. And not to a few rare spirits, the sages of the 
commune, but to all and equally is the honor due. 
Nature maintains in the ant city Voltaire's ideal con- 
dition that a philosopher should live only among 

A curious observation as to how active work may 
affect the physical condition of ants was made upon 
three mounds listed for daily special study. For 
several days they were found in such an unusually 
excited condition that they were down in my note-book 
as the "hysterical hills." The cause of this agitation 
evaded all inquiry, but the cure was most interesting. 
Rains that succeeded the first dry days of our coming 
were observed to have imparted activity in building 

operations to a number of mounds. The prediction 



was thereupon ventured to one of our company that we 
should find our "hysterical hills'' busily building up 
their cones like their fellows of other mounds, and as a 
result settled into their normal composure. And so we 
found it. They were working at the top of their bent, 
and were subdued in temper and manner. Honest, 
hearty physical toil had quieted them, as it often does 
over-nervous human beings; or, perhaps it had filled 
their natures with a present and pressing duty, thus 
diverting them from that useless expenditure of force 
that often comes from purposeless inaction. 

One must also note the immensity of the labors 
wrought by the insects. These may seem trivial as one 
watches them lifting up and placing here a pellet and 
there a pellet of soil, and building them into the walls 
of the common structure. But if the results be con- 
sidered, they will seem astonishing for such small creat- 
ures to accomplish. Perhaps a comparison with a noted 
building achievement of our race, the great pyramid of 
Egypt, may here be allowed. It is true that such com- 
parisons are apt to be superficial and misleading, but 
from a purely popular standpoint the}' are allowable 
and may be instructive. The cubic contents of one of 
the largest mounds was calculated to be in round num- 
bers two million cubic inches. We may estimate the 
bulk of an ant to be equal to that of a cylinder three- 
eighths of an inch high and one-sixteenth of an inch in 
diameter. Taking thirty-five one-hundred-thousandths 
of a cubic inch as the bulk of a single worker ant, the 
size of the builder would be to the size of the edifice as 
one to fifty-eight hundred million. Let us compare 
this with a corresponding estimate of the work of man, 
taking his bulk as six cubic feet, and accepting the solid 



contents of the great pyramid as reckoned at seventy- 
six million cubic feet. We shall have the following 
formula of comparison: 

Man's bulk to his building is as 1 to 121 millions; 

The ant's bulk to her building is as 1 to 5800 millions. 

A simple calculation will show how greatly this ex- 
hibits the comparative superiority of the insect in the 
mere quantitative re- 
sults. It should also 
be considered that in 
these and all other 
such works the ants 
have no mechanical ap- 
pliances such as mul- 
tiply the effect and 
ease the fatigue of hu- 
man labors. Her sole 
tools are her jaws and 
feet (Figs. 32, 33), 
the bodily appendages 
with which nature has 
provided her, although 
it must be admitted 
that these are highly Fig. 32 ANIS DIGGING OUT GALLERIES 

effective. (Drawn from an artificial formicary) 

There is another c Claws, d Particles of dirt, 
comparison --in sooth p Point being dug out. 

it is a contrast - 

which needs here to be drawn. Such knowledge as 
has come to us of the building methods obtaining in 
ancient Egypt shows that the laborers were driven to 
their hard tasks by overseers who urged on gangs of 
workmen with the lash. Theirs was unwilling service, 



a c I Attached claw, a t Its articulation with the joint. 
i c I Inserted claw, i n The inserted parts, s r Ser- 
rations on same. / m Foot muscle, p v Pulvillus or 
foot pad. 


cruelly exacted. We have already seen that the ants 
rendered free and willing service, and that their toil was 
without overseers, and wholly of individual selection. 
From the beginning to the end there was no discord 
among them; no protests; no strikes, sympathetic or 
otherwise; no walking delegates or their insect analogues; 
no oppressing (or oppressed) contractors or owners. 
Indeed, there was no occasion for any of these frequent 
appendages of great modern structures whereon human 
workingmen artisans, mechanics, and common laborers 
-are engaged. 

And yet the work was done, and on undertakings 
relatively many times greater, in the most perfect har- 
mony, good temper and content of all. Is it possible 
for man to draw some lessons from this example of 
natural civics? Is it beyond hope that some goodly 
measure of such results may lie within the sphere of the 
practicable for our current organized society? Does 
our "civilization' 1 hopelessly encumber us from ever 
attaining the ideal commune? Must it lie in the bright 
cloud-realm of the optimist's dreams, until alas! can 
it ever be?> the whole race, reborn and disenthralled, 
shall return to the unsullied simplicity of nature? 

It may be drawing too fine a distinction in the build- 
ing work of ants to discriminate between architecture 
and engineering. Yet we seem to note such a distinc- 
tion. The commune of the agricultural ant, already 
described, is differenced from its fellows by the circular 
disk (Fig. 34) that surrounds its central gate or en- 
trance. The construction of this disk, and its main- 
tenance as a free and open plaza in the midst of the 
surrounding subtropical foliage, are works for which no 

little skill and energy are required (Fig. 35). 
5 55 




But this is only the beginning of the enterprise, the 
pivot upon which more important undertakings centre. 
At various points around the circumference of the disk 
enter a series of cleared trails, widest at their point of 
contact, that radiate into the surrounding herbage, 
whose denseness at once suggests the reason for their 
construction. In short, they are roads laid out to 
penetrate the harvest fields of these granivorous ants, 
and are used and admirably adapted for that purpose. 

The method of transportation in use by harvesting 
and other ants is primitive enough, consisting simply in 
personal carriage by a host of individuals (Figs. 30, 37, 
38). It is the method of the African explorer, the 
method of primitive man when unable to utilize the 
beast of burden. But it is effective. It is here that 

the engineering quality of the roadways comes in; they 



converge upon the entrepot of the colony. They facili- 
tate transportation by making communication easier and 
quicker. However they may have arisen in the history 
of the harvesting habit's development, or with what pur- 
pose (if any) originally constructed, the facts are as stated. 
And they do not stand alone. In the summer of 

Fig. 35 

Fig. 38 







1887, while visiting Scotland, I spent two days at the 
Trossachs Hotel, which is located in the glen known as 
the "Pass of Achray,' 1 through which flows the little 
Achray river (or creek) which Sir Walter Scott describes 
as "the stream that joins Loch Katrine to Achray." 
Here I found a number of nests of Formica rufa, the well- 
known "horse ant," or "wood ant," of Great Britain. 
They were built on either side of the footwalk that leads 
from the Trossachs glen to "the sluices," as they are 
popularly called, which regulate the stage of water in 
Loch Katrine, the source of supply for the city of Glas- 
gow. The demands of humanity are imperative; but 
the lovers of romance cannot but mourn that the spell 
which Scott's genius has thrown over such beautiful 
spots as "Ellen's Isle" and the "Silver Strand" is 
being dissolved before the engineer's need for greater 
water-storage capacity. 

The mounds raised by the rufous ants were found to 
be cones of earth intermingled with chippage of various 
sorts. They were about three feet high, and some of 
them from six to seven feet in diameter across the base. 
They resembled those of our mound-making ants of the 
Alleghanies in general appearance, but their builders 
seemed to make a freer use of leafage and chippage to 
work up and cover their nests. The surface was quite 
thickly thatched with bits of straw and leaves, stalks of 
grass, pieces of fern, and various like materials. Num- 
bers of openings appeared upon the surface at irregular 
intervals from the summit to the base, and at 4 P.M. 
many workers were dragging the chippage back and forth, 
as though arranging to close the doors for the night. 
[McC. 23, p. 336.] 

These huge cones stand in the midst of the tall 



bracken a large, coarse fern that overhangs them, and 
at times almost hides them from passers-by, as a forest 
might hide a castle standing in its midst. 

My attention was especially attracted to the character 
of the roads leading from the ant-hills to various points 
in the surrounding wood. These were distinctly marked 
upon the surface of the ground, having in places a width 
of from two to four inches stained dark brown or black 
by the formic acid exuded from the insects as they 
passed along. The fallen leaves and crushed grass 
upon which the trails were made were pressed down 
and smoothed by the constant action of innumerable 
legs upon the surface. So well marked were these 
trails that they were easily traced even without the 
presence of the columns of ants that marched back and 
forth upon them. 

While following up one of these roads, I was struck 
by the fact that it showed scarcely any deviation from 
a straight line. In order to test this matter more care- 
fully, I selected a large mound from which three roads 
radiated. These were all traced to their termination at 
three several oak-trees, up which the columns of ants 
ascended to obtain the honey-dew supplied by numerous 
aphides that infested the branches. The roads were 
carefully marked out by stakes set at short intervals, 
a plan made necessary by the high bracken, whose stalks 
stood so closely together that they had to be pushed aside 
to trace the roads. 

The following facts resulted; Road No. 1 was sixty- 
five feet in an almost perfectly straight line from the 
nest to the tree. Road No. 2 was seventv feet long and 

/ c> 

varied less than three inches from a direct line drawn 

from the nest to a point within two feet of the terminal 



tree. There the column made a detour of about six 
inches. But an abandoned path continuous with the 
main road, which apparently had been used at a recent 
date, was traced for a considerable distance farther. 

Road No. 3 was the longest, being more than a hun- 
dred feet long. It extended for nearly twenty feet in a 
straight line, at which point it touched an old stump 
that deflected it at a slight angle. Thence it was 
continued in a nearly direct course as far as a beaten 
footpath through the wood. Here the ant trail was oblit- 
erated by passing human feet, although the ants still 
thronged the pathway, there much broadened by the con- 
tinual interference and loss caused by foot-passengers. 
The trail, however, was resumed at a point nearly oppo- 
site that at which it touched the path, and was con- 
tinued again in a straight line about twenty feet farther 
to the tree where it ended. 

When the entire trail (No. 3) was staked off, it was 
found that its terminus deviated less than three feet from 
the straight line drawn from the point of departure at the 
ant-hill. The greater deviation in this case was doubt- 
less caused by the peculiar difficulties in the track. 
The three roads so radiated from the parent nest that 
they were included within about one quadrant of a 
circle, of which the two shorter trails might represent 
radial boundaries of the quadrant, while the longer 
trail was midway between the two. 

Looking simply at the results of these observations, it 
is manifest that these rufous ants showed an accurate 
sense of direction in marking out and following their 
approaches to the trees. It would not be reasonable to 
attribute such mathematical accuracy as above shown 
to mere accident. The roads in point of directness were 



as well laid out as are works of a corresponding nature 
done by the engineering skill of men. And these are 
not isolated cases, but mark the general rule. The 
mound-making ants (Formica exsectoides) of America, 
which so closely resemble Formica rufa in their archi- 
tecture and general habits, show like characteristics in 
their road-making, though I do not remember to have 
seen it displayed under such difficulties. 

The question inevitably arises, How did the ants 
manage to lay out these roads with such precision? 
When a corps of engineers or road-builders produce like 
results, we easily call up certain steps that have been 
taken. We think of two or more persons, provided with 
surveying instruments, all dominated by the sense of 
sight, and controlled by reasoning upon the facts and 
figures entering into the problem, making out certain 
lines, and, as far as conditions allow, laying out the 
course in a straight line between the points to be 

In the case of the ants we start under the embarrass- 
ment of not having the facts to reason from. Were 
the roads marked out at once, or are they a gradual 
growth? We do not know. Has the direct course been 
determined by a great number of experiences, of which 
the errors in direction were gradually eliminated, and 
the final result viz., the shortest path to the desired 
point retained? We do not know. 

It is easy enough to understand how, after a course 
has once been fixed, the ants follow it unhesitatingly. 
Their antennae, which are continually waved before them 
and to every side, at once detect the strong odor of 
formic acid on the trail. This is a perfectly accurate 

guide, and beyond doubt it is thus that the workers pass 



so swiftly and surely between points on the established 

The sense of sight, it will be observed by the reader, 
is not here considered. It is probably a negligible 
factor, or at least does not appear to play a considerable 
part in determining results. The visual organs of ants 
are good as far as appearances show, and as compared 
with those of the winged hymenoptera, as bees and 
wasps, ought to contribute something effective toward 
a visual memory of the localities over which their owners 


operate. They may do so here. But myrmecologists 
seem at one in the opinion that the vision of ants is 
extremely limited; and if so, it could hardly have ef- 
fectively directed them in laying out trails of such 
length as here considered. 

Moreover, the great ferns referred to as closely en- 
closing and overhanging the ant-hills and the whole 
surrounding region would probably have hindered the 
effective exercise of vision, unless we suppose that 
the course of the trails was fixed in the early spring 
before vegetation began and the vicinage was quite 

Suppose we indulge in a bit of speculation? Let us 
imagine that when the winter has so far broken as to 
allow the insects full liberty of out-door life, a group of 
workers start out from the parent commune to explore 
the neighborhood for food. After the fashion of their 
kind, we see them passing to and fro in zigzag lines, in 
arcs and parabola. They are thus storing their mem- 
ories with impressions by which to localize their route 
and insure their return. Farther and farther, and by 
gradual recessions, they reach an oak-tree. To ascend 
it is a part of the natural inquisitiveness (and acquisitive- 



ness) which so strongly marks these insects, and forms 
an important factor in the feeding of the commune. 

A tree is a veritable bonanza for insects of various 
sorts at sundry seasons. The sappy exudations of the 
plant; the opening buds; the bleeding galls; the hosts of 
insects, as coccids and aphids, that infest various parts, 
and prey so freely upon its generous bulk that their 
superabundance yields a rich harvest for many other 
insects one or more of these may attract our foraging 

And now, full laden, they are ready for the return 
journey. Their path down the tree is easily traced by 
their ascending trail. The real difficulty must arise as 
they reach the ground and face the home commune. 
Yonder it lies; the general direction is not hard (for us) 
to determine. But amid all these involved crossings 
and recrossings, of their first outgoing trail, how shall 
they find a straight path home ? 

The author is loath to resort to the supposition of 
some occult power, although he believes in a divine Over- 
force as the one intelligent source of all creatures and 
all their actions. His own explanation (held without 
positiveness) is that, by means of the odors left during 
their approach and recognized by the sensitive antennae, 
assisted, perhaps, in some degree, by visual impressions, 
the ants discern the general course of their trail. It 
may be also that a spirit of venture which possesses most 
living things, and a profiting by happy chances which 
befall, may aid in giving them the first bent homeward. 
Moreover (and I am inclined to emphasize this point), 
the home commune, as the central abode and scene of 
activity of a vast multitude of ants, must be a huge 
reservoir of formic fumes that strongly impregnate the 



surrounding locality, and serve as a sense-signal that 
affects, even at a distance, the sensitive antennoe of 
the workers, and so points the direct way home. Thus 
it falls out that the return is apt to be far more direct 
than the outgoing. 

The next outgoing naturally would be over a some- 
what more direct trail than even their first return, and 
so, in the course of a few trips, the first indirections 
would be eliminated, and the trail established in its 
lines as when I saw it. Something like this, perhaps, 
may be a natural history of the method by which the 
ants perform what seem to us notable engineering feats 
in laying out their roads. 

But there are cases which cannot be explained so 
satisfactorily. While studying the cutting ants of 
Texas, near Austin, I took occasion to follow up the 
underground routes of some of this species. A planter, 
in order to get rid of the depredations of an immense 
commune near his residence, had set his men to dig it 
up and utterly root it out. In order to reach the central 
nest he had traced the ants from a tree inside his home 
premises, which they had stripped of leaves, to a point 
six hundred and sixty-nine feet distant. The nest 
occupied a space as large as a small cellar, the lowest 
and main cave being as large as a flour-barrel. In this 
central cavern were great numbers of winged males and 
females, and innumerable lame and workers. From 
this point radiated the various avenues over which the 
leaf-cutters marched on their raids. 

With the aid of a young civil engineer, I proceeded to 
survey the main course of the insects. For part of the 
way we had but to follow the diggings of the planter's 
laborers. For the rest, it was only necessary to sink 



holes here and there along the estimated course to the 
main nest, and, when the tunnel was struck, take an- 
other bearing. These bearings were afterward handed 
to a friend, 1 who had them translated into a chart. In 
some places the tunnel was as deep as six feet beneath 
the surface, the average depth being about eighteen 
inches. At the "exit hole," four hundred and eighty- 
four feet from the nest, the tunnel was two feet deep. 
Besides this main way there were two branch tunnels, 
which deflected from the trunk-line near the country 
road, in order to gain entrance to a peach orchard one 
hundred and twenty feet distant. 

This chart shows better than any verbal description 
the problem in underground road-making which the 
cutting ants faced and effectually solved. [McC. 6, p. 
224.] It quite confirms their ability, at least, to achieve 
such an undertaking as described by Dr. Gideon Lin- 
cecum, who observed a raid made by a colony of cutting 
ants upon a garden situated on the bank of a creek that 
flowed between their nest and the garden. In order to 
reach the desired plants they drove a tunnel beneath 
the bed of the stream, and, ascending on the opposite 
shore, successfully raided the garden. [Li., p. 327.] 

Gen. S. W. Fountain, of Devon, Pennsylvania, a re- 
tired officer of the United States army, recently (1909) 
related to me an incident that quite confirms Lincecum's 
statement. AVhile stationed at Fort Clark, Texas, during 
the summer of 1879, with Troop "E," U.S. Cavalry, the 
troop garden, whose conduct was assigned to Captain 
(now Colonel) A. B. KaufTman, was so persistently raided 
by cutting ants, who stripped the vegetables of their 

1 The late Mr. Strickland Kneass, C.E., Assistant to the Presi- 
dent of the Pennsylvania Railroad. 



leaves, that the site had to be abandoned. It was 
transferred to a spot near by that was surrounded by 
an irrigating ditch, and, thus insulated, was supposed 
to be quite safe from emmet assault. But in course of 
time the cutting ants appeared within the island gar- 
den. The officers, supposing them to be the former 
troublesome community, concluded that they had en- 
tered by tunnelling beneath the stream. What other 
way? But Captain Kauffman, sceptical of their ability 
to accomplish such an engineering feat, resolved to in- 
vestigate. He drained the irrigating stream (some four 
or five feet wide), dug up the bed, and traced the in- 
sects' trail from their point of entering the garden to 
the old nest on the opposite side. The ants had in- 
deed tunnelled beneath the water, guided unerringly by 
their remarkable instinct in engineering. 

I have no explanation to offer of the method by which 
the Attidie accomplished these feats in subway en- 
gineering. The facts are given, and they are without 
question. But by what peculiar topographical sense 
or gift, or by what faculty or process they carried out 
schemes which compare favorably, relative powers 
and proportions considered, with underground roads 
and tunnels of our own species, this author con- 
fesses his inability even to suggest an explanation. 
One may see how upon surface trails the antennae aid 
in fixing the direction of the ants' course. But it is not 
possible to see how they could aid in laying out tunnels 

We turn to another and widely different use of the 
engineering faculty. In earlier days the gates of great 
buildings and of walled towns were kept with a high 
degree of diligence and ceremony. This was warranted 



by their relative importance in the military methods of 
the period. It has now wellnigh ceased, except as a 
quaint survival of mediaeval ways in castle and town, 
or as a relic of military days and discipline. It is in- 
teresting to find among the communal habits of some 
species of ants a like marked attention to opening and 
closing the public gates. And this is not a mere survival 


of a habit out of which the soul has gone, but is kept up 
seriously as an important part of the communal de- 
fences. Though the writer confesses that more than 
once he has found himself questioning its utility; which 
probably means his inability to perceive the same. 

Among the communities most persistent in keeping up 
this habit are those of the Occident ants, and examples 
of the custom as it obtains among them, and in one 
other species, will sufficiently illustrate the author's 
observations. In form the gates of Occidentalis are 
funnel-shaped openings through the gravel roof of the 
central mound into the interior, at an inclination of 
about forty-five degrees. There is usually but one gate, 
located about one-third of the way from the base. It 
is single or double, according as it opens into one gallery 
or two, the former being about three-fourths of an inch 
wide, the latter from one and a half to three inches (Fig. 

39) . Within, the terminating galleries are quite smooth; 



without, they present the appearance of a rude stone 
wall in miniature. Around these gates gathers the daily 
out-door life of the ants. Back and forth through them 
citizens of the commonwealth are continually moving 
during the working hours of the day. 

My observations throughout the latter part of July 
showed that the gates are ordinarily opened near or 

shortly after 8 A.M., 
but full activity of 
the colony did not 
begin until toward 9 
o'clock. The general 
statement is warrant- 
ed that the gates are 
opened between 8 and 
9 o'clock A.M. This 
is not an early hour 
to go on duty for in- 
-v / sects that have such 
a high reputation for 
industry. However, 
one must remember 
that the interior work 
of a formicary, which 

Fig. 40 OCCIDENT ANTS CLOSING GATES 1S VG1 Y g 1 6a ^' Hiay 

still going on behind 

closed doors. Moreover, I found that in a special exig- 
ency as injury to a mound by floods the ants modify 
their habit, and are found hard at out-door work at 
early hours. 

The manner of opening a gate cannot be fully de- 
scribed, because the work is done chiefly within and 
behind the outer door of gravel. Doubtless the mode 



would be shown correctly by reversing the process of 
closing gates (Fig. 40), presently to be described. What 
one first sees is a pair of quivering antennae above one of 
the pebbles, followed quickly by a brown head, and feet 
thrust through the interstices of the contingent gravel- 

Then forth issues a single worker, who peeps to this 
side and that, and after compassing a little circuit round 
about the gate, or perhaps without further ceremony 
seizes a pebble, bears it off, deposits it a few inches from 
the gate, and returns to repeat the task. She is followed, 
sometimes continuously, sometimes at intervals of ten, 
twenty, even thirty minutes, by a few other ants, who 
aid in clearing away the barricade. After that, the 
general exit occurs. 

On other occasions the method is not so deliberate, or 
at least it does not appear so. There is a rush of workers 
almost immediately after the first break, who usually 
spread over the cone, bustle around the gate, gradually 
widening the circles, and finally push out into the sur- 
rounding herbage. At first the exit hole is the size of 
a pea, and plainly shows that sand and soil have been 
used under the gravel to seal up the gate. 

The process of closing gates is even more interesting 
to the observer than the opening, as the various steps 
are more under his notice. It will best appear by trans- 
ferring from my notes a few records: About 6 this 
evening (July 19th) the closing of doors began. At 
nest A the work was chiefly from within. The workers 
pushed the sand from the inside outward with their 
heads. A grass straw about an inch long was brought 
from the interior and pushed out until it lay across the 
gate as a stay for the infilling material. Soil was here 



used principally for closing, a few pebbles being added. 
The gate was not filled up quite flush with the surface 
of the mound. At nest B, which had a double gate, 
two workers-minor were the last and chief operators. 
They brought gravel from near-by parts of the cone and 
filled in the two openings flush with the surface. 

At nest C, with a single gate, a worker-major was 
operating as at B. A number of ants had been en- 
gaged at first filling and gradually closing the inside, 
but all had retired within except one major. 
When the gate was nearly sealed a straggling minor 
came out of the grassy commons and essayed entrance. 
Several trials and failures followed, whereupon she 
commenced dragging dirt from the opening. 

While thus occupied the major came up with a huge 
bit of gravel, which she dropped upon her comrade with 
as much nonchalance as though she were one of the 
adjoining pebbles. At last the minor dug out a tiny 
hole through which she squeezed into the nest, and the 
major, who was again deliberately approaching close 
behind, carrying another pebble, straightway sealed 
up the opening. During this amusing episode the 
straggler did not try to aid the closer, being wholly 
bent on entering, and the gate-closer paid her no atten- 
tion beyond the first satisfactory antennal challenge. 
Each moved forward to her own duty with the undis- 
turbed placidity of a machine. 

At nest E by 6.30 P.M. most of the commune had 
entered the cone; at 6.45 the gate was being closed; 
at 6.55 only two ants were outside, slowly working at 
the gate, then half shut. An ant came out with a bit 
of straw, carried it to the refuse-heap, and returned. At 
6.58 two ants came with chopped leaves, and at 7 P.M. 



yet another. None of these attempted to help the gate- 
closers, who slowly and steadily filled up the entrance. 

Now occurred the usual side-play with late-comers. 
At 7.07 a straggler came along and tried to get in. As 
the gate was nearly closed, she deliberately proceeded 
to break it open. A pebble was taken from the gate- 
covering and carried three inches up the mound. An- 
other was tugged still farther up, and yet another. 
Then in steps the gate-closer, quite undisturbed by the 
counter-working of her fellow, and quietly plugs up the 
little break made with a big pebble, and slips within at 
a by-cranny that had escaped the straggler's notice. 

A second straggler appears while the closers are ad- 
justing the material from within, as may be seen by the 
agitation of the surface. Meanwhile the first straggler 
has grappled with the last big pellet dumped, which she 
succeeds in dragging aside of which straggler number 
two takes advantage, and steps into the nest. There- 
upon one of the closers reappears from the inside, and, 
without the least token of vexation at thwarted plans, 
restores the piece to its place and returns. 

Straightway the first straggler renews her opposition 
effort, and has just set the pebble aside when a small 
black beetle comes up. This the straggler seizes, puts 
down, turns, reseizes, and tries to push into the gate 
therewith. The beetle, however, escapes; and the for- 
aging instinct which led the straggler to forego for the 
nonce her house-breaking is not strong enough now 
to divert her from the home trail. So beetle goes her 
way unpursued and the contrarious straggler disappears 

At 7.20 a gate-closer comes out and adjusts several 
pebbles. My imperfect perceptions cannot discern the 

6 71 


advantage thereof, but doubtless the ant quite under- 
stands. The other closer is seen reaching up and ad- 
justing pellets from within. At 7.21 the outside closer 
goes in at the small opening between the top of the gate 
and the inlying gravel. At 7.27 I still see, by the mo- 
tion of the pellets of soil and agitation of the pebbles 
and occasional glimpse of the tips of antenna? and 
mandibles, that the final sealing-up of the communal 
walls is being accomplished within. In a moment all 
is quiet, and the gate of the emmet city is shut for the 
night. Externally it now seems to be a simple semi- 
circular or triangular depression in the gravel armor of 
the mound. 

The other illustration of the gate-closing habit among 
ants is drawn from the cutting ants (A tta fervens) of 
Texas, observed in 1877. [McC. 10, pp. 33-40.] One 
immense commune was assembled around the trunk of 
a live-oak tree (Quercus rirens) on a road-side. The ex- 
cavations from the interior had gathered into a mound 
twenty-one feet long and about four feet high. This 
accumulation, called by the natives a "bed," was evi- 
dently one of many years' standing, and when sub- 
sequently opened was found to be inhabited by legions 
of ants from the size of a bumblebee to that of a small 
garden ant. It seemed incredible that such hosts of 
living creatures could dwell within such a narrow com- 
pass and all find nourishment. And to think that 
they live on mushroom gardening! as we shall pres- 
ently see. 

My first view of the mound was a disappointment. 
It was in broad daylight, and not a sign of life appeared. 
Could it be an abandoned nest? Having satisfied my- 
self that the mound was inhabited, I arranged for an 



evening visit. Here and there were scattered over 
the surface small, irregular heaps of dry leaves, bits of 
leaves, chips, and broken twigs, which seemed mere 
accidental drifts and piles (Fig. 41). 

Returning about nightfall, I found the scene wholly 
changed. Hosts of ants of various sizes were already 


hurrying out of open gates into the neighboring jungle, 
and two long double columns were stretched from the 
bottom to the top of the overhanging tree. The ants 
in the descending columns carried above their heads 
portions of green leaves that waved to and fro, and 
glanced in our lanterns' light, giving them a weird 
seeming as they moved along. It is this habit that has 
given the insect the popular name of "parasol ant." 

I first directed special attention to the opening and 
closing of the gates, which occurs before and after every 
exit. The opening began about dusk. First appeared 
from beneath the heaps of dry leaves and chippage 
scattered irregularly over the surface a number of 
minims, very tiny fellows indeed. They carried from 
within small grains of soil. Perhaps an interior cave 
may have been used as a dumping receptacle for the 
earth-pellets and smaller rubbish. This was a tedious 

process, and little seemed to be accomplished until this 



squad was joined by larger forms, who began to carry 
away bits of chippage. This was also a slow process, 
but it seemed to avail in gradually loosening up the 
massy material crowded into the gate; for now came 
a grand rush from within, the workers, major and minor, 
and the big-headed soldiers in the lead. They broke 
forth, bearing before them the larger bits of gate-closing 
rubbish, which was scattered here and there, and in a 
few moments was cleared away from the gallery and 
strewed around the margin of the gate (Fig. 42). 

This chippage appears to be a part of the communal 
treasure, for it was easy to identify a number of the 
pieces as having been used several days in succession. 
The ants having found out just what shapes and sizes 


were best adapted for effective infilling, were wise 
enough to keep them close by and use them again and 


The closing of gates began early in the morning and 
dragged along until ten o'clock. The galleries, of which 
the gates were the terminals, sloped from the surface, 
at as great an angle as forty-five degrees, a conformation 


that favored the process of closing, as it gave purchase to 
the material. 

In shutting the doors of the commune, the minors 
appear to begin work by dragging the dispersed chippage 
toward the gate. One after another they were taken in, 
and lodged and adjusted. It was certainly not a mere 



anthropomorphic fancy that in this process the work- 
ers showed admirable ingenuity and a rude but effect- 
ive sort of mechanical skill (Fig. 43). For example, 
the longest stalks and leaves were stretched across and 
wedged into the opening and vestibule so as to form a 
rough scaffolding upon which the shorter pieces could 

As the gate gradually filled up, smaller castes of 
workers appeared upon the field, and took up the work 
to which their slighter frames are adapted. The last 
touches were carefully and delicately made by the 
minims, who in small squads fill in the interstices with 
small pellets of soil. Finally, the last laborer steals in 



behind some bit of leaf, and the gate is closed. The 
infilling material occupies the opening to a distance of 
(sometimes) an inch and a half within the gallery. The 
exterior of the gate now presents the appearance already 
described of a small heap of dry chippage accidentally 
accumulated upon the surface. 


FOR all living creatures food is a first demand of 
nature. The struggle to obtain it in the vegetable 
and animal kingdoms keeps the wheels of life in active 
motion ; and day and night, secretly and openly, silently 
and with sound and stir of mighty conflict, it goes on 
among and around all beings. Its influence in shaping 
life and habit is constant and incalculably great. In- 
deed, in many, perhaps in most cases, it is decisive at 
least in certain epochs of the individual and communal 
career. Thus, a study of the food supply of ants is of 
highest importance in determining their natural history. 

As a general rule, covering most of our common ants, 
the founder of the future commune is a single fertilized 
female. After the marriage flight she seeks in the vici- 
nage of her alightment a suitable site in the ground 
or in wood, according to her instinct. Therein she pre- 
pares a brooding-cell, which is commonly forced into an 
oval shape by her rotary movements in forming the 
wall that shuts her in. This cell becomes the tomb of 
the great majority of females, but a few survive to be 
the founders of communes. 

The eggs laid by the queen are tended and the young 
are fed by her during her isolation, which may last 
three-quarters of a year. As she never leaves her 
hermitage, whence comes her food supply? Nature has 



provided a store in the voluminous body, generously 
nurtured during her virginity by the laborious and self- 
denying workers of her home nest, who thus uncon- 
sciously had wrought out a further part in preserving 
their species. This stored-up substance, together with 
the degenerating wing muscles, is transmuted into food, 
which passes as a salivary secretion from the mother's 
mouth to the mouths of her progeny. In many cases 
this supply is supplemented by her own eggs, a con- 
siderable percentage of which she eats. 

The first individuals matured are naturally scantily 
nourished; and for this reason, perhaps, appear as 
minims, or ants of the smallest caste. At all events, 
the firstlings are minims, and their smaller demand for 
food well accords with an empty larder. The known 
ability of worker ants to endure a long fast is shared to 
some extent by these callows. But as their philopro- 
genitive instinct at once awakes, and prompts them to 
feed and care for the larval dependents in the cell, 
the supply of rations is a pressing problem. Before the 
double demand of hunger and devotion to the commune, 
their primitive cell walls melt away, and the young ants 
break forth into a new world. What a great, strange 
world it must seem, even to their imperfect perceptions! 
Doubtless the first circles of adventure which these 
pioneers permit themselves have a short radius. That 
will be measured by their initial success in foraging; 
and that, in turn, will depend upon the site whereon it 
has been their hap to fall. In any case, their foraging 
journeys will sweep over an enlarging space, as the 
demands of their growing commune increase and their 
experience expands. 

To a limited human vision the supply of available 



edibles seems small. But to the omnivorous appetite 
of ants it is, under favorable conditions, practically in- 
exhaustible. Ants have proverbially u a sweet tooth." 
In the vegetable kingdom, nature's vast fecundity of 
flowers and blossoms and sappy sw r eets, so far beyond 
what seems required for continuing the species, may seem 
a great waste. But to the insect world it presents a 
bountiful harvest. One sees them, of all the orders, 
winged and unwinged, as larvae, as nymphs, as imagines, 
in countless hordes drawing upon this exhaustless store. 
Among these insects, ants are everywhere most 
prominent ; on the low-growing plants, close to mother 
earth, high up on the lofty trees, and in all grades be- 
tween they peek and mouse. In companies, in bands, 
in ones and twos, their busy inquisition is pushed, and 
their restless antennae wave and tremble. They dip 
into the flower-cups, and drink of the nectar there. 
They scout over leaves. They exploit the trunks and 
boughs. They are everywhere in Flora's beautiful 
domain, lapping her sweets, filling their crops with her 
treasures, growing rich from her redundancy, not for 
themselves alone, but for the helpless dependents of 
their communes. They jostle their winged kindred, the 
bees, the wasps, the hornets, the yellow-jackets, who 
come by the shorter aerial ways, but are fewer than the 
persistent and ubiquitous ants, who plod and climb by 
the roundabout routes which apterous beings must take. 
There is enough for all ; and although I have seen thou- 
sands of these various forms feeding cheek by jowl upon 
some rare harvest feast of bountiful Flora's spreading, I' 
recall no scenes of violence arising from the casual con- 
tact. Let the reader give no credit for this to the peace- 
ful temper of the insects. Simply, it is hard to quarrel 



when the crop is full, and when all may have who will 
all that they may will to have (Fig. 44) . 

It is pleasant to contemplate this phase of the latent 
helpfulness that lies in creation, and to see the inanimate 
world, the fields and forests, extending to the hosts of 
the Insecta so magnificent a hospitality. It is ill repaid, 


(Face viewed from beneath) 

Neck, fm Foramen. Ib Lahium. mar Maxilla, mx. p Max- 
illary palp, mb Mandible, to Tongue. Ib. p Labial palp 



no doubt, at times especially by the hordes that prey 
upon our gardens, orchards, and fields, and compel a 
ceaseless vigilance to save our crops. But, on the other 
hand, it is gratifying to reflect that Flora's bounty to 
ants and their insect allies is repaid by a service which 
preserves her domain by perpetuating the life of plants ; 
for the insects that pass from flower to flower and plunge 
into the cups, distribute the fertilizing pollen upon which 
fruitfulness and life depend. This symbiosis between 
plants and insects is thus a necessary condition for 
both ; and that it has existed from the beginning, a study 
of fossil insects shows. 

The above seems, as indeed it is, a vast field where- 
from to cull a living. But one, perhaps as wide and even 
more lasting, is open in the waste products of nature. 
Ants are universal scavengers. They are fond of animal 
oils and juices. Countless millions of insects perish 
every season. What becomes of them? They drop by 
the waysides of their lives, and drift into all manner of 
crannies and corners. Hereto the ants follow them. 
The searching power of the antennae is something mar- 
vellous. It has been compared to that of men's hands 
were the sense of smell to be located in the tips of all 
their fingers also, where such a delicate sense of touch 
abides. What human hands could do, in such a sup- 
posed case, to follow up and search out odors, the 
movable organs of smell, the antennae, do actually 
accomplish for ants. 

Thus are revealed to them the carcasses of the innumer- 
able hosts of fallen insects; and often they may be seen 
headed for their homes, dragging with them whole 
bodies or parts thereof, and making painful headway 

therewith through the jungle of grasses and weeds. 



Commonly, however, they are successful, when not way- 
laid and robbed by stronger individuals, or by roving 
bands of alien species, or congeners of other communes. 

The fondness of ants for animal fats and juices may 
be tested by placing a fresh bone on the lawn or in a 
field. It will be covered soon with a crowd of emmets 
greedily lapping the oily particles upon the surface and 
exuding from the pores. Some housekeepers avail 
themselves of this appetite to collect groups of the little 
red ants (Monomorium pharaonis) that infest houses. 
These being destroyed, the "trap" is set again and again. 

Another source of food supply is the various fruits in 
season, wild and cultivated. The windfalls lying be- 
neath the trees and bushes are usually bruised, or stung 
by insects. Around and into these broken parts the 
ants gather and feast. They climb to the laden boughs. 
They scout among the ripening fruits. They have a 
quick touch for a spot of decay, which has opened a way 
for their gustatory attack. Or a bird's bill has been 
before them, cutting a little trough from which to sip 
the sweets they love, and herein one will see a bunch of 
ants scooping out the pulps and drinking their fill of 
the fermenting sap. 

When September's sun has mellowed the grapes, you 
may see legions of ants, joint pilferers with birds and 
bees, hornets, wasps, yellow- jackets, and flies, many 
with heads buried deep within the berries. They are 
lovers of the new wine of the grape, and many empty or 
partly emptied skins, hanging among the broken 
clusters like cups drained of their contents, show how 
often and deeply they and their winged comrades have 
drunk. Doubtless ants are apt to be a bit injurious to 
our orchards and vineyards. But their share in the 



general scavenger work of nature, as well as their part 
in fertilizing the blossoming plants, may be set to the 
credit side of their account. Besides, if folk would 
follow the author's rule to put in one root-stock for the 
birds and insects for every two set out for himself, there 
would be enough and to spare for all. 

Preying upon insect remains and animal oils, lapping 
the nectar of flowers and the sweets of fruit, by no means 
exhaust the sources from which foraging ants may draw 
their rations. They are free-lances, and they do not 
scruple to ply their freebooting against all and sundry 
whom they are able to better in a quarrel over booty. 
After the manner of human cannibals, they feed upon 
their vanquished foes; indeed, the formal raids of 
slave-making ants are chiefly for food. Many thousands 
of their victims are carried home and eaten. The 
tender larvae and pupse are kept in store for the slaughter 
as human butchers keep live-stock and fowl, though one 
cannot aver that the ants deliberately fatten them for 
that purpose. Some captives, and at times a number, 
escape the shambles and become auxiliaries or slaves. 
But large communes of these kidnappers have been 
known to end an active season of slave-catching with 
but few if any increase in the number of slaves. All 
their captives had been eaten! 

The same methods are quite commonly carried out 
on a smaller scale among various species. I have turned 
up a flat stone, beneath which was a large nest of small 
ants. Their larva*, still smaller than themselves, lay 
in heaps against the under surface. Scarcely had the 
stone been lifted ere several larger ants, representing 
two other separate species, rushed in and began plunder- 
ing the colony. They evidently had been prowling 



around the confines of the nest, waiting for an oppor- 
tunity to break through the barriers, or snook into some 
chance opening by which they could reach their desired 
prey. And this is a typical incident in ant world. 

Other insects, both in the larval and imago state, are 
victims of this passion for hunting live game as fierce 
and high as ever fired human devotees of the chase. 
Who has not seen an unfortunate caterpillar writhing in 
mortal agony beneath the assaults of a large squad of 
small ants? In vain the victim struggles to throw 7 off 
its assailants. Its fate is sealed. Spurred into violent 
contortions by the smarting thrusts of stings and cuts 
of mandibles, it flings its tormenters to this side and 
that. They hold on grimly amid all the thrashings 
until the quiet of death gradually falls. Then the great 
carcass is dragged and pushed home by a gang of workers 
or carried thither piecemeal, a vast addition to the 
communal larder. 

While studying the agricultural ants in Texas, I 
observed, after a summer shower, a great commotion 
upon a large circular disk of one of the colonies. The 
rain had beaten down a great number of the winged 
forms of swarming termites, and upon these the red 
agricultural were charging from all parts of the plaza. 
They seized them in their jaws and ran toward the 
central gate, out of which a file of their fellows was 
eagerly streaming, intent upon sharing the rare find 
of booty. The outgoing and incoming columns met. 
The gate was soon choked up. The tiny rivulets caused 
by the rain were setting in the same direction, and 
presently a mass of excited insects was balled and matted 
around the gate., pushing and tumbling over one another, 
and splashing in the water. But the possessors of 



captives from the fallen swarm held to their prizes amid 
all the tumult, until the jam was relieved, and they 
could get entrance within their nest. Their under- 
ground granaries were at the time full of stored ant-rice 
and other seeds, their provision for winter food ; but the 
eagerness '.with which they welcomed this chance supply 
of soft, juicy insect flesh showed that their granivorous 
habit had not weakened their insectivorous taste. 

I have seen the mound-making ants of the Alleghanies 
make raids upon the workers of our northern species of 
termites (Termes ftavipes), capturing and carrying them 
away with an eagerness that showed what precious morsels 
their soft, white bodies must be to the Formican appetite. 

Here we may consider the vast food supply that lies 
in the product of certain seed - bearing grasses, the 
garnering and storing of which has led to the popular 
names of " agricultural," "farming," and "harvesting" 
ants. 1 The habit is especially developed in the genera 
Pogonomyrmex and Pheidole, which collect from the 
ground and from plants certain grain-like- and nut-like 



seeds (Fig. 45). These they carry to their nests, and, 
after removing the husks, and deporting the latter 

1 See the author's Nature's Craftsmen, chap. vi. 



from the nests, they store the kernels in large granaries 
excavated in the ground, where they are kept for food. 
It has been noticed that these seed-eating ants are 
marked by the presence of large-headed workers, whose 
unusual development of the muscles of head and jaws 
particularly fits them to crack and crush the seeds, so 
that from the meaty kernels may be rasped or squeezed 
the edible starchy or oily parts. 

A remarkable example of the unexpected way in 
which Nature varies her methods of feeding her children 
is seen in habits of the Attidse, the "parasol" or "leaf- 
cutting" ants. This popular name is due to their 
manner of sending out expeditions of workers, who cut 
from the leaves of certain trees and bushes small pieces 
which they bring into their nest to convert into food. 
These leaf-cutting excursions are striking sights to the 
novice, and are not apt to lose their interest even to 
familiars. The author's chief studies of Atta fervens 1 
were made in the vicinity of Austin, Texas. [McC. 10, p. 
33 sq.] Most of their nests were "beds" (as the natives 
called them), or spots of denuded surface in the flat 
open prairie, eight or nine feet long and of almost 
equal width. Over this barren space were thrown up 
twenty or thirty circular, semicircular, and s-shaped 
elevations of fresh earth pellets. The circular mound- 
lets were about the size and form of a "pound-cake "- 
pan, or spittoon, the resemblance being emphasized by 
a round open entrance in the centre. All these had been 
naturally formed by the gradual accumulation of the 

1 I have used throughout this, the old and well-known name of 
this species, although Professor Wheeler has restored the yet 
older specific name of Buckley, by which it will doubtless be known 




, : ; - -: 



sandy soil as it was brought out and dumped upon the 
heap, being massed at the base and gradually sloping 
to the top. Another of these beds, the one which was 
especially studied and finally opened, was a large mound 
at the foot of a live-oak tree (Fig. 46) . This had prob- 
ably been formed by a road or trail that passed with- 
in several yards of the tree, thus restricting the limits 
of the gates and throwing the separate moundlets back 

upon one another. [McC. 6, p. 231.] 

? 87 


At my first visit to this great commune it seemed like 
an abandoned nest. On the spreading branches of the 
overshadowing tree and on the defoliated vines at its 
base were marks of recent raids of the leaf-cutters. 
But no life was anywhere visible. The surface was 
covered with earthen knobs or warts of various sizes, 
and here and there were scattered small irregular heaps 
of dry leaves and bits of leaves, and twigs. As evening 
began to fall the scene changed. Hosts of ants of various 
sizes, in countless numbers, suddenly burst from gates 
that mysteriously opened for them, and began a hurried 
march into a near-by jungle. Two large double columns 
began to ascend the trunk of the live oak. Along their 
flanks, both going and coming, moved the soldiers, 


Enlarged eight times, to show furrow and spines and cutting jaws 

marked by their immense heads (Fig. 47). They rare- 
ly handled the leaves, but seemed to act as scouts or 
pioneers or attendant guards. 



In a few moments the two-ranked army had reached 
the top of the tree, and the work of defoliation began. 
In order to view the mode closely, small branches broken 

from the tree were set in the mound 
near the gates. They were soon cov- 
ered with ants, and in the lantern 
light their method could be seen read- 
ily. It was like that of Megachile, _\ 
the leaf-cutter bee. [McC. 7, p. 145.] 
The cutter, seated on the leaf, grasped 
it with outspread feet, and made an 
incision at the edge by a scissors-like mo- 
tion of her sickle-shaped and toothed mandibles. She 
gradually revolved, cutting as she moved, her mandibles 
thus describing a circle or a portion thereof. The feet 
turned with the head. The cut was a 
clean one, quite through the leaf. The " 





cutter would .sometimes drop with the excision to the 
ground; sometimes it let the section fall; sometimes 
carried it down. At the foot of the tree lay a pile of cut 
leaves, to which clippings were being added continually 
by droppings from above. Squads of carriers from 
the nest took these up and bore them away (Fig. 48). 
This is the manner of loading the cuttings: They are 
seized by the curved mandibles; the head is elevated; 
the piece is thrown back by a quick motion, and lodged 
on its edge within a deep furrow that runs along the entire 
median line of the face, except the clypeus, and is sup- 
ported between prominent spines on the border of this 
furrow and on the prothorax. These peculiar features 
of the Attidse thus serve a useful end. As far as noted, 
the cutting and carrying were not done by the minims or 
smallest castes, but by the worker-minors; the soldiers 
rarely engaged therein. As the ants moved along down 
the branches and trunk of the tree, and over the ground 
to their gates, holding above their heads the bits of green 
leaves, which waved to and fro and glanced in the lantern 
light, the column had a weird seeming. 

The citizens of this commune, and of some others ob- 
served, made their leaf-cutting sallies in the night. 
But this is not the universal habit. I afterward saw 
carriers marching with their loads during the day. I 
also observed them frequently in day marches in the 
vicinity of Santiago de Cuba, during the Spanish-Amer- 
ican war, carrying on their quaint industry among the 
graves of fallen American soldiers and in the tropical 
trees that sheltered them. 

They were abundant on the great terraced height of 
the Morro, or castle, at the mouth of Santiago Bay, 
which I visited just after the surrender, and before it 



was occupied by the American troops. When ascending 
the path that zigzags around the cliff to the summit, a 
column of these insects was seen marching with their 
bits of cut-off leaves. On the summit, workers were 
found close by the dismantled eastern battery. Their 
fresh-made tumuli were cast up almost beneath the butt 
of the great guns. The workers were thronging into the 
central gates, bearing aloft their leafy banners. One 
could not but wonder: Were these industrious creatures 
plying their task while Spanish cannons were firing 
and shells from American ships were bursting around 
them ? No doubt they did so a type of the army of in- 
dustry in the insect world prosecuting the humble arts 
of peace amid the roar of human battle and the clash 
of arms. If their wee brains could be deemed capable 
of thinking on such matters, we may fancy their thoughts 
taking shape in the familiar words: "What fools these 
mortals be!" -maiming and killing one another when 
they might be comfortably cutting juicy leaves and 
chewing them into pulp! 

At an afternoon visit to the grounds of a nurseryman 
and gardener near Austin, Texas, the leaf-cutters were 
seen at work. They had come up through the garden 
from their colony, three hundred feet distant. From 
this gentleman it was learned that these ants prefer 
trees with a smooth leaf; are severe upon grapes, peaches, 
and the china-tree. They take radishes, celery, beets, 
young corn, and wheat, plum, pomegranate, honey- 
suckle, cape jessamine, crape myrtle, and althea. They 
do not like lettuce, nor the paper mulberry, nor figs, nor 
cedar, except the bud ends in the scant days of winter. 
They love sugar, grain, and tobacco. This proprieter 
assured me that the ants made foraging excursions into 



his house, entered his desk drawers, and carried away a 
portion of his chewing-tobacco before he discovered the 
robbery. He had to be careful thereafter where he put 
the delectable weed. At a plantation not far from this 
nursery I saw an immense column of Attas plundering 
a granary of wheat, which was being carried away in 
quantities, grain by grain. This pilfering was also 
carried on in the daytime. I have no explanation to 
give of this remarkable difference in habit in the same 
species, in the same locality, and apparently under the 
same conditions. Can A tta fervens have entered upon 
a transition period in its history? 

How do the cutting ants dispose of all this material so 
laboriously imported into their underground city? Is 
it used, as with the cutting bee, simply to line the 
chamber or cells in which the young are reared? Let 
us see. It was no light undertaking to open and ex- 
plore a mound occupied and defended by hundreds of 
thousands of irate ants. But it seemed necessary. 
Two trenches were made, one ten feet long and five 
feet deep, and a second at right angles to it wide enough 
to allow free entrance for study. The number of in- 
sects that swarmed to defend their home was incalculable. 
It amazed us to see such hordes of creatures domiciled 
in one commune. They were, however, not so difficult 
to manage as when disturbed at their night work, as 
the swift use of the spade by the assailants and the 
general convulsion of their emmet world seemed to daze 
them. But when the author entered the trench to work 
with trowel, knife, foot-rule, and drawing materials, the 
ants rallied and attacked so freely that all the help- 
ers were required to brush them off. The wound in- 
flicted by them was sharp, but nothing to compare 



in painf ulness with the sting of the agricultural ant 
of Texas. 

The interior of the great formicary (fifteen feet long, 
eight or nine feet wide, and four feet high; I do not 


1. Winged female. 2. Male. ?. Soldier. 4 Worker-major 
of the cutting or mushroom gardening ants. 

know how deep, but certainly five and probably ten 
feet) may be briefly described as an irregular arrange- 
ment of caverns communicating with one another and 
with the surface by tubular galleries. These caverns, or 
pockets, were of various sizes, three feet long and less 
by one foot deep and eight inches high and less. Within 
these chambers were masses of a light, delicate leaf- 



paper wrought into what may be called "combs." Some 
of the masses were in a single hemisphere, filling the 
central part of the cave. Others were arranged along 
the floor in columnar masses two and a half inches high, 
in contact with one another. Some of these columns 
hung like a rude honeycomb, or wasp's nest, from roots 
that interlaced the cave. No leaves were intact; none 
used, like the leaf-cutter bee, for lining wall or floor 
(Fig. 50). 

In color this material was either of a gray tint or a 
leaf-brown. It was all evidently composed in great 
part of the fibre of leaves which had been reduced to this 


Showing mushroom garden caves in sight. (From nature) 

form within the nest, doubtless by the joint action of the 
mandibles and salivary glands. On examination the 
mass proved to be composed of cells of various sizes, an 
irregular hexagon in shape, narrowing into a funnel- 



like cylinder. Ants in great number, chiefly of the 
small castes, were found in these cells. In the first large 
cave opened there were also great numbers of larvae. 
Large circular openings ran into the heart of the mass. 
The material was so fragile that it crumbled under even 
dainty handling, but some specimens were preserved 
and exhibited in the Philadelphia Academy of Natural 
Sciences. Thus the query was answered in part, at 
least : What do the ants do with the leaf-cuttings carried 
into their nests? 

But the most remarkable part of this history remains 
to be told. 

While pursuing these investigations, the author knew 
that the suggestion had been made by Belt that the 
leaf-paper masses of Atta's nest were used as a sort of 
mushroom garden for cultivating a minute fungus which 
the ants used as food. Examination with a lens showed 
him the presence of these growths. But as this was 
only what might be expected in such underground con- 
ditions, and notwithstanding all that he knew of the 
ingenuity of ants in providing for the natural wants of 
their communes, he put aside the theory as improbable, 
and failed to push experiments which he might have 
made. His incredulity thus lost him the opportunity to 
anticipate in part, at least some of the brilliant dis- 
coveries of such later investigators as M oiler, Von 
Ihering, Doctor Goeldi, and Jakob Huber. Briefly 
summarized, these discoveries are as follows: 

In the case of Atta sexdens (the Brazilian cutting ant), 
after her marriage flight the fertilized female begins to 
dig in some open space a burrow about three-fourths of 
an inch in diameter. It is at first so small relatively 

that she cannot turn around in it, but has to back out 



in order to get to the surface. But gradually the burrow 
grows as the queen cuts off and squeezes together little 
balls of earth, which are deported beyond the entrance. 
When the terminal chamber is finished, the tubular 
entrance is sealed up. Later a little packet of eggs is 
laid. Beside it appears a small heap of loose white 
substance which gradually enlarges until it reaches 
the form of the spherical or elongated masses of gray 
comb-like matter heretofore described. And now the 
transparent pyriform globules of fungus - hyphse begin 
to bud out, which Moller has called "kohlrabi." On 

Fig. 51 A 


GARDEN (After Moller) 

these the ant feeds frequently. In truth, this is her 
fungus garden. It becomes in time the source of her 
food, just as an artificial mushroom cave or cellar pro- 
duces nourishment for men (Fig. 51). 

In time the first workers are hatched, and they too are 
fed upon the kohlrabi. As they increase in number 



they break the cavern seals and go forth to gather 
leaves, which they chew and knead into pulp, and add to 
the fungus garden. And this is the purpose of those 
leaf-cutting expeditions which have enlisted the curiosity 
of casual observers, and excited the ardent and attentive 
study of many naturalists. They are to supply sub- 
stance for the fungus gardens from which Attid ants 
glean food for their young and themselves. 

Before this strange form of plant culture has reached 
this advanced stage, however, Huber introduces us to a 
remarkable observation, in answer to his query: How 
does the Atta female keep the fungus alive ? For, plain- 
ly, the scant substance in the mother pellet must soon 
be drained of its original nutriment. How, then, are the 
growing fungi fed? The queen tears with her mandibles 
from her little bed a minute bit of the fungus, and applies 
it to the tip of her gaster, which is bent under for the 
purpose. She then emits a clear yellowish or brownish 
droplet, which is at once taken up by the spongy tuft of 
hyphse. Thereupon it is returned to the garden patch, 
and patted into place with the forefeet. This per- 
formance may be repeated once or twice an hour or 
oftener, and several of the enriching droplets may be 
seen at once scattered over the bed. If a piece of the 
fungus growth from a maturer nest be supplied to an 
Atta female at this stage, she is prompt to appreciate and 
utilize the gift. She divides it, drenches it with her fecal 
droplet, and builds it into her garden. Meanwhile the 
mother feeds largely upon her own eggs, and when the 
first larvaB appear feeds them also with eggs, pressing 
them directly into the little creatures' mouths. 

Soon the first adults begin to appear, which are always 

minims, or workers of the smallest caste. This intro 



cluces a new order into the commune. They take charge 
of the garden; they feed the larvae; they feed upon the 
kohlrabi; they begin to enlarge the central chamber, 
and in seven weeks after the founding of the colony they 
are out in the open dumping their earth-pellets upon 
their circular moundlets, and ere long the colony is send- 
ing out its leaf-cutting excursions. 

Thus we see ant communes, under the exigency of the 
need of food, developing the habit of what has not 
inaptly been called mushroom gardening. They have 
mastered the method of liquid manuring, and of inoculat- 
ing exhausted "soil" with an infected culture. They 
have learned the value of triturated vegetable matter as 
furnishing substance and enrichment for their gardens, 
and apparently they have found out that for this pur- 
pose certain plants are more valuable than others. 

If such a principle or practice of plant culture were 
to be as generally and as faithfully applied to gardening 
and farming among men, it would need no prophet to 
predict that a new era would dawn upon the agricultural 
world, and such abundance would follow as our race has 
never witnessed. 

Now very naturally arose the inquiry : Whence did the 
Atta queen obtain the fungus germs with which to stock 
the original garden? This was solved by Von Ihering 
in the brilliant discovery that on leaving the parental 
nest the young queen carries with her in the posterior 
portion of her oral cavity a very minute pellet of hyphae 
of Rozites gongylophora, and small fragments of bleached 
or chlorophylless leaves. This, it is believed, is held in 
the mouth until she has prepared her foundation cham- 
ber, when she ejects it, and infects therewith the be- 
ginning of her fungus garden. 



Thus the sober and well -attested facts of scientific 
truth prove stranger than the widest stretch of fancy 
would have dared to invent. Even in the face of un- 
impeachable testimony, one finds one's self startled and 
wellnigh staggering before such a remarkable instinct 
in an insignificant insect. 

In the summer of 1880 my attention was called by the 
Rev. George K. Morris to a small ant \vhich he had 
discovered at Island Heights, a seaside settlement on 
Toms River, New Jersey. I recognized it as a species of 
Atta which I believed to be new, and gave it the specific 
name of Septentrionalis. 1 

I was so strongly impressed by the appearance of this 
tropical species so far north that I at once visited Island 
Heights to study the insect in site. I found that the 
ants harvested the needle-like leaves of the pine, which 
were borne into their nests and treated in a way quite 
like that observed by the Texas Atta, but on a great- 
ly reduced scale. The nests examined were without 
an exterior mound. A single gate communicated with a 
short tubular gallery with a small spherical vestibule, 
which again opened into a similar but larger cave three 
inches in diameter. Hanging to the roots that thread- 
ed this cave were several masses of gray leaf-pulp, the 
analogues of those in the fungus gardens of Atta fervens. 
As one contrasted the extensive excavations and the 
formidable and vigorous communes of the Texas species 
with the small numbers, slight excavations, and sluggish 
movements of these Northern allies, he could not for- 
bear the thought that the New Jersey colonies of 
Trachymyrmex septentrionalis are the feeble remnant of 

1 Professor Wheeler has placed it in the genus Trachymyrmex 
(T. septentrionalis McCook). 



a once mighty people left or thrust by some untoward 
change upon unfavorable sites which must work toward 
their extinction. [McC. 15, p. 360.] Or, on the other 
hand, may we conjecture that here are the first stages 
in the origin of a new species already on the march, and 
against unfavorable environment, toward the consum- 
mation of such a splendid confederacy as has occupied 
the hills of Austin? 


CONTINUING our studies of the emmet modes of 
\J feeding the commune, our thoughts once more re- 
turn to the great confederacy of mound-making ants 
among the Alleghany Mountains. We fix our attention 
upon a column of workers pressing along a well-worn 
path straight from a large mound to an oak-tree that 
stands by a boundary stone wall eight rods distant. 
There the column leaves the ground, mounts the trunk, 
and is lost among the branches. 

But here several interesting things are noted. There 
is a descending as well as an ascending column. More- 
over, there is something like the sentry service establish- 
ed at the gates. There is a tree-trail one to three inches 
wide, to which the ants steadily keep, and which is 
blackened by the continuous fumes of formic acid issuing 
from them. On either side of this are watchmen, who 
persistently challenge passers-by. There follow swift 
crossings of antennae and mutual recognitions how one 
longs to know the countersign! prompt withdrawals, 
and the pilgrims pass on and are soon distributed among 
the principal limbs. A goodly number lead off upon 
one of the lower boughs which overhangs the stone 

Mounting this, one has the key to the movements of 

the marchers on the avenue beneath. At various points 



along the branches are vast numbers of aphides, small 
black insects with brownish thorax and head. Note 
this one, whose abdomen is raised at an angle of forty- 
five degrees. Upon the apex is shining a tiny globule of 
transparent liquid. It is lapped up by the attendant 
ant, who all the while with alternate strokes of antenna? 
gently embraces or pats the insect. Again and again in 
rapid succession the sweet excretion, pumped by the 
insect from the sap of the tree, and converted by it into 
the honey-dew of popular speech, gathers in droplets, 
and is removed by the ants, several of whom have en- 
joyed the refection in turn. 

At last the aphis, one of mature size, leaves its position 
and moves along the branch toward the trunk. Its ab- 
domen is now flattened. Many of its fellows have that 
organ full and rounded out, and must be uncomfortable. 
The ants, however, are fast relieving them as the sweet 
excretion flows, and in the mean time their own abdomens 
are undergoing a noticeable change. They swell and 
elongate until the folded membranous bands that unite 
the segments are pushed out into narrow white ribbons. 
This is caused by the rapidly expanding crop into which 
the collected sweets are stored. At last the honey-dew 
gatherer, whom we may now call a "replete," is satisfied, 
and turns toward home. It is such as she that compose 
the descending column of ants upon the tree-trail; and 
their full, elongated abdomens and white bands form 
quite a contrast with the round black abdomens of their 
fellows of the ascending column. 

We are now on the verge of one of the most interest- 
ing facts in the history of this remarkable community. 
These repletes belong to a section of the communal 
foragers, of whom thousands are elsewhere abroad, not 



simply feeding, but collecting food supplies which they 
are taking home in their mandibles or stored in their 
capacious crops for the natural dependents and oth- 
ers of the formicary entitled thereto. Following with 
closer attention the trail of the repletes, you observe 
some of them suddenly disappear at the roots of the tree. 
Turn back the sod, clear away the leaves ; what do you see ? 

Masses of insects are huddled together in the angles 
of roots at the foot of the tree and in sundry depressions 
in the soil. Some are repletes, some are ordinary work- 
ers; and the latter are stopping or trying to stop the 
former, who seek to avoid them and to push into certain 
openings that lead into galleries beneath the surface, 
which evidently communicate with the central mound. 
A few succeeJ in this, but many yield to the friendly 
force and halt. 

And now what? See this replete. She has raised 
herself upon her two pairs of hind legs until her body 
slants in a wide angle toward the horizon. And one, 
two yes,three workers, assuming a like rampant position, 
have placed their mouths against the replete's mouth. 
Look closely now, and you will see a droplet of amber 
or whitish, syrup-like liquid gather upon the delicate, 
thread-like maxillae beneath the replete's jaw. It is 
the honey-dew obtained from the aphides upon the oak. 
It has been forced up from the crop by pressure of the 
contracting muscular sac that encloses it in other words, 
by regurgitation. It is greedily lapped by the three 
" pensioners," and the replete breaks away and disap- 
pears within one of the gallery doors. All around the 
foot of the tree are like scenes wrought visiting ants 
taking toll of the foragers. 1 

1 In connection with these facts, see Nature's Craftsmen, chap. iii. 
8 103 


Who are these visiting ants? Are they highway 
robbers? They are certainly not aliens, for the rela- 
tions of all concerned are most friendly. There is, in- 
deed, here and there a slight show of force in the deten- 
tion of a replete who has more than usual reluctance to 
part with its stored sweets, but there is no element of 
real hostility therein. Plainly repletes and pensioners 
are citizens of one community, and their behavior must 
torm a part of a natural social arrangement. What is it ? 

Not all at once, but gradually, the facts dawned that 
repletes, acting as communal foragers, were carrying 
supplies to the formicary ; that numbers of their fellows, 
engaged as builders, sentinels, and nurses, had left their 
several duties for a little while to feed, and instead of 
spending time and energy due to the commonwealth in 
gathering food afield, had come out to tap the garnered 
stores of their comrades, and, having relieved their hun- 
ger, would return to their labors. In short, they had 
been drawing rations from a sort of field commissary 
department. They are no devotees, these adventurers, 
of the theory that, 

"To feed were best at home; 
But thence, the sauce is ceremony; 
Meeting were bare without it." 

There certainly seemed to be scant ceremony in this 
method of banqueting abroad. In truth, it had the 
outward look of levying mail or highway robbery, al- 
though there was no real violence on the part of those 
who bade the repletes "stand and deliver." Indeed, 
upon due reflection, the affair resolved itself into a benefi- 
cent social function, of which the following appears to 
be the spirit and intent: The ants at work in or about 



the home premises leave the collecting of food to others 
of their fellow-citizens, not only for the public dependents 
but for themselves. Content with satisfying the simple 
wants of nature that they may have strength to toil, 
they leave their work and visit the feeding-grounds to 
get food from the repletes. The stations for this pur- 
pose are wisely chosen; for, as many of the foragers are 
overladen, their progress homeward is eased by yielding 
somewhat from their stores. 

Besides, it seems probable that the instinct which 
urges repletes to gather supplies for home dependents 
might, after the formicary had been reached, prevent 
parting with them to others. Moreover, since ant nature 
in some degree is partaker of the weakness of human 
nature, it is supposable that the surplus honey-dew, after 
feeding dependents, would be kept for individual de- 
lectation, and the home working-force be compelled to 
leave their work and forage for themselves. The general 
movement, therefore, to arrest repletes at stations near 
the feeding-grounds is evidently for the public good. 

It would be an odd speculation to consider the effect 
upon society were such a rule to prevail among men. 
Suppose the citizens of cities like New York, Phila- 
delphia, and Chicago, or of such states as Georgia, Ohio, 
and Massachusetts, were to agree that one moiety of 
their number should take the duty of earning or collect- 
ing food supplies of every kind for the entire community, 
leaving all other duties to the rest? Further, suppose 
that these gatherings must be divided with equal hand 
among all sorts and conditions of people young and 
old, active and dependent, high and lowly, rich and poor, 
with sole regard to their real natural needs ? 

Stop! Our phrasing is faulty; for in this ideal state 



of society, if fairly conformed to the type of an ant 
city, there would be no rank or grade, no rich or 
poor, no personal distinctions, no individual property. 
All things would be in common. There would be one 
and only one property-holder the State; nor would 
even the faintest desire for separate possessions ever 
cross the thought of the most fanciful. There would 
be no lust for riches or superior place or an easier lot 
in life. One purpose would dominate all with absolute 
sway : to serve the All the whole community with all 
one's powers, in any line of required duty, without 
hesitation, without stint, without reserve, and without 

This is truly a wild speculation! This is to conceive 
of the inconceivable that human beings could attain 
the social standards of an ant-hill! One must first 
suppose a moral revolution which even the dreams of a 
Golden Age or a Millennium such as idealists in every 
century have had would dimly depict; a revolution 
more radical than that implied by a literal conformity 
to the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount and the 
Saviour's summary of the moral law. It would be a 
revolution not only in socjal characteristics, but in in- 
dividual character, a veritable palengenesis of every 
member of the commonwealth. Would it be for the 
better or the worse? Would our race gain or lose by 
achieving the communistic - individualistic type of the 
government of ant cities? 

It is evident that there must be a good deal of varia- 
tion in the food supply even under favorable conditions. 
This would be felt at times when other labors of the 
commune, as extension and repair of the living quarters, 
interfere with the regular foraging. Moreover, there 



are periods when the reproduction of eggs by the queen 
is especially active, and the vast increase of larvae, all 
needing food and care, greatly multiplies the demand 
both for food and labor. The pinch of such conditions 
must fall inevitably upon the helpless young. Should 
they chance to come contemporaneously with a few 
days of scarcity, which may arise from various causes, 
the communal dependents must certainly fare ill, and 
the death-rate be enlarged among them. 

And it befalls communes of ants, as it comes to nations 
of men, that great deviations from the ordinary course 
of nature bring about disasters, at times so great that 
the very life of the community is at stake. Famine 
follows in the wake of war and floods, and untimely 
frosts and droughts consume the sources of food in the 
world of ants even as of men. The plough turns up the 
fallow field, and multitudes of ant-nests are destroyed 
by agriculture. Thus some of our noblest species of 
native ants are vanishing before the advance of man, 
as are higher types of animals. 

However, the vitality of some species under the 
strain of famine is remarkable. Miss Fielde has shown 
(Tenacity of Life in Ants} that the workers of Cam- 
ponotus americanus may live nine months without food. 
They thus rival, in their ability to endure a prolonged 
fast, the queens that go solitary and draw upon their 
reserve tissue enough for self-sustenance and also to 
nourish the firstlings of their flock. The common 
mode of feeding the young, as heretofore described, is 
by transfer from the nurses' crops by regurgitation. 
But a wholly different manner has been observed that 
is more like our way of giving food to domestic fowl and 
animals. This grows out of the fact that the larvaa of 



Pachycondyla and some other genera are able to feed 
themselves; perhaps have been educated thereto, 
though the natural aptitude must have underlain the 
habit. While lying upon their backs the larvaB suck the 
juices of particles of food given them. The nurses of 
Leptogenys dismember termite nymphs and scatter the 
pieces among their larvse, who thrust their beaks into 
the soft parts and feed thereon. So also workers of 
Odontomachus will tear off the heads and legs of house 
flies, cut the thorax and abdomen into pieces and feed 
them to their Iarva3. In the above cases the food was 
not first masticated, as is done by social wasps, but simply 
cut into pieces to expose the soft parts to the larval 
mandibles. Adlerz has made like observations of the 
larvae of Leptothorax, Stenamma, and Pheidole, who are 
fed with solid as well as liquid food. [Quoted W. 11, 
p. 709.] Such increase in the variety of food and feed- 
ing the young must add to the chances of their whole- 
some survival by lessening the danger of a failure of 
food, since it greatly widens the field from which avail- 
able supplies may be gathered. 

An example of the strange exigencies that befall the 
inhabitants of an ant commune appears in the case of 
certain workers of Pheidole commutata that become in- 
fested with large internal parasites, and are therefore 
known as Mermithergates. This condition is accom- 
panied with an enormous appetite, and they con- 
tinually beset the nurses for food, which they get often 
at the expense of the hungry larvae. 

The voracious creatures not only ply the nurses with 
mimetic entreaties, including the out-thrust tongue, 
but keep up a stridulating chant of solicitation. At 
times they resort to more vigorous measures, and 



seizing a replete, hold down its head with their large 
forefeet, and compel it to give up the contents of its 
crop. This greediness has its penalty in times when 
food is scarce; for in order to rid the commune of 
such voracious and non-productive mendicants, they 
are killed outright or starved to death by the 

The honey-ants as studied by the author in Colorado 
made their night expeditions into a scrub-oak copse, and 
the sweet liquid with which their crops were filled on 
their return was collected from oak-galls formed upon the 
twigs and branches 1 (Fig. 52). But, doubtless, like other 



ants, they know the value of aphides, and, as the seasons 
change, gather from them and from other sources the 

1 Nature's Craftsmen, chap. x. 


supplies for current sustenance, as well as for their 
peculiar mode of providing for future wants. [McC. 
v, p. 17 sq.] 

Among the honey-ants the workers, though varying in 
size, are structurally alike (Fig. r>3). Yet certain indi- 
viduals, quite independent of caste, and following an 
impulse unknown, but apparently fixed in the germ and 



Showing asophagus, a, as a nearly straight tube from the mouth 
to the abdomen, c Crop, gz Gizzard, s Stomach 

early manifest in the callows, begin to store up food in 
their crops, and thus develop into rotunds or honey- 
bearers (Fig. 54). It must be allowed to be a curious 
manifestation of communal philomyrmicry which causes 
one of the most active of creatures to become little more 
than an animated honey-pot, that the food supply of its 
fellow-formicans may not lapse. But so we find it; and, 
after all, it is little more than a development to its cli- 
max of an instinct that urges ants of other species to 
charge their crops with an excess of food in order to 
impart it to the commune dependents. 

The insectivorous habit of ants has been utilized as a 
check upon the increase of certain destructive cater- 
pillars. The author's attention was called to an article 
on the "Utilization of Ants as Grub-Destroyers in China," 

by Doctor Magowan, of Wenchow, and this led him to con- 




Fig. 54 Honey-bearers or rotunds (a) in situ in a natural nest. 
6 Same with workers in an artificial formicary 

sider at some length whether and how far those insects 
could be used in the United States. 1 [McC. 8, p. 263.] 

1 The information was received from a copy of the North China 
Herald of April 4, 1882, sent me by the Rev. Dr. Hunter Corbett, 
a Presbyterian missionary at Cht>f<><>, China. 













Showing the progressive development of the crop in various 
worker forms from the worker-minor to the honey-bearer 

See footnote page 113 


According to Dr. Hunter Corbrtt, in many parts of the 
province of Canton, where cereals cannot be cultivated 
profitably, the land is given up to orange-trees. These 
are subject to attack by a species of "worms" -the 
specific name is not given which work serious injury 
in the orange orchards. A peculiar mode of protection 
from these enemies is adopted by the proprietors, ap- 
parently suggested by the fact that the injurious larvae 
are preyed upon by certain ants native to the orangeries. 
But these are not bred in sufficient numbers to be of 
much practical advantage. Resort was therefore had 
to the "hill-people" of the countries, who find the ant 
nests suspended from the branches of the bamboo and 

A. Synthetic figure exhibiting the entire course of the alimentary 
canal in ants. 

B to J compose a series illustrating the progressive distention 
of the crop from its normal condition to that of the honey-bearer. 

In C and F the crop is normal. 

In B and E (workers-major or semi-rotunds) the distention is well 
advanced. In F the crop has shrunk after distention. G shows 
the same process in the abdomen of a worker-minor. 

H. Abdomen of a honey-bearer, opened at a slit (s), to punc- 
ture the crop, and show by its shrinking that it had filled the abdomi- 
nal cavity. / shows the full crop of a honey-bearer with the lower 
part of the alimentary canal shown through the abdominal wall 
against which it is pressed. 

J is the abdomen of a honey-bearer, wherein the full crop has 
pressed the gizzard, stomach, etc., into the cloacal cavity. / and 
J were apparently in normal health. 

K is an abdomen of Camponotus inflatus, the Australian car- 
penter ant, which exhibits the characteristic distention of At. 
hortideorum. Drawn from alcoholic specimen. Other specimens 
are quite spherical. 

Key to lettering, uniform in all figures: ab, abdomen; ab pi d, 
abdominal plate dorsal; ab pi v, abdominal plate ventral; an, anus; 
be, buccal or mouth sac; col, colon; gz, gizzard; il, ileum; in, intestine; 
m th, mesothorax; met th, metothorax; mpg, malpighian tubes; nd, 
node; ce, oesophagus; pr th, prothorax; px, pharynx; re, rectum; 
stm, stomach. 



other trees. There are two varieties, a red and a yellow, 
whose nests resemble small cotton bags. These are 
captured by the Chinese mountaineers by means of pig 
or goat bladders baited inside with lard. The mouths 
of the bladders are stretched across the gates of the 
ant-nests, and as the insects are fond of oils and greasy 
food, they enter in, are trapped in great numbers, and 
are sold at the orangeries. They are colonized upon the 
trees by turning them loose upon the branches. Once 
established, they begin their work as insecticides by 
capturing and killing the destructive larvse. To enable 
them to pass freely from tree to tree, all the trees of an 
orchard are connected by bamboo rods. 

Whether such a method is practicable in the United 
States, at least to an extent to justify extensive use, 
may be doubted. If successful at all, it would prob- 
ably need the painstaking patience of Chinese men with 
the Chinese ants. However, a somewhat similar experi- 
ment has been tried upon a Ponerine ant (Ectatomma 
tubercMlatum) , popularly known as the "Kelep." This 
ant was imported into Texas by the United States De- 
partment of Agriculture as an insecticide, with the 
special purpose of directing its insect-destroying energies 
against the cotton boll- weevil. It had shown marked 
tendencies in that direction in its native Guatemala. 
Apart from the more or less complete success of such 
experiments, the fact remains, which is here relevant, 
that it is one of a great army of ants that feed upon 
living insects. 

That this habit is widely distributed among the native 
ants of our Southern States was shown in a report made 
by the author [McC. 9, p. 182] a number of years ago 
to the then entomologist of the Department of Agri- 



culture, Prof. J. H. Comstock. Several species therein 
described were found to prey upon the eggs, the larva?, 
and the pupa? of the cotton caterpillar over a wide 
section of our southern territory. 

It is not difficult to suggest a theory as to how the 
taste for cereal foods may 
have arisen among ants. 
Whether it be the true one 
or not is another matter. 
Following their habit of gen- 
eral scouting for supplies, 
and of putting all promis- 
ing objects to the test of 
antennal or gustatory ap- 
proval, they would be sure 
to fall upon seeds in the milk 
Stage. Being then soft and Fi g- 56 SECTIONAL VIEW OF THE 


easily crushed, and to the DENT ANT 

ants a toothsome relish, all r Seed-rooms, rd Dumping- 
grain-like seeds would soon rooms ^Gliierfes PebbleS ' 
commend themselves, and 

easily pass into the accepted and fixed menu (Figs. 57 
and 58). 

As the outer shell gradually hardened, the growing 
taste for such food would prompt to break it open, and 
so would come, little by little, the habit of removing the 
husk. Although the flavor of the seed would change 
with its ripening, one readily conceives that the taste 
for it might have a corresponding gradual change; and 
also the power of utilizing it for food by rasping off or 
breaking up the starchy substance instead of crushing 
and lapping it, as in the milk stage. 

In quite the same way the use of nutty or oily seeds 



would gradually form, aided by the natural emmet appe- 
tite for animal and vegetable fats and oils of all sorts. 
The tendency to carry all these seeds to the common 
centre, the nest, would in clue course be followed bv, 

*/ / 

first, the taking off and deporting the useless husk or 
shell, and, next, the retaining for temporary, and so at 
last storing (Fig. 56) for more permanent use, the grain 
or nutty meat of the seed. The harvesting habit in ants 
since it was first scientifically confirmed by Moggridge [Mg. 
1] has excited an exceptional degree of interest and sur- 


prise. But in truth, when one considers all the condi- 
tions, the wonder is that it is not more widely distributed. 
Here we may notice a peculiarity that appears in the 
communes of a Texas species, PJieidole instabilis. A 
study of its feeding habits presents a striking example 
of a sharp distinction between the functions of the 
soldier and the worker caste. The workers are much 



the smaller but far more numerous, and the bulk of the 
commune's work is done by them. They collect and 
store seeds and dead insects. They dig rooms and gal- 
leries, care for the huge royal larva? and pupa?, feed the 
brood, and aid the callows break out from the pupal sac. 



The soldiers do none of this work. They are the 
communal trenchers. They crush and carve the tough 
insects and hard seeds stored by workers, a service for 
which their large muscular heads and jaws are well 
fitted. The same organs are efficient weapons for de- 
fence of the commune, a service which attaches to them 
as soldiers. As such they may be seen, as if on sentinel 
duty, surrounding the communal dependents. They 
are stolid in temperament. They decline, in Indian 
fashion, to take part in nursing the communal young. 
Their big heads, though of such value to the commune, 
may sometimes be a serious incumbrance to themselves; 
for when dropped upon their backs on a polished sur- 
face, they are not able to recover themselves, and may 
die literally standing on their heads. 

It seems to be an odd characteristic that these mega- 
lacephalous creatures appear never to feed upon the 
oily seeds and insect juices which they make available 
by cracking the material brought in by the workers, 
but live on liquid food regurgitated by the workers. 



One must note in this a beneficent arrangement; for the 
soldiers, nut being exposed to the temptation of feeding 
directly upon the food which they carve for the workers, 
and which must thus all pass through their "hands," 
make sure that the dependents are not stinted or 
starved and the community thereby imperilled. This 
characteristic seems all the more important in view of 
the philoprogenitive defects of these soldiers. A species 
of Pheidole is found in and around Philadelphia, and it 


- - ^SffW.^W^.-^,^ : 
.- ;;->:>,.<,. &&' 


Sectional cutting, showing storerooms, or granaries, in site, of 

Pheidole pennsylvanica. 


too is characterized by a big-headed worker caste. I 
have made observations of its seed-storing habits (Fig. 
59), but it remains to be learned whether the soldiers 
have acquired so remarkable a role as that of communal 
trenchermen. [McC. 4, p. 148.] 

Some of the feeding habits of the Indian Leptogenys 
are interesting. Writing of Lobopolata distinguenda, Mr. 
Wroughton says [Wr. 1, pp. 50-58] that it is occasion- 



ally seen going about solitary, probably when acting as 
scout, but ordinarily is only met in the early morning 
or late in the afternoon travelling in an unbroken column 
four to six or eight abreast, by the straight or the easiest 
road to the scene of operations. This is usually a colony 
of termites, or white ants, whose galleries have been 
broken open by the hoof of a passing beast or some like 
accident. Apparently they do not have the initiative 
faculty of breaking into the termites' nest, but wait for 
an accidental opening. Arrived at their destination, 
every ant seizes her termite prey, swings it under her 
thorax in the usual way of these porters, and the attack- 
ing column then moves homeward. But the return 
formation is much less regular than the advance; it is, 
in fact, a " march at ease." 

The same writer gives a note on the allied species 
Lobopelta chinensis. A populous community of this ant 
had settled in a cavity of the house foundations of Mr. 
Aitken, who reports the incident. From this nest there 
ran a well-marked ant road which crossed a broad gravel 
path and then branched out over the tennis-ground. 
After sunset the workers would come out and march 
along one of these branches, or break up into parties and 
take different routes. Their point of approach was a 
termite's nest; and when they reached a place where 
these insects had thrown up new earthworks, and were 
busy eating dead grass underneath, they collected in 
dense masses, awaiting an opportunity to break in. 
This came when the termites sought to extend their 
works on any side. Then the waiting columns of ants 
were precipitated in mass upon the unprotected creat- 
ures, and the slaughter began. Sometimes the ter- 
mites were killed faster than they could be carried off. 

9 119 


After one raid, as late as 7 A.M., the ground was still 
heaped with the slain, and an unbroken stream of ants 
fifty-six yards long was taking them away, every porter 
having two or three of the dead in its jaws. 

Sometimes the tables would be sharply turned upon 
the plunderers. If they chanced to cross the territory 
of a commune of harvesting ants after they had opened 
their gates and were abroad on morning duty, the 
Lobopelta hordes had to flee before their betters, often 
abandoning their booty. Yet, per contra, the observer 
once saw a Lobopelta, who had come to the aid of a com- 
rade assaulted by a harvester, after vainly trying to tear 
off the aggressor, deliberately pick up both comrade and 
assailant, and carry them off together! Apparently 
both were so intent upon the personal combat that they 
gave no heed to the deportation. 

Leptogenys elongata feeds largely upon the common 
wood slaters (Omiscus and Armadillidium), which abound 
under stones and logs in shady sites where the formi- 
caries are placed. [W. 8, p. -253.] The workers have re- 
peatedly been seen carrying dead slaters in their mandi- 
bles, and the space surrounding the gates is white with 
bleaching limbs and segments of the crustaceans, a proof 
that great numbers of these animals must be destroyed 
by the ants. Their long, toothless mandibles resemble 
scissors, and are well adapted for piercing the inter- 
segmental membranes of their prey and exposing edible 
parts. This ant appears to be the only one known to 
feed on crustaceans as a regular diet. Other species 
are insectivorous, granivorous, mycetophagous (fungus 
eating) feeders on the sweet, liquid excretions and secre- 
tions of insects, or the juices and sugary exudations of 
fruits, plants, and galls, and on animal fats and oils. 



LANGUAGE is essential to effective government 
among social creatures. Without means of com- 
munication of some sort, it would be impossible for 
societies to hold together and to act together in those 
communal movements which are alike the evidence and 
the end of social organizations. Thus we infer that 
some way of making known the common will and aim 
must exist among such insects as ants, bees, wasps, and 
termites that maintain permanent sodalities. And so 
we find it in ant communes. Thus is preserved unity 
and efficiency, by holding the citizens together; by dis- 
seminating purposes and influences important to civic 
success; and by securing at once mobility of action and 
the concentrated force of the republic, for peaceful ser- 
vice, for common defence, and for aggressive enterprise. 
Men commonly think of language as a vocal medium 
for conveying thought and emotion from one individual 
to others. As thus defined, insects are dumb, for they 
have no true voice nor organs of speech such as belong 
to " articulate speaking men." They also lack the means 
of uttering such cries as characterize birds and brutes. 
But if we take language as simply an understandable 
medium for expressing emotions, insects are thus en- 
dowed. By certain movements of the body and of 

parts of the body, especially the wings, antenna), and 



jaws, and by sounds made by various organs in sundry 
ways, they convey to one another the primitive and 
simple emotions of their kind and of all animate beings. 
In taking up the subject as it bears upon ants, we shall 
best reach such conclusions as seem at present attain- 
able by considering it in relation to insects in general. 

The language of insects may be regarded as mimetic, 
when emotions are expressed by gestures or acts; pter- 
atic, when by wing vibrations; spir ocular, when made 
known by sounds issuing from the breathing tubes or 
spiracles; stridulatofy, when conveyed by the friction of 
one organ against another; and antenna! , when the an- 
tennae, or " feelers," are the media of communication. 

Insects express emotion mimetically that is, by 
bodily gestures. Mimetic language, though more limit- 
ed in its ability to convey ideas, is not less intelligible 
than vocal speech. Indeed, a glance of the eye, a move- 
ment of the hand, a shrug of the shoulder, a stamp of the 
foot, a toss of the head, may betray in man the true 
thought or feeling within him, even when spoken language 
is used to conceal it. How apt a medium mimetic 
language may become for expressing clearly a wide 
range of ideas one may see among the inmates of in- 
stitutions for the deaf and dumb. We may find, per- 
haps, that this medium serves insects no less effectively 
for communication within that limited range of ideas, 
shall we say? to which their faculties are confined. 

Let us stand before this oak-tree and watch a double 
stream of mound-making ants thronging up and passing 
down the well-marked trail that leads to a herd of 
aphides upon some oak-tree branches. The motion of a 
finger near the trunk attracts the attention of a sentinel, 
one of a number that seem to be guarding the flanks of 



the column. It halts, 
thrusts out its anten- 
nae, and shows signs 
of excitement. As an 
experiment, the fin- 
ger is moved slowly 
within an inch or 
more of the ant. Its 
antennae wave rapid- 
ly. Its head and body 
jerk with eager in- 
tentness. It stretches 
forth its head, and 
reaches out its fore 
legs, with jaws eager- 
ly agape and antennae 
quivering (Fig. 60). 
The whole attitude 
and every bodily de- 
tail clearly express to 
the observer the idea 
of vigilance, of suspi- 
cion, of a challenge, 
of a purpose to repel. 
As plainly as if it had 
spoken, the sentinel ! ; 
has said: "I suspect 
you! I test you! I 

bid you begone !" We Fig. 60 MIMETIC LANGUAGE IN ANTS 
Onlookers understand The S esture of repulsion and defence 

this. Is it supposable that the ants themselves do not 
understand ? 

From the tree-path we turn to the conical mound 



whence these ants are issuing. It stands silent in the 
shadow of the tall surrounding trees, its quietude broken 
only by the movements of a few worker-ants, who are 
lazily dumping pellets of soil from one of the few upper 
ports. At the base of the cone, where most of the 
gates are located, the column stretches across the grove 
to the aphis-covered oak. Give the mound a sharp blow 
with foot or hand. What a change! Instantly the 
whole community is aroused. From every gate pours 
forth a surging torrent of irate sentinels, followed bv 

C_> O / / 

other inmates, until, in an incredibly brief time, the 


mound is covered with angry insects. They run to and 
fro, their bodies a-quiver as they go. They challenge 
one another with crossed antennae. They peer at every 
unusual object in their way. They startle, and stand 
rampant at the vibration of every sharp sound. The 
surface fairly buzzes with the excited creaturelings, 
their whole mien and attitude saying, unmistakably: 
"Our home has been attacked! We are in danger! Rally 
to the defence! Death to our enemies!" (Fig. 61). 

We change the field of observation. The writer was 
once standing before the great round web of a female 
Orange Argiope (Argiope aurantium), a large and hand- 
some orbweaving spider [McG. 24, pp. 97, 98, vol. i] ? 
testing with a tuning-fork its sense of hearing, when a 
bee flew by in exploitation of a flowering honeysuckle 
vine that covered an arbor on which the web was hung. 
The droning of its wing-strokes as it flitted from flower 
to flower fell upon the ear as a token of content. To 
all and sundry it said, or seemed to say, what no doubt it 
felt: "I am a well-satisfied bee!" 

But in a hapless moment it touched the spider's orb. 
Its feet were entangled in the sticky threads. Straight- 



way its wings began to move violently, and their buzz- 
ing, together with the attitude of the body and of every 
member thereof, expressed the creature's fear. These 
varied as the bee became more thoroughly entangled, 


< ,. ._.. v - *fij 



now waxing, now r waning, until the audible notes pro- 
duced by its enfeebled movements seemed to utter its 
growing sense of danger and dread. 

Meanwhile, and the interval was rarely brief, Madam 
Argiope underwent a striking change. She had been 
enjoying peacefully a dejeune of cold Diptera, taken 
through the fibres of a silken saclet in which her prey 
was encased, and which hung upon the upper part of the 



oval rug that overlay her central seat. But instantly 
the bee struck the web her whole being was transformed. 
She dropped her lunch-bag. Her reposeful attitude was 
changed into one of eager animation and intense ferocity. 
Every spine and bristle upon her legs, her body armature, 
seemed to be erect, and her fangs were open. With a 
rush, like the vault of a cat upon a sparrow, she charged 
over her web, and, seizing the bee with her fore paws, 
shot forth upon it from her expanded spinnerets a band 
of silk. All the while revolving the insect between her 
swiftly moving fore feet, she soon had it swathed as 
closely as a mummy. 

This done, her outward seeming of tense energy re- 
laxed, and having suspended her empouched captive 
to a twisted strand of her broken snare, she left it hang- 
ing there, like a cured ham to the rafters of an old- 
fashioned smoke-house, and quietly resumed her inter- 
rupted luncheon on the fly. In all this, Argiope was 
without speech; yet her varying emotions were plainly 
and, one may conclude, not incorrectly, read by the 
observer from her motions. As for the bee, its last 
audible utterance was a low and broken hum that sound- 
ed like the expiring wail of apian despair. 

Now entered upon this tragic scene of animated nature, 
man the philanthropist, his pity crossed, let it be con- 
fessed, with a strain of curiosity to know the condition 
of the prisoner. "Poor bee/ 3 quoth the observer, 
"this great and greedy spicier has quite enough food 
without you!" With a pair of pocket-scissors an open- 
ing was made into the swathing-sac. Not without pro- 
test from Argiope, however, who, feeling these move- 
ments through the delicately strung meshes of her web, 
feared that her prey was escaping, and rushed upon it. 



She was turned back by a smart tap upon the head; 
whereat she seized the tip of her rug and began to 
oscillate her snare, as though to shake off an intruder. 

When this diversion had quieted down, the scissors 
were plied again. As the rent lengthened, the bee 
seemed to awake and began to stir. One leg appeared, 
then a wing. Thereupon issued a low hum of satisfac- 
tion, which rose into a higher note, apparently of vexa- 
tion, as the body gradually appeared. At length, with 
a burst of limbs and wings, the insect was free. There 
was no mistaking the character of her emotions now; 
they were not jubilant. She was mad! and was waxing 
madder in remembrance of the indignity put upon her. 
Her wings vibrated with a velocity that raised their 
responding sound to a high note which plainly signified 
wrath and vengeance. The observer, at least, under- 
stood; for instead of turning its wrath upon its captor, 
the bee made straightway for its liberator with sting 

<S <J 

outthrust, and with that peculiar buzz which bee- 
familiars know as a war-note. 

Discretion in that case "the better part of valor" 
justified retreat. Moreover, the quest was not quite 
ended. It had been determined that an insect can be 
captured and swathed and trussed up by a spider with- 
out impairment of aught but her temper. But it re- 
mained to see what her beeship would do ; and that soon 
appeared. Its pursuit of its back-stepping deliverer 
ended, it turned again to the honeysuckle vine, and took 
up its search for pollen and nectar as though life had 
known no "hairbreadth 'scapes' 1 from deadly peril, and 
timely rescue therefrom. Her war-note died awav into 

** \/ 

the old droning hum of peaceful industry and busy 




Here we have a series of actions by which two in- 
vertebrates clearly communicated their emotions. The 
spider passed rapidly through stages reaching from 
quiet enjoyment of food to intense passion of the chase 
and ferocity in capture, and to the repose of success 
when the prey was secured. Thence the course swung 
to rearoused energies under apprehension of loss, and 
to fear of some unknown superior foe when rapped by 
the observer, and anxiety to defend herself therefrom, 
as shown by shaking her web. 

The bee, too, had swift transitions: from her hum of 
contented industry to the subdued note of resignation 
to her fate when shut up in her silken sarcophagus; 
thence to vivid reawakening to life, with her sense of 
injury, her blind wrath and revenge, the wish to strike 
at something; and so back to where the cycle began: 
at the song of peaceful labor. In all these stages these 
children of the wild betraved their current moods to 


man. "There was speech in their dumbness, language 
in their very gestures. " No careful observer of their 

*. C_7 

natural actions and of the field-life of their kind can 
doubt that, within limits indefinite and difficult to define, 
like actions among the more highly organized insects 
are understood bv one another. 


Still further, it does not seem probable that the ability 
thus to make known their emotions is limited to such 
modes of expression as human intelligence can interpret. 
Beyond the sphere of ideas and sentiments whose sym- 
bols men can discern, there doubtless are others peculiar 
to themselves, and therewith due methods of inter- 

In the cases above cited the actions may be said to 
have been simply the unconscious physical expression 



of natural animal impulses, without any purpose to 
communicate the same to another, such as language 
implies. Even so, it should be considered, first, that 
these examples are given as types of other uses of 
mimetic language behind which lies the undoubted pur- 
pose to communicate. And, second, that the rude 
evolutionary germs of language in primitive man may 
have been the utterance of just such impulses; and little 
more need be claimed for insects. It marks the im- 
passable difference between the psychic powers of man 
and those of insects that human language, spoken and 
written, has developed into its marvellous proportions, 
while the symbolism of insects, and of animals generally, 
retains the crudity of ancestral types, and apparently 
can never pass beyond this bar of nature. 

There was something more in this typical living 
tableau of the spider and the bee than " gesture lan- 
guage"; for the wing movements of the bee, as we shall 
presently note, were special media of communication. 
But the language of natural bodily motions may claim 
some further attention here. If an unarmed man be 
threatened by his fellow, his almost unconscious mode 
of expressing his feelings will be to dodge or crouch or 
flee, if he be afraid; or if he be brave and his combative- 
ness be aroused, to throw himself back upon one leg 
and put up his fists in self-defense. Under like condi- 
tions a bear will rise upon its hams and extend its fore 
paws, and a horse will rear upon his hind legs and strike 
out with the fore legs and hoofs. 

It is a long step from the primate, the ungulate, and 
the ruminant to the invertebrate. But let us present sim- 
ilar conditions to certain spiders say, the " tarantula' 1 
of the southwestern United States. It takes a rampant 



position, resting upon its two pairs of hind legs, while 
its two front pairs, palps, and fangs are thrown up in 
striking posture. [McC. 24, vol. ii, p. 320.] The same 
attitude may be seen in the little jumping spiders (At- 
tidae) around our house walls and vines. 

From the tarantula turn to the stream of agricultural 
ants of Texas, pouring over the roads that lead into their 
harvest fields. Fix your eye upon this worker, returning 
home carrying a grain of ant rice. Every motion of her 
body, which fairly palpitates as she hastens on, shows 
her sense of importance and satisfaction in service. 
Now tap her with your pencil-point. What a transition ! 
She instantly stops, drops her burden, and rises rampant, 
the fore part of her erect person declaring unmistakably 
that she is startled, angry, and means to fight. She 
thus takes her place as a link in the chain of life leading 
down from man, among the creatures that communicate 
their belligerent mood and purpose by bodily attitude 
and gesture. 

But something more than signals and gestures appeal- 
ing to the eyes met the observer of that affair between 
the orb weaver and the bee among the hone3 r suckle 
blooms. The bee's wings made effective appeal to his 
ears, and by their varying vibrations gave a fair token 
of her tempers. This was " pteratic language.' 1 The 
droning among the flowers, the quivering amid the 
spider's meshes, the sharp buzzing of flight after release 
sounded in unmistakable notes the insect's amiability, 
anxiety, or anger. One can detect these varying notes 
as he walks his garden and field while the bees are forag- 
ing among the flowers or while one watches by his bee- 
hives. So, mayhap, Shakespeare did near by Anne 
Hat ha way's door, or while treading the pathway across 



the fields from Avon to her cottage gate, and saw the 
busy workers, like raiding soldiers, 

"Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds; 
The singing masons building roofs of gold." 

Gardner, an English writer on the Music of Nature 
(1832), makes the curious statement that he was once 
in the gallery of the Royal Exchange to view the money- 
dealers in the court below. He was struck not only by 
the likeness of the scene to the interior of a beehive, 
but by the similarity of the sound, the buzz of the two 
thousand voices being perceptibly amalgamated into the 
"key of F." This is the key, the author concluded, to 
which the most prevalent sounds of nature may be re- 
ferred a fact by which musicians have unconsciously 
been influenced; for scarcely an ancient composition ap- 
pears in any other key, except its relative minor, for 
the first hundred years of the art. In Queen Elizabeth's 
Virginal Book of four hundred folio pages nearly all the 
pieces are confined to this key. There is not an instance 
of a sharp being placed at the clef. 1 

According to the same author, the house-fly and the 
honey-bee hum in F on the first space. The bumble- 
bee, the contra-basso of the tribe, performs the same 
note, but an octave lower. The present writer is able 
to confirm this conclusion only in part. F seems to 
him to be a nearly true note for the common fly as 
tested by his ear, unaided by an instrument. But the 
wing-note of bees and the general tone of a large mis- 
cellaneous company of insects humming above a bed 
of flowers hydrangeas, for example seemed to him 

1 I have not the opportunity to verify this statement, which I 
make on Gardner's authority. 



to bo A, us tested by the flute as well as by the ear 

(Fig. 1)2). 

Recently the vibration of insects' wings their 
pteratic language has boon studied from the character 
of the note caused thereby, the pitch determining the 




The author, with his flute, testing the keynote of wing-strokes 
as insects are humming over flowers 



number of vibrations on the basis of two hundred and 
fifty-six per second for the note C. 1 Tuning-forks are 
perhaps the most convenient instruments for such ex- 
periments, which may be made by any one who has an 
ordinarily ^ood ear for musical sounds. The writer 

*s ^J 

has used his flute with some measure of success. The 
house-fly has a wing-tone of F, or three hundred and fifty- 
two vibrations per second. The honey-bee strikes A, 
which means that it moves its wings at the rate of four 
hundred and forty times a second. When, burdened 
with its weight of pollen, the bee is on its homestretch, 
its wing-tone falls to E, indicating three hundred and 
thirty vibrations a second. 

An interesting confirmation of these results has been 
made by fixing a fly within a carbonized cylinder re- 
volved by clock-work. The tips of the fly's agitated 
wings left at every stroke a slight mark upon the smoked 
surface of the glass, which, being counted, gave sub- 
stantially the same result as above viz., three hundred 
and thirty wing-strokes a second. 

To be sure, such tones as these may be held to be a 
mere mechanical product or reflex; yet that they have 
the power to express certain ideas will be clear to one 
who will observe the effect produced upon a community 
of bees or hornets by the buzzing of one of their number 
when angry. The excitement runs rapidly from one to 
another, until many members are visibly affected. The 
original irate had certainly communicated her mood 
to her fellows. 

Even insects of alien species seem to understand such 
wing-stroke language. Let an angry hornet or yellow T - 

1 The most extensive studies in this interesting field are those of 
the veteran entomoloo-ist, Samuel C. Scudder. 



jacket course the suburbs of a populous ant-hill, and the 
knowledge of her temper will be conveyed to the ants, 
who apparently understand that a highly keyed note is 
a threat which they must needs resent. It is a question 
how such information is conveyed; but perhaps, like a 
coursing motor-car, the intruder may give forth not only 
a hostile note but a pernicious smell ! 

Before entering further upon this theme, it behooves 
both writer and reader to remember not only the vast 
gulf which separates us from insects as well as the com- 
mon bonds of nature that unite us to them. Ento- 
mologists have already disclosed much of the real life 
of the lowly creatures that share with us the earth; 
but we have as yet scarcely passed beyond the threshold 
of the temple of knowledge that Nature has reared around 
us. Many problems that have barely been stated re- 
main unsolved or partly solved, though our scant 
knowledge might be far more complete "would men 
observingly distil it out." Innumerable other problems 
doubtless are beyond the screen, duly to rise as the 
horizon of discovery shall enlarge. 

What know we, for example, beyond the narrowest 
bounds, of the senses of ants of their number, their 
quality, their range? What know we of the endless 
degrees of sounds and shades of color that may form the 


world within which insects move, familiar to them, but 
a terra incognita to us? May there not be a Nature 
within our known Nature, worlds within our knowable 
world like the successive enclosures within a Chinese 1 
"nest* of boxes of which insects know, and wherein 
may be their largest moiety of life? To them a wild 
meadow, a flower-garden, a grove, or a brook-side may 
be a boundless scene of beauty and activity, friendly 



and hostile, such as we might depict as a fairyland. 
Therein may be landscapes hidden from our eyes, with 
many grades of color, fair or grewsome, and octaves 
of sounds, pleasant or fearsome, that lie beyond human 
senses or even human fancy. Of this world, or these 
world-spheres, much must remain unknown to us at 
least, in this cumbered state of existence. But to pene- 
trate it further and further, to unlock its secret doors, 
to explore and disenchant its chambers of mysteries, 
and to interpret to mankind its inarticulate symbols 
this is the highest function of the true natural history. 



TT^E are not yet done with our typical bee's capability 
f T to express her current feelings. She can resort 
to spiracular language. When deprived of the use of 
wings by the spider's entanglements, she still made her 
plaintive, or petulant, or wrathful protest through the 
spiracles. These are breathing organs arranged in pairs 
along the abdomen and thorax of insects. Behind each 
spiracle is a membrane, or chitinous projection, which 
is agitated during breathing, and may be set vibrating 
so rapidly as to produce a sound. This, for lack of a 
fitter word, has been called a "voice," and certainly 
suggests the product of the vocal chords in man. It 
comes as near to being a true voice as we are likely to 
find among insects, and perhaps the diminutive "voice- 
let" might be applied to it not inaptly. 

One need not be a naturalist to satisfy himself of its 
presence. Let a house-fly be held by its two wings- 
our bee being hardly available for such an experiment 
for ordinary observers and there will be heard a high- 
toned buzzing which manifestly is not made by the 
wings. It issues from the spiracles, and is the insect 
voicelet. The same note inav be heard from the un- 


happy victims of fly-paper, who, though their wings 
are held in the grip of the sticky compound, continue to 
send out a pitiful cry from their spiracles. The same wail 



or shriek may be heard from the unfortunate creatures 
whose wings have been burned off in a lamp or candle. 

Another familiar member of the Diptera has the 
faculty of voicing the mosquito, with " blood-extract- 
ing bill and filmy wing." The " honest" mosquito, that 
blows her shrill pipette to warn of her approach, pro- 
duces her peculiar note by the use of her spiracles. It 
is doubtful if her chivalry in giving her chosen prey 
a chance for defence is appreciated. To many, the 
soundless sort that fall with the silence of death or 
" sable- vested night," and go straight to their phle- 
botomy and make no fuss thereabout, are the less 
pernicious of the two. 

The bee's spiracular voicing is known among bee- 
keepers as " piping." The senior Huber [Hu. 1, p. 157] 
published the first intelligent account of it. When the 
old queen of a colony has left with a swarm, the new 
queen is sometimes seized with a fancy to sound her 
pipes, standing, while doing so, with her thorax against 
a honeycomb, and her wings crossed on her back in 
motion, but without being unfolded. The sound has a 
remarkable effect upon the workers, who, with their 
faces toward the queen, lower their heads and remain 
motionless, as though smitten by some strange charm, 
and listen intently. The young queenlings, still within 
their cells, perceive the sound through the waxen walls 
that confine them, and respond thereto with what seem 
to be notes of defiance and challenge. 

Even without such stimulus, the queenlings within the 
royal cells, while waiting to be freed by the workers, 
will play their pipes. The sound emitted Huber de- 
scribed as very distinct, a sort of clacking, consisting of 
several monotonous notes in rapid succession. He con- 



jectures that the use of this piping, in the economy 
of Nature, is to give notice that the young queen is ready 
to be released an office which the workers keep well in 
their own hands, in view of the instinctive tendency of 
all apian royalties to destroy one another, and enjoy, 
through regicide, an undisputed reign. Whatever be 
the purpose of this ceremonial song, the fact is patent 
that piping is a mode of communicating certain emotions 
well understood by both queens and workers, and there- 
fore serves the end of language. The worker-bees, upon 
the adoption of a stranger queen, will gather in a series 
of circles around the newly installed sovereign, and, 
staidly vibrating their wings, sound a sort of coronation 
anthem, which, as it appears to issue from the spiracles 
as well as wings, may be classed with the piping of 
queens. [Hu. 1, p. 107.] 

It is strange that an act which should have the bene- 
fit of the community in view should open a way to dis- 
aster. Yet so it appears. Huber was greatly disturbed 
by the ravages of an unknown enemy among his hive- 
bees. At last the invader was found to be a large moth 
(Sphinx atropos], popularly known as the " death's-head 
moth " (Fig. 63), from certain body-markings that rudely 
resemble a skull and cross-bones. Experiments showed 
that the bees have ample power to defend themselves 
against this moth. In the case of the bumble-bee the 
power is used to sting it to death, those children of the 
wild being less open perhaps to the seductions of musical 
enchantments than hive-bees with their more artificial 
habits. How could a moth, destitute of natural force 
and weapons fit to cope with throngs of insects which 
can repulse a man, manage to cow them or charm them, 

and thus safely plunder their homes? 



Huber's suggestion, which has been supported by 
other observers, was that Atropos has the gift of making 
a sound so like the " piping ' : of queen bees that the 
workers are deceived thereby, and stand inactive and 


i -V 

-V : 

V V 



seemingly fascinated, as is their wont under the real 
royal notes, while the moth works its will in their house- 
hold. [Hu. 1, p. 312.] How strangely this bit of natural 
history suggests the stories of witch and enchantress 
that were wont to awe our credulous ancestors! Or, 
much to its advantage, did Atropos thus prove that 
"music hath charms to soothe the savage breast"? But 
the "music," like that which satisfies the average savage, 



would hardly charm an Asaph,or aHaydn,or aBeethoven; 
for it is simply the grating sound produced by rubbing 
the palps against the base of the proboscis. But, then, 
the bees are not dainty in their musical taste, as witness 
our boyhood's recollection of a throng of excited villagers 
following a swarm of bees across the fields, with jangling 
of cow-bells and clanging of tin pans, moved by the tradi- 
tional faith that bees would thus be charmed to " settle." 

Thus we are brought to another form of insect lan- 
guage stridulation. Our typical bee, unlike the Atropos 
moth, is not gifted in this wise. But the art is possessed 
by some spiders, and one species, akin to the tarantula, 
gets therefrom her specific name stridulans. The in- 
sect music with which we are most familiar is thus 
caused. The organs which produce the various notes 
are built on the principle of the violin and mandolin. 
In other words, they are the result of regulated friction, 
though the degree of regulation is crude and limited. 

Take, for example, the grasshopper, whose shrilling 
is one of our well-known autumn field-notes. On the 
inner side of the thigh is a series of fine cogs, or teeth, 
which one can see with the naked eye or with a hand- 
lens. These, rubbed rapidly against the wing-covers, as 
one might rub a file against a goose-quill, cause the grass- 
hopper's rather cheerful chirrup (Fig. 64). 

Brunelli, an observer of the eighteenth century, con- 
fined in a closet a bevy of male grasshoppers (Gryllus 
viridissimus) , who proved quite philosophical prisoners; 
for instead of sulking, they kept up a merry fiddling all 
the day. A rap at the door at once stopped their note; 
but an imitation of their chirruping, which the naturalist 
managed to make fairly well, brought a low response 
from a few, which soon swelled into a chorus by the 



whole group. One of the males was shut up in a cage 
in the garden, and a female captive was set at liberty 
near by. Soon the male put his mandolin into play, 
whereat Madame Gry 11 us flew to his side. " Barkis was 
woolin' -and Peggotty, too ! Certainly here was a case 

c - c CU ( :.( ..( ( (( f 



Below it is shown a greatly enlarged section of the file on wing-cover of male cricket, against 
which the scraper on opposite wing-cover is rubbed to produce its call 

of intelligent communication between two lovers, and 
that by means of sound, and not by scent alone. And 
it may be that for the most part this form of insect lan- 
guage is amative. So, doubtless, much of human speech 
was evolved around sexual and parental loves. 

But Brunelli was preceded at least eight centuries in 
discovering that caged grasshoppers will utter their 
stridulant notes. According to the late Prof. Lafcadio 
Hearn, 1 the Japanese, as long ago as the tenth century, 
were addicted to their interesting habit of confining 
insects in cages for the sake of their music. To-day the 
sale of these insects and the dainty cages 2 in which they 
are kept is a large and lucrative business in Tokio and 

1 Exotics and Retrospectives, pp. 39-79. 

2 The writer is indebted for the two ingenious specimens here 
figured to Mr, Lucien Sharpe. 



other Japanese towns (Fig. 65). To that remarkable 
people the shrilling of crickets and grasshoppers seems 
to be as sweet a sound as the song of canaries to us. 
One who deems this a barbarous fancy may be remind- 
ed that the men of classical Greece held the cicada to 
be sacred to the deitv of music. 


One finds such insect musicians as charm the Japanese 
everywhere around him in the fields during late summer 
and early autumn. Sitting here, writing, on the open 
porch of his country home, the author hears the notes 
of hosts of insects beating upon the hot noon air. Wild 
bees, yellow-jackets, brown wasps, and blue mud-daubers 
keep up a ceaseless hum as they hover over a flowering 


vine that drapes and shades the railing. Just overhead 
hangs a fragrant clematis, among whose leaves a tree- 
cricket plays hide-and-seek with the writer, and inter- 
jects an occasional high-keyed Krea k I kr-reak! Out of 



the grove issues the cicada's rolling call, swelling in 
volume and dying away, and not well ended till an 
answering or another trill is heard. And so, on and on- 
beech-tree responding to maple and chestnut to w^hite 
oak, with hardly an interval of silence. When night 
falls "the katvdid works her chromatic reed," not 


indeed "on the walnut-tree over the well/ 3 but on the 
beeches and oaks, beneath whose branches wind the wood- 
drive and the ramble. All these and others, with organs 
varying in structure, as is the wont of versatile nature, are 
the product of insect stridulation. 1 And could one tune 
his ear to the finer sounds with which the occult spheres 
of cosmos are full, he would hear many like sounds. 

Ants, for instance, are supplied with stridulating 
organs, which, reasoning from analogy, they must use 
as means of expressing certain feelings. Yet one of the 
rarest events in insect ethology is the record of an emmet 
stridulation unless, indeed, the rasping noise one 
hears issuing from the excited hordes of a disturbed 
ant-hill may be the aggregate of many stridulators 
instead (as conjectured) of the clatter of numerous 
mandibles and the grating of chitinous body shells as 
they rub against one another. The writer was long in- 
clined to the latter view, although more than a quarter 
of a century ago, in his studies of the honey-ants of the 
Garden of the Gods, he showed that ants possess organs 
well fitted to produce stridulatory sounds, and cited 
at least one case that seemed to prove such use thereof. 
[McC. 4, p. 07.] But the evidence now in hand puts 
beyond doubt the existence of the habit. 

1 Rubbing the femora or the wing-covers together, and rubbing 
the bases of the two wing-covers (tegmina) together, are the chief 
modes of stridulating among locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets. 

1 13 


However, the ordinary listener should not be dis- 
appointed if he fail to hear these stridulatory notes, so 
delicate and faint are they. They belong to that occult 
realm of sights and sounds into which few of the more 
highly organized forms of life are privileged to enter, 
and not to the great company of insect musicians who 
fill our summer and early autumn fields and woods with 
their varied orchestration. 

One who carefully observes the abdomen of a large 
ant, even with the naked eye, can see that it is made up 
of segmental plates, five above (dorsal) and five below 
(ventral). These plates are imbricated that is, they 
overlap one another, like tiles on a house-roof. They are 
composed of epithelial scales, hexagonal in form, which 
present a beautiful appearance, as of delicate mosaics, 
when viewed through a microscope. When a profile 
view of one of these scales is exposed to the lens the 
serrate edge is clearly seen. Thus it is plain that a 
backward and forward motion of the plates upon one 
another might produce a faint rasping sound. All that 
is required for the complete conditions for stridulation is 
the muscular ability to perform this action rapidly (Fig. 
06). Ants certainly possess this; and, in fact, they may 
be seen thus moving the abdominal plates in and out, 
back and forth, with a rapidity that seems to increase 
with their excitement. The many faint sounds thus 
made, inaudible in the individual, but audible in the aggre- 
gate, would account in part, at least for the peculiar 
hiss-z-z-z which arises from an excited column or colony 
of ants. It will also help to explain the popular belief 
that one sometimes picks up in rural parts, that u ants 
sing." Besides this grating of the abdominal plates over 
one another, there is a rotary movement of the base of 



the abdomen upon the post-petiole which produces the 
same effect, probably even more generally than the 

Professor Wheeler believes that stridulation is an 
important means of communication ---at least among 






E. i. .<?. Epithelium; imbricated, serrate edge. i. ab. pi. Interior 
of abdominal plate. e. ab. pi. Exterior of abdominal plate 

such ant families as the Mrymicince, Ponerinse, and 
Dorylina3. To this he attributes the rapid congregation 
of ants when particles of food are discovered by errant 



members of their community. The pleased sensation 
of falling upon food is apt to start an ant a-stridulating, 
and thus other foragers abroad in the vicinage are 
attracted by the food-call. This also explains, in part, 
the rapid spread of the heroic rage to defend their home 
which runs through a populous ant city and calls out a 
legion of eager sentinels and workers. 

Stridulation also accounts for the ease with which 
members of such species as the agricultural ant of Texas 
are trapped by sinking a glass jar or bottle on or near their 
formicary. One ant falls in, and begins to stridulate. 
The sound attracts passing comrades, who throw them- 
selves over the rim to the rescue, and in turn, finding 
themselves imprisoned, begin to stridulate, until at last 
so many are sounding the alarm that the chorus is 
audible even to the human ear. 

If, now, the jar be corked and shaken to further excite 
the inmates, and then held over another Pogonomyr- 
mex commune, whose members are peacefully sauntering 
about, the wildest excitement suddenly seizes them, as 
though there had been a call to arms. The writer has 
collected these Texas ants by this method, but such a 
reasonable explanation for the clatter within the bottle 
did not occur to him until suggested by Professor 

More decisive than the above, and it is conclusive, is 
the description of the remarkable stridulation practised 
by the leaf-cutting ants ( A tta fervens) of Texas. Herein 
the different forms from the huge females, through 
males, the large-headed soldiers, and the diminishing 
castes of workers, down to the tiny minims present a 
sliding scale of audibility. The rasping stridulation of 
the queen can be heard when she is held a foot or more 



from the ear. The male and soldier, to be heard, must be 
held somewhat closer, and the worker-majors still closer. 
The smaller workers and minims, though stridulating, 
as may be seen from the movements of the abdomen on 
the post-petiole, are quite inaudible to the human ear. 
We may safely join in the inference that "it is not at 
all improbable that all this differentiation in pitch, 
correlated as it is with a differentiation in the size and 
functions of the various members of the colony, is a very 
important factor in the co-operation of these insects, 
and of ants in general. " [W. 4, p. 11.] 

Such a condition, of course, implies that this stridula- 
tory language is "heard" -that is, produces an effect 
analogous to that of hearing. No auditory organs have 
yet been discovered in ants with such positiveness as to 
establish their existence beyond question, although 
minute bodies within the tip of the antennre are believed 
by some observers to serve as such in part. But that 
their behavior under certain conditions is quite con- 
stantly precisely what one would expect were ants known 
to have ears, or their equivalent, is easily seen. Whether 
they hear or not, they respond to sounds in a way cor- 
responding to the acts of creatures that have ears, and 
do undoubtedly hear. It is manifest that this must 
have a vital effect upon the government of ant communes 
to which, as in all other governments, some means of 
intercommunication are essential. 

Last of all, and perhaps most important of all, as a 
means of intercommunication, is antermal language. 
Ants, in common with most insects, are provided with a 
pair of peculiar organs known as antennne, located upon 
the face, above the mouth and midway bet \veen the eyes. 
Externally these are thread-like rods of greater or less 



length and thickness, jointed, and articulated upon the 
face to increase their flexibility. In ants they consist 
of two parts: the scape, a single piece that unites them 
to the head, and the rlagellum, composed of a number 
of segments ending ordinarily in a bulbous tip. 

The olfactory sense has its seat in the antennae, usually 
in the flagellum or the pore-plates and olfactory rods 
thereof. While ants are sleeping, as observed in my 
artificial formicaries, the antenna) have a gentle, quiver- 
ing, apparently involuntary movement almost like the 
regularity of breathing. [McC. 3, p. 134.] It seems as 
if these sentinel organs keep on duty even during sleep, 
guarding the approaches to their unconscious possessor 
(Fig. 07). 

Livingstone [Li. 1, p. 576] gives a good example of the 
dependence of ants upon the sense of smell as lodged in 


the antennaB. He states that certain African species, 
which he designates as " soldier ants," when on their 
pillaging excursions, if their trail be covered with soap 
and water or with fresh earth, will halt in apparent 
confusion, and the succeeding ranks will mass in great 

numbers at the point of stoppage. Meanwhile their 



"leaders," who seem to act as scouts in scenting the 
trail, will diverge from the column, flank the obstruction, 
and recover the trail. Whereupon the main body move 
around the tainted section and proceed upon their 

In the antennae of ants are concentrated a great degree 
of diverse sensibilities. The sense of hearing (probably 
in whole); a large measure of the function of sight as it 
exists in other insects and higher animals; the faculty 
of communication (language) all seem to be located in 
the antenme. They probably surpass in sensibility any- 
thing at the command of higher animals, or even of man. 
[C. 1, p. 210.] They are not only the prominent guiding 
organs, as in insects generally, but are rendered peculiar- 
ly sensitive by the addition of delicate hairs, some of 
them highly specialized, spread over their surface. 
Besides, they are articulated to a degree which gives 
great flexibility and permits a variety of movements in 
their use. 

The removal of the antenme produces an extraordinary 
disturbance in an ant's intelligence. It can no longer 
find its way or recognize companions. It ceases from 
its usual tasks, from seeking food, and from caring for 
the larvae. Its condition recalls descriptions of the 
consequences of removing the frontal lobes from the 
brain of higher animals. The analogy is so close as to 
suggest that the antennae of ants, with a brain adequate 
for their functional requirements, are equivalent to the 
most important parts of the brain of higher animals 
working with inferior sensory organs. Such organs of 
sensibility as those possessed by ants are a specialty in 
sensory organism a conspicuous illustration of sensory 

power concentrated in an external organ. "Their loss 



is equivalent to the destruction of the mental faculties." 
[Ro. 1, p. 142.] 

Darwin's remark, that u the brain of the ant is one 
of the most marvellous atoms in the world, perhaps 
more so than the brain of a man/ must be taken 
with a measure of qualification; at least, the word 
" brain/' as used by him, must be understood in con- 
nection with the antennae, the special organs of the 
sensori - motor system of which the brain is only 
the governing centre. 

We may remark in passing that, in considering the 
intelligence of ants, the sensory organs afford the key 
to the situation. They are the real test of intelligence 
or power of discrimination. They are a specialty in 
animal life, and, as remarked by Professor Calderwood 
"the ant's intelligence is in keeping with the recognized 
functions of the organs of discrimination at its com- 
mand." [C. 1, p. 216.] 

The popular name of antenna? is " feelers," and it is a 
quite fitting one; for when ants are awake and in 
action these organs are kept continually revolving in 
front of them and on either side of their path, touching 
the various objects met, and sweeping the foreground 
as though to feel the way. That, in fact, is their chief 
use; they are feelers. With ants they are, perhaps, 
even more important than the eyes for personal locomo- 
tion and service and communal action. They determine 
the forms of objects; they locate the individual trail 
and the path of its fellows ; they distinguish foes from 
friends; they test the quality of food and of all other 
bodies, both by their odor and by their tactual reflex; 
they give definite perceptions of space relations, and 
thus enable insects, while moving over the ground sur- 



face and through the ground closure, to orient them- 
selves, and make sense record for subsequent use as a 
rudimentary sort of memory. 

It is this remarkable structure that so highly qualifies 
the antennae for the function as the chief organ of com- 


munication between ants. One cannot observe a colony 
or a moving column of ants for any length of time with- 
out seeing how constantly the crossed antennae are 
used, obviously for communication. On the great dome 
of the Alleghany mound-makers, and on their tree-paths 
and the trails leading thereto, sentinels reach out their 
antennae in challenge, and receive in the same way a 
response. Two errant foragers meeting on the hunting- 
field invariably cross antennae (Fig. 68). Going or com- 
ing, leaving home or returning, on the city premises or 
afield, it is always the same. One reads at once from 
the manner the mutual "All right !" which passes. 
Whether conveyed by odor or by contact or by both, 



one may not affirm. But that it is conveyed, he read- 
ily sees. 

Two battling armies of the pavement ant (Tetramorium 
coespitum) are massed on the edge of a flagstone walk. 
A column of highly excited warriors is streaming from 
the scene of action to the home nest of one of the com- 
batants, from which issues a group of peaceful citizens. 
The two lines meet. Antenna are crossed, a quick, 
sharp action, and the messengers for such they are- 
hasten on homeward. Note the result. Some myste- 
rious influence has passed from one to another. The 
peaceful citizens are transformed into combatants raging 
with the lust of war, and with every bodily member 
a-quiver, rush into the thick of the battle hurly-burly 
to reinforce their comrades. Was there not antennal 
communication between couriers and recruits? 

Here is a case recorded by Lord Avebury [Av. 1, p. 75], 
which strikingly illustrates this function of antenna?. 
A worker of the dark Lasius (Lasius niger) was occupied 
in carrying off larvae to her nest. At night she was 
imprisoned, and, being released at 6.15 A.M., immediately 
resumed her occupation. At 9 A.M. she was again im- 
prisoned until 4.40 P.M., when she was put once more 
to the larvae. She examined them carefully, but went 
home empty handed. At this time no other ants Were 
outside the nests. In less than a minute the original 
worker, which had been marked with a dot of paint, 
came out with eight friends, and all trooped off toward 
the heap of larvae. 

When they had gone two-thirds of the way the 
marked Lasius was imprisoned, whereupon the others 
hesitated for a few minutes and then returned home. 
They evidently missed their leader's guidance. At 



5.15 P.M. the marked ant was again put to the larvae. 
Once more she went home empty handed, and, after only 
a few seconds' stay, came out of the nest with thirteen 
friends, and all went toward the larvae. 

In this case the twenty -one ants must have been 
brought out by the marked one, for they came exactly 
with her, and no others were out. Moreover, they must 
have been told, since in neither trip did she bring a 
larva with her, and the sight thereof could not have led to 
her being trailed, though of course it is just possible that 
a faint odor clinging to her from contact with the larvae 
may have given a signal that caused her to be followed. 

Good examples of antennal parley occur in the preda- 
tory expeditions of slave-making ants. From the nests 
of the sanguine slave-maker (Formica sanguinea-rubi- 
cunda), studied in New Jersey, scouts were seen to be sent 
out to discover and locate the nests .of the SchaufTuss 
and Fuscous ants (Formica Schauflusi and Formica 
subsericea). When these \vere successful, they hastened 
home with their antennal message, and soon the plun- 
dering raid was in full heat. Forel describes the same 
conduct as habitual with the amazon ants (Polyergus 
rufescens) of Switzerland. Moreover, he relates that in 
case of uncertainty as to the right route, the column 
will halt, and wait \vhile the scouts go forward and locate 
the nest of the predestined victims. Returning, the 
antennae play vigorously between couriers and column, 
and the piratical excursion advances. 

One example more. At Faisons, North Carolina, Doc- 
tor Forel, during his visit to the United States, found in a 
rotten log a nest of the totally blind little Eciton Carolin- 
ense. He captured the colony, and put it under observa- 
tion. The ability of these ants to find their way about 



rapidly and unanimously in new territory without one 
estray seemed almost incredible. They were transport- 
ed to Washington, where a handful of them, with their 
young, was thrown into an open garden. Without losing 
a moment's time the wee blind creatures began to form 
in files, which were fully organized in five minutes. 
Tapping the ground continually with their antennae, 
they took up their larvae and moved away in good order, 
like well -drilled soldiers, reconnoitring the strange 
region into which they had been cast. Every pebble, 
plant, crevice was tested with the antennae, and the 
place best suited for concealing their young was soon 
found. Most other ants would probably have been an 
hour in accomplishing this. The experiment was re- 
peated twice with the same results. 

The marvellous fact in this action is the certainty and 
quickness with which the "topochemical trail' -to use 
ForePs phrase and the company relationships were 
recognized. The groping about, and wandering to and 
fro, and hesitant mien, common to ants when first placed 
in strange sites, were wanting. We are prepared, there- 
fore, to learn that the antennae of these Ecitons are highly 
developed. And we share the interest of the learned 
observer who watched the perpetuum mobile of those 
organs, as in the most lively manner they kept titillating 
the ground, their companions, and all surrounding 


THUS far our studies have been chiefly of the ex- 
terior of the ant commune. We are now to take 
a view of its internal economy. The reader may have 
noticed that the author, in referring to the insects under 
observation, gradually passed from pronouns of the 
neuter to those of the feminine gender or, rather, has 
used the two interchangeably. This accords with facts. 

o \j 

The worker ant, although in common parlance a "neuter," 
is structurally a female. In her the special function of 
the female, to produce the eggs from which the young 
are reared, has been subordinated, though not wholly 
atrophied ; for workers occasionally drop eggs, which are 
cared for, and which yield males. 

Other faculties have been developed or have appeared 
needful for communal safety and prosperity, and thus 
it has come about that the government of these emmet 
societies, as with bees, hornets, and wasps, is really a 
gynarchy, or government by females. Our worker 
ants are veritable Amazons. Not only does the entire 
domestic control and service of community fall to them, 
but also those more virile acts (according to human 
standards) of war and public discipline and defence. 
To the fact that the female temperament dominates 
affairs we may perhaps attribute many of the charac- 
teristics of public administration among social insects. 



That there is a "female temperament," sharply dis- 
tinguished from that of the male, is obvious enough to 
the student of emmet habits. That its dominance is 
advantageous to these organizations the natural history 
of the Hymenoptera attests. 

What would be the effect upon human societies should 
similar conditions prevail among them? As a specula- 
tive theory it is worth discussing, and one would hardly 
err in thinking that our public and official affairs would 
be greatly bettered could woman's temperamental view 
of things have wider influence therein, especially in their 
relations to the young. Our civil governments and their 
administration, from the township to the national capital, 
are almost wholly products of the male element of the 
race. The predominance of the female element, which 
one sees in ant communes, might not be desirable in our 
present stage of civilization, although it would be an 
interesting experiment in a county or even in a State. 
Such illustrations as the United States presents throw 
little light upon the problem, for the general conditions 
of society in the States that give woman the suffrage 
really differ little from those prevailing elsewhere. 
They certainly fall far short of the female status in an 
ant commune. One may safely think that a great deal 
more of it would be to our advantage. The fact to be 
especially noted is that among ants, as also among other 
insects, nature has built up upon the female organiza- 
tion, and not upon the male, the most remarkable and 
successful examples of social life and government known 
to natural science --the ant commune, the beehive, and 
the hornet's nest. 

In the internal view of an ant commune's affairs the 
most striking facts are the relations of the queen mother. 



Her queenhood is wholly fanciful, except in the first 
stages of her independent career. Her motherhood is 
the great fact of life to her and her fellows. It is as a 
mother that she is the destined foundress of a new com- 
munity. After her isolation or adoption into an es- 
tablished commune, which follows the marriage swarm, 
she begins to lay eggs which are developed into workers 
in due time. 

If she goes solitary, her larger size and generous 
nurture have accumulated enough substance to supply 



food to the initial colony with little or no outside forag- 
ing, and this is imparted, after the manner of her kind, 
by regurgitation. All the duties of nurture, nursing, 
washing, keeping up and keeping clean the premises, are 
wrought by her within her secluded and protected quar- 
ters until a little band of helpers has been reared around 
her. These at once begin to share labors with the 
queen mother (Fig. 69). 

When they have passed their callow period, they break 
the original bounds and venture forth in search of food. 
Day b}^ day the number of inhabitants increases; the 



formicary is enlarged by cutting out and building up new 
rooms and galleries; perhaps a new site may be chosen. 
A wider range of foraging is compelled by the needs of 
the growing community. The various labors, carried on 
at first by the queen, and afterward by the few pio- 
neers, become more and more specialized, until at 
last are developed the vast and divided industries of a 
large and fully organized ant commune. 

Meanwhile a remarkable change has befallen the queen 
mother. The workers, as their number grows, have taken 
on more and more the responsibility of labor and adminis- 
tration, until at last the whole burden thereof is lifted 
from the queen, and she is limited to the function of 
motherhood (Fig. 70). She lays the eggs from which 
new citizens must be recruited, a service which increases 
in importance with the expansion of the community. 
Not only have the labors enlarged, but the wastage of 
life has greatly increased through accidents by flood and 
field, and perils of farther adventure into a world full of 
strange creatures who prey upon them, as do birds and 
divers beasts; and who war on them, as do sundry in- 
sects and ants of alien tribes. Across their trails come 
cattle and men, whose ponderous feet crush them un- 
wittingly or carelessly. 

Every day has its list of casualties, very large at times. 
Every morning sees many who venture forth in quest 
of food supplies for dependents and home-workers, 
bounding with vigorous life and highly intent upon use- 
ful service, who never come back. When evening comes, 
at the gates of their loved citv no watchful sentinels 


greet them. No eager nurses, or hungry antlings, or 
comrades weary with toiling on the \vorks, shall lift up 

lips for sweet refection, the garnering of the day's ad- 



venture. Somewhere outside the city bounds, it may 
be near by, it may be afar, there has been a tragedy 
that no annals shall record and no ballad sing, but which 





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robs community of a useful life, and cuts down a happy 
worker in the midst of a wholesome career. "Only one 
ant!" Yes, it is not much in the vast fecundity of 
nature, and is easily replaced. But it is an atom in the 
world's order that no human power can restore. 



So, in the larger field of industry and research, our 
race has its daily tragedies, not wholly unlike these 
which befall the citizens of an ant-hill. The martyrs 
of industry, heroes, and heroines; the fallen soldiers of 
the great army of labor, are thus going forth daily to 
perish in the path of duty. It is said that one out of 
every eight adult persons dying yearly in Pennsylvania 
dies a violent death. Not wholly, but too much, far 
too much, like the indifference of ant communities is the 
indifference of human society to these industrial trage- 
dies. And the rational excuse of the ant is not for us, 
for nature has not made us that way. With us it is 
mainly wicked hardening of heart. How shall we cut 
down, if we may not wholly cut out, the long list of such 
wasted lives? Meanwhile, how shall we provide for the 
maimed, and for the dependents of the slain? Are not 
these soldiers of industry also worthy of communal care? 

a Breed more workers !' is the answer of the ants. 
The circle of their instinct has no wider swing. But at 
least they will make sure that the supply is sufficient, 
and the standard of wholesomeness and efficiency is kept 
up. And so the queen mother must be encouraged to 
her utmost productivity, and every egg dropped must 
be preserved and reared with utmost care. 1 A peep 
within the city walls will show a rare condition. The 
whilom sole potentate who, first in solitary power, and 
then in maternal sovereignty, and next in undisputed 
matriarchate, held unchallenged authority and the ex- 
clusive right to labor, is seen in a large vaulted chamber 
in the heart of the galleried cone. She is not alone, but 
is surrounded by a circle of workers. Is she a prisoner? 

1 In my work, Nature's Craftsmen, chaps, i and ii, readers will 
find a rather full and connected account of a queen ant's life. 



-a sovereign deprived of queenhood, and in the hands of 
regicides? Not so bad as that! The offices of the 
guardians are at least friendly. They are a body-guard ; 
in fact, the so-called "courtiers" of the ant queen a 
phrase of courtesy, as is the word "queen," for the days 
of sovereignty are over, and these keepers of the sacred 
person are saying to her, in this decided way : 

" God did anoint you with His odorous oil 
To wrestle, not to reign!" 

: \ ^^^^^M-^ f f^^^^m^^ : ^ 


And here you may see a fair example of the sort of 
" wrestling ' expected of her. She has paused in her 
march around the room. She raises her body well upon 
the hind pair of legs. See ! From the oviduct beneath 
her abdomen she forces a minute, white, ovoid object 
which has no sooner dropped than one of the body- 
guard rushes from the inner circle, seizes it in her jaws, 
and hurries therewith from the chamber (Fig. 71). It 
is an egg the norm of a future citizen! The process 
described will be repeated over and over again, many 
thousand times, until the ovaries are exhausted or death 
shall intervene. 

It is to save these precious particles of living matter 



for the community that this circle of watchers con- 
tinually surrounds the queen mother's person. Theirs 
is a tribute to motherhood, not to queenhood. Cer- 
tainly they have not reasoned it out, but instinctively 
they know that the prosperity, the very life, of the 
commonwealth depends upon the maintenance of that 
fecundity whose cessation would be "race suicide." 
Popular fancy has brought to the explanation of this 
"royal body-guard'' the familiar lines: 

"There's such divinity doth hedge a king 

That treason can but peep to what it would." 

It will be seen, however, that this "hedge" about our 
ant queen amounts simply to a case of communal 
vigilance, represented by watchers set by the self-govern- 
ing majesty of the commune to save all the ant eggs 
possible. Doubtless there is "divinity" in it, as there is 
in all honest discharge of duty and outworking of 
nature's laws. But anything like regard to sovereign 
state, or purpose to give or maintain royal honors, is 
wholly foreign from the situation. Reverence for 
motherhood is there, however wholesome and protected 
motherhood, the essential fountain of communal virtue, 
vigor, and perpetuity. Are we losing from our own race 
the due reverence of that "divinity doth hedge about' 1 
maternity? Woe to the nations or peoples, be they ants 
or men, in such estate! 

The body-guard of an ant queen is an elastic ring that 
expands and contracts with her movements. If she 
move around the room they move with her. If she seek 
an adjoining apartment, the ring precedes, accompanies, 
pursues, but never breaks up. Sometimes the guard 
conceives that her maternal majesty needs special guid- 



ance, a very courtier-like and cabinet-like conception. 
Then one will see her bulky body gently solicited by a 
pull upon her sensitive antenme made by a worker- 
minim, or a tug at a leg by a worker-minor, or a push 
or pinch upon the abdomen by a worker-major (Fig. 72). 
A sort of volunteer steering committee are these; func- 


tionaries apparently needed, or at least present, in all 
organized governments, but coming as near to the van- 
ishing point in ant cities as is conceivable. 

Leaving the queen and her body-guard, let us follow 
the fortune of the egg. From the queen mother it is 
carried into a separate room, presided over by attendants 
who have received the not inapt name of " nurses." 
There is nothing to distinguish them as a separate class. 
They are on duty at that point for reasons satisfactory 
to themselves and to the secret but all-sovereign Spirit 
of the Commune, whose mysterious sway all freely obey. 
It does not appear that there has developed a special 
class of workers with the charge of the communal young 
as their chief function. Nor are such duties assigned 
to the maimed, or to the toothless members, whose jaws 



have been worn clown by age and by the gritty and 
stubborn material upon which they must labor. The 
nurses seem to be in the prime of anthood, vigorous and 

It does appear, however, that the callow antlings, just 
out of their cocoon cases, are found among the nursing 
squads. They lose no time in taking up their life's work 
as helpful citizens for which they enter imagohood full 
panoplied but fall -to where opportunity first serves, 
and take care of their larval fellows. Until their shelly 
bodies become well indurated, they do not usually vent- 
ure out-of-doors, but engage in tasks to which they are 
physically better adapted. This is a part of such educa- 
tion as they are to receive; for ants, like children, profit 
more by examples than by precept and criticism. The 
models of active public servitors are before them, and 
they simply do what all around them are doing. But 
the whole field of labor lies open to these prentices of 
the State, with no restrictions thereon. 

The eggs soon develop into minute larva 1 , fragile and 
helpless things that need close and constant care to pre- 
serve them in life. Owing to the social conditions of 
their being, they do not have that sturdy hold on exist- 
ence, and power to care for themselves that mark 
solitary larva?, or such as those of moths, that are gre- 
garious in their larval or caterpillar stage. Thus from 
the beginning and throughout their growth and they 
grow rapidly they must be fed and cared for. Their 
care is always a first consideration. In the wreck of 


an ant city the workers may be seen to grasp the eggs 
and the young, and, careless of themselves, run to and 
fro, seeking places of refuge for their helpless charges. 
One will see them in little heaps, often graded accord- 



ing to size, scattered throughout the nurseries. No 
observer has yet conclusively noted such treatment as 
prevails in beehives, where male and female eggs are 
separated from ordinary workers, and a queen can be 
developed from a worker larva by enlarged quarters 
and specially enriched food. The larva? of all ant castes 
and sexes seem to be kept in common and to receive like 
attention. The nurses continually hover over them. 
They lick them as a cat does her kittens. The larvae 
learn to perk up their wee black heads and open their 
mouths, into which the nurses place food and drink. 
They shift their positions from side to side, sometimes 
from room to room, sometimes with apparent good rea- 
son often, one fancies, simply from the overflow and 
outgo of such maternal sentiment as leads a young 
mother to dandle and fondle her infant offspring, cooing 
the while her love-phrases or love-songs; a spectacle 
truly pleasing to the observer at least, and doubtless 
often to the infant. Certainly herein the female temper- 
ament shows its supremacy (Fig. 73). 

Some readers who, like the author, have seen service 
in active military campaigns, know that male soldiers 
can be organized into a hospital corps for effective nurs- 
ing of sick and wounded comrades. Many of us carry 
remembrances of how bravely and well, with what devo- 
tion and fidelity, this duty has often been done. Here 
and there, too, men have developed special qualities 
that have made them pre-eminent in the delicate and 
difficult service. 

But what veteran, who has had the opportunity to 
observe, has not noticed the vast change that the en- 
trance of trained female nurses has brought into the 
field? There are deftness and sympathy and tender- 



ness a something indescribable, but most potent, 
which women bring with them ancl which men have 
not -that work a transformation in scenes where human 
dependents are to be ministered to. These qualities 
are the fruitage of the female temperament. They 
spring out of physical organism, which so largely in- 
fluences habits. 
So, too, we all have known men whose love of children 





has been strong as death, and has made them good and 
careful nurses in an emergency, and for a limited period. 
But that man is indeed a rarity who is a proficient in the 
care of immature infants. Men may dandle young 
babes with delight and even success for a while. But 
the tact, patience, enduring fondness, and instinctive 
knowledge of the real natural nurse of infants are en- 
dowments of the female temperament alone. 

It is certainly so among ants. The males are simply 
nonentities in the care of the commune's dependents. 
They are themselves dependents of the most absolute 
sort. Nature has denied them the gifts requisite for 
effective service. To one who knows them well, and 
their temperament and ways, it would never occur to 
think of them as caretakers for the nurslings of the 
commune. And this judgment is not affected by the 
occasional and very rare instances in which male ants 
have been seen to make some slight and awkward ap- 
proaches toward a seeming part in the ordinary worker's 

For the most part, nurse ants take up and go through 
their duties in a business-like spirit and way. It is done 
thoroughly, and does not cease until the larvae have 
spun up around them their silken pupa-cases. Nor 
then; for these cocoons are constantly watched, cleansed 
and cared for, and when the time comes for the young 
imago to escape, it is aided by the scissors-like jaws of the 
nurses, whose obstetrical services are aided by the efforts 
of the outcoming nymph. 

Did Lycurgus get from the ants among his Spartan 
hills a first suggestion of his theory that children are a 
communal possession, to be reared at the charge and 
with the oversight of the State from the earliest age 

" 167 


practicable? Certainly, our American Republic is well 
impregnated with the germ of that theory. Its essential 
spirit largely controls the subject of education. True, 
we have not yet reached the high stage of ant govern- 
ment, in which the whole aim and activities of the com- 
monwealth pivot upon and move around the rearing 
and care of the young. But, at least, it is a ruling theory 
of our people that organized society owes every child a 
common-school education. At a tender age our children 
are separated from their homes for a part of the day, 
and placed by the State by legal compulsion, if need be 
-where they get training and instruction without re- 
gard of social distinctions. 

Herein is the common meeting-ground of all classes at 
the most impressionable period of life, and the main- 
tenance of the true democracy of our republic depends 
largely upon that fact. We carry the principle so far 
that we not only provide school-houses, teachers, school 
apparatus, fuel, light, and janitor service, but we supply 
text-books for the scholars. In many sections their 
car-fare to and from school is paid; or, as in a district 
school hard by the writer's country home, a big omnibus 
goes the rounds o' mornings and gathers up the pupils, 
and again at evening calls for and distributes them to 
their homes. 

We dare not have it otherwise. Government must 
continue to be responsible for the education of its young 
citizens. For, however willing, individual families are 
not able to do this unaided by the State. Even the 
wealthy must submit to something like the same law. 
Said a multi-millionaire to the writer: "We shall go to 
Southern Italy to spend the winter. We might as well 
close our house. To-morrow our son goes to (naming a 



college for men), and our daughter returns from Europe 
to go to (naming a college for women). Our only other 
child is married. Our home will be empty. We will 
go abroad." Thus the wealthy parent is not exempt 
from the necessity of committing his children to society 
to educate and train for future citizenship. 

So it is in all higher education classical, scientific, 
mechanical, professional, military, and naval. Or- 
ganized society becomes, and must become, a nursing 
mother to the youth from whom, for the most part, her 
future rulers and most useful servants must come. As 
for the young waifs of society the flotsam and jetsam 
of child-life, continually tossed amid the wreckage of the 
world's great social sea long since government has seen, 
and sees it more and more, that they are in an especial 
sense the children of the State, and must be adopted 
and trained into citizenship by the State. Thus far, at 
least, our commonwealths are swayed by theories and 
have taken up practices long ago prevalent in ant 

Unhappily, our system breaks down where that of the 
ants proves splendidly effective: by our absence of 
system in providing work for young citizens as soon as 
their working powers are mature. In the ant commune 
every individual passes at once from pupahood to the 
status of a laborer. In a human community the 
citizen's work, in both fact and form, is left chiefly at 
haphazard. It must, indeed, be that with us, as with 
hymenopters, the Spirit of the Commune has some subtle 
potency in directing unconscious youth to the choice of 
occupations and keeping the working mass in activity. 
But the State as a State eschews the matter, and there 
is no sense of communal responsibility that every citizen 



throughout life should be employed steadily and usefully. 
Might it not be that if there were more of the female 
element in the governing of our communes, there would 
be far less of that waste of steadfast and regulated in- 
dustry, through lack of early discipline of citizens, which 
is such a fertile source of loss of character and profitable 


WHEN one considers the incalculable hosts of ants 
that inhabit all parts of the earth, and that every 
individual thereof has been reared, from egg to imago, 
by the direct personal care and toil of adult members of 
ant communes, he may have some conception of the 
immensity of the labors involved therein. 

It would, perhaps, be pushing metaphors to an un- 
warranted extreme to speak of "dignity of labor" in 
connection with the occupations of ants. But if by 
the phrase we mean that labor is the honorable lot of all 
citizens, and that all labors of whatever sort are upon 
the same level of respectability, then we might venture 
to apply the saying even to the labors of an ant-hill. 
For therein all are workers from the newly fledged 
callow to the veteran of a second summer. 

Therein is no taboo upon "hand toil." All forms 
thereof are equally creditable. We are reminded of the 
simpler state of society in the pioneer days of the 
United States and Canada and the British colonies. 
Indeed, it is the natural social order of human com- 
munities, until great possessions, earned and inherited, 
or usurped, or fortuitously acquired through communal 
increment, create a favored class. Surely this is an ideal 
republic no idlers, no tramps, no citizen-parasites, no 
misers, no spendthrifts, no paupers ! 



This inviolable law of the emmet republic needs to be 
restated when we come now to consider what seems to 
be an exception thereto. We have seen that the popu- 
lation of ant communities is largely composed of the 
larvae and pupre, the helpless younglings from whom the 
future citizens must corne, and whose nurture is the 
chief aim of the active commonwealth. 

These immature dependents are so numerous that one 
would think that they alone might tax the resources of 
any society. Nor is it simply a problem of crude labor, 
quantitative energies, herein involved. As an outside 
intelligence views the situation, there is a large field 
for the exercise of qualitative energies, also, in the rearing 
of these youngling ants. 

We have already seen how the squad of so-called 
"courtiers," in a circle of ceaseless vigilance around 
the fecund queen, manages to secure the eggs and trans- 
fer them to the charge of the nursing detail. It is mani- 
fest that the process by which these minute specks of 
vitality, that carry within them the future of the com- 
mune, are tended cleaned, fed, shielded from changes 
of weather and all hostile influences must involve a 
good deal of delicate and discriminating care. 

The eggs soon become Iarv83, small, soft, and ex- 
tremely fragile objects, which need dainty handling to 
nurse into vigorous life. They grow rapidly, and one 
must suppose that the portioning of food to the chang- 
ing grades of age and strength requires such qualities 
as we are wont to ascribe to a considerate mind. Again, 
as the larva? pass into the pupa stage they demand a 
different character of treatment, which must call into 
play faculties, or at least activities, that with men would 
imply reflection and wise selection and decision. 



Besides the fertile queen, or queens, and the host of 
brooding larva', our ant community is taxed with the 
support of the winged virgin queens and males (Fig. 74). 
For ants are not apterous insects, unless we take the 
worker as the original type of the order. The parents of 


nearly all known species have, and from a remote period 
have had, wings. These have been lost to the maternal 
stocks through the exigencies of an underground or 
interarboreal habitat; and the winged forms have been 
preserved in females and males to favor that flight and 
commerce in the air by which species have been pre- 
served and distributed. The swarming of winged ants 
on a soft September day is a sight not easily forgotten 
by a new 7 observer, and which is not apt to lose its in- 
terest to the adept, As often as the writer has seen it, 
he still feels the thrill of excitement that pervades the 
commune, as he sees the hosts of winged creatures pour 

out of the formicary gates. 



Here, beneath a young apple-tree, is a nest of Lasius 
flavus, whose existence had not been suspected until, 
in passing it, the free soil around the trunk was seen to 
be alive with a seething mass of yellow ants males, 
females, and workers intermingled. They ascend the 
tree, whose surface is fairly covered with them. The 
gauzy wings of the sexed forms glisten in the sunlight 
as they march along. The workers hurry back and 
forth among the hordes upon the ground. Some join 
the column upon the tree trunk. They seem to en- 
courage their winged proteges to take flight, even nip- 
ping them at times with their jaws to hasten depart- 
ure. They are in a fever of excitement. 

And well they may be; for this is the grand event to 
which a good half of the summer's work has steadily led. 
Thenceforth the commune shall be free from the immense 
burden of supporting this army of non-workers. How 
many of them there are! Numbers are continually 
taking flight. Away into the brilliant sunshine they 
soar, until they are lost to sight, the females alone and 
not accompanied by mates, as I have observed in other 
cases. Their fecundation had been accomplished with- 
in the nest. Others still are streaming out of the city 
gates to join their winged comrades on the tree. 

Like scenes are enacted at two other points the 
farthest twelve feet distant, under a young pear-tree: . 
the nearer in a shaven orchard sod. midwav between the 


two. These three centres of agitation seem to be parts 
of a common movement of one great community, whose 
subterranean quarters intercommunicate across the 
intervening space. Ere nightfall the crowds of winged 
forms have disappeared and the city gates are solitary. 
And this throng of creatures, many hundreds of them, 



had been wholly dependent for food and care upon the 
workers of the colony during the entire summer. 

Again, on a warm day late in June or early in July, 
one may see the air, at a short distance above the ground 
and for many square yards around, filled so thickly with 
flying insects that they seem like a thin cloud of quiver- 
ing mist. They are the sexed forms of a small species 
of Lasius, whose inconspicuous nests are spread numer- 
ously over the lawn and field. 

Many of these make their exit and marriage-flight at 
the same time (Fig. 75). They rise and fall, and weave 
in and out through the quivering air in their mating evo- 
lutions, sporting in the sunlight. They fill one with won- 
der that such a feeble folk as rule the weak communities 
whence they issue could bear the burden of nurturing 
into maturity such swarms of dependents. 

But considerable as are these outputs of non- workers, 
they do not strike the imagination so forcibly as some 

v . 

of the well-authenticated accounts of immense marriage- 
flights of ants that have been published. 1 It seems 
incredible that the whole surface of a lake of two 
lakes, in fact should be covered so thickly with these 
winged creatures that they could be pushed up by 
passing boats into windrows several inches high and 
extending from shore to shore on all sides, as in the 
observations of Mr. W. C. Prime on Lake Lonesome. 

It is interesting to note that this is not a novel oc- 
currence. Such disasters have marked the history of 
flying ants from the earliest ages. Professor Wheeler 
spent the summer of 1906 collecting in the Florissant 
fields of Colorado, noted for their rich yields of fossil 

1 For details, see author's Nature's Craftsmen, chap, ii, Harper 
& Brothers, New York. 



insects and spiders. This ancient Florissant lake-basin 
lies among a series of low- wooded hills and ravines. At 
the period of the Oligocene division of the Tertiary geo- 
logical era this elevated lake must have been a beautiful 

sheet of fresh water. It 
was hemmed in on all 
sides by granitic hills, 
whose wooded slopes came 
to the water's edge in 
this phase not unlike 
Lake Lonesome, among 
the White Mountains. 
Professor Wheeler's col- 
lections, which I have 
been permitted to exam- 
ine, show the fossil ants 
to be more abundant than 
any other insects. But 
only males and females 



are represented, indicating that these had been sub- 
merged in the lake during marriage-flight, precisely like 

those reported by Mr. Prime. 



Thus the vast interval between the present and the 
Tertiary eras is bridged by a continuity of habit which 
joins in substantial unity of social behavior the ants of 
to-day with those of far geological antiquity. In 
harmony with this is the statement that all of the eight 
hundred specimens secured belong to extinct and un- 
described species, and are wonderfully like existing 
forms. It is substantially the same story that one reads 
in the even better preserved ant forms of the fossil 
amber of Europe. The Formica fusca of the Baltic 
amber, for example, appears to be entirely identical 
with that of the present. Much the same general con- 
clusion arises from a study of the fossil spiders. 1 

In every such case as the fossilizing of the Florissant 
ants and the swarms of Lonesome Lake, the innumer- 
able hosts of insects massed within a comparatively 
limited field must have come from a great number of 
nests dispersed throughout the general locality. We 
may conclude that the cycle of maturity was completed 
simultaneously in all these communities, and that 
similar favorable conditions united to induce con- 
temporaneous flight. The intermingling of the various 
individual swarms, as they were borne along by the wind, 
sufficiently accounts for the extraordinary massing of 
winged creatures which were swept over and into the 
White Mountain lakes. This will not wholly explain the 
phenomena; for the virgin queens and their male 
partners, in full maturity, have often been seen to be 
inhabitants of the commune for a considerable period 
before marriage-flight. Evidently they are prepared 
for the exit long before it comes, and await therefor 

1 See author's American Spiders and Their Spinning-Work, vol. ii, 
chap, xv, " Ancestral Spiders and Their Habits." 



some signal from nature, some potent impulse or con- 

Setting aside, then, the completed cycle of maturity 
as the sole cause of this remarkable assembly, it is in- 
teresting and not improbable to suppose that a wave of 
sympathetic excitement issuing from a few nests may 
have infected all the surrounding section until, by a 
common impulse, the entire emmet population of the 
mountain-side was astir with the fever of flight. We 
know how, in human societies, neighboring families, 
towns, and cities are apt to be seized almost simultane- 
ously with a political or patriotic or religious fervor, or 
revival, that spreads with a swiftness and complete- 
ness that are so remarkable as to appear to many quite 
beyond known causes. With equal celerity and uni- 
versality, and equal mystery of psychological cause, 
will panics spread among armies and communities of 
our race. 

Psychic contagions are not confined to men. The 
animal world, in some of its races, at least, is subject 
thereto ; and to these, in some measure, we may attribute 
the impulse that seizes at once the myriads of winged 
ants, and sets them forth together. This impulse must 
be felt by the workers also, the rulers of the communes, 
if indeed it does not originate with them: for their de- 
pendents are not always willing exiles from the favorel 
precincts of the home nest. I have seen them turning 
back at first with manifest reluctance, and seeking to 
enter the city gates against the ungentle persuasion of 
the workers' sharp mandibles. It requires such dis- 
cipline and the allied mighty force of a natural instinct 
to banish them from their sheltered life of ease in their 
happy native homes. 



It is appalling to think that upon the industrious work- 
ers devolves the task of providing food (Fig. 76), home 
quarters, and protection for the many millions of robust 
creatures that were overwhelmed in the waters of Lone- 



some Lake, together with the multitudes that must have 
escaped. And all this in addition to the nurture and 
care of an equal or even greater number of immature 
citizens in the form of eggs, larva?, and pupa?! That 



this is done, and done effectively, is a marvel of industry 
and devotion probably unsurpassed in the records of 
animal life. 

Why is this service undertaken? What is the im- 
pelling force to such labors and sacrifice? The answer 
is not far to find. It is the inborn and ingrained instinct 
to preserve the species and the commune. For that 
ants live, and for that they die. Their life is ideally 
altruistic. Nature has so deeply fixed upon their or- 
ganism the love of their own community and their own 
kind that there seems to be no room for mere selfish 
pleasure of any sort. The necessity to maintain by 
their labors the host of males and virgin queens raises 
no opposition, and apparently excites no ill will. It is a 
communal necessity. It is exacted by nature. That 
is enough for an ant citizen. 

I have never noticed in the working castes the faintest 
ripple of anger or rude treatment toward these adult 
dependents, suggestive of envy or of impatience under 
their heavy burdens, and reacting in violence. Their 
attitude is invariably helpful when help is needed, and 
tolerant and good-tempered at all times. Not until the 
crisis moment of the commune has come, when the great 
exodus of the sexes is to begin, is there any show of wish 
to be rid of their charges. And that is controlled by 
the same imperative spirit of altruism toward the future 
of the race, and has in it no trace of personal cruelty or 

Doubtless, in their brief and strenuous life, the pleas- 
ures of appetite have some place, although indulged with 
exemplary moderation. Theirs, too, must be the satis- 
faction of all normal healthy organisms in natural work 
and in the achievement of daily rounds of service. What 



may be the depth or quality of such feelings in ants we 
may not know, but surely kindly nature has not denied 
some just measure thereof to these faithful and laborious 
creatures. But, as far as the observer can note, these 
are small factors in determining emmet behavior. And, 
withal, work is work, in an ant commune as elsewhere. 
Its burdens are often severe, its risks are great, and the 
number of workers daily maimed and slain in the course 
of duty is a heavy drain upon the vital resources of all 
such communities. 

Yet, how diligently their task is wrought, how cheer- 
fully, how patiently, how bravely, how well ! Silent citi- 
zens of the ant city! With all his God-like endowments, 
man may well consider your ways herein as worthy 
models for his own relations to the commonwealth and 
the common weal. It may be true that all this admi- 
rable conduct is wrought without moral consciousness 
and freewill, such as mark " articulate speaking men," 
undesignedly, instinctively, automatically, if you please. 
But .there it is. And it is there by that Over-thought 
and Over-force who has appointed destiny and basal 
character for communes of ants as well as for cities of 
men. And by this bond and fellowship we may find 
a common ground for our admiration and for imitation. 

We have seen that the first eggs laid by the ant queen 
are embryo workers. This follows necessarily from the 
fact that new communities arise from single fertile 
females. The existence and growth of the society re- 
quire that its first members should be helpers and not 
dependents. Only when the pioneer colony is strong 
enough in workers to add to the needful conditions of 
ordinary life and growth the burden of supporting the 
males and females do these sexed forms appear. 



The author has not noted in newly dropped eggs any 
marks indicative of differences between sex-eggs and 
caste-eggs, nor does he know of observations by other 
connoisseurs to that effect. If such exist they are of a 
subtle character and escape ordinary observation. But 
as the eggs develop into larvre and begin to grow, they 
are easily separated into groups by their sizes, according 
to the nature of castes, in any specific nest. So, also, 
when the larvae have spun themselves into their 
cocoons, the workers and the females issue from the large 
cocoons, and both appear with their own distinctive 
characters. There appears to be no seclusion of workers 
for special feeding and care in order to produce queens, 
as with bees. The larvae lie in common heaps, and share, 
as far as can be noted, precisely the same amount of 
feeding and attention. The worker castes, as well as 
the males and females, show at once after emergence 
from the pupal stage their distinctive characteristics, not 
only in size, but in such a striking peculiarity as the 
unusual development of the head of the soldier caste in 
genera like Pheidole and Atta, although this is liable to 
much variation. 

When the imago life is achieved, the radical difference 
between the sexes and the worker forms soon appears. 
The workers excel in complex instincts, and as they turn 
to their various duties as nurses, builders, miners, for- 
agers, sentinels, warriors, sanitarians, etc., they display 
a plasticity of temperament that suggests the possession 
of marked qualities. These are much less apparent in 
the virgin queens, where, indeed, they scarcely appear. 
But after fecundation, deflation, and entrance upon 
nest-founding there is a rapid development of latent 
qualities into action which their important role requires. 



On the other hand, the males are phenomenally stupid. 
They are unable to distinguish friends from foes, or to 
find their way back home when they wander from their 
nests. The points in which they are richly endowed are 
the eyes and antennae, 
the two sense organs 
which are connected 
with the brain, and 
give that keenness of 
sight and smell re- 
quired for their espe- 
cial function in life- 
to possess themselves 
of the female during 
or before their nuptial 

With these etholog- 
ical facts closely cor- 
responds the structure 
of the brain in the 
three forms that con- 
stitute an ant commu- 
nity. This has been 
admirably shown by 
Doctor Forel in his fig- 
ures of the brains of 
the worker, queen and 


Worker. F Female. M Male. 

(After Forel.) 

male of LasillS fldigi- 

nosus (Fig. 77). The 

brain is relatively large 

in the worker, the cortical portion extremely rich in 

cellular elements. It is much smaller in the female, 

and is almost vestigial in the male, although in the 
'3 183 


latter the optic and olfactory lobes are large. [F. 5, 
p. 490.] 

Life within the precincts of ant communes is largely 
hidden from the outside world. However, one mav get 

*- o 

fairly truthful glimpses thereof from studies of formi- 
caries arranged in glass vessels. Many such, which were 
artificial only in their limited spheres and furnished 
food, for they were built up by the inmates wholly upon 
their own lines, have yielded the author numerous facts 
and hints from which he has pictured images of interior 
life that cannot be far from correct. Observations of 
actions on and around the nest exteriors, and analysis 


of the mounds themselves, have added to the accuracy 
of such inferences. 

But much remains unknown, and we are left largely 
to conjecture in representing the life of the winged males 
and females that fill up the cavernous rooms and crowd 
the galleries of the Alleghany mound-makers and similar 
emmet architects. We can fancy the industrious work- 


ers passing from one to another among these throngs 
of winged dependents, feeding them from the liquid 
sweets stored within their crops during foraging trips. 
How eagerly are welcomed arrivals from the outer world, 


of these voyagers! And how zealously the incomers 
hasten to their task! A bevy of boarding-school boys 
could not give heartier greeting in their living-quarters 
to the latest arrival from home, laden with spoils of 
storeroom and kitchen, than the}* receive. 

We see the crowding and the general stir as the food- 
bearers come round : the flutter of wings, the haste and 
hustling of greedy ones after undue portions, since even 
an ant-hill is not exempt from such traits, especially 

(one might almost say, exclusively) among the idlers. 



We note the agitation that follows in the trail of the 
ministering ants as they push their way from point to 
point, until their exhausted supply warns them to retire 
from the scene. 

What other pleasures than those of appetite are open 
to these winged dependents? The pleasure of work is 
denied them by nature. The natural history of social 
insects gives no examples of more absolute idlers than 
they. Does time hang heavy as they plunge through 
the galleries, jostled by the miners and builders, who pay 
little heed to them as thev run to and fro with their 


burdens? In the domed chambers wherein they con- 
gregate, and the swelling bays that relieve the strain of 
traffic upon the galleries and gangways, they huddle and 
preen their coats and sleep, and in some species, perhaps, 
pay and receive sexual court. What other activities 
engage their attention in this listless life, in the midst 
of their strenuous supporters, it were vain further to 
conjecture. Future observers may have something more 
to tell. 

Such a subterranean career is, from our standpoint, 
passed in darkness. But we are not to conclude that 
the same or even an analogous condition exists for our 
emmet cave-dwellers. There may reach them vibratory 
remnants of light-rays, in measure and quality quite 
beyond human appreciation, but which suffice for ants. 
Moreover, those remarkable olfactory organs, the an- 
tenna 1 , are so extended and flexible, so sensitive and so 
capable of conveying a knowledge of environing condi- 
tions and relations, that they may easily supplement or 
even supply the seeming deficiency of light. 

Be that as it mav, the writer, after the most careful 

\, ' 

attention of which he is capable, has never been able to 



note, in any species, the slightest shock or shrinking 
when ants issue from their formicary gates into the sun- 
light, such as one would expect in beings organized after 
our human fashion. Of course, the passage through 
the vestibule of the gateway, where it exists, affords 
an opportunity (were such needed) to adapt the eye to 
such an extreme change. But in our mountain mound- 
builders, and other species of like habit, there is no 
measurable vestibule. Besides, the movements of the 
ants are so rapid that their plunge out of darkness into 
full light seems to be instantaneous. As all the varied 
labors of the workers are carried on within the sub- 
terranean passages and rooms without the least em- 
barrassment, those places cannot be so cheerless to the 
winged idlers as one might fancy. Perhaps the monot- 
ony of their inactive career, in such sharp contrast 
with that of their protectors, may be the chief factor 
in their discomfort, if any such there be. 

/ %r 

Breaks in the monotony of this underground life come 
to the virgin queens and males in occasional visits to 
the outer air. These were especially observed during 
studies of the agricultural ants of Texas, in the neigh- 
borhood of Austin. Such excursions were frequent, and 
were evidently made simply to enjoy a bit of sport in 
the sunshine (Fig. 78). Both sexes were seen bobbing 
in and out of the gates, peeping forth and quickly with- 
drawing, and again venturing one or two feet distant 
from the entrance upon the smooth disk that surrounds 
it. However, they rarely went far beyond the gate, and 
were quick to retire within at any sound or suspicion of 
danger. [McC. 3, p. 141.] 

One female reached a grass-stalk near the pavement's 
edge, and amused herself by swinging upon the blade. 



On the broad plaza of one city half a dozen or more 
young queens were out at the same time. Their play 
took the form of running up a large pebble near the gate, 
facing the wind, rising to a rampant posture, and so 
down again. Several having ascended the stone at one 
time, there ensued a playful passage-at-arms for position. 


They nipped one another gently with their mandibles, 
and chased one another from favorite spots. Their 
whole demeanor was that of a party of romping youth 
playing "tag" or "hold the fort'' upon a big rock. 
[McC. 7, pp. 4, 22.] 
While the young queens lightly nipped one another in 



their game, as dogs at play will do, it was noticed that 
they never took such liberty with the workers. The 
latter evidently kept close watch upon the sporting 
princesses. They occasionally saluted them with their 
antenme in the usual way, or touched them at the 
abdomen, but did not interfere with the sport. Their 
attitude reminded one of that of an under-teacher, or 
usher, charged with the duty of conducting, or oversee- 
ing a bevy of seminary girls in their daily exercise in 
the open air. 

In order to test the strictness of this watch, one of 
the group was thrown, by a quick motion of the hand, 
from the vicinage of the gate to the verge of the plaza. 
She was instantly surrounded by several workers, who 
began a determined effort to control her action, trying 
to compel her to return toward the gate. The queenling 
was confused or stubborn, and opposed her strength 
quite vigorously to the purpose of the guard. For some 
time the party floundered among the stumps of grass- 
stalks in the little clearing on the margin of the plaza, 
the bulky form of the one stubbornly set against the 
quiet persistence of the others. It was noticeable that 
the guards carefully abstained from anything like hurt- 
ful violence to their charge, and that she did not attempt 
to escape by flight. The issue of this trial of will-power 
was not determined, for the refractory queenling was 
needed as a specimen. 

It is perhaps worth noting that the worker castes were 
never seen at play. If records have been made by other 
observers of such light behavior on their part, the author 
has not noted them. The truth seems to be that their 
life is so strenuous from its first experiences of imago- 
hood to the end of their career, that there is no time for 



recreations of any sort. Work ! work ! ceaseless work on 
their endless round of duty is their lot, varied only 
by scant periods for eating, for sleep, for personal cleans- 
ing, and occasional mutual ''shampooing." The amuse- 
ments of ant communities, such as they are, are limited 
to the dependent leisure classes. However, it must be 
remembered that all of the routine labor is not of the 
exacting sort, like mining and nursing. Moreover, as 
we have seen, the liberty to " knock off work" at will is 


one of the inalienable privileges of the workers one that 
is freely used, but apparently never abused. No doubt, 
under such a rule, they get more satisfaction one might 
even say more enjoyment out of life than winged idlers 
whose career is shut in and restricted at so many points 
that they seem to be little more than privileged prisoners 
of state. 


"VVJT AR, it is said, is a brutal way of settling differences 
T T among men. That is true; and therein lies the 
fact which gives most serious pause to one who would 
study the subject philosophically, with an outlook upon 
nature at large. War is brutal a natural habit of 
brutes, and of the whole realm of organized life below 
them, that wage war upon one another instinctively. 
Their natural life is one of endless conflict. They who 
justify war do so on the ground of its universal preva- 
lence among creatures in a state of nature. It is brutal 
but natural, arid man, being of nature, has his physical 
kinships with brutes and their lower allies. 

Doubtless those who base their opposition to war on 
the divine precepts of the Prince of Peace have here no 
difficulty. They admit the premise, but claim that 
Jesus Christ, whose laws they obey, came to abrogate 
the evil in the old, and to establish a new and spiritual 
kingdom in Nature. He brought into human discipline 
a new development, a higher stage of life, wherein war is 
a discordant element. This is the new Nature, the spirit- 
ual kingdom. It is the dawn of an ever-deepening Day 
after a birth-Night wherein wild things ruled, but Life 
and Light were born. The spiritual man, not the natural, 
is now supreme, and under Christ the nations are to 
learn war no more. 



The writer accepts this view. He has had personal 
experience in two wars the American Civil War and the 
Spanish-American, in Cuba. He knows well its worst 
features and its best. He believes that universal peace 
and fraternity ought to be the ultimate aim of our race, 
and that armies and navies are justified simply as na- 
tional police forces for the administration of those be- 
nevolent functions for which governments should exist 
among men. Nevertheless, he recognizes that to many 
minds the force of the facts, as seen in nature, is not 
readily put aside; and that the universal war habit of or- 
ganized beings, as it appears to have existed in all time, 
seems to place upon a higher plane, as in harmony with 
natural laws, those war-like habits and acts that have 
dominated human history. This, at least, gives an ex- 
ceptional interest to a study, for the sake of comparison, 
of the war methods of those lower orders of living beings 
whose social organizations strongly suggest our own. 

Among the foremost of these are ants, and ants, as an 
order, are war-like insects. The foragers carry their 
natural pugnacity into the field as isolated individuals, 
and show decided courage in the quest of food. Therein 
they are freebooters. Whatever falls in their way and 
they are able to possess, they take. This, as in the case 
of human brigands, often requires an appeal to force. 
An ant commune is as fair a scene of peaceful industry 
as a beehive; but everywhere in its vicinage "doth 
dogged war bristle his angry crest, and snarleth in the 
gentle eyes of peace." 

This readiness for hostilities and ferocity in attack 
have been noted and recorded often of the hosts of 
true ants that swarm along the pathways of travellers 
in the tropics. For example, Stanley speaks of the 



'belligerent warriors" among the innumerable species 
of various colors that filled the African forests; of the 
"hot- water ants/' as his men not inaptly named them, 
from the smarting pain of their stings; and of the minute 
red ants that everywhere covered the forest leaves and 
attacked his pioneers so viciously that their backs were 
soon blistered. These creatures doubtless acted from 
a principle of self-defence that led them to hurl their 
fighting myriads upon everything that crossed their 
way and disturbed their solitudes, though with no 
hostile intent. It was an act of natural bclligerencv, and 

/ / 

no doubt was protective, in the aggregate, of life. It 
certainly seemed as little reasonable as were the un- 
provoked attacks of the human hordes of cannibal 
savages that assailed his expedition in their crowded 
boats, as he made his way through the heart of the Dark 
Continent, along the mighty Livingstone River. The 
tribes of ants and the tribes of men were not unlike in 
the native cornbativeness that animated them. [St. 
vol. ii, pp. 138, 225.] 

The woods within whose open spaces the mound- 
making ants rear their conical cities are also hospitable 
to the carpenter ants (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) , 
and the two species are natural enemies. Wherever 
they chance to meet a combat is inevitable, in which 
numbers sometimes become involved, and always death 
and wounds succeed. Should one of these errant 
Camponoti, from a near-by nest in a white-oak tree, 
chance to cross a mound-builder's bounds, its tread, 
light as it is, affects the commune like a signal-shot or a 
fire -alarm. From the nearest gates issue squads of 
sentinels, who fling themselves in mass upon the intruder. 

Flight is thus hindered, even if it were considered, and, 



despite the overwhelming odds, Camponotus joins battle, 
and only succumbs, and is dragged within the walls, after 
a number of its assailants have been maimed or slain. 

The agitation in such a case is limited to a narrow 
sphere, for somehow the commune knows that the dan- 
ger is merely local. Therefore, outside of that circle, 
the various duties of the government go quietly on. 
But it is a notable feature of this commune that upon 
a general alarm the whole citizenship rises up to meet 
the threatening peril. Many times in many ways has 
the author tested this. A few pats of the foot or strokes 
of a stick upon the surface would call out a host of 
sentinels and workers. The interior construction of the 
mound is well adapted to communicate sound or vibra- 
tory movements rapidly. Through the conical mass of 
intercommunicating galleries and rooms the agitation 
at the surface appeared to be quickly carried to all parts 
of the mound. 

At all events, it reached enough to call out, almost in- 
stantaneously, a multitude of insects. With antennae 
erect and quivering, with abdomens well raised from the 
ground, with legs a jerk and heads aloft, they circled 
about and rushed to and fro, their whole mien showing 
keen excitement. With them, assuredly, "the toil of 

%/ * 

war" is "a pain that only seems to seek out danger." 
It is not a question of who has made the attack, or why 
made, or whether one or another should come to the 
rescue. At once the republic is ready to launch forth 
its entire force, if need be, against real or imaginary 
foes. This perfect unison in resisting the assault of an 
enemy is surely an element of civic strength and per- 
manence. During my boyhood a saying of one of our 
naval heroes was widely current, and was a theme for 



discussion in some of our Ohio debating societies: 
"My country: may she always be right; but, right or 
wrong, my country!" Xo budding ant citizen would 
need to debate that question. The commune with ants 
always has absolute priority with all its citizens. 
Their supreme law is its demands, for life or for death. 

History and, indeed, our own observation have shown 
among men examples of somewhat smiliar communal 
unison under the impulse of great social movements. 
A wave of patriotic feeling will sweep over city or State 
or nation, and carry it swiftly along until the purpose 
or sentiment or emotion that inspired the movement 
shall be spent in achievement or hopeless failure. Such 
movements are more unanimous, and so more harmoni- 
ous, in ant than in human communes. There is absolute 
good temper and unanimity of feeling among the myriads 
of inhabitants of our emmet mound city in all move- 


ments noted, whether peaceful or warlike. Of course, 
one does not expect such complete fraternity among 
men, even in far less widely extended citizenships. 
Whether in this the bipeds or the sexipeds are better 
off and nearer to nature, let the reader query. If one 
\vere to indulge such a fancy as that human civics have 


developed from such lower and simpler forms as ants 
exhibit, it would seem that in the evolution they have 
been carried a long way (in some respects) from the 
original type. 

Xo trait in emmet character is more interesting than 
this entire devotion of every individual, even unto death, 
to the welfare of the community. The uprising of a 
threatened ant city is a remarkable exhibition. The 
peaceful commune is instantly transformed into an armed 
camp. There is not the slightest delay or hesitation in 



the response. \Yith utter abandon the little creatures 
hurl themselves upon their assailants. No question 
seems to arise. Shall we abstain? Shall we retreat? 

" Or shall we on the helmet of our foes 
Tell our devotion with revengeful arms?" 

No condition of size or character in the adversary has 
the least influence upon their action. There is no trace 
of personal fear, no regard for life, no balancing of prob- 
abilities as to victorv or defeat, but with the most 


formidable as with the feeblest enemy the ants join 
eager issue. There is no f melangering." None hangs 
back waiting for others to take the brunt of battle. 
In our mound-making ants, cowardice is an unknown 
vice. I do not recall a clear case of poltroonery. They 
are as valiant as they are industrious. In many cases 
the destruction of the defenders is foregone, and the 
foremost in the column are certain to perish. That may 
not be understood by them; but were it so, it would not 
make any difference with these citizen warriors, with 
whom labor, health, unlimited service life itself are 
held as the unreserved heritage of the commune. 

There have been times in the history of human com- 
monwealths when a large portion of the citizenships 
reached as high a standard of patriotism. At all times 
there are some who, in the surrender of their substance, 
their service, themselves, and yet higher sacrifice- 
their sons to the nation, show like devotion. But history 
would surely falter if challenged to find among men a 
case of unanimity in devotion to the commune in time 
of danger equal to that of the mound-making ants of 
the Alleghanies. 

A good example of the pugnacity and courage of ants 



is a small species (Dorymyrmex flarm). that digs its 
little nests upon the great open spaces surrounding the 
central mound of the Occident ant of Colorado. A 
large commune of the latter which had been badly 
damaged by the wash of heavy rains was a scene of 
active rebuilding. Four moundlets of Dorvmvrmex 

/ / 

had been reared upon the pavement, one of them quite 
near a centre of operations in one of the main tracks by 
which the workers had ingress and egress. Here an 
incessant warfare was being waged by the dwarfs upon 
their big neighbors. Every Occident that essayed the 
passage to or from the ground was attacked. Squads 
of Dorymyrmex surrounded their single gate, and on 
the approach of one of the Occidents the nearest war- 
rior flung herself upon the unconscious intruder. That 

she was alone, that there 
was such disparity in size 
between her and her adver- 
sary were facts that plainly 
had no part in her calcula- 

It was curious to note 
the effect upon Occident/alls. 
She stopped instantly ; drew 
her feet closer together; 
stiffened the legs, thus rais- 
ing her body well above the 
earth ; bowed her back ; ele- 
vated her head; stretched 
out the sensitive antennae, 
as though to guard them 
aspecially from harm; opened the mandibles; and, in fact, 
presented an amusing likeness to the pose of a cat at the 





first onset of a dog. The fore leg upon which Dorymyrmex 
had seized, and which had instantly been raised, was then 


shaken violently, and the little assailant rolled upon the 
ground (Fig. 80). 

Thereupon Occident unbent herself and resumed her 
way. She scarcely had started ere her tormentor 


again was upon her, followed by another and another, 
until her body was dotted with the little vixens. They 
grasped her feet, fastened upon the under parts of the 
abdomen, mounted her back, seized her antenna. They 
could not be shaken off. She snapped at them with her 
strong jaws; struck at them with her claws; doubled her 
abdomen under her body, and thrust at them her barbed 
sting. Some were crushed, some were thrown off, but 
others came to the assault. Anon the warring mass 
rolled upon the ground, a whirling ball of red and dark 
yellow, of quivering legs and antenna?. At last the 
aggressors were driven off, or released their hold, and 
Occident retired to a safe distance, combed her ruffled 
hair, and passed by on the other side (Fig. 79). 

Some of the Occidents, as soon as they ncared the 




Dorymyrmex bounds, paused, and stood quite still, as 
though reconnoitring the hostile quarters. The pause 
was fatal, for they were attacked at once by the vigilant 
sentinels, who sallied forth to a goodly distance upon 
the avenue. Others seemed to recognize that discretion 
is the better part of valor, and made a wide detour of the 
skirmish line of the little vixenish raiders. It was plain 
that the Occidents thoroughly knew the qualities and 
temper of their involuntary guests, and regarded them 
with wholesome distrust, not to say fear. 

The result of the guerilla warfare above described was 
rather remarkable. The next morning, upon visiting 
the ground, I found that the Occidents had abandoned 
their old avenue, had cut down and around the Dory- 
myrmex colony, and made an opening on the edge of a 
slight ridge several inches beyond the disputed terri- 
tory, but still in the line of the avenue they had been 
using. A little of the pains required for this last would 
have cut out and carried away the whole Dorymyrmex 

/ V V 

nest space, whose contingent of diminutive warriors 
could have been overwhelmed in a moment bv the 


legions of their huge hosts. Subsequently the Occidents 
made an amusing retaliation upon their wee tormentors, 
for I found their nest literally buried under the dirt 


excavated from the new gangway, and dumped upon 
their gate and moundlet. It was a fitting and laugh- 
able punishment for the little churls, who, however, 
would probably cut their way out, unless the process 
were continued. 

These incidents will suffice to show that courage is a 
general characteristic of ants. But one finds herein the 
same temperamental differences that mark the tribes 
of men. As there are nations justly described as war- 



like, and others as peaceful, so among ants there are 
species whose natural disposition is bold, fierce, com- 
bative, and species that, in comparison, are timid and un- 
warlike. An apt illustration of this is given by Professor 
Wheeler [W. 1, p. 527], who found lodged in the leaves 
of a Mexican tillandsia, colonies of ants of several dif- 
ferent species. They seemed to be living on good terms 
with one another, but were not so complacent toward 
their human observer. While tearing the leaves asunder 
the little Cremastogasters (brevispinosa) attacked him 
vigorously, though their lilliputian stings and mandibles 
hardly got through his outer skin. But the huge 
Camponotus abdominalis rushed out in a body, and the 
powerful jaws of the soldiers, reinforced by the copious 
formic acid batteries of the whole company, compelled 
him to give up his investigations. Two species of the 
grotesque genus Cryptocerus were as gentle as lambs, 
resting quietly on his hands and clothing. A group of 
timid little Leptothorax petiolatus took to their legs; 
while the superb, wasp-like Pseudomyrmas (gracilis) made 
dashes at the investigator from among their glistening 
larvse and pupa?, but hastened back, as if afraid to leave 
their young. Here, at one view, could be noted the dif- 
ferences in natural combativeness which one sees among 
creatures of a larger sort. 

Professor Forel, during his visit to the United States, 
observed a small troop of sanguine ants attack a com- 
munity of Formica siibsericea. At the mere assault 
the latter betook themselves to flight, carrying their 
larva? and pupse. [F. 6.] Even these they permitted 
the slave-making marauders to snatch away without 
serious resistance. In all his extensive and varied ex- 
perience, Forel had not seen such complete and absurd 
x * 199 


cowardice. And yet the Subsericeas observed by me 
and there are numerous colonies on my own country 
place while they are not conspicuous for warlikeness, 
are quite normal in their general courageousness. But 
there are no slave -making species in their vicinage. 
Their spirit has not been cowed through successive con- 
quests by stronger and fiercer foes (Fig. 81). The}^ are, 
therefore, not open to that strange seizure which may 
beset ants as well as men, even the stoutest-hearted men, 
known as a panic. 

With ants, too, as with men, circumstances influence 
both personal and communal courage. Formica fusca, 


Going home with a plundered cocoon and a dissevered 
head of an ant clinging to leg 

one of the favorite auxiliaries or so-called slaves of the 
sanguine slave-makers, has been observed by Wassinann 
and Forel to be more courageous with them than when 
nesting alone. Backed up by their redoubtable leaders 
and associates, thevact as do men under similar circum- 

/ / 

stances, and stand to their weapons when otherwise 

they would retreat. Independent of other and tactical 



considerations, military men know the value of "rc- 
seives" in bracing up the troops on the firing-line by 
an appeal to the confidence that springs from conscious- 
ness of an efficient support to fall back upon. It is 
curious to note an experience somewhat like this in the 
above reflex as operative among ants. 

Naturally our thoughts, when turned to the subject 
of war, call up the forms of males as the sole or chief 
actors. So it is among men and the wild and domestic 
animals that we know best. Certainly there are women 
not lacking in belligerency, and when congregated in 
riotous mobs they have at times been fiercely combative. 
But in organized and communal fighting females rarely 
have had a part. War is a male occupation. 

In ant communes we strike another atmosphere. The 
difference between the male temperament in ants and 
in the human species is so great that we cannot frame 
a just basis for comparison. In man the masterful 
qualities have developed in the male and the dependent 
ones in the female. It is the reverse of this among ants. 
The male is a dependent, in whom capability of self- 
support and self-defence has been obliterated. The 
female and it must be remembered that all workers 
are females in a stage of incomplete development is 
the sole efficient servitor of the commune in peace and 
in war. 

The queen, or productive female, is The Commune in 
germ. She is THE AXT, in whom are centred all the 
qualities and functions of the whole race, save the power 
to quicken the eggs. She is the true "war lord' in the 
early stages of establishing a nation, and only when 
the foundations are securely fixed does she abdicate, and, 
effacing herself as a chief, retire from the toils and ex- 



posures of leadership, and give herself up to the duty of 
adding to the communal numbers, in and for which she 
is sheltered and protected by the force of the entire 

Her original offices as builder, purveyor, caretaker, 
defender, pass over to the workers, and therewith the 
war-like spirit which communal safety requires. When 
the young males come upon the scene they are treasured 
for their one necessary function, and then cast off. They 
are not specialized as soldiers; nature has forbidden that 
by denying them defensive weapons; for a like reason 
they cannot work. They are simply dependents- 
nature's beau ideal of the "gentleman loafer." Thus 
it comes about that all emmet warriors are veritable 

It has been said that an ant commune presents the 
phenomenon of a social government where every active 
citizen or "citizeness/ if one fancies that term is a 
warrior. Yet herein, also, we may record an exception 
that approximates them more closely to our own con- 
ception of a military organization wherein the fighting 
members are a separate class. One might use a stronger 
word: for in the course of human history soldiers have 


been not rarely a real caste. And, in truth, it amounts 
to that even now in some nations. Perhaps the "anti- 
militarism" that marks social agitations in certain quar- 
ters is simply a modern industrial swing away from the 
old bondage to a soldier caste. 

Be that as it may, nature shows us in ant communes 


examples, in various stages of development, of the dif- 
ferentiation of ordinary workers into soldiers. In many 
species the line of demarcation is not sharply drawn, 

but appears in the greater size, especially of the head 



and jaws, the important parts in attack and defence. 
But in other species the process has advanced to a 
distinct soldier caste whose characteristics are most 

In the genus Pheidole we have species in which the 
functions of workers and soldiers are clearly separate. 
Of a Texas species, Pheidole instabilis, the workers alone, 
though of comparatively diminutive size, manage the 
colony's affairs. Thev forage for seeds or dead insects, 

^ */ 

which they drag to the nest. They dig out the galleries, 
carry about and tend the larvae and pupae, even the huge 
female ones, and assist to cut out the callows from their 
pupal envelopes. On the other hand, the soldiers have 
an office for which their abnormally large heads and 
strong jaws peculiarly fit them: they are the guardians 
of the nest. They form a sentinel cordon around the 
young brood and the callow antlings. They are stolid 
and inactive, keepers at home, but eschew the task of 
tending the communal babies. Their heads are so large 
proportionately to their bodies, that if turned upon 
their backs they are often unable to right themselves, 
and if not relieved may die practically standing on their 

This big-headedness, with its corresponding develop- 
ment of the jaws, however, has led to a peculiar service. 
The soldiers act as the communal carvers or trenchers, 
and crack the shells of the oily seeds and the tough, 
chitinous cases of the insects which the foragers collect 
for the commissary department (see chap. iv). Some- 
what oddly, they abstain from levying toll upon the 
food supplies thus made ready for general use, but draw 
their rations directly from the comminuted stock in the 
workers' crops. [W. 6, p. 4.] 



This genus has representatives in the Eastern United 
States Pheidole pennsylvanicus and Ph. meyacephala. 
The author has made some notes of the habits and nest 
architecture of the former in his studies of the Occident 
ant. [McC. 4, p. 140.] As it is a harvesting ant, the 


1. Soldier worker. 2. Uiiwinged queen. 3. Worker major. 

4. Worker minor. 

massive heads of the soldiers may be utilized for the 
same service as those of P. instabilis. Another ant, 
the Florida harvester, Pogonomyrmex crudelis (Fig. 82), 
which garners seeds, has large-headed soldiers, which 
perhaps may be found also to unite the function of po- 
licemen with that of trenchers. [McC. 3, pi. ix, Fig. 41.] 
The genus Atta contributes examples of species pro- 
vided with soldiers with exagge r ated cephalic enlarge- 



ment. In a Texas species, A tta fervens, the duties of 
these soldiers appear to have been specialized until they 
are as distinct as are their forms. This species is the 
well-known cutting or parasol ant of Texas, whose de- 
foliation of .trees, for the enrichment of their cavernous 
"mushroom gardens," makes them a decided pest to 
farmers. In my studies of their habits it was noted 
that during their foraging excursions the vast columns 
of leaf-cutters and carriers were marshalled by the big- 
headed soldiers. Both on the raid and on the return 
they accompanied the marching ranks, appearing to take 
no part in the actual work of the expedition, but moving 
back and forth along the flanks, after the fashion of 
scouts and pioneers, or of an official guard and escort. 
[McC. 10, p. 36.] 

Other examples might be cited, 1 but the above suf- 
ficiently illustrate the fact that in the military govern- 
ment of ant communes we meet with a feature analogous 
to that well-known characteristic of human societies: 
the differentiation of the functions of police and defence 
into a special class, or caste, known as soldiers and 

How far in tnis natural arrangement the industrial 
element among the ant citizens is dominated bv the 


soldiers is not known- -at least, to the present writer. 
Within certain lines as, for example, submission to their 
soldier escort by the leaf-cutters of Atta fervens they 
permit the exercise of legitimate authority. But they 
seem able to control the situation when so inclined. 
Professor Wheeler has seen the workers of Camponotus 
ferrugineus kill and dismember their soldiers in a case 

1 A remarkable case is that of Poh r ergus, which is referred to in 
chap, xiv "The Founding of Slave-Making Ant Communes." 



where the food supply of the commune had become in- 
sufficient. They thus at once showed that their guards 
were not their masters, and that workers held the first 
rank in their social order, though of course they in- 
cidentally demonstrated their lack of anything like "the 
quality of mercy' 1 in their relations to their associates. 
In short, we may conclude, with reasonable assurance, 
that the government of ant communes is not a military 
despotism, and that soldiers, when specially differenti- 
ated, are simply a co-ordinate and subordinate part 
of the social organization. 

The weapons (Fig. 83) with which ants carry on their 
wars are placed at the extremities of the body. A pair 



of movable jaws, or mandibles, are attached by strong 
muscles to the face. They are palmate, toothed along 
the receding edges, terminating on the inside margin in 
a large pointed tooth or tusk. These two opposed in- 
struments, working against each other, form the compo- 
site tool and war-weapon of ants. With these they dig 
their galleries in the earth, or carve them out of wood, 
cut down grass, defoliate trees, seize and cut up food of 
all sorts. Being palm-shaped as a rule, the gathered 
and comminuted material can be compressed into their 
hollows, and so carried as conveniently as in a basket or 
barrow. As the muscles permit the application of much 

or little force at the insect's will, the mandibles can be 



clamped together with power enough to break and tear 
tough fibres, or approximated so gently that the soft 
eggs and tender larva? can be borne about as daintily 
as an infant in a mother's arms. Thus they aptly com- 
bine some of the qualities of the human hand with those 
of a beast's jaws. 

It is this instrument for the two mandibles work 
together as one organ that serves ants effectively as 
the chief weapon in their various combats; it is at once 
war-club, battle-axe, and sword; it will decapitate a 
foe with the facility of a sabre or guillotine, will sever 
a leg or antenna as deftly as a scimetar, or crush a skull 
in its formidable vise as would tomahawk or club. It 
is terrible to see, in the fierce encounter of emmet war- 
riors, the cruel havoc wrought by this implement. 

As effective, perhaps, and fatal, but less apparent in 
its operation, is the weapon attached to the opposite 


Occident ant in duel with fetid ant. A comrade Occident 

looks complacently on 

extremity. Enclosed within the vertex of the abdomen 
is an arrangement of organs known as the sting (Fig. 
84). In one great division of the ant genera these are 

veritable stinging organs, like those of bees and wasps. 



For example, in the agricultural ant, in which the author 
has studied them most carefully, they consist of the 
poison gland and sac, the accessory organ or oil sac, and 
the stinging apparatus. These are all situated in the 
lower portion of the apex of the abdomen, close to the 
ventral surface, and are covered by the final ventral plates. 

The word "sting" as commonly used cannot be applied 
to any one organ, but expresses rather a combination of 
three organs, one of which, the sting-case, is single; the 
others, the stinging-prickles and the out-sheath which 
encloses them, are double. They are supported within 
the apex of the abdomen, and are operated by a most 
ingenious system of levers and muscles. The sting-case 
is somewhat curved toward its chiselled point, which 
resembles a carpenter's gouge. In the act of stinging 
this gouge makes the first incision. 

The two shafts of the stinging-prickles in repose are 
contained within the sting-case, but are thrust out 
alternately when the ant stings, entering the wound 
made by the gouge, aggravating it, and injecting the 
poison. The prickles are slender, sharp, hollow tri- 
angular chitinous rods with barbed points. The pos- 
terior parts, or shafts, which lie alongside each other 
within the sting-case, are straight below, but at the top, 
or anterior part, are bent away from each other, form- 
ing the bows. Each stinging-prickle thus consists of a 
shaft and bow which, as operated in action, serves the 
purpose of a spear, or lance, and bow and arrow. The 
force of human muscles by which the ancient artillery 
was made effective has its analogue in the protruder 
and retractor muscles of the ant, attached to the bow 
of the prickles, by which the shafts, with their pair of 
six-barbed needles, are forced out and drawn back. 



The above forms substantially what is the piercing 
mechanism of the harvesting ant's sting. 1 But the 
ant warrior does not depend upon the simple thrust of 
its lance to place its antagonist out of action. The 
poisoned arrows and the chemical projectiles of human 
warriors have also their representatives in the equip- 
ment of emmet soldiers. Situated above the stinging 
mechanism, and communicating therewith by a conduit, 
is the poison sac with its included gland. Herein is 
secreted a virulent acid which, being forced by muscular 
pressure into the hollow prickles, is carried down and 
into the incision made by the point, perhaps through 
an orifice in the barbs. 

Associated with this is the accessory organ or oil sac, 
located also just above the sting-bow. Its duct, through 
which issues an oilv secretion, enters the throat of the 


sting-case close beside the opening of the conduit of the 
poison sac. Both ducts pass for some distance into 
the case, separated only by a delicate chitinous fold, 
finally to terminate together. The oily secretion, min- 
gling with the acid poison, probably tends to distribute 
it over a larger surface, with corresponding ability to 
injure; and may add to its power to adhere to and pene- 
trate the attacked surface. Perhaps, also, it serves as a 
lubricant to the sting. 

In a large number of ant genera, including many with 
which we are most familiar, as Formica, Lasius, and 
Camponotus, the stinging organs are rudimentary; that 
is, they are without the sting proper. They have no 
lance or arrow to thrust into their foes. Their stinging 

1 A more detailed description would be out of place here, but 
special students will find a complete histological description in 
the author's Agricultural Ant of Texas, pp. 171-102 and plates. 



organs, otherwise complete, arc operated as acid batteries 
from which shoot out poison streams. These enter the 
system of antagonists by the joints of limbs or other 
unarmored parts, and produce paralysis and death. 
Camponotus will eject this formic acid in such quan- 
tities as to be visible to the naked eye. When large 
numbers of the Alleghany Mountain mound-makers are 
irritated and given some object to attack, the fumes of 
the strong acid emissions are soon perceived. Lord 
Avebury found, after disturbing the nest of a species of 
Formica in Switzerland, that a hand held as much as 
ten inches above the ants was covered with acid. Their 
mode of punishing a human victim is to scrape away the 
outer skin with their mandibles and eject their poison 
upon the abrasion, which causes a painful smart. In 
combat thev drench their adversaries from these 


formidable acid batteries. Thus ants are effectively 
equipped for both defensive and aggressive war. 


NO living creatures known to the writer so closely 
resemble man in the tendency to wage pitched 
battles as do ants. Vast numbers of separate species, 
or of hostile factions of the same species, may be seen 
massed in combat, which is continued for hours, days, or, 
in at least one case noted, for over a week. Some of 
the most extensive battles observed have been fought 
between neighboring communes of Tetramoriunica'spituni, 
a small dark-brown species common to America and 
Europe. It abounds in and around Philadelphia, where 
it is popularly known as the " pavement ant, " on account 
of its habit of making its nest under the bricks and flags 
of sidewalks. 

I have often seen them engaged upon the large paving- 
flags that cover the walk from the manse through the 
grassy terrace fronting the church at Chestnut and 
Thirty-seventh Street. They fairly blackened con- 
siderable spaces of the gray stones with the vast numbers 
of the combatants. Some details of one of these fights 
will give a fair type of all. In the centre the warriors 
were heaped several ranks high. The mass seemed to 
boil with the intensity of the action. There was no 
appearance of orderly array or "line of battle ' ; forma- 
tion. It was literally a melee, recalling descriptions of 



battles in the clays of chivalry, when armored warriors 
fought hand to hand. 

From the central mass the numbers gradually dimin- 
ished until, as spaces opened in the surrounding fringe 
of the fight, one could see small groups of combatants 
scattered over several square feet of surface. Most of 
them were duels; but trios, quartets, quintets abound- 
ed. In one case six ants were engaged with one; in the 
centre, two were tugging with interlocked mandibles, 
and five others were grouped around, like spokes in a 
wheel, each sawing or pulling at a limb of the un- 
fortunate central integer, who was being torn to pieces. 
Here and there a larger group would be piled upon one 
another, heaving, pushing, tugging, like the athletes of a 
football rush, but with mortal intent. 

The duellists seized each other by the head, frequent- 
ly interclasping mandibles, and pulling backward or 
swaying back and forth. It was literally a "tug of 
war." Again, one would have her antagonist grasped 
by the face above the mandibles, which placed the 
latter at a great disadvantage. In such and other cases 
both ants would often be reared upon the hind and 
middle legs, with abdomens turned under and stinging 
organs out-thrust, making vicious stabs at one another. 

All over the field disengaged ants were running about, 
excitedly seeking a foeman, incessantly stopping to 
challenge with antenna?, then hastening on until a hostile 
party was met, when at once the two locked mandibles 
and fell to. Many ran to and fro, stopping now at one 
group, now at another, to nip an abdomen, gnaw a leg, 
or snap at face or antenna , and then would rush away 
to some more promising service. 

Meantime, from the gates of the warring communes 



-small openings on the edge of the paved walk two 
streams of recruits were pouring toward the scene of 
strife. Their bodies fairly quivered under the in- 
tensity of their emotion as they ran along, reminding one 
of human crowds hurrying to a fire or a fight. As the 
two opposing streams met and intermingled, ant tackled 
ant in deathly grapple, and thus the fury of the battle 
was fed. 

Of one party, distinguished as "Alpha," a long file of 
warriors was running from the field along the trail to 
the home nest. They challenged briefly every passing 
fellow, and pushed on. I conceived, as a solution of 
this conduct, that this was a file of messengers bearing 
from the field an appeal for recruits. They certainly 
were not running away. All appearances and all ex- 
perience were against that inference. At all events, the 
ideas of a recruiting detail, a call for relief, fell in with 
the analogy of a human battle-field so strongly suggested 
by the scene before me. 

From the central point of the fight, as first seen at the 
edge of the walk nearest the "Alphas," the vortex of the 
combat gradually shifted toward the gate of their an- 
tagonists, the "Gammas." At first it seemed as though 
that army were being slowly pushed from the field. 
But if so, the tide of battle afterward turned; for victory 
finally remained with them, as far as it could be adjudged 
to either party. At this period the field of battle was 
spread over a space two feet long by six inches wide, the 
fighters grouped most thickly about two centres, be- 
yond and around which the walk was dotted with many 
duellists and small contending groups. 

At 12.30 P.M. the battle, which had begun at 8.30 A.M., 

was practically over. The "rear guard" of the Alphas 



were continually dropping into their home trail, and 
numbers of Gammas were filing to their gate in a sluggish 
way. Not a recruit from either side was coming to the 
field. The dead lay in little windrows where the tide of 
battle had left them, or whither they had crawled to die, 
or the rising breeze had borne them. Here and there 
among them were ants still living but fatally hurt, 
struggling to drag their mutilated bodies from the mass. 
Even so, two enemies, when forced together in this grim 
fellowship, would grip one another and roll and strain, 
giving their waning strength to a last hostile tug. 

It was a not inapt reminder of after -battle scenes 
among men. Only, there was no hospital corps separat- 
ing the dead and bearing off the wounded; no surgeons 
plying their ministry of bodily help and repair, nor 
chaplains their ministry of spiritual consolation. Dead, 
dying, and wounded were all alike abandoned by their 
late comrades, a number of whom, on both sides, were 
now gathered around the pats of butter and sugar which 
I had vainly placed in hope to lure them from fighting. 
The refection which they refused during the heat of 
combat was eagerly accepted to refresh themselves after 
the toils of strife. That, too, was a quite human-like 
scene, for soldiers must eat and drink when the dreadful 
stress of battle is eased. However, there was no at- 
tempt by the living ants to feed upon the dead, as one 
sees under other conditions. 

The state of the wounded was pitiful, an exhibit in 
miniature of the dreadful aftermath of human battles. 
For example, here was a warrior whose middle leg on one 
side was sound, the hind leg cut off at the thigh, the 
front leg at the trochanter a mere stump. On the 
opposite side the hind and middle legs retained all the 



parts, but were broken, curved, useless, like paralyzed 
limbs, the joint effect of its enemies' mandibles and acid 
batteries. Its antenme were both paralyzed, bent up, 
and motionless. It was thus bereft of all sense of direc- 
tion, and all power of communication and progressive 
motion. It lifted up its head again and again in vain 
efforts to rise. It shook its stumps of legs, rolled upon 
its side, rested a moment, and then with ruling passion 
of emmet tidiness, strong even in death, struggled to 
support itself upon its abdomen, and tried to cleanse 
(perhaps to heal) with its tongue a fore leg. 

Its adversary had not a whole leg left, its most per- 
fect one being a middle leg that had lost the foot. All 
the others were torn off to the thigh, or the tibia, or close 
to the body, and one antenna was gone. There the 
two foes floundered close together, dismembered and 
dying, left to their fate by the comrades who had 
mutually helped in the achievement of this great victory. 
Like examples were scattered over the field, from which 
the rage of conflict had died away, except as it lingered 
here and there in duels or small groups of combatants 
doggedly fighting out their controversy to the death. 

From time to time various groups had been removed 
from the mass, and placed in artificial nests prepared 
with a view to special experiments. Among these was 
a pair whose fate I wished to follow separately. One 
ant, that seemed to be quite sound, was interlocked with 
an antagonist much damaged, having lost several legs 
and an antenna. But it had tightly gripped in its jaws 
a leg of its adversary, who snapped at its antagonist's 
neck and face, and squirmed and doubled, and strove, 
with many contortions but in vain, to disable its oppo- 
nent and get free. 

is 215 


As it promised to be a long engagement, I left them 
alone in their box and turned to view the battle. When 
I next saw the pair the duel was finished. The maimed 
warrior lay dead and near by the victor was seated 
upon a pebble nonchalantly preening her ruffled coat, 
and with comb and tongue and spined limbs was re- 
pairing the damage of battle. 

I placed her near the Gamma gate, wishing to see if 
she could find her way home, and what would be her 
conduct and reception. She ran about in an involved 
path for nearly fifteen minutes, covering a great space, 
and at last fell upon the regular trail to the nest used by 
the ants of that commune. But as she showed no 
familiarity with the field, I concluded that she be- 
longed elsewhere, and transferred her to the vicinage of 
gate Beta, one of the outlets in the territory of the Alpha 

She circled around in an irregular course, always 
drawing a little nearer to Beta. In her march she met 
a pair of combatants, exchanged antennal salutations, 
and passed on. Presently she came upon another duel, 
again challenged, and again passed on. She acted as if 
lost, but kept bearing gradually toward Alpha gate. 
Now she met several scouts who challenged her with 
some evident doubt as to her status, but let her go. 
Next she was stopped by a group with whom, plainly 
enough, was exchanged a satisfactory password and 
"How d'e do!" and then she was off with a joyous trot. 
She had struck the home trail ! In a moment she dived 
into the gate. Home at last home from the wars! 
Doubtless there may have been, on her part, a passing 
satisfaction like that which Burns sang in The Soldier's 



" When wild war's deadly blast was blawn, 

An' gentle peace returning, 
Wi' mony a sweet babe fatherless, 
An' mony a widow mourning." 

But we may be sure it was but a fleeting emotion, 
and that on the part of the commune there was neither 
for her nor for any other returning braves a civic 
demonstration of "Welcome home from war." They 
glided simply and naturally, as though from a night's 
rest, into the regular routine of communal duty, and 
there was no more to-do about it. Every active member 
of society stood ready to take the same risk, do the same 
service, make the same sacrifice. What occasion was 
there for special hero-mongering ? 

Verily; and when human commonwealths have reach- 
ed the same level of patriotism and civil devotion, citizens 
may fairly take a like attitude. But until then grati- 
tude for and due recognition of true heroism in army and 

navy must be held as a civic virtue, and the poet's, 
admonition be in place: 

"The brave, poor soldier ne'er despise, 

Nor count him for a stranger; 
Remember, he's his country's stay 
In day and hour of danger." 

What was the cause of these conflicts between insects 
that apparently ought to have been close friends? In 
at least one case noted the quarrel clearly arose over a 
find of rations. The centre of the warring mass was 
some fatty matter which had been thrown on and around 
the seams of a brick pavement through which a large 
formicary had cut its gates. From the battle-field a col- 
umn of Tetramoriums three or four lines deep stretched 



along a depression made by a shallow surface drain to a 
second nest under a gate that led through a party- wall 
into a house yard. 

Apparently, the ants from the curb colony had fallen 
upon the unctuous treasure which had dropped by their 
door, but had been disturbed in their " feast of fat things" 
by stragglers from the gate nest. These were attacked; 
others came, and were also attacked. Messengers ran 
to the gate nest for reinforcements; fresh squadrons 
issued from the curb colony, and so the battle grew. 
[McC. 11, p. 158.] It is probable that many like con- 
flicts arise from rivalries for the possession of food ; and, 
as in the above case, it is almost sure that a communal 
war springs out of a quarrel between a few', who, appeal- 
ing to civic partisanship, finally enlist in their contention 
the two communities represented. Of course, conflicts 
between separate genera and species are readily ex- 
plained by race antipathy. 

Perhaps the most usual cause for the wars waged be- 
tween our city Tetramoriums is the irritation produced 
by the encroachment of the mining workers upon their 
neighbors in the enlargement of their living-quarters. 
This is the more likely, as the most common period for 
the battles is the early spring, when the demand for 
larger room is greatest for the accommodation of the 
rapidly increasing young of the commune. The galleries, 
nurseries, and living-rooms for the numerous males and 
females are pushed out with such fervor that the ex- 
cavated pellets rise into heaps and moundlets around 
the nest gates. In such conditions the overlapping 
of the new boundaries is inevitable, and in the tense 
nervous strain and high communal pressure under 

which the work is being pushed, the contact between 



the rival parties is almost sure to be hostile. [McC. 3, 
p. 193.] 

As the season advances, and the excitement of home- 
building and the keen fervor of communal parentalism 
abate, the war fever cools down, and peace prevails. 
Whatever be thought of the above as an explanation of 
the wars of our city Tetramoriums, it at least opens to us 
a secret chapter in the life of ant communities that 
awakens unusual interest. It is the story of under- 
ground wars. The surface combats are sufficiently intense 
and tragical. But there is a mystery about the battles 
waged within the dark caverns of the communes beneath 
the surface that clothes them with an air of romance. 

Here are mining and countermining, just as one sees 
it in engineering campaigns of men, without the horrible 
accessories of explosives. Here a gallery is broken 
through; a sharp engagement follows; the assaulted 
party rallies to the defence of the works; the victors 
have pushed their way in; the vanquished fall back. 
But behind them a working detail has thrown up a strong 
barricade, behind which the besieged rallv. and the bat- 

TJ */ / 

tie goes on anew. In the case of such a "thief ant >; 
as Solenopsis fugax, whose diminutive commune is 
constructed within that of some far larger host, the 
mining tactics and the spirited resistance may be ob- 
served in artificial glass nests, and they are extremely 
interesting to watch. A rather remarkable feature of 
the communal habits of this ant is that its swarming 
does not occur, as Forel observes, until September, long 
after that of its host ants (July, August). Thus they 
can get to the surface safely and swarm undisturbed, 
that belligerent period of their huge neighbors being 
overpast. [F. 5, p. 499.] 



But in most cases no sufficient reason appeared for 
the frequent wars between the pavement ants. They 
are of one species, and in some cases, as it seemed to me, 
of one commune. Why should they fight? To be sure, 
civil wars are, unhappily, not unnatural to human 
societies, and indeed to social aggregations of humbler 
creatures. But somehow one expects better things of 
ants, even though their "ways'' may not be held as 
"wise' ; in all things as those of Solomon's harvesters. 
Yet almost the first act of our city Tetramoriums, upon 
issuing from their winter quarters, is to engage in fierce 
war with their neighbors or fellow-formicarians. At 
times throughout the season these hostilities were re- 

If, as we conjecture, the individuals be of one nest, is 
this nature's mode of distributing the species from the 
home centre, by causing the worsted party to emigrate? 
Or, supposing the combatants to be of separate ad- 
joining communities, is this wasting pugnacity a sort 
of emmetonian malthusianism by which the surplus 
population is reduced and kept within due bounds, much 
to the comfort of survivors, and more to the satisfaction 
of man? Whatever theory or conjecture one adopts, 
he is apt to conclude that it is well-nigh as hard to find 
a really good reason for wars of ants as for many wars 
of man. 

Another perplexing problem here arises: How do 
these ant warriors recognize friend from foe? The 
device of variant uniforms does not serve in this case, 
for they are all alike. Take a group of combatants in 
the hand and put them under a magnifier, as one can 
readily do, so intent are they upon mutual destruction. 
The most careful observer can note no difference be- 



tvvccn individuals of the two factions, yet they do 
infallibly and instantly distinguish their nest-fellows 
from the enemy. This is done by the antenna), which 
are kept in constant motion, the tips describing sundry 
curves. At a meeting between ants these organs touch 
and embrace the face; if the parties be friends, they pass 
on; if foes, they straightway begin to fight. The new- 
comers, thronging to the battle-centre, where hundreds 
are struggling in a heap that is chaos to human eyes, 
but presents no difficulty to emmet senses, plunge into 
the seething mass and instantly recognize and join com- 
bat with their enemies. How is it done? 

Thirty-two years ago, during the summer of 1877, 
while pondering this problem, it occurred to the writer 
that this recognition was based upon a certain odor, 
emitted in different degrees of intensity by the respective 
factions, or upon two distinct characteristic party odors. 
The degree of odor or difference in odors, he thought, 
might be dependent upon some peculiarity in the phys- 
ical condition or environment of the antagonists. Sup- 
posing that there were any truth in this theory, it further 
occurred to him that the presence of an artificial and 
alien perfume strong enough to neutralize the distinctive 
animal odors, or degrees of odor, and environ the com- 
batants with a foreign and common odor, would have a 
tendency to confuse the ants, and disturb or destroy 
their recognition of the distasteful and exciting element. 
In which case he conjectured that the result might be 
their pacification and reconciliation. Experiments were 
made to test this hypothesis. [McC. 17, p. 17.] 

A number of warring Tetramoriums, taken upon a 
flower border, were placed together in a large glass 

vessel upon some soil. The jar was vigorously shaken 



so that, if possible, the mechanical agitation might 
separate the combatants. The ants emerged quite un- 
affected by the miniature earthquake, to continue or 
recommence the fight. When the surface was well 
covered with them, and the battle was again at its 
height, a ball of paper saturated with cologne water was 
introduced into the jar. The ants showed no signs of 
pain, displeasure, or intoxication under the strong fumes. 
Some ran freely over the paper. But in a few seconds 
the warriors had unclasped mandibles, released their 
hold of enemies' legs, antennae, and bodies, and, after a 
brief interval of seeming confusion, began to burrow 
galleries in the earth with the utmost harmony. There 
was no renewal of the battle. The quondam foes dwelt 
together for several days in absolute unity and fraternity, 
amicably feeding, burrowing, and building. 

This experiment was followed by others, varying the 
conditions and the individuals, but holding to the 
species. The result was always the same with Tetra- 
morium ccespitum. The perfume of the cologne proved 
a complete pacificator of the contending parties, and so 
far verified the theory. The alien odor neutralized the 
distnctive nest odors which had served to identify 
friends and foes, permitting them thus to return to their 
normal neighborliness ; or in some way had mollified the 
hostile parties, and transformed them from enemies into 
amicable associates. 

Similar experiments were tried with colonies of car- 
penter ants taken from the Alleghany Mountains and 
from Logan Square, Philadelphia. These pointed to a 
conclusion just the reverse of the above. Whatever the 
cause a failure of the experimenter in arranging his 

conditions, or the presence of some disturbing element 



that was overlooked, or because one or both parties were 
too far saturated and seasoned in their own native nest- 
odor to respond to the cologne treatment the fact was 
that the experiments led to opposite conclusions. 

However, I had little doubt then, and have none now, 
that the original inference was substantially true in the 
case of wars between separate communes. The ants 
were recognized by a special odor which they absorbed 
during residence, and which was stronger or weaker 
according to age and environment and conditions un- 
known. How acute and delicate and accurate must 
be the sense organs seated in the antenna?, which are in- 
struments of recognition, the facts related will show. 

"He does not carry the odor of my species, my com- 
mune, or my caste. Therefore, we will fight!" To a 
human philosopher meditating upon these things, it 
seems a small difference on which to divide two such 
closely related creatures into hostile camps. But may- 
hap he who counts this for abatement of the common 
fame of ants for wisdom might find, in the history of 
human wars, originating causes as insignificant and 




THAT "no man liveth to himself is an aphorism 
not to be questioned in human communes. That 
no community lives to itself is equally true. And this 
applies to ants. Their societies are established in the 
vicinage or in the midst of numberless creatures, most 
of them, like themselves, free citizens of that wild life 
which nature has organized and maintains in the cul- 
tivated parks and fields of men no less than in a wilder- 
ness. He deludes himself who thinks that he ever is 
delivered from the environment of wild things. Of the 
large and grosser sorts, it may be; but civilization never 
will tame or exterminate the innumerable hosts of minor 
creatures, seemingly as wild now as in the primitive 
Eden, that inhabit our day-world and, even more, our 

The ants are examples of this. They find and keep 
a foothold everywhere. I have surprised immense com- 
munities in the heart of great cities. I have shown an 
American farmer, who boasted in the tilth of his acres- 
under the plough since the first English settlements- 
that he could scarcely put down a foot in a walk through 
a field without placing it upon a little commune of 
meadow ants. 

These cases do not stand alone. A naturalist would 



soon point out to our farmer that many other living 
things have possession of his domain whose ancestors 
were probably here before Columbus, and whose de- 
scendants will doubtless outlive the Republic. These 
are the creatures with which ants have to neighbor. 

Close neighbors they are at times; sometimes hostile, 
sometimes indifferent, sometimes friendly. In the course 
of ages of neighboring experience, strange inter-relation- 
ships have been established, presenting some of the most 
interesting and puzzling features of emmet communal 
life. To a few of these our attention will now be turned. 

Taking up once more our mountain mound-builders, 
we note certain loose relationships established between 
them and some other insects in cold weather. Winter 
deadens energy and subdues combativeness, and, when 
severe, suspends activities. One will then come across 
colonies of our common white ant (Termes flavipes) im- 
bedded within the great cones of Formica exsectoides 
Bunches of cockroaches are found, and sundry beetles, 
with other insects, that in the adult or larval stage nat- 
urally domicile in the ground. 

Most of this sort of neighboring is the result of that 
truce which Jack Frost enforces, and will largely dis- 
appear when spring relaxes nature and insects come to 
their normal antagonisms. But it shows how certain 
companionships may have been formed which, at first 
accidental and temporary, were found to be harmless, 
more or less helpful, and in some cases highly beneficial. 
Use and heredity, operating upon casual affinities and 
the acquisition of a common nest-odor, may have thus 
brought about those examples of symbiosis, or sym- 
pathetic companionship, which exist among ants, and 
between them and other creatures. 



Let us consider a little more in detail this theory that 
winter conditions may have influenced the formation 
of communal affinities and associations between ants 
and alien insects, as well as between separate species and 
genera of ants. Do the facts seem to justify it? One 
night, while encamped among the ant-hills of Brush 
Mountain, Pennsylvania, late in August, 1876, there 
fell a heavy frost that well disclosed the effect upon ants 
of such temperature changes. [McC. 2, p. 284.] At 
3.45 A.M. I made the round of the hills, and found their 
inmates in a state of semi-torpidity. Tapping the sur- 
face and stamping upon the surrounding stones, which 
heretofore had always brought out a host of workers, 
failed to arouse a single sentinel. I dug into one mound 
eight inches before finding ants, and these showed little 
activity a marked contrast with their usual mode. 

Then the aphis feeding-grounds were inspected. A 
white-oak tree near a stone wall, whereon numbers of 
aphids were domiciled, was a popular emmet resort. 
Mounting the wall, I turned the lantern light upon the 
overhanging boughs. The aphids were in their places 
on the leaves and branches, surrounded and covered bv 


groups of ants. But all were semi-torpid. The frost 
had surprised them at their feast, and left them frigid 
upon the spot. Many of them had abdomens distended 
by crops gorged with honey-dew, which showed trans- 
lucent as the light fell upon them. In my long ex- 
perience of a full generation in observing emmet ways, I 
recall few more striking visions than that. If one could 
only have preserved those congealed specimens for the 
museum ! 

But as the sun returned with his wonted August 
fervor, the statuesque groups began gradually to dissolve. 



First, with sluggish movements, slowly stirring; then 
more vigorously, as the sunshine fell upon the branches; 
until by nine o'clock the tree-paths were thronged with 
workers, most of them repletes, and homeward bound. 
So also it was on the mounds. As the sunlight pierced 
the woods, and fell upon them and warmed them up, 
they resumed their normal activity. The benumbing 
effect of the frost upon the insects had been no doubt 
intensified by its suddenness, and the high temperature 
that had preceded it. 

The above facts led me to studies of the winter condi- 
tion of the mound-makers, which were made late in 
October, 1876, and the latter part of February, 1877. 
[McC. 2, p. 286.] It was found that the winter tended 
to drive alien insects to the formicaries for harborage. 
Lodged in one nest was found a colony of our native 
termites. They were in an unfrozen part, exposed to 
the sun, occupied a space of about four inches square, 
and were then (February 14th) quite lively. Near them 
was a large herd of roaches, a hundred or more. The 
ants in the mound were not torpid, although their 
characteristic vigor and activity were suspended. It 
would not have been possible for the termites to hold 
such a position in midsummer; they would have been 
eaten. Such a cluster of cockroaches would have been 
equally impossible; it would have been scattered and 
destroyed. This is doubtless the general experience. 
Wheeler [W. 1, p. 30] found that in Texas, during 
autumn and winter, the nests of Formica gnava teem 
with alien insect guests of various orders, larvae and 
adult, that are rarelv seen in summer. 


How shall we account for this? In the case of the 
mound-making ants, there seem to be two factors, one 



negative and one positive, in drawing termites and 
roaches to the nests. The first is the benumbing effect 
of cold, which suspends the emmet energies, and there- 
with suspends hostile acts toward intruders upon their 
domain. The second is the greater warmth and com- 
fort of the mounds. These are built of a light com- 
posite of soil-pellets and pine and other leaves, which 
form more congenial quarters than the surrounding 
earth. The galleries that honeycomb them are air- 
chambers which mitigate the cold and conduce to natural 

Besides, to errant insects abroad in the autumn in 
search of winter quarters, the upraised cones of the ants 
are prominent and inviting objects, the most available 
for them in the vicinage. So there the rovers settle 
and stay until, in the revived activity of returning spring, 
the ants make the premises entirely too warm for them. 

These facts have at least a conjectural bearing upon 
the origin of some ant affinities and associations. The 
importance of the local nest-odor, and its intimate re- 
lationships with the friendly or hostile attitude of ants 
toward their fellows, has already been pointed out in 
chapter xi. May it not follow that the temporary 
and accidental lodgment of these alien insects upon the 
ants' nests may have led, in occasional cases, to the 
acquisition of so much of the local nest-odor as partly to 
conciliate the ants? This complaisance may have been 
increased by the inactive condition of the ants in early 
spring, and at least made them tolerant of the presence 
of their guests. This condition, acting upon tempera- 
ments specially adapted to such an estate, together with 
the discovery of some mutual advantage in nourishment 


or massagerie, through the shampoo dejeune or other- 



wise, may have developed at last into the habits of the 
permanent myrmecophile. This may be suggested, at 
least, as a contributory factor in the natural evolution 
of a remarkable feature of ant communes. 

A brief observation will illustrate the advantage 
which some of the alien ant-guests find in the connec- 
tion, and which must strongly tend to hold them to it 
when once formed. Certain little crickets of the genus 
Myrmecophila live with species of Formica and Cam- 
ponotus, and a diminutive, nearly blind cockroach (At- 
taphila fungi-cola Wheeler) inhabits the nest of the 
Texas cutting ant. The behavior of these myrmeco- 
philes shows that the surface of the ant's body must be 
covered with an unctuous, highly nutritious, and, it 
may be, antiseptic secretion, probably derived from the 
salivaiy glands of the host-ant or other members of the 
colony. This secretion is also spread over the eggs, 
larvae, and pupae, and it seems to retard the development 
of pernicious moulds, since these tend to grow only on the 
larvae and pupae that have been isolated for several days 
from the workers and queens. 

Both crickets and cockroaches live by licking the 
surfaces of their hosts. The former remain on the 
ground and reach up to lick the legs and bodies. The 
latter climb upon the backs of the large Atta soldiers 
and feed from that position. [W. 4, p. 14.] The ad- 
vantage to the ants may be simpty the pleasure of the 
massage and the satisfaction of being clean, although 
there may be other advantages now unknown. How- 
ever, we shall presently see that such affinities and 
associations may exist even under strong disadvantages 
apparent to human observers, at least. 

Among the ant-loving (myrmecophylous) beetles 



found with our Alle^hanv mound-builders is a Claviger 

*. - 

species (Tmesiphorus costatis) collected during the winter. 
Doctor LeConte showed me (1876), in his rich collection 
of Coleoptera, several of these taken at Bedford and Co- 
lumbia, Pennsylvania, among which were Cedius ziegleri 
LeConte, and others which he spoke of as "undescribed 
specimens of Homolata and an unnamed species of 

Oxyopoda." These were 
small brownish insects 
with slight pubescence. 

The most interesting of 
these ant -affinities (myr- 
mecophiles) was his own 
species, Xenodusa (Atame- 
les) cava (Fig. 85). This 
is a reddish-brown beetle, 
about one-fifth of an inch 
long, with tufts of yellow- 
ish hair-like tubes on the 
sides of the abdomen. 
From these hairs exudes 

(By courtesy of American Museum of Natural History) Q, SWCCt 

Fig. 85 THE BEETLE XENODUSA which the ants feed, as 


From a colony of Formica Schau- , . , i , ,1. 

fussi-inscrta. (After Wheeler) aphides, and It IS tniS 

fact which attracts ants 

to them or assures their toleration of them. Specimens 
of this beetle were also taken bv or for LeConte in 


ant-nests of unknown species in Maryland, Illinois, and 
Michigan. Among these was one still held in its host's 
mandibles, as if taken while in flight from the disturbers 
of its nest, and clung to with unrelaxed jaws in the 
alcohol which killed it. Our American carpenter ants 



(Camponotus) in several species and varieties are often 
the hosts of X. cava. 

All the beetles of this group, the Lornechusa group of 
Staphylinids, are true ant-guests. They are treated by 
their hosts, both as adults and larvae, quite as their own 
fellows, being fed, cleansed, and carried about. Indeed, 
it is said that in case of real or fancied danger, the beetle 
larvae and pupae have precedence of their own young 
in the ants' attention. 

This is all the more remarkable because, according to 
Father Wasmann (S. J.), a devoted and distinguished 
observer, and perhaps our highest authority on myr- 
mecophilous insects, these adopted citizens repay the 
host's care by ravenous assaults upon their own brood, 
devouring numbers of eggs and larvae. The effects of 
this, in weakening the commune, are apt to be serious. 
It works toward deterioration, as Wasmann show^s, in 
another way. This brood - parisitism appears to orig- 
inate a curious form of abortive individuals inter- 
mediate between the female and the worker, known as 
pseudogynes. They are cowardly and indolent. They 
decline to dig and nurse, and trot about the nest aim- 
lessly. Thus, in sharp contrast with the valiant and 
active workers, they hold a sort of "frustrate existence." 

How comes this about? Wasmann believes, and 
seems to prove, that it is caused by the diminished care 
and diet due to the queen larvae for their full develop- 
ment a case of restricted growth through defective 
nourishment. A brood of beetles (Lomechusa) begin 
life with a brood of worker-ants. The beetle larvae, as 
they appear, are not only generously fed by the ants, 
but begin to feed upon their eggs and larvae ; and as they 
are extremely voracious and grow rapidly, they devour 

16 231 


enormous numbers. This makes a great breach in the 
generation of coming ant-workers. These are essential 
to the commune, and the adults aim to make up the lack 
by converting into workers some of their larvae destined 
for queens. This results in that intermediate form, 
neither worker nor queen, but a spurious female a 

At the same time the infatuated ants, under the im- 
pression that their guest-larvae are valuable to the 
commune, lavish on them care due to their own progeny. 
Thus, again, arises a neglect of the young ant queens 
which stays their growth, and diverts their develop- 
ment toward the pseudogvne. It is the old storv of the 

<_j, */ 

cuckoo among the birds, who thrusts her egg into an- 
other bird's nest, and secures for her parasitic offspring 
the nurture due the legitimate fledglings. 

All this goes sadly against the general reputation of 
ants for wisdom. But perhaps it might modify our 
censure to mark our own history or survey existing 
society. Would it not be found that we have not only 
tolerated but have fondled and nurtured human 
parasites in official, family, and private life, greatly to 
the loss of the commune? Our parasites destroy the 
virility and the very life of our young, and we endure 
them. They waste our resources by graft and neglect 
of duty and pernicious schemes and perverted policies, 
and we give them our suffrages and support. We open 
our homes and our harbors to guests who repay our 
hospitality by implanting among us doctrines, practices, 
and persons that carry the seeds of communal disorder 
and decay. Misguided by such social and political 
unwisdom, it fares with us, and will ever fare, as with 
ant communes inoculated with Lomechusan beetles. 



It might therefore be maintained, with a good degree 
of verity, that social men in their communal life show 
no great superiority to social insects in dealing with the 

R. JS. Howe del. 

(By courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History) 


1. Big-headed soldier of Pheidole Kingi Andre var. instabilis Emery. 
2. Typical worker of Pheidole Kingi instabilis. 3. Male of the 
same. 4. Orasema riridis Ashmead, female. 5. Male. 6. Ora- 
sema coloradensis Ashmead. 

parasites that infest them (Fig. 86). Especially when 
we consider the vast advantage of men over ants in nat- 
ural endowments, the relative unwisdom of the latter 
does not bulk so largely. 

A Chalcid fly, Orasema viridis, is parasitic upon colonies 
of the ant Pheidole instabilis (Fig. 87). The chalcid is a 
beautiful insect, decorated with metallic green, and blue, 



violet, yellow, and black, with iridescent wings. This 
polychromatic creature, when seen among its ruddy hosts, 
amid the shining red and black seeds stored for food (the 
ant being a harvester), gives a brilliant appearance to 
the nest. But it is a beauty which bears the germs of 
death to those who cherish the possessors. 

The mother Orasema posits her numerous eggs upon 
the under surface of bodies of the young ant pupae, 

(By courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History) 


A parasite in various stages of development on the surface of 

the ant Pheidole instabilis 

near the head. She chooses for this the pupse of the 
large forms soldiers, females and males not the small 
workers, as having the richest store of nutriment. Here 
the parasites cling and grow rapidly, feeding upon the 
juices of their host. When the parasites reach the pupal 
stage within two or three days they are released by 
the worker-ants from their host, now a lifeless mass. 
Thenceforward they are objects of special care by the 
Pheidole workers, who tend them as their own offspring, 
not only in the pupal, but in the imago stage. Indeed, 
so great is this infatuation or delusion that, as in the 
case of the Lomechusan beetles, when a nest is disturbed 



the Orasemas are looked after before the ants' own 
brood! [W. 6, p. 5.] 

The life cycle of Orasema from egg to imago is a 
week or ten days. Thereafter the adults are licked and 
fondled and borne about by the ants, and fed by re- 
gurgitation. The guests commonly take these atten- 
tions passively; but sometimes just as growing boys 
resist embraces seek to avoid them. One cause of 
difference between hosts and parasites emanates from 
the preference of parasites for free air, which, as soon 
as they mature, both sexes aim to reach. Their hosts, 
having different views as to the relative values of light 
and darkness, guard the exit gates, and, seizing their 
guests, drag them back to the dark inner rooms. 

This tendency of the Orasemas results from their nat- 


ural habit of mating in the open air, after which the 
fertilized females seek a Pheidole nest wherein to start 
a new brood upon the round of 
parasitic life above described. 
After pupation the mature Ora- 
semas spend much of their time 
lying on their sides among the 
ant larvae and pupae. They con- 
tribute in no manifest way to 
the welfare of their hosts, their 
only interest in them being the 

selfish one of securing nurture 

,, , - , . , . (By courtesy of Am. Museum of Nat. Hist.) 

lor themselves and a brooding . 


host for their offspring (Fig. 88). a _ Just before pigmenta _ 
One finds nothing in the life his- tion. 6 Pigmented pupa 

. ,. ready to hatch 

tory of insects more puzzling 

than such seeming anomalies as the above associations 

between ants and parasitic chalcidids and beetles. We 



are used to some such social phenomena among men, 
who seem to have a perverse strain that forces their de- 
velopment along aberrant lines toward disadvantageous 
and destructive ends. But in these simpler children of 
nature such conditions surprise us as quite abnormal. 

Once in a while, however, the ants do seem to shake 
off the spell that binds them and awake to the true 
nature of their guests. In one of Professor Wheeler's 
artificial nests of Pheidole instabilis the workers rose 
upon the adult Orasemas, after they had remained in 
the nest several days, and killed and dismembered them. 
But a doubt remains as to whether this was due to their 
discovery that the victims were predatory aliens, or to 
some special stress of hunger or other cause; for the 
ants also killed and dismembered their own females, 
and after that reared only their fellow - workers and 
intermediates, as though they purposed to spare none but 
the caste that furnishes the lightest consumers and the 
helpers, and to free themselves from mere dependents. 
Like action on the part of worker-ants of other species 
has been known in times of special stringency in the 
food supply. 

Another of the parasitic aliens that associate them- 
selves with ants is a little Dipteron fly, Metopina pachy- 
condylcc Brues. While sorting out a number of larva? of 
a large black Ponerine ant, Pachycondyla harpax, several 
were found to have larvae of the above insect attached to 
the region of the first abdominal segment. It quite en- 
circled the ant larvse, like a collar about the neck, "a 
kind of Elizabethan ruff." The posterior end of the 
parasite was provided with a sort of suction disk, by 
which that part could clasp its host so tightly that the 
fore part of the body could be released and swung out 



of position without the creature losing its hold. [W. 
6, p. 45.] 

The experimenter transferred a colony of the ants to 
an artificial nest for observation, and fed them with a 
number of young larva^ of the ant Camponotus maccooki. 
These the Pachycondylse proceeded to tear to pieces, 
freely lapping the exuding juices. Then they placed the 
pulpy remainders in the ventral surface of their own 
larvae (as on a serving-dish), which lay upon their backs 
in a chamber dug in the earth of their nest. This 
chamber was so situated under the glass cover that the 
actions of both ants and larvae could be observed dis- 
tinctly. The ant larva? thrust out their brown heads 


and began to feed. The Dipteron larvae, by some un- 
known sense made conscious of the presence of food, 
unloosed their heads and necks without releasing their 
caudal attachment, and dipped their beaks into the 
mess. Thus the two young creatures so widely apart in 
structure and destiny were here united in their cradle- 
life and became fellow-trenchermen. 

The experiment was repeated a number of times, and 
with various sorts of food. The result was always the 
same. To quote the picturesque language of the ob- 
server, he was always "able to witness the strange 


banquet the dwarf reaching from the shoulder of the 
ogre, and helping himself from the charger formed by 
the trough-like belly of his host." Pieces of ant larvae, 
beetle larva 4 , myriapods, etc., when served up to the 
Pachycondyla larvae, were partaken of with equal zest 
by larval host and guest. The latter were thus shown 
to be true commensals - ' perhaps the most perfect 
commensals, in the original sense of the word, to be 

found in the whole animal kingdom." 



As a bit of by-play, we learn that when the ant larvae 
lay close together a Metopina would reach over and 
help itself from the portion of a neighbor, keeping the 
while its rear attachment. Sometimes, when the ra- 
tions were exhausted, the Dipteron would nip the tender 
hide of a near-by ant larva till it squirmed with pain, 
or it would tweak its own host. The suggested purpose 
of this action was to attract the attention of the nursing 
workers to the wriggling ant larva, and thus prompt 
them to replenish the larder. 

Both kinds of larvae were cleansed by the nurse-ants, 
who, if they were conscious of the presence of the para- 
sites, made no discrimination between them and their 
hosts. Indeed, as this species of ant is almost blind, it 
seemed doubtful if they really could distinguish larval 
host from larval guest, the latter possibly being taken 
for a mere enlargement of the former's neck. 

One hesitates, however, to accept a theory which 
implies such a lack of sensitiveness in the perceptive 
organs of insects commonly so highly developed. How- 
ever, as ants are notoriously devoted to the genuine 
antennal "tone" of society, and as the Metopinae, from 
the egg onward, are imbued with the true Pachycondyla 
atmosphere, the distinction between the two larva? 
might readily be lost in the common odor. Yet this 
would equally account for their sparing the guest, even 
though its nature were perceived. 

The next stage of development in the life history of 
these strange yoke-fellows is equally interesting. When 
the ant larva is mature, and nature stirs within it the 
great unrest that precedes transformation, it sets its 
spinning glands in motion, and begins to weave around 
itself the brown cocoon, or closed silken sac, within 



which the change occurs. It moves back and forth, 
around and around, issuing from the mouth-parts the 
liquid silk that hardens about its snug house of change 
until that is complete, when it falls into the quiet of 

What becomes of its Dipteron yoke-fellow during these 
movements? Surely they could not be wrought with 
that encumbrance upon it? No; it has disappeared. 
Whither? The mystery was solved by opening an ant 
cocoon. Therein lay the Metopina safely and snugly 
tucked away in its own little puparium lodged in the 
posterior pole of the cocoon. It had dropped off its 
host's neck, had taken station close by the opposite end, 
and had been wrapped within the silken sarcophagus. 
Thereto it had attached itself, had wrought out of its 
own larval skin an envelope (it is not a spinner like the 
ant), and in that it pupated. The quarters were large 
enough for both occupants. 

Now follows another interesting chapter in our story 
of these humble lives. Duly the time comes when Nature 
bids the transformed antling break forth from its silken 
coffin. It makes with its mandibles a rent at the an- 
terior pole, favored, it may be, as with other species, 
with the obstetrical aid of worker nurses. It creeps out, 
and, though still a callow, is soon numbered among the 
active members of the commune. The empty cocoon 
case is carried by the workers to the common dumping- 
ground for w r aste products of the commune. 

But what, meanwhile, has befallen Metopina ? In the 

struggles of the antling to get out, and from the cutting 

and tearing of the nurses to deliver it, has the young 

Dipteron escaped injury? Fortunately it so "happens" 

-if that be the lawful word that its puparium is in- 



variably formed at the posterior pole of the ant cocoon, 
directly opposite the anterior pole from which, as the 
point next to its jaws in its recumbent position, the 
antling emerges, and to which, as the point of fracture, 
the strain and force within and without are directed. 
Thus the little squatter sovereign, in its tiny puparium, 
goes scot-free and quite unharmed to the communal 
kitchen-middens, along with the abandoned cocoon of 
its voke-fellow. So it befalls that, as Professor Wheeler 

/ 9 

quaintly puts it, " after a privileged existence as free 
pensioner and bedfellow to a generous host, it is unwit- 
tingly carried away in the worn - out bedclothes and 
consigned to the family rag-pile." 

Here one must note another admirable " happening." 
The period for the Dipteron to emerge falls later than 
that of the ant. Therefore its hatching - place is the 
emmet dump where it has been deported by its foster- 
mothers, the ants. Fortunately for the newly fledged 
insect, since nature has not furnished it with fit imple- 
ments to break through such formidable walls, it finds 
a wide and effectual door already open in the tough 
cocoon. It is once more debtor to its sometime host for 
that hospitality which not only "welcomes the coming," 
but also "speeds the parting guest," and crawls out of 
the rent made by the emerging antling. 

Thenceforth its new world lies before it. It finds its 
mate. It follows the mysterious impulse of its kind, 
and returns to the commune whence it came, or flies to 
some other colony of Pachycondyla harpax, and, mousing 
among the robust larvae thereof, drops its minute egg, 
and- But there our story of the cycle of her life must 

And what a wonderful story it is ! Here, if ever, one 



may apply Marlowe's phrase: "Infinite riddles in a little 
room." It has taken the patience, skill, and experience 
of the trained naturalist to trace it and unfold it to us. 
But it needs no expert to note the admirable adaptations 
by which a minute fly has been borne on, step by step, 
in utter helplessness, through the successive stages of a 
dependent being, from a mere speck of vital matter to a 
winged insect, armed with the instinct to invade an un- 
unknown world and propagate its kind. How great 
and how infinitely exact must be that Over-Force that 
dominates nature, which can include within the compass 
of laws that regulate the universe a series of adaptations 
like these which guard the life of a two-millimetre para- 
sitic fly! It amazes, while it perplexes one, to account 
for it all. Yet, in the face of great Nature's workings, 
one may venture to recall the proverb of Spenser (not 
Herbert, but he of the Faerie Queene) : 

' 111 can he rule the great who cannot reach the small." 

In contrast with our studies of the chalcid Orasema 
viridis and the beetle Xenodusa cam, it is pleasing to 
record that the association between Metopina the fly 
and Pachycondyla the ant is apparently wholly benign 
at least, under ordinary conditions. The guest does not 
prey upon its host; no physical injury seems to follow 
its enforced companionship; and the bare particle of 
food filched from the ant larva does not tax the supply- 
department of the commune or cause its workers to 
stint their own dependents. The larval hosts them- 
selves are as large and healthy as others in the nest, and 
produce normal pupae. It is a case of "all's well that 
ends well." 

These are but types of numerous examples of those 



strange and seemingly " unnatural" companionships 
with alien creatures which have grown up in ant com- 
munes. The literature thereof is already large, and is 
continually growing as entomologists push their in- 
vestigations more widely and carefully. It would be 
impossible to present here an abstract of even a tithe of 
the known facts, but from the typical ones which have 
been chosen the reader may fairly judge of the general 
tenor of the rest. 



A PHIDES are the alien insects with which ants have 
J\. the most intimate relations. The manner in which 
ants search out, attend, protect, and domesticate these 
creatures need not here be repeated ; l but as these con- 
sociated relations are so widely and popularly known, it 
seems well to distinguish them from other ant guests 
and associates by a more detailed description than could 
be given to other myrmecophiles. 

The aphides, or plant-lice, belong to the order Hemip- 
tera and the sub-order Homoptera, including such in- 
sects as cicadas, or harvest flies, and the bark-lice. They 
range from small to exceedingly minute, but make up 
in numbers what they lack in size, and include some of 
the most destructive pests known to the agriculturalist 
and horticulturist. They are soft-bodied and gregarious, 
and most numerous in the wingless forms. The eyes 
are usually quite large and of a dark color, and the 
antennae of many species long and threadlike. The 
beak is two or three jointed, and in some cases as long as 
or longer than the body. In the leaf-feeding species 
the legs are rather long and slender. In the root-feeding 
and gall-inhabiting forms the legs are short and stout. 

1 See Nature's Craftsmen, chap. iii. 


The wings are thin aud transparent, with dark veins on 
the anterior margin. 

The order Hemiptera is composed of beaked insects, 
and the wings, where these organs are present, are of 
the same texture throughout, and close, rooflike, over 
the body. In several groups they are transparent, and 
have many strong veins. In others they are tough and 
opaque, and show many different colors. The head is 
broad but usually short, without any neck, and has 
the beak rising so far under the breast that it seems to be 
attached thereto, and may be closely folded against it. 

The honey-dew which aphids yield, and which gives 
the occasion for their peculiar connection with ants, is 
obtained by the insertion of the beak into the tender 
bark of the plant. The pumping apparatus is then set 
in play and the sap withdrawn into the body of the in- 
sect. It is a minute type of the mode of getting sugar- 
water by "tapping" the trees in a sugar-maple camp in 
Vermont or Ohio. The sap thus withdrawn probably 
undergoes some slight chemical change within the in- 
sect. It differs in taste from the sap of the plant, having 
an acrid flavor, in some degree resembling the taste of 
honey, thus justifying the ordinary phrase " honey-dew." 
It does not, at least as far as the author's observations 
have gone, proceed from the nectaries, or nectar tubes, 
as has been commonly supposed, but is a fluid excrement. 
This, however, differs from the ordinary excrement, which 
is a whitish, semi-solid substance, voided in long cylin- 
drical strings or minute whitish balls, which roll up like 
quicksilver globules. 

The injury produced upon the plants by this tapping 
results from this attempt of the insect to procure its 
natural food. The numerous punctures made within 



a leaf cause it to shrink up, forming little rolls, or tents, 
within which immense numbers of the insects dwell. 
With them ants will commonly be found, attending them 
simply for their honey-dew; but often they get the blame 
of the damage done by their companions, an experience 
that is apt to befall higher creatures. Minute as each 
individual is, when multiplied by hundreds and thou- 
sands the injury wrought upon the numerous leaves of 
the plant is sufficient to affect their health. 

When the punctures are made upon the roots they 
result in little gall-like swellings, which harden, destroy 
the natural function of the rootlets, and finally result in 
death. When a large number of roots is thus affected, 
the plant, of course, has lost its power of deriving sufficient 
and wholesome nurture from the earth, and so falls into 
decay. Other species of aphides secrete from a part 
or the whole of the body a whitish powder or bloom, or 
numerous filaments of fine cottony matter in which they 
become completely enveloped. 

In the various stages of development the nymphs of 
some species secrete globules of honey-dew several times 
larger than themselves. Sometimes the globule com- 
pletely envelops the nymph. After they are moulted, 
the nymphs usually find a new feeding-place, leaving 
the old skin attached to the drops of honey-dew. The 
moulted skins, the last moulted especially, often retain 
their form so perfectly as to seem like a live nymph. 

Professor Slingerland, in his account of the " pear- 
tree psylla," 1 says that it ejects immense quantities 
of honey-dew, which cover twigs, branches, and trunks 
of the trees, and even the vegetation beneath. This 

1 M. V. Slingerland, Bulletin No. 44, Cornell University Agricul- 
tural Experiment Station, 1902: "The Pear-Tree Psylla." 



appears soon after the 1 leaves expand, and is found 
throughout the season. I have seen American for- 
est trees attacked by aphids, from which the honey- 
dew was flung out in such quantities that it sounded like 
the patter of rain-drops as it fell upon the dry leaves and 
grass beneath the infested branches. The whole surface 
of the ground underneath was covered with the liquid 
sweet, and thousands of ants, bees, wasps, and various 
other insects had assembled to the forest feast. 

The reproductive processes of aphids are extremely 
complicated and remarkable, and have been the subject 
of much careful study and experiment. At certain sea- 
sons of the year, usually late in the summer or early 
autumn, individuals of both sexes are produced, and the 
females lay eggs which in some species hatch immedi- 
ately. In others they remain over the winter. Sexed 
aphids were formerly supposed to be the winged form, 
but late discoveries show that there is not necessarily 
any connection between the wings and the true sexual 
organs, the wings being simply an adaptation for migra- 
tion from one plant to another. 

The form hatching from the egg is known as "the 
stem-mother," and in the course of a few days begins 
the peculiar process of reproduction known as parthe- 
nogenesis, or agamic reproduction, bringing forth her 
young alive and in rapid succession. This process has 
been likened to the multiplication of certain kinds of 
plants by slipping and budding. The offspring of the 
stem-mother begin to produce viviparously in the course 
of a few days, and in this way the multiplication of in- 
dividuals proceeds at a most extraordinary rate, extend- 
ing to several generations. 

In the pear-tree psylla, for example, the hibernating 



winter brood begin to pair and lay eggs in the first warm 
days of April. The eggs are placed in the creases of the 
bark, or in old leaves, or scars about the bases of the 
terminal buds of the preceding year's growth some also 
upon the side. They are usually laid singly, but rows 
of eight or ten are sometimes found. The eggs are 
scarcely visible to the unaided eye. It would take 
eighty of them placed lengthwise to measure an inch. 
A short stalk on the larger end attaches the egg to the 
bark, and a long, thread-like process projects from the 
smaller end. 

About the middle of May most of the eggs are hatched 
and the hibernating adults have disappeared. Imme- 
diately after emerging from the egg the minute nymph 
seeks a suitable feeding-place, and is soon at work suck- 
ing the sap with its short beak, which appears to arise 
from between its legs. The favorite feeding-places of 
the nymph are in the axles of the leaf and the petioles 
and stems of the fruit. Sometimes in early spring they 
crawl into the buds. When the axles of the fruit-stems 
and leaves are full, the nymphs gather in closely packed 
clusters about the base of the petioles and stems. If 
very numerous, they gather on the under side of the 
leaves along the mid-rib. They move about but little, 
and sometimes become covered with their own honey- 
dew. If disturbed they crawl around rapidly. 

The only time the nymphs seem to stop feeding is 
during the casting of their own skins, which become 
too small and give place to new and elastic skins formed 
just beneath the old ones, in the ordinary method of 
moulting insects. At the last moult, which occurs about 
one month after the nymph emerges from the egg, the 
adult insect appears. 

'7 247 


The adult has habits quite different from those of the 
nymphs. It has strong legs and wings, which permit it 
to spring up and fly away quickly upon the slightest jar 
of the plant or the near approach of the hand to its 
resting-place. The hibernating forms gather, but quite 
sluggishly, and are readily captured when found. The 
summer forms fly from tree to tree, and can easily be 
borne by the winds long distances, thus infesting neigh- 
boring orchards and plants. The adults are also pro- 
vided with a beak, with which they feed upon the tissues 
of the leaves and the tender twigs of the trees. They 
seem to have no favorite feeding-place. 

Three or four days after transformation from the 
nymph stage the adults of the spring and summer 
broods pair, and egg-laying begins for another brood. 
These eggs are usually laid singly, sometimes several 
in a row or group, on the under side of the tenderest 
leaves, among the hairs near the mid-rid or on the 
petioles near the leaf. Sometimes the mother places 
an egg or two in each notch of the toothed edge of the 
leaf. These eggs of the summer brood resemble those 
of the hibernating adults, but hatch in from eight to ten 
days under more favorable conditions. 

Fortunately for the safety of vegetation, aphids have 
a number of natural enemies. Among the most ef- 
fective of these are the well-known " lady birds," which 
are beetles, belonging principally to the Coccinella. They 
are small, roundish insects, generally yellow or red, 
with black spots, or black with red or yellow spots. 
There are many species, and they are generally distrib- 
uted among the plants, and are familiar objects to those 
who cultivate flowers. They live both in the perfect 
and the immature state upon aphids, their natural food, 



and their services are extremely valuable. Perhaps 
it is this which has created the friendly popular senti- 
ment toward these pretty beetles. It is rare to hear an 
utterance of dislike toward them, and they fairly rival 
butterflies as general favorites. Their young are small, 
flattened grubs of a bluish or blue-black color, spotted 
usually with red or yellow, and furnished with six legs 
near the forepart of the body. They are hatched from 
little yellow eggs laid in clusters among the plant-lice, 
so that they find themselves at once within reach of their 
prey, which from their superior strength they are able 
to seize and slaughter in great numbers. 

Another enemy of the aphis is the golden-eyed lace- 
winged fly (Chrysopa perala), which is of a yellow-green 
color, and has four wings resembling delicate lace. It 
gives out an offensive odor. It suspends its eggs by 
threads in clusters beneath the leaves or where plant- 
lice abound. The larva is a long and cylindrical grub 
provided with jaws moving laterally, which perforate the 
body with a hole, through which it sucks the juice of its 
victims. It requires only one minute to kill the largest 
aphis and suck out the fluid contents of the body. 

This sketch of the life history of aphids will be appre- 
ciated by those who have learned the story of their rela- 
tions to the ant. That their value as food producers 
should have been discovered and utilized by such in- 
veterate scouts and scavengers and cosmopolitan feeders 
as ants is not strange. But that they should have ac- 
quired the art of "milking" them; should have learned 
to seclude them for their own use within walled en- 
closures, as sheep within a fold ; even to rear them with- 
in their own bounds and dwelling, tending them as a 
herder or farmer does his domestic cattle, protecting 



them and fleeing with them in predatory raids all this 
forms a chapter of natural history so strangely analogous 
to the ways of agricultural society as to link the ancient 
and wide-spread human interest in ants with the life 
of the aphids, which lend themselves so readily to their 
remarkable uses. This natural adaptation is, of course, a 
factor in the development of the habit which here has 
commanded our attention. 

That which makes ants particeps criminis in the de- 
struction wrought by aphids is the remarkable habit 
which they have acquired of deliberately housing the 
aphid eggs and raising therefrom the adult forms. From 
their breeding-camps and nurseries they transport these 
domesticated herds to the plants which they elect to 
attack, whether on root or stem. There the aphids 
at once thrust in their beaks and begin to draw out 
the sap, which the canny " proprietors " appropriate as 
honey-dew. It is thus indirectly, and not by any direct 
injury inflicted upon plants, that ants become at times 
injurious insects. Otherwise they take rank with the 
benign insects, by aiding the fertilizing of blossoms by 
their frequent visit- for nectar, and the formation and 
shifting of tillable soil by digging out their subterranean 

Our attention must now pass from the communal 
associations which have been established between ants 
and alien insects to those existing between ants of sepa- 
rate species. These are numerous and greatly varied, 
and only a few typical cases can be considered here. 
Among the consociated communes of ants there are few 
whose relations are more interesting than those existing 
between Myrmica brevinodis and Leptothorax emersoni. 
The latter is a small species (much smaller than Myrmica), 



and in forming its compound nest it shows a strong pur- 
pose to keep its own living-quarters quite distinct from 
its associates, although the workers mingle freely with 
the Myrmicas in their larger galleries. As compared 
with these, the gangways of Leptothorax are small, and 
evidently are so made and kept to maintain their isola- 
tion and hold their robust neighbors at a distance. It 
is only by a deliberate onset of sappers and miners that 
the larger ants can make way through their dwarfish 
associates' narrow lanes; and this is occasionally done ; 
although for the most part the Myrmicas seem content 
to let the Leptothorax alone. 

A sectional view of the joint underground commune of 
the two species shows the parts occupied by Leptothorax 
quite apart from Myrmica, but united thereto by their 
narrow alleys. The " China town," or foreign quarters 
of some of our cities, might be suggested, not inaptly, 
as a somewhat analogous communal subdivision on 
racial lines. 

In spite of this maintenance of independent quarters 
for themselves and their offspring, the two species are 
truly symbiotic. They intermingle on the most amicable 
terms; they run about together in the main galleries 
and large myrmican chambers; and they exhibit, under 
favorable circumstances, the chief bond of union that 
holds this strange compound commune together; it is 
the old, old " bread-and-butter" bond that draws to- 
gether communities of men. The Leptothorax under 
normal conditions obtain their food from the Myrmicas, 
and from them alone. [W. 4, p. 14.] 

A peep through the glass roof of an artificial nest 
shows a Myrmica worker standing stock-still in a gallery 
with a Leptothorax mounted upon its back. What does 



it mean? The little creature is licking its great host, 
who bows gently beneath the osculation as the manip- 
ulator passes from back to neck, from neck to head, 
from head to face. The recipient plainly enjoys the 
operation, and reminds one of the domestic cat purring 
under the stroking of a mistress. 

Here and there other worker Myrmicas are undergoing 
the same treatment, and the queens and the males, too. 
In this corner a Myrmica queen, a giantess beside her 
dwarfish guests, has four or five attendants, all mounted 
in different positions upon their huge host, and working 
away eagerly. Indeed, the process seems to be an excit- 
ing one to them, as their abdomens are kept in almost 
constant stridulatory movement. Doubtless it is agree- 
able to both parties; but the act of Leptothorax is not 
one of pure benevolence. This is the famous shampoo 
dejeune the dinner shampoo of ants that we are seeing 
through our trained observer's eyes. There can be no 
doubt that the wee operators obtain some substance 
from the body surface of their hosts, but what is its 
nature, is not easily ascertained. 

It has been suggested that it is a secretion from 
cutaneous glands, faint but agreeable and edible, and 
distributed over the body surface, or that it is a 
salivary secretion spread over the Myrmicas by that 
mutual licking in which they so often indulge (whose 
prime motive would seem to be cleanliness), and of 
which, minute as the quantity is, there is enough to 
serve the diminutive leptothoracian appetite. This is 
probable; for the salivary glands of ants are well devel- 
oped, and, as in the case of the honey-bee, may be 
good food-stuff, even as used in this indirect way. Here, 
it may be, we have an explanation, in part at least, of 

2. r >2 


the strange companionships of myrmecophilous insects, 
as beetles, crickets, and cockroaches, that become guests 
of ant communes. 

The Leptothorax have another source of refection, a 
good example of which may be induced in an artifi- 
cial nest by overfeeding the Myrmicas, which, if given 
sugar and water after a fast, are apt to gorge themselves. 
In this condition, as they wander about with half-open 
jaws, minute drops of sweet liquor will be regurgitated. 
These droplets, as they hang upon the maxillae and 
lower mouth parts, attract the Leptothorax workers. 
They mount the Myrmica's back and imbibe the pendent 
droplet, at times sharing the confection with a hungry 
myrmican worker ; or the little beggar, from its seat 
atop of its host's head, will try the effect of the " dinner 
shampoo," usually with the result that the over-full 
Myrmica grows complacent and yields to her tiny but 
canny solicitor the desired sweet. 

It was noted that during all these interchanges be- 
tween the bulky hosts and their tiny affinities the former 
were continuously complaisant. There were no signs 
of irritation or resentment at the officious and uninvited 
solicitations of the guests. They were not menaced, nor 
seized and held in the mandibles as a mild form of 
protest or discipline. The Myrmicas rather seemed, as 
their observer thought, to look upon the little creatures 
with a gentle benevolence, much as human adults regard 
children. The friendly antennal salute was always given 
as they passed and repassed their guests. On the other 
hand, the Leptothorax attended upon the Myrmicas 
with a zeal that seemed almost comical. [W. 1, p. 442.] 
Leptothorax is a genus of cosmopolitan distribution, of 
heterogeneous instincts, and of catholic temperament, 



and therefore well adapted to the varied roles for which 
its peculiar size and plastic nature also fit it. 

To the necessity for finding food combined with mi- 
nute size we probably owe the origin of some remark- 
able associations formed by sundry species. Some of 
these which live in or near the nests of other species and 
prey on their larva? and pupa?, or surreptitiously consume 
certain substances in the nests of their hosts, have been 
grouped together under the name of "Cleptobiotic" or 
thieving ants. [\V. 1, p. 528-9.] As a distinctive name 
the title is apt enough, but the lay reader may be ad- 
vised that it is not meant to imply moral delinquency, 
or that thief-ants are offenders above all others; for 
the act of seizing food wherever it is found and can be 
taken is common and natural to all ants. 

Cleptobiotic ants are small in size and subterranean in 
habit, and are persistent intruders upon the communes 
of other and larger species. Their minuteness is their 
security, and doubtless the source of their peculiar par- 
asitic habit; for it enables them to steal into the gal- 
leries and rooms of greater neighbors, and plunder their 


(After Wasmann) 

a Male, b Dealated female, c Worker. (All magnified) 



flocks of larvae and pupae. The habits of one species 
will fairly illustrate the manner of life of thief-ants gen- 
erally. Solenopsis fugax (Fig 89) is a European species 



(Wasmann, after Wheeler) 

with minute yellow workers, and large black males and 
females. The way in which it establishes itself within 
the boundaries of a host is shown in Fig. 90 (reproduced 
from Wheeler's copy of Father Wasmann's drawing), 
where its minute galleries, in the sectional view, are seen 
threading the storied commune of Formica pratensis, 
and opening into the far broader chambers and tunnelled 
roads of the host. Solenopsis is able to maintain an 
independent colony and conduct her predatory raids from 
a distance, but the greater ease of action doubtless attracts 
it near and nearer and even within the bounds of its host. 



Stealing along their tenuous subways, scarcely larger 
than a lady's knitting-needle, they enter a Formica 
nursery, where a bunch of cocoons has been stored in 
fancied security. These they mount, perforate, cut the 
included pupa? to pieces, and bear the parts away in 
their mandibles or absorbed within their crops. 

Janet observed their method in an artificial nest of 
Solenopsis fugax and Formica rufibarbis. He fed the 
former daily about ten cocoons of Lasius queens, placing 
them near the formicary gate. Soon the little thief- 
ants appeared. From ten to thirty so small they are 
would climb upon a single cocoon, which ere long was 
dotted with minute perforations that at last united in a 
rift that exposed the contents. Then the fierce lilliputians 
fell upon their victim, cut into it, sucked its vital juices, 
and tore it into minute piecelets, which they bore into 
the nest interior. 

One wonders how all this thieving and killing can go 
on unnoticed and unavenged by the Formicas ? A glance 
at the diagram will show that the diminutive avenues 
of the aggressors are a secure refuge for them, into which 
the Formicas could not follow, even if they were detect- 
ed. Moreover, such an experienced naturalist as Doctor 
Forel is inclined to believe that, when the two species 
chance to meet, the minute size of the thief-ants makes 
them invisible to their hosts, so that the burglarizing 
and murdering may go on unnoticed. How that could 
seriously affect the situation, in view of the antennal 
sensitiveness to other distinctions, does not clearly ap- 
pear. Besides, small as they are, the thieves are armed 
with formidable stings, and are so numerous that they 
are antagonists not to be despised. 

It must also be remembered that the secret and 



stealthy method of these marauding mites is not cal- 
culated to arouse the ire of the Formicas and marshal 
them for resistance, as would, for example, the raid of a 
battalion of slave-makers. They have the real kleptic 
faculty of human robbers, and steal softly to their work. 
Having acquired the protective nest-odor of their host, 
they doubtless pass in and out, not unchallenged, but with 
impunity. In America, Solenopsis fugax is represented by 
S. molesta, a minute yellow ant with yellow queens and 
dark-brown males. It is widely distributed, and Professor 
Wheeler thinks that its habits are substantially the same 
as those of its European congener. [W. 1, p. 533.] 

It remains to speak of that form of consociation whicji 
Wheeler has classified as Plesiobiosis, the "double nests " 
of Forel, and which Wasmann has designated as acci- 
dental forms of compound nests. This comprises cases 
in which two, or rarely more, colonies of ants of different 
species occupy galleries and seemingly have established 
formicaries in close contact. 

Among these ants Professor Wheeler groups several 
species observed by this author. The foetid ant (Fore- 
lius fcetidus Buckley---? 7 , maccooki Forel) is a small, 
yellowish dolichoderine ant which lives amicably with- 
in the nest boundaries of the Texan agricultural ant. 
Numbers of these ants were seen frequently travelling 
in long lines, in single or " Indian" file, across or near the 
nests of the agriculturals. Usually their route was upon 
blades of grass growing on those nests that were covered 
with needle-grass (Aristida) , or along low tufts of grass 
on the margin of the disk. The agriculturals took no 
notice of their tiny neighbors at least, never interfered 
with them- -and the two species seemed to be upon 
the most friendly terms with each other. [McC. 3, p. 202.] 



Another case of this sort of consociation is that es- 
tablished between the occidental ant of Colorado and 
a small species of Dorymyrmex (D. pyramicus Roger 
var. flavus McCook). There was scarcely a formicary 
of Occidentals that did not have upon its surrounding 
clearing one or more species. Usually there were two 
or three nests, sometimes four, located upon different 
parts of the pavement. These were small moundlets of 
fine soil, surrounding a central opening that led into an 
irregular series of galleries and chambers. [McC. 5 ; 
p. loo.] The insects are small, active, irritable, intense- 
ly pugnacious, and courageous. The manner in which 
these little fellows bullied and badgered their Occident 
hosts was amusing and, indeed, amazing. Examples of 
this belligerency are given and illustrated in Chapter 
X " Warrior Ants and Their Equipment for War." 

Of the nests of six species of true ants found parasitic 
upon the nest of Occidentalis, I found colonies of the 
Sanguine slave-maker on three separate pavements. 
The gates were on the clearings not far from the central 
mound, and on exploring one Occident nest the formican 
galleries and rooms occupied a goodly part of the in- 
terior space. The number of ants and slaves in these 
compound nests was quite large, judging from those in 
sight, yet there was seen no antagonism to these guests 
on the part of the Occident hosts. The species were not 
greatly unequal in size, but the disparity in numbers 
and in belligerent efficiency was such that the Occidents 
could have exterminated the Sanguines and their kid- 
napped retainers. The auxiliaries of sanguined were 
Formica Schaufussi and a small black ant which 
Wheeler thinks was one of the Western varieties of 

F. fusca, 



The most curious and interesting of these parasitic 
formicaries was that of a large blue-black Formica. I 
first found its galleries at four feet below the surface, and 
thereafter traced them to within four inches thereof. The 
Formicas occupied the central and eastern part of the ex- 
cavation. The architecture was less regular than that 
of Occidentalis, which may have been the result of 
necessity rather than natural habit, but showed arrange- 
ment in stories. The rooms communicated with one 
another, and were crowded with workers, callows, and 
grubs. The galleries and chambers were placed side 
by side a ad in the midst of those of the Occident ant. 
One of these, located in the heart of the nest and full of 
larvre, was just above and flanked on each side by gran- 
aries of Occidentalis packed with seeds. Another open- 
ing higher up was surrounded by Occidents' rooms. 
I have rarely seen so curious a study as that presented 
by these interblended interiors. [McC. 5, p. 154.] 

My miner assistant might well raise the query, "Which 
of these fellows jumped the other's claim? 7 -the Col- 
orado vernacular for, " Who was the intruder, and who 
the original possessor ?' : The arrangement and relative 
positions of rooms and galleries led me to infer that 
there had been a contemporaneous growth. The two 
queens established their original cells in vicinity. In 
time, mutually expanding their bounds, they approached 
each other, and thenceforward held the ground together. 
By what peculiar gift or condition were the two species 
able to so guide their engineering that they never con- 
flicted? Or, did they conflict? 

I could find no traces of intercrossing of openings 
or impinging of chamber walls. Closely as these ap- 
proached, they seemed to be structurally distinct. What 



legal conflicts, what local battles and bloodshed, have 
resulted from trespasses on boundaries made in the 
gold and silver mines of the human neighbors and fellow- 
miners of these insects, old-time Coloradoans know too 
well. Were the emmets more peaceable and tolerant of 
one another than the men? Or, would the secrets of 
their subterranean abodes, if given to natural history, 
uncover scenes of dreadful conflict and death? 

As the excavations uncovered the interior of the 
great nest, nothing appeared to indicate a state of war- 
fare past or recent. As pick, trowel, and knife exposed 
the rooms, both species were surprised in the midst of 
their ordinary duties, and showed unmistakably that 
they were wholly engrossed in peaceful industries. 
But when, by some careless stroke of the tools, rooms or 
galleries of the two species were forced together, or 
when the crumbling earth precipitated the insects into a 
common trench, then the polemic possibilities appeared. 
Then blacks and reds grappled in hot strife and fought 
with fury. The powerful sting of the Occidents was 
brought into service, as the combatants rolled, strug- 
gling, in the soil, and the sharp mandibles wrought like a 
French guillotine, as witnessed by the decapitated trunks 
of the Formicas quivering in the trench, leaving at times 
the severed head still clinging to its antagonist by jaws 
clasped in the rigor of death. 

These battles seemed to confirm the fact indicated 
by a study of the architecture, that the status of the 
Formicas in this compound nest was one of peaceful 
parasitism. The Occidents plainly tolerated their neigh- 
bors, for manifestly they had the power, had they been 
so inclined, to drive them out or destroy them. 

/ *, 


NTS are unique among social insects in the prac- 
tice of a form of slavery. Bees and wasps, as far 
as known, show no tendency thereto. Indeed, their 
physical condition and manner of life seem to bar the 
way to the development of such a type of co-operative 
citizenship, while, on the other hand, the habit of ants 
rather invites it. 

In this characteristic we have another suggestion 
of those tendencies of human society which appear in 
emmet life. As far back as run the authentic records 
of our race, we trace some form of slave-holding. The 
Abrahamic type, as uncovered in the Old Testament, 
was little more than civic adoption, a kind of tribal 
11 naturalization ' -to borrow a term from American 
customs. Ancient Egypt had a far severer sort, as seen 
in her remarkable mural history, preserved even to this 
day in the inscriptions and paintings on the inner walls 
of her tombs, and confirmed by the Bible story of the 
Hebrew bondage. 

The slavery of classic Rome and Greece, though most 
cruel in many of its features, had some mitigations; at 
least, it did not close and seal the door of hope, but 
kept an open way for its "freedmen" to become honored 
and influential citizens. It lacked, as did most early 

forms of human bondage, that racial bar and taint which 



was one of the worst features of American slavery. 
Our British forebears, to whom we owe our views of 
both civil liberty and chattel slavery, were at one with 
all Europe in holding Africans as the lawful prey of 
white men, and quite outside the pale of the common 
right of man to liberty and independent life. 

One needs this bird's-eye glance at this phase of hu- 
man society as he takes up a somewhat analogous feat- 
ure of certain ant communes; for our conception of ant 
" slavery" is colored by the current meaning of the word 
as derived from our own use and wont. It is not, indeed, 
an inapt term as applied to emmet communes, if one 
regard the usage of men in the whole course of social 
history; but it is a different thing as interpreted by 
one's preconceptions of slavery as lately existing in the 
United States. 

In point of fact, there is no trace of such slavery in the 
relation. What one sees in a so-called slave-holding ant 
commune shows no involuntary servitude, nor any con- 
ditions substantially different from those obtaining in 
ordinary ant communes, except the presence of two 
distinct species. These, in their bearing toward each 
other, give no signs of superiority or subordination. 
It is a co-operative citizenship, whose duties, in one type 
of commune, are more sharply differentiated between 
the two classes of citizens than in the other, but wherein 
all are apparently equal and free, although one class has 
been kidnapped in infancy and reared in its abductor's 
home. In so far, no further, they may be ranked as 

There are several species in America that may be 
classed as slave-holding but all may be ranged under two 
types the SANGUINE and the POLYERGINE, so named 



from the species Formica sanguined and Polyergus ru- 

fescens that respectively represent them. In communes 
of the Sanguine type the dominant species preserves 
all normal ant characteristics in full potency, and co- 
operates with the auxiliary or " subject'' species in 
civil responsibility and labor. In the Polyergine type 
of colony the dominant species, Polyergus rufescens- 
luciduSj the "Shining slave-maker/' has lost all disposi- 
tion and even ability to any service but that of conduct- 
ing periodic predatory raids and supplying the com- 
mune with captives. 

It seems an odd coincidence, in view of the preference 
for African slaves among men, that the ants most af- 
fected by the slave-makers are the dark species and 
varieties, particularly Formica fusca and its glossy-black 
American variety Formica subsericea. Both the San- 
guine and the Shining slave-makers victimize these spe- 
cies more freely, perhaps, than any others. This is due, 
doubtless, to their greater feebleness and comparative 
timidity, as well as their adaptability to associated 

We are now to undertake an inquiry into the natural 
conditions out of which this interesting phase of emmet 
life may have arisen. 1 In so doing, it is well to remem- 
ber that our search after the origin of habit must always 
be more or less like progress up a blind alley wherein 
we are sure to come to a point where a blank wall faces 
us. For, follow back our inquiry as far as we may by 
observation and experiment, and b}^ reasoning there- 
upon, we come at last to the mystery unsolved, and 
seemingly unsolvable by our natural methods how 

1 For a study of the habit itself, see Nature's Craftsmen, chap. v. 
1 8 263 


arose the first individual and the first action of the series? 
Nevertheless, one must push on, by virtue of his insatiable 
thirst after the final cause of things, as far as he may. 

The first decided step toward the truth in our study 
of the phylogeny of the slave-making habit among ants 
was made by Prof. William M. Wheeler. During the 
summer of 1904, while studying ants among the Litch- 
field Hills of Connecticut, Professor Wheeler made the 
brilliant discovery that the female of Formica difficilis- 
consodanSj after her marriage-flight, habitually seeks a 
weak and probably queenless nest of Formica Schaufussi- 
incerta, and thereupon founds a colony of her own species. 
The host-commune, the Schaufuss ant, belongs to the 
group whose native temperament seems to adapt them 
to serve as auxiliaries, and a depauperate and queenless 
condition favors the welcoming of a queen, even though 
an alien. On the other hand, the Consocians female is of 
characteristically diminutive stature, and thus physically 
disqualified from the usual role of solitary queens the 
rearing of an independent commune. Thus mutually 
adapted for union, an alliance is formed, and the first 
step of a mixed colony is made. 

Now follows a strange and interesting history whose 
bearing upon our subject readily appears. The Con- 
socians queen drops her eggs. The Incerta workers, 
true to their instinct, care for them and rear them to 
maturity. Ere long they equal their nurses in number, 
and soon exceed them. As there is no natural source 
from which to recruit the ranks of the host-species, in 
the ordinary course of communal life and service the 
original founders gradually decrease, until all have died 
out. There remains then Consocians commune pure and 



This method of founding a colony the discoverer called 
"temporary social parasitism," and he inferred that a 
number of these mixed colonies known to exist, and 
which had been thought to be abnormal or accidental 
consociations of two species, were in all probability 
merely cases of temporary parasitism. And he pre- 
dicted that various species of the Formica rufa group 
would be found to establish their colonies after the 
manner of F. consocians that is, by the aid of some one 
of that group most affected as auxiliaries among slave- 

It seemed to follow, as an almost necessary conjecture, 
that this might give the clew to the true phylogeny of 
the slave-making or dulotic habit first discovered by 
Pierre Huber. He therefore entered upon a series of 
remarkable experiments, from which we may conclude 
that the method, as it occurs in nature, has been un- 
covered. A strangely interesting story it is. [W. 2, 
pp. 33-105.] Twenty-one experiments were made with 
young queens of Formica sanguined (of the prevalent 
American variety rubicunda) and artificial colonies of 
siibsericea, a widely distributed American form of 
Formica fusca, which is commonly found as an auxiliary 
in slave-holding communes. Two of these were partially 
and ten completely successful. The following accounts 
of two experiments will show both the professor's meth- 
ods and the results. 

The artificial nest used was divided into two connected 
chambers, one illuminated, the other darkened. Herein 
was placed, within the dark chamber, a colony of twelve 
large Siibsericea workers and a number of worker co- 
coons. To these a female Rubicunda was introduced. 

Some of the workers snatched up cocoons and fled 



into the light chamber, while others fell upon the stranger 
and began to tug at legs and antenme. The queen was 
passive for a few minutes, then aroused herself, shook 
off her assailants, and began to prance back and forth 
in the chamber, pouncing on any worker within reach. 
Having slain two of these in quick succession, she began 
to collect cocoons and put them in a corner of the nest. 
When eighteen had been assembled, she mounted the 
pile and stood guard over it, with mandibles wide open 
and threatening. 

Meanwhile the Subsericeas had hastened with the 
remaining cocoons into the light chamber and plugged 
up the door with earth-pellets. For two days matters 
thus stood, Rubicunda perched upon her looted cocoons, 
and the black workers keeping to their own apartment. 
At night, however, there must have been a sally and 
a combat; for early next morning (July 9th) the queen 
was dead, and her captured cocoons were replaced with 
the others. The victors' formic -acid batteries had 
wrought their subtle aim, for their adversary's large 
body was not mutilated. Death resulted from poison. 

Let us now mark a more successful experiment. Into 
a colony made up of thirty-three Subsericeas, one hun- 
dred and fifty cocoons, and a few larvae, a Rubicunda 


female was placed. The workers were thereby intensely 
excited, and, seizing their cocoons, rushed into the light 
chamber. Two who advanced to assault the stranger, 
as a sort of "forlorn hope," were shaken off and one 
slain. During this conflict other workers stole back into 
the dark chamber to secure more cocoons, which were 
stowed in the remotest corner of the light chamber. 
Meanwhile the queen's excitement had much increased. 
In the interval of four hours she had killed five more 



workers. She entered the light room, raided the cocoon 
stores, and captured and transferred them, thirty-six 
in all, to the dark room. Between trips she stopped 
twice to attack and kill workers that ventured near. 

Now she retired to the dark chamber, and collected 
her booty into a compact pile. This was not done with- 
out some opposition, for two Subsericeas slipped by her, 
deftly snatched up cocoons from the fringe of the pile, 
and carried them back to their own quarters. Their 
venture cost them dear, for Rubicunda in the end de- 
tected them and slew them ruthlessly. She was highly 
excited, and pranced vigorously about the floor that is, 
she moved in a jerky way, taking a few steps in one 
direction, then wheeling quite around, took a few steps 
more, her antennae waving eagerly, and her whole body 
seeming to throb with passion. 

By the next morning (8 A.M.) only two Subsericeas 
remained; but they had managed to regain thirty co- 
coons, which the survivors were guarding in a remote 
corner of the light chamber, while Rubicunda stood guard 
over a bunch of them in the dark chamber. Two and a 
half hours thereafter she sallied forth and recaptured all 
but six of the workers' cocoons, and added them to her 
own store. However, she had not forgotten the scant 
remainder, for soon she secured four more, and early in 
the afternoon another was captured. 

The two workers wandered about forlornly, seemingly 
dejected at their hard fate. One came into the dark 
room and approached the queen, possibly to test her 
willingness to come to terms; but she opened her mandi- 
bles threateningly, and the peace ambassador fled. Dur- 
ing the night this and one other survivor were killed, 

and the last cocoon was added to Rubicunda's collection, 



She was now, indeed, monarch of all she surveyed. 
She had wholly extinguished the colony of adult Sub- 
sericeas brought up under and devoted to the old regime, 
and was in a position to rear around her from her kid- 
napped pupae and larvae a commune to the manner 
born, who would accept her headship and build up a 
loyal citizenship. 

She seemed to taKe a greater interest in the pupae than 
in the larvae naturally, perhaps, because from the former 
would come her first effective helpers. And they soon 
began to come. That night (July 16th) five callow ants 
appeared, and one larva was partly eaten. Had it been 
sacrificed to the queen's appetite, or had it died first? 
That afternoon she was seen opening a cocoon to release 
a mature pupa. She used her fore and middle feet to 
hold the stiff silken cocoon-case, while with her mandibles 
she tore it open. The youngling aided her by thrusting 
out legs and antennae, and was soon drawn through the 
hole, to begin the life of an imago novitiate. 

Now the work of delivery went briskly on. When- 
ever the nest was uncovered, Rubicunda might be seen 
either opening a cocoon or removing the pupal envelope 
from a new-born callow. A week thereafter the whole 
brood of living pupae, one hundred and thirty, had been 
set free, the older callows assisting in delivering their 
sisters. The queen took the greatest interest in her 
black family, and they in turn soon began to care for her. 
They fed her and cleansed her, plying their tongues to her 
body in the usual shampooing process. 

Meanwhile a marked change occurred in her instincts. 
Instead of resenting intrusion, and rushing to the de- 
fence of her brood when the formicary w r as opened, she 
slunk awav and tried to hide among the workers. She 

v O 



acted quite like the old queens, who at once fly to the 
galleries and lower rooms when a nest is opened or 
lighted up. On July 26th, eighteen days after its be- 
ginning, this experiment was ended and the ants turned 
loose in the garden to shift for themselves. 

These two experimental observations which I have 
thus presented in abstract fairly typify the results gain- 
ed by the patient and ingenious observer. As he remarks, 
" the reactions displayed are so definite, uniform, and pur- 
poseful, even in artificial nests, that one can hardly doubt 
that they are similarly manifested in a state of nature." 

If, then, we will permit imagination sufficient play 
to suppose our ant queen expatriated and wandering 
solitary, we can fairly picture the process by which a 
slave-holding commune may be established in natural 
site. Through fa oring chance and native instinct she 
falls upon a nest of some inquiline species Formica sub- 
sericea, let us say. She pushes her way into the room, 
vestibule, or hall, hoping, mayhap, for a welcome and an 
amicable adoption. The amazed and alarmed inmates 
seize their cocoons and larvae and fly before her into the 
lower galleries and rooms. To cover their retreat, a few 
devoted patriots advance to meet and attack the in- 
truder. Her choler rises before this inhospitable re- 
ception, and at once her latent war-like and predatory 
instincts are aroused, and she flings herself upon her 
assailants. Her superior size, strength, and martial spirit 
make her a match for many of the unwarlike blacks, 
and the home defenders are slain. There follows a pro- 
longed quarrel, and the caverns of the Subsericean 
commune witness a succession of conflicts and manoeu- 
vres for the possession of the infant antlings and their 
nurseries and home. 



Rubicunda's maternal instincts have now awakened, 
and Nature plies them side by side with her martial 
powers. She seizes and assembles the cocoons and 
larvae of her unwilling hosts, who, in turn, by violence 
and stealth, seek to retain and recover them. Back and 
forth from the care of the usurper to that of their natural 
kin the tender and unconscious things are borne, until 
the extraordinary conflict is closed by the conquest of 
the Subsericean domain and the death of all its original 
owners. Here, in this lowly sphere of life, as so often 
it has been in human affairs, violence and usurpation 
have prevailed, and a new commune is founded upon 
war and robbery. 

For this is indeed the foundation of a new emmet 
commonwealth. Fierce arid remorseless as Rubicunda 
has been to the adult blacks, she is not untender to their 
offspring and kin. Her interest in the young brood 
deepens with the advent of peace. She feeds the Iarva3 ; 
cleanses them, dandles them, shifts the cocoons from 
place to place, as though to give them exercise or to 
better the location. At last and it is a rare event in 
the history of this budding commune the queen- 
mother marks the signs of maturity within the tough 
silken case that encloses a pupa. With hereditary 
gentleness and skill she plies her mandibles as facile 
an implement for this delicate surgery as it is dreadful 
in fight and delivers from the cocoon-case, Nature's 
detached womb, a living imago ant! The delicate 
membrane that still encloses it is removed with even a 
daintier touch, and there appears the first auxiliary 
citizen of the new commune, full grown and full panoplied 
for civic duty. It is yet in callow antlinghood ; its shelly 
"skin' will harden and darken; but its instinct for the 



service of citizenship is full blown, and at once it joins 
its foster-mother and queen in helping into freedom its 
enswathed sisters. 

Steadily the number of callows grows. Every new- 
corner adds to the working force. All are welcomed by 
both queen and fellows. To her, all are children; to 
them, she is a common parent and sovereign, as loyally 
and lovingly recognized as though they had been the 
fruit of her own ovaries. At last all the captured brood 
have matured, and have joined the working- band, and 
the rooms and galleries (the houses and highways) of the 
new city are astir with busy life. 

Soon Queen Rubicunda begins to function as mother. 
The wee white eggs which she drops are cared for by 
the black workers and nursed into life. They are young 
Ruble undas! Their ruddy skins are in sharp contrast 
with the black skins of the Subsericean auxiliaries. It 
matters not. There is no distinction. They are citizen?, 
all, of one commune; sisters, all, of one family; inheritors, 
all, of one nest-odor the real badge of a common citizen- 

Meantime Rubicunda has undergone a noteworthy psy- 
chical change. The instincts of warrior and sovereign 
gradually yield to those of mother and founder. She 
screens her own person, since her life is needful to per- 
petuate the colony, and for the same reason permits her- 
self to be guarded and cared for by the workers. Thus 
the commune is founded and the normal activities of an 
ant city grow up and go on. 

The case here given of the way in which Rubicunda 
founds a colony is a typical successful one. But for 
every such success there have been a multitude of failures. 

And that is well for other tenants of the earth ; for, con- 



sideling the vast number of migrants from one nest at 
the marriage-flight, were not the losses of life enormous 
our world might be transformed into an ant-hill! As it 
is, all males perish, and comparatively few r females gain 
a foothold upon active communal life. 

But we are yet far from accounting for the origin of 
that feature in the slave-holding ant's habit which, per- 
haps, is the most striking to the ordinary student of 
animal behavior viz., the issuing forth in martial bands 



to sack and despoil neighboring communes of other spe- 
cies, and to transport them to their own nest to enter 
upon a state of servitude (Fig. 91). 

One needs to keep in view the fact that the primary 
aim of a Sanguine slave-maker's raid is not to recruit the 
tale of laborers, but to supply food. The acquisitive in- 
stinct which in seed-eating ants, as Pogonomyrmex and 
Pheidole, is expressed in storing grains and oily seeds, 
has outlet in Sanguinea-rubicunda and her kind in the 
accumulation of the carnivorous food of which all ants 
are fond, and which is stored in the compact form of the 
immature young of plundered species. Doctor Forel 
observed that his Formica sanguined colonies reared but a 
small portion of the cocoons given them as a test. One 
formicary to which he gave "a fabulous number" of 



Formica pratensis cocoons during the course of a sum- 
mer failed to raise a single one. [F. 1, p. 259.] 

Yet there is apt to be, and commonly is, a remainder 
that gets adopted. And there will always be among 
the imported cocoons some that are near maturing, and 
actually mature before they are needed for food. These 
imported imagines are born into the native nest-odor^ 
and are thus qualified for acceptable citizenship: a 
status acquired, as Miss Fielde has shown, within the 
first three days following emergence. [Fd. 2, p. 320.] 
These drop naturally into the services of callows, as 
though they were at home, and they make up the con- 
tingent of consociates in mixed colonies, and of auxilia- 
ries or slaves, which in the Sanguine type of commune is 
apt to be less than half the whole number of workers. 
No sexed forms are tolerated among these abducted and 
adopted citizens, and therefore no rival queens with 
conflicting claims disturb the communal peace. 

These facts are now well established, and they are 
substantially those which Darwin predicated as the basis 
of his theory of the origin of the dulotic habit in Formica 
sanguinea, and which long ago were approved by such 
master myrmecologists as Forel and Wheeler, and such 
a philosophical naturalist as Lord Avebury. 

The acquisition of the habit of raiding in column has 
yet to be accounted for. Every individual ant is, by 
the primary necessity of feeding itself and others, a 
natural forager. The worker is hardly well out of cal- 
lowhood ere the strong instinct of communal benefi- 
cence, fortified no doubt by personal hunger, impels it 
forth from the home gates to pick up whate'vier edible 
it may happen upon. The emmet "conscience' 1 knows 

no law of meum et luum, and these solitary plunderers 



may be seen everywhere afield. A fallen and bruised 
apple or peach or a dropped bit of sweet will at once 
demonstrate the presence of these universal foraging 
scavengers and robbers. Herein nature has planted in 
the individual ant the predatory habit upon which to 
build up such an expedition in column as the raids of 
Sanguinea-rubicunda disclose. This is the first stage; 
we proceed to the next. 

The wars of ants, as has been shown, usually arise 
from the quarrels of a few often, perhaps, stragglers- 
over some treasure-trove. One after another joins the 
fray; messengers fly to the respective nests; and soon 
numbers of recruits, all throbbing with martial fervor, 
are thronging from either communal centre to the battle- 
field. This tendency to inarch in file and to mass for 
defence and attack, and, indeed, for other matters of 
common interest, is ingrained with most species, and 
seems to strengthen as the colonies grow. 

With the honey-ants of the Garden of the Gods, as 
the author has shown, such an assemblage occurs before 
the evening excursion after honey-dew. [Met 1 , o, p. 24.] 
Toward sunset the workers begin to gather around the 
single crater-like gate of the home mound. Soon the 
summit is covered with the yellow adventurers. At last 
the break is made, and away they go, keeping ^vell to- 
gether until the column breaks into sections and inte- 
gers at the foraging-grounds, a thick clump of scrub-oak 
bushes. Quite the same phenomenon attends the even- 
ing outbreak of the cutting ants of Texas. [McC. 6, 
p. 243; 10, p. 34.] When the chippage used to barricade 
the gates has been removed by the smaller workers, the 
leaf -cutters push their way out, and pour forth in 
squadrons, a great army, and as such march to the chosen 



fo raging-ground. Indeed, something of the same sort 
may be seen, though in cruder and less-concerted (if at 
all concerted) form, in the daily raids of the mound- 
making ants in their excursions after the honey-dew of 
aphides upon the trees growing near by their ant cities. 
Enough has been said to show that the movements 
of ants in column, especially for a hostile and predatory 
purpose, is a tendency, not to say a trait, that appears 
in many species. To be sure, it is reasoning per sallem- 
and doubtless a wide vault, indeed to infer from such 
general tendencies the development of a trait so thorough- 
ly fixed and admirably ordered as the predatory raids of 
our Sanguine slave-makers. But in the present state of 
emmet ethology, some such tentative inference may be 
justified, until wider and minuter studies shall enable 
naturalists to fill up the gaps in our knowledge. One 
may have good hopes that this will yet be done, as prying 
naturalists go forth to their true aim, 

"And take upon 's the mystery of things 
As if we were God's spies." 

For surely the hidden things of nature must all be 
brought to light ere the divine call of man to the uni- 
versal inquisition after truth shall be fully answered. 

It is significant that while the black auxiliaries are 
given a full share of the commune's diverse services, 
their red superiors labor with them side by side, and 
seemingly with full efficiency and activity. That the 
Rubicundas must be sensible of the advantage of strength- 
ening their working force may be conceded, and also 
that this may have been in some degree, at least, a factor 
in determining their kidnapping excursions. But, man- 
ifestly, dependence upon their imported labor has in 



nowise reacted unfavorably upon themselves. They have 
not deteriorated, but retain their full generic equipment 
as builders, nurses, foragers, and workers generally in 
all the diversified duties of ant citizenship. 

This is in marked contrast with what has occurred in 
the Polyergine type of slave-makers. There the workers 
have lost all characteristic qualities except the martial. 
They have developed into mere vital kidnapping ma- 
chines, with those soldierly capacities needed to make 
them effective. As slave-catchers, robbers, and fighters 
they are highly efficient: but they lack the power to 
carry on the ordinary and needful affairs of a commune. 
They remind one of those human tribes whose males 
function as warriors only, and leave to their slaves and 
women the entire work and burden of the commune. 
Indeed, with the Polyergines, degeneration has gone so 
far that they depend upon their slaves not only to pro- 
cure food, but to bestow it. So abject is their estate 
that they cannot feed themselves, and, lacking the of- 
fices of their slaves, die of starvation. However, as 
with the Sanguines, no sexed forms are permitted by the 
Polyergines other than of their own species. 

It is not the writer's purpose to give here a detailed 
account of a slave-maker's raid. He has given that 
elsewhere. [McC. 7, p. 71.] But it may be ranked justly 
among the most interesting incidents in the history 
of insects whose ethology presents some remarkable 
analogies to our own social manners. Were we to take 
a brief view of such an event, what points would fix 
our attention? We would note the organization or com- 
munal action implied in the impulse that sends the 
raiders forth; the scouting that must precede a sortie in 
order to locate the quested objects of assault; the com- 



munication of antennal signals; the drafting of the red 
warriors from whom the attacking contingent is drawn, 
and the gathering of the black auxiliaries to tarre on the 
belligerents, though in sooth they need no such "very 
pregnant and potential spurs." We would note the 
forward movement; the ordered march; the vanguard 
action with skirmishers from the assailed commune; the 
fierce scaling of the Subserieean barricades, and the 
plunge into the cleared ways. We would see, perhaps 
pity, the futile efforts of the besieged to enguard their 
commune gates; the flight of the inmates, bearing their 
young, from the pillaged nest; the woe-begone groups of 
refugees hiding in the vicinage; the little knots of com- 
batants scattered here and there around the field, the 
melancholy tailings of a lost battle; the maimed, the 
dying, the dead scattered here and there. We would 
follow the return column of raiders laden with their 
booty of larvae and pupa*, and occasionally adult blacks, 
as tender-hefted in this office as they had been ruthless 
in assail; the heartening of the pillaged Subsericeans 
as they see their foes retiring ; the occasional rallies and 
rear-guard attacks to recover some of the spoil, and not 
always in vain. We might feel, perhaps, a flush of in- 
dignation at the welcome of the well-guerdoned spoilers 
to their home commune, with every token of satisfac- 
tion (except noise!); and, on the other hand, a touch of 
sympathy at the gradual return of the refugees to their 
desolate city, with the young saved from the common 
spoilage, to take up again the role of communal life. 
All these incidents unite to form an event unique and of 
transcendent interest. 

A faithful description thereof, were it published with 
the bare substitution of human names, would need scant 



revision to serve as an accurate account of a scene in 
the warfare and predatory expeditions of men. One 
who has viewed both events the storming of an ant- 
hill and the assault upon a fortified town will vouch 
for the striking resemblances that appear throughout 
the entire series. 

Perhaps those whose sympathies have been keenly 
enlisted by the author's recital of the cruelties and suf- 
ferings attending the wars of slave-making ants will not 
deny the plea for peace, universal peace, as the ultimate 
end of civilized men; and meanwhile the mitigation, in 
every attainable way and measure, of the awful rigors 

v */ C_5 

of war as now tolerated in a world still so largely in 

fj */ 

a state o^ nature, unhallowed by Christian grace and 




THE sanitation of cities and homes has come to be 
one of the most important problems of human gov- 
ernment. It is only recently that it has been con- 
sidered with scientific 
method and thorough- 
ness, and that society 
has addressed itself to 
its solution with ade- 
quate vigor. How is it in ant commues? 
Their method of preserving the public 
health is summed up in one word clean- 

Our treatment of the subject falls nat- 
urally under the heads of personal clean- 
liness, parental cleanliness, and public 
cleanliness. Personal cleanliness with 
every ant is a passion. 
As much time is given Fig. 92 A THIRD LEG OF ANT, 


to cleansing the person USED IN PERSONAL CLEANING 
as is required, and no 

work is so urgent as to interfere with that. Nature has 
abundantly provided for the support of the habit which 
she has implanted, by the gift of certain implements. 
The legs (Fig. 92), which are clothed with hairs, bristles, 

J 9 279 



and spines that are likely to take up dust, are scraped 
against one another to remove the coarser grains of dust, 
as a man might scratch a shin-bone with the calf of an 
opposite leg. Then they are drawn alternately through 

the jaws, which, with 
the saliva of the mouth, 
act as a sort of scrap- 
er and sponge for re- 
moving finer particles. 
Again, they are used 
to comb the head and 
antennae, for which 
they are provided with 
pairs of tibial combs, 
coarse-toothed and fine- 
toothed, of which our 
own toilet articles are 
a close likeness. 1 

In addition to these 
is the tongue (Fig. 93), 
a rasped organ similar 
to that of dogs and cats. 
How effective this is 
a View of out-thrust tongue of agri- f or cleanliness in these 

cultural ant from above, b.c kn- 

larsed views of the "bosses or bulbs" domestic animals most 


Fie:. 93 


on the tongue, se Serrate edijes. 
md - - Mandible. mx - - Maxilla. 
sc Scope of antenna? 

persons know. It is 
equally serviceable 
with ants. It is this 

organ that is used in those parental acts of cleansing 
committed to the nurses. The larva?, from the time 
they are taken in charge until they pass into the pupa 

1 Nature's Craftsmen, p. 67. 

2 SO 


stage, are so freely sponged with the rasped and moist 
tongues of their caretakers that there is little chance 
that dirt or parasite or fungoid germs shall remain. 
Even after adult life is achieved the friendly offices of 
cleansing are exchanged between neighbors, and one 
will see a mutual shampooing among the ants in his 
artificial nests. 

The need for personal cleanliness is greatly increased 
by the underground life of ants, which subjects them to 
attacks of sundry vegetable moulds and parasitic insects. 
Some of my experimental colonies have been destroyed 
by mites (Fig 94); and it was pitiful to see the little 
creatures' struggles to protect themselves from the in- 
vasion of the hordes of minute parasites, against whose 
attacks they were seriously, even fatally, hampered by 
the artificial conditions of their unnatural life. The value 
of special armature of legs and jaws and tongue, and the 
habits of ceaseless cleanliness engendered by their use, 
were mightily emphasized by one's observation of this 
unfortunate episode in the career of these imprisoned 
colonies. The thought occurred that the habit of feed- 
ing upon fungus growths, and the cultivation of fungus 
gardens in the AttidaB (cutting ants), may have arisen 
from the use of the tongue and jaws in freeing them- 
selves and their commune from the attacks of vegetable 

The location of the larvse is often changed, a useful 
sanitary precaution. The baneful effects of sudden 
changes in temperature and humidity are met by shift- 
ing the antlings nearer the surface or farther within 
the cone. For such manipulation among the mound- 
builders their elevated and perforated structures are 
well adapted, and for this, in part, may have been de- 



veloped. In small nests one may observe this by turn- 
ing over a flat stone on a bright spring day or in early 
autumn, when the little heaps of white Iarva3 may be 




a Dorsal view, b Ventral view, c Suckers on the same in 
different degrees of extension, d Mites upon the cheek of a 

seen lying in the top galleries next the stone, whither 
they have been brought from the underground rooms 
for the sake of greater warmth and health. 

Ants enjoy these personal ablutions, as one readily 
sees who closely observes them either in nature or in 
artificial nests. While engaged therein they put them- 



selves into sundry odd positions ; at least, so they seem 
to an onlooker, although quite similar attitudes may be 
seen in cats and dogs when giving themselves a tongue- 
brushing. In mature imagohood they are seen fre- 
quently sponging and combing themselves. Dust and 
impurities of whatever kind they cannot abide, and are 
uncomfortable until rid of the defilement. They are 
continually in contact with muck and mud and dust, 



living as they do on and under the ground in earthen 
caverns and cells. Yet who ever saw one looking untidy 
and unkempt? (Fig. 95.) 

"As tidy as an emmet" would be an apt proverb, and 
it would apply with equal truth to bees, wasps, hornets, 
yellow- jackets, and other insects. If it be true that 
cleanliness is next to godliness, our tidy emmets, not 
here and there a rare example, but one and all, would 
be fair candidates for canonization, and no advocatus 
diaboli could challenge their record successfully. Per- 
haps it would be impossible for human laborers, in any 
conceivable industrial condition, under any form of 
government, to approach even afar off the habitual 
cleanliness of working ants. 



But one who has mingled much with working-men and 
closely observed their manners might venture to sug- 
gest that a much closer approach to these exemplary 
characters is entirely practicable. That it would greatly 
enhance comfort, health, good looks, and that sense of 
respectability and personal purity that goes so far to 
elevate human nature is hardly to be doubted. But 
could employers afford to give their workmen the time 
needful to effect such personal cleanliness? Would the 
increased efficiency coming with the higher quality of 
manhood and womanhood thus attained sufficiently 
increase the product and the value of the work to justify 
the sacrifice? One asks such questions glibly enough, 
but how shall he find a practical answer? 

An important item in public sanitation is ventilation. 
Since ants are apterous, no such mode of agitating the 
air and producing a current by rapid wing movements 
is possible as practised by bees and hornets. The former 
have squads of winged ventilators just within the hive 
gate, the latter just outside the door. How ants pro- 
duce a like effect is not yet determined. As most of 
them domicile in the ground, they are not as likely to 
suffer from heat as honey-bees and hornets. But al- 
though their consumption of air is not great, one would 
suppose that such crowds of creatures living in such 
confined quarters as we have described would soon viti- 
ate the atmosphere and make necessary some sort of 

Perhaps this is secured among the mound-making 
ants by placing the city gates most numerously at the 
base of the cone. Through these there is doubtless a 
constant or sufficient current of air passing out of the 
open doors distributed along the sides and upper parts 



of the mound. Moreover, there is an extensive system 
of underground galleries reaching, in one case at least, 
sixty feet from the central mound, and these are prob- 
ably ventilated through the basal gates. But it is not 
so easy to see how such vast structures as the nests of 
the agricultural and Occident ants can be ventilated 
through their single gates. 

The problem of drainage must be a pressing one in 
ant communes, and its practical solution is an interest- 
ing study, although one must depend more upon reason- 
able inference than deduction from known facts. That 
many nests must be inundated during long and hard 
rains is inevitable. That their inmates can endure 
a goodly period of submerging without drowning is 
known. But some method of warding off or carrying 
off or absorbing the excess of water in severe rains and 
floods seems to be required. 

The conical shape of such nests as are built by mound- 
making, Occident, and rufous ants, although perhaps pri- 
marily due simply to the natural action of gravitation, 
must aid in keeping the inmates dry by shedding the 
rains as do our own peaked house-roofs. One would 
think that placing the bulk of the gates near the base of 
the mound would be disadvantageous until he remem- 
bers that the large space above, with its numerous series 
of interlacing galleries and rooms, gives an admirable 
refuge for the commune's infant charges. There they 
may be deported in heavy rains and kept in good con- 

In the case of such single-gated cones as those of the 
Occident ants, the danger of flooding is less; and, more- 
over, there, as with the flat disks of the agricultural ant, 
gate-closing can be resorted to. At least one example 



of such a mode was observed before a storm, the gate 
being shut up by pebbles, earth-pellets, and chippage 
precisely as at night. One agricultural ant-disk was 
watched during a rain. The harvesting workers rushed 
for the central gate from all points of the circle, over 
which the water was beginning to gather, and in a 
moment the gateway was choked up by the crowd of 
insects massed on and around it. I did not think at the 
time this was done with the intention of closing the gate 
and shutting out the water accumulated in the plaza, 
but it had that effect. Possibly it may have been in- 
tended so. 

It is probable that in such weather conditions the rain 
that enters the nest gradually descends through the 
storied rooms and galleries and is partly absorbed dur- 
ing descent, and at the bottom of the nest is gradually 
taken up by the underlying ground. It may even be 
that the lowest cavities, both chambers and galleries, are 
left uninhabited to receive excess of intrant rains, or 
are vacated during wet weather, that they may serve as 
a sort of temporary relief reservoirs. 

Livingstone [Lv. 1, p. 353] notes that the ants of Dilolo 
(South Africa) manage to preserve their communes upon 
plains where water stands so long annually as to allow 
the lotus and other aqueous plants to mature. When 
all the ant horizon is submerged a foot deep they occupy 
little houses built on stalks of grass and placed above 
the line of inundation. Livingstone argues that this 
must have been the result of experience, since, had the 
insects waited until the inundation had invaded their 
subterranean quarters, the required soil for fashioning 
their elevated nests could not have been obtained. 
Some of these raised rooms were the size of a bean, others 



as large as a man's thumb. Could the great missionary 
explorer have fallen upon some species of Cremastogaster, 
who thus utilized their tent-building habit? 

It is certain that ordinary showers do not stay, but 
rather quicken, the commune's activity. One often 
sees them followed almost immediately by a vigorous 
rush of workers from the gates bearing earth-pellets. 
Part of this dumpage may have been the inwash of dirt, 
but most of it was evidently new earth, which, moistened 
and softened, made easier digging, a fact which these 
opportunists at once saw and utilized. 

Within the numerous galleries and rooms, all under 
cover and in darkness, and thronged by myriads of in- 
sects in continual movement, together with eggs, larvae, 
and cocoons, there is of necessity much litter of various 
sorts. This is regularly removed by the workers, who 
may be seen carrying it forth and dumping it at points 
outside the walls. The inter urban highways, as uncov- 
ered by the writer, were never found obstructed by rub- 
bish or fouled by filth. As compared with the streets 
of many of our own cities and towns, they were models 
of tidiness. 

The mound-making ants, while keeping at times to 
certain fixed trails, do not lay out permanent roads by 
which to communicate with surrounding fields. But 
with such species as do thus unite their large communi- 
ties with near environments, the roads are kept in ex- 
cellent condition. For example, the disk or plaza or 
pavement of the agricultural ants of Texas is kept during 
summer hard and smooth, usually denuded of grass and 
weeds, and well policed of extraneous matter. The sev- 
eral roads that radiate into the harvest-fields of ant-rice 
and other seeds are also kept scrupulously clean. 



It has been thought that the hospitality extended by 
ants to beetles and other myrmecophilous insects is in 
part due to their value as general scavengers just as men 
in a ruder stage of civilization have kept (and still keep) 
dogs, and as certain communities protect by law turkey- 
buzzards and gulls. The relations of these alien associates 
to the food supply have heretofore been pointed out, 
but their usefulness in removing communal garbage may 
be a factor in maintaining these strange companion- 

Perhaps one might venture to suggest tnat the steady, 
ample, and congenial occupation of ants must contribute 
to good health, the chief aim of sanitation. And there- 
in may be included an evenly poised temperament, free- 
dom from anxiety for present and future support, and 
absence of the strain and wear of nerves which come 
with troubles over property and the want thereof all 
of which are characteristic of ants, and which may be 


counted for these and other lower orders a boon of 

This estate, with its sequent of perfect content and 
happiness, ants attain by complete absorption into the 
commune, the entire atrophy of the sense of personal 
ambition and possessions. Men seek the same in a way 
precisely the reverse: by the enlargement of personal 
importance, and the acquirement and accumulation of 
personal property. Could the experiment be fairly 
made in a human commune, it might be found that men 
could more readily and completely secure the repose of 
happy minds within wholesome bodies by the methods 
of the ants than by their own. In all ages men have 
sought this repose in organized communes, religious and 
secular; but these have been marked, for the most 



part, by the elimination of that element which is the 
central vital impulse in the life of an ant commune the 
production and nurture of the young. When the larvae 
and pupae are removed from ants they soon degenerate 
and decay. Is it different in human communes? Under 
natural law, can it ever be so ? 

In the various phases of sanitation considered we 
observe that ants attack the problem by precisely the 
same method of communal labor that prevails in other 
departments of public service. Just as every citizen 
is a warrior without a board of war, and a policeman 
without a police department, and a worker without a 
board of public works, so without a board of health every 
citizen of these emmet republics is a sanitarian. No 
street commissioners are needed to purge the public 
highways, for every citizen feels in herself the responsi- 
bility of a street commissioner. Literally, every ant 
looks out for her own premises; and not only so, but for 
her neighbor's premises as well. In fact, there is no 
distinction in this regard, for every part of every street 
is held to be equally the charge of every ant. What a 
paradise of wholesome purity our city streets might be 
if citizens would take such an attitude, or if they would 
go as far as unanimously to abstain from causing litter 
and scattering filth! We shall never reach the ideal 
City of Health until the individual conscience has been 
educated and elevated to the duty of entire cleanliness 
within the dwelling and around it, and upon the public 
streets and parks, as personally due to community. 

It is perhaps due to their overmastering patriotism 
that one fails to discover individual benevolence in ants. 
Friendships and personal affection in the limited and 
specialized sense familiar among domestic animals are 



unknown. There are, indeed, actions that at first give 
the impression of such sensations, and it is not easy at 
times to mark the difference between the product of 
communal instinct and the promptings of real individual 
kindness. But the evidence, on the whole, seems to be 
against the existence of any sentiment separate from 
that Spirit of the Sodality which, with and under all 
serisori-motor reflexes, sweeps on the mass and the 
individual alike, with whatever variations, diversions, 
and seeming contradictions, to the one sovereign end- 
the perpetuation of the commune. 

A few examples from my studies of the honey-ants 
will illustrate this view. It was seen in exploring the 
nests in natural sites that the workers showed great in- 
terest in the preservation of the rotunds, or honey-bear- 
ers. As the honey-rooms were opened, and the rotunds 
disturbed from their roosts, the workers of all castes 
rushed eagerly to them and dragged them into the un- 
broken interior (Fig. 96). Sometimes several would join 



a Honey-ant dragging a rotund up a wall, b Workers 

moving a rotund, or honey-bearer 



in removing one rotund, pushing and pulling her along. 
A sketch was fortunately caught of a worker-major 
dragging a honey-bearer up the perpendicular face of a 
cutting made while excavating a nest. The mandibles 
of the two insects were interlocked, and the worker 
backed up the steep, successfully drawing her protegee. 
This interest in these unwieldy rotunds is maintained 
in the daily life of the formicary. They are regarded as 
dependents, like the queen, the virgin females, and males, 
and are fed and tended as such. Here is at least the 
semblance of beneficence, but it is doubtful if such action 
passes beyond the control of communal instinct; for, 
on the other hand, a number of examples fell under 
notice which caused doubt as to the existence of a per- 
sonal sentiment toward special cases of need, outside 
the routine limits of communal service. I observed 
several of these. 

After the soil was duly prepared in my artificial nests, 
the ants were introduced and left to work out their 
own habitations. The honey-bearers were thus mingled 
upon the surface with the workers, upon whom fell the 
entire task of home-making. The latter at once began 
digging galleries and rooms. In bringing up and dis- 
tributing the pellets, there was much opportunity to 
show carefulness and tenderness toward the honey- 
bearers scattered over the surface. No such action was 
noted, although I was anxious to discover such excel- 
lences in my little charges. On the contrary, there were 
exhibitions of what seemed cruel neglect and even posi- 
tive cruelty. For example, the grains of soil, instead of 
being dumped on unoccupied spots, were heaped around 
the rotunds until the poor creatures were literally buried 
alive. It would have been easy for the carriers to draw 



their fellows aside or to go around them ; but this did not 
occur to them, or the disposition to such service was 

Again, as the galleries were made and honey-rooms 
gradually took shape, most of the rotunds managed to 
roll into them and secure a place therein. They pain- 
full} 7 attained their perches unaided by the workers. 
Some of them on their route got fastened in the gang- 
way in most uncomfortable positions, with heads down- 
ward and bodies variously awry. The workers passed 
by and over them continuously for many days without 
the least apparent concern, and without one observed 
effort to relieve their comrades, who could have been 
righted readily and drawn into the chambers. 

Once more, the rotunds often dropped or were shaken 
from their perch against the roof to the floor. They 
remained just as they fell, except when they were able 
to clasp some near-by clod, or bit of gravel, or surface of 
a wall. In such case they recovered their perch or 
put themselves in a comparatively comfortable position. 
The greater number, however, lit upon the round ab- 
domen in such wise that the body was erect and the 
legs were thrust out unsupported. These unfortunates 
were faithfully attended, often cleansed and caressed, 


after the prevalent hereditary manner toward depen- 
dents, but in no single instance did the workers attempt 
to right them and restore them to the roof. Yet they 
were well able to do so, and the fallen rotunds were in 
sore need of help. Some of them lived more than two 
months in this awkward position (Fig. 97). 

But evidently thev were most uncomfortable, for the 

i V 

few who were within my reach eagerly accepted aid. 
The offered stick or quill was clasped so firmly by the 



mandibles, sometimes aided by the feet, as to enable 
me to transfer the bulky creatures to any point near by, 
and even to lift them out of the nest. Here, again, the 
idea, or at least the act, of helpfulness was lacking. If 



1. Worker honey-ant feeding a rotund. 2. A rotund honey-ant 
partly buried by mining workers. 3. A rotund in trouble a 
" priest " and a Levite near by. 

we suppose the power to communicate their distress and 
desires to have been possessed by the honey-bearers, we 
must think the workers even yet more lacking in feeling 
and intelligence. In any case the power of benevolent 
initiative seemed wholly wanting. 

One more case. A honey- bearer was partly buried 
under her perch, that portion of the roof having fallen. 
Her abdomen was quite covered by the sandy particles 



at the margin of the little landslide. A rescue would 
have been easy, but it was not undertaken. A sketch 
made shortly after the accident shows a worker-minor 
standing before the rotund with head and body erect, 
antenna? attent, with every mark of curious interest in 
her pose. She watched the struggles, and (as it seemed 
to me) the mute appeals of her unhappy fellow, who by 
great exertion had heaved up the clod somewhat, and 
then ' ' passed by on the other side." Meanwhile a second 
worker was perched atop of the clod, coolly and cozily 
combing her back hair and antenna? ! This tableau fitly 
characterizes the workers' behavior in such cases. 

Such facts, which might be multiplied, incline one 
to the view that personal benevolence, as distinguished 
from tribal or communal benevolence, does not exist 
in ants. I cannot even assent to Lord Avebury's sug- 
gestion [Lb. 2, p. 497] that there are " individual dif- 
ferences' 3 among them, and that, as with men, there 
are priests and Levites as well as good Samaritans. The 
apparent cases of beneficence, outside the instinctive 
actions that lie within the line of formicary routine, are 
so rare and so doubtful as to their cause that, however 
loath, I must decide against the existence in honey-ants 
of even so much personal benevolence as would make an 
emmetonian "good Samaritan." 

It is true that many of the above observations were 
made upon insects living in artificial conditions, but they 
cannot be far away from their habits in a natural site. 
Moreover, it is possible, not to say probable, that there 
may be species that show greater aptitude for acts of 
personal kindness, just as some have special aptitude for 
war, while others are deficient in courage. But all the 
facts within the author's knowledge confirm the above 



conclusion. The beautiful acts of unselfish devotion 
to dependents, especially the helpless young, the self- 
denial, the vicarious self-sacrifice, the utter elimination 
of self so often seen all these spring solely from the 
relations of ants to the commune. They are the acts 
of the ant-citizen, in whom all the functions of life are 
centred and absorbed, not of the ant - individual, an 
independent living unit. 

Patriotism, communal loyalty, communism, or by 
whatever name we may designate a sentiment or im- 
pulse for which, in the poverty of our speech and the 
limits of our sympathies with a sphere of life so far out- 
side of our own, we have no exact word, is the one passion 
that moves the typical ant in its varied acts. Personal 
sentiment there is next to none. Outside the routine 
of communal duty and service, the actors in an ant com- 
mune know no law but the instinct to serve and preserve 
the commonwealth. Even in satisfying the demands of 
appetite the individual is lost (with the workers, at least) 
in the public interests, for even the contents of one's 
crop are held at the service of the community. 

Of course, there is reason for this condition. An im- 
perious law of co-operation in the mass does not favor 
the development of strong individual characteristics. 
The mechanical order that assures the sodality and safety 
of society among insects would be disturbed by strong 
personal ties, which would thus introduce a divisive and 
enfeebling force, especially in times of communal peril 
when all sentiment and service should be concentrated 
upon public interests. 



WHILE emphasizing, to the utmost that known facts 
can justify, the marks of superior instincts in ants, 
and while believing that their social organization has 
developed powers and incited to behavior that suggest 
human conduct in certain communal conditions, the 
author must not be understood as in any degree con- 
founding emmet instinct with human intellect. There 
is an impassable gulf between them. 

To reflect upon a rule of conduct; to decide thereupon 
and frame one's behavior accordingly; to assemble facts 
gleaned from the past and from the present; to reason 
upon and deduce therefrom principles of duty and ser- 
vice, of social and individual government, of personal 
responsibility and worship and immortality all this, 
which is impossible to the ant, but is within the ordinary 
powers of man, set him in a class by himself, so far apart 
from all other animals that, in contrasting or comparing 
the one with the other, and in tracing resemblances be- 
tween their physical and social actions, we shall fall into 
serious error if we forget this fundamental difference. 

When, therefore, we use the word "intelligent" to ex- 
press a quality of animal behavior, as it seems necessary 
to do in the deficiency of our language, we shall escape 
confusion in our philosophy if we remember that " in- 
telligent" and " intelligence" as so applied are terms of 



convenience and not of accuracy. Under such limita- 
tions, a review of these pages compels the conclusion 
that among all the lower animals ants must be ranked 
for intelligence as most nearly resembling man in the 
quality, variety, and complexity of their achievements. 
Can we suggest any natural cause for this? 

The development of civilization has come largely 
through the interaction of life upon life. And this has 
had its chief effect in cities and towns, where human 
beings more closely and continuously affect one another. 
A trace of that fact remains in the current use among us 
of the word "pagan." Christian civilization had its first 
and widest acceptance among the cities, while the rural 
sections held to the old religious forms. Hence the 
Roman name for countryman, rustic (paganus), came 
to be the equivalent of non-Christian or heathen. 

It is doubtless due to the same underlying fact or force 
in nature that ants have acquired traits that place them 
among the most intelligent members of the insect world. 
The vigorous reflex of life and habits which existence in a 
commune compels, widens the horizon of activities and 
develops and nurtures facilities and conduct that strong- 
ly mark the possessors as superior. To ants as well as 
to men, the commune is a school. It would seem to 
result that the more general the participation in com- 
munal activities, the higher and more widely distributed 
will be the advancement. 

The idea fancy or fact, as one may choose that the 
communes of ants and other hymenopterous insects are 
organized after the fashion of human government is 
not a novelty. Long ago, Shakespeare, whose high en- 
dowments of intellect and sympathies brought him with 
almost unerring course to the very arcanum of nature's 



mysteries, conceived of the bee commune as a well- 
ordered kingdom, whose "divers functions "' are bound 
together by "obedience 1 ." The passage is well worth 
quoting for its bearing upon the matter before us : 

"So work the honey-bees, 
Creatures that, by a rule in nature, teach 
That act of order to a peopled kingdom. 
They have a king and officers of sorts; 
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home; 
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad; 
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings, 
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds; 
Which pillage, they, with merry march, bring home 
To the tent-royal of their emperor, 
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys 
The singing masons building roofs of gold; 
The civil citizens kneading up the honey; 
The poor mechanic porters crowding in 
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate; 
The sad-ey'd justice, with his surly hum, 
Delivering o'er to executors pale 
The lazy, yawning drone. I this infer, 
That many things, having full reference 
To one consent, may work contrariously." 

King Henry F., Act I., Sc. 2, 1. 187 sqq. 

Making due allowance for poetic license, and taken 
in its broad intent and general sense, this passage ex- 
presses fairly well the varied duties under one common 
discipline that occupy the energies of an ant commune. 
The reader can analyze it and follow out the analo- 
gies for himself. Perhaps he may be able to point the 
needle of his thoughts to that "rule in nature' 1 which 
brings about and regulates this "act of order." If so, 
the author will confess that he has compassed a mystery 
that thus far has eluded his own research. 

But for the "act" itself we may venture, without 



justifying the charge of anthropomorphism, to borrow 
a word from human civics. Plato distinguished four 
kinds of character-making " enthusiasm ' among men 

-prophecy, prayer, poetry, and love. These give to 
human faculties the stimuli which urge man to achieve 
his highest destiny. We might enlarge the list by at 
least the element of patriotism, and thus mark another 
likeness between man and social insects. For patriotism 

-that is, a supreme devotion to the commonwealth- 
is the prevailing " enthusiasm ;; among ants, bees, and 
wasps. With them one finds no discount laid upon 
the communal workers and military guards. All, except 
needful dependents, are laborers and warriors. All are 
alike devoted to the civil welfare and defence. 

Many times and in many ways the devotion of ants to 
their commune has been tested. The rule is well-nigh 
invariable of instant and absolute self-abnegation, and 
surrender of personal ease and appetite, life and limb, 
to the public welfare. The posting of sentinels at gate- 
ways is customary, and they are apt to know first the 
approach of danger. With heads and quivering anten- 
na^ protruded from the opening, these city watchmen 
not only dispatch within all news of threatening peril, 
but rush out with utter abandon to face the foe. With 
ants patriotism is not " second nature"; it is instinctive, 
inborn, seemingly as strong in the callow antling as in 
the veteran brave. It has no second place. It is first, 
always ! 

It must be confessed, however, that it is rigidly ex- 
clusive. Racial catholicity is not an emmetorian virtue. 
Ants are without that elastic hospitality which embraces 
and assimilates all species of their family. Even the 
slave-makers hold their domestic auxiliaries strictly 



distinct in the radical function of propagating and thus 
perpetuating the species. 

If one should seek some directing or governing per- 
sonal power of that system by which the complex and 
varied results which these studies note are wrought out 
with almost unbroken unison among hundreds of thou- 
sands, even millions, of individuals, he would find his 
research thwarted at every point. There is a smack of 
royal authority in the title " queen 7 given the ant in 
whom is concentrated the function of maternity for 
renewing the life of the whole community. But in this 
sense the word is figurative, for queenhood means sim- 
ply motherhood. Beyond the brief initial period of a 
formicary, when the solitary female in her circular cell 
has unlimited power over her scant domain, and in her 
single person represents the norm of all reproductive, 
nutritive, constructive and administrative forces, an ant 
queen has not a shadow of that function of rulership which 
the words "queen" and "king" express in human relations. 

From the moment that she has raised around her a 
band of workers strong enough to take up the labors of 
the growing society, she becomes merely an immense 
vital organ for producing eggs. She does not even care 
for these, as she did with the first few laid; for they are 
whisked away by attendant workers the instant they 
leave her body, and thenceforth are the common charge 
of the colony. A girdling corps of courtiers attends 
her day and night, whose members care for her personal 
wants, restrain her movements within safe limits, and 
collect and distribute to the nurses the precious atoms 
of life upon which her importance depends. But no 
breathing of rulership or authority or governing in- 
fluence of any sort issues directly from her. 



Where, then, is the headship of the State? Is it vest- 
ed in the courtiers nearest the queen's person? Are 
they a sort of cabinet or board of governors, among whom 
the several functions of governing are distributed? All 
observations show that their chief office is to secure to 
the community the eggs upon which its future exist- 
ence depends. 

Is government lodged with the sentinels, who seem to 
represent the fighting or defensive elements of society? 
There is no war-lord. There is no commander-in-chief. 
There is no standing army and no soldier class in the 
large majority of species, although in " necessity's sharp 
pinch'' every citizen becomes a soldier. Certainly our 
mound-making ants, at least, are not a military govern- 
ment, though every guardian of the gates is at once 
and equally the embodiment of military authority, and 
bears in its own person every grade from general to 

Perhaps the nurses, who include in their nursery ser- 
vice the duties of hospital corps and medical staff, are 
the fountains of governing power? No! Among men 
it may be true that "the hand that rocks the cradle 
rules the world"; but nursing ants in their offices 
keep themselves to their own sphere, and cannot be 
said even figuratively to sway the policies of the ant- 

Shall we, then, fall back upon the great body of build- 
ers and foragers and laborers generally ? Are they organ- 
ized into "unions," with chapels, delegates, brotherhoods, 
chiefs, boards, circles, and assemblies, who have grad- 
ually developed an influence that controls the common- 
wealth? On the contrary, perhaps the most perfect- 
known example of absolute "individualism' 1 ' among so- 



cial creatures is a typical ant society. Therein every 
ant is, as nearly as is conceivable, a law unto itself. 
Here is neither congress nor legislator. Every individual 
seems to follow the desires and devices of her own heart. 
But here also is such perfect obedience to "law" as only 
insect commonwealths show among all known organized 
societies. Where is the source and where the potent 
centre and motor of this law? 

The mysteiy deepens as one's inquiry widens. Here 
is effective government; but where are the governors? 
"Those that think' -sang Goldsmith "must govern 
those that toil." Here are toilers enow; but of that 
higher, or supposed higher, class who think out the 
problems of State and the means for their solution 
the most careful searching finds no trace. The varied 
and complicated facts of governments, as men know 
them, here meet the observing naturalist and the 
speculating philosopher. But neither naturalist nor 
philosopher has yet put his probe upon the secret 
source of government among ants and other social 

Can there be government without visible governors? 
Here in our ant city one sees home-making, home-guard- 
ing, home-nurturing; the building of roads, store-rooms, 
nurseries, vast structures that relatively rival those of 
the great centres of human population. Here one sees 
the gathering of supplies; the storing of crops; the 
waging of war; the utilizing of captives from alien tribes 
for co-operative service; the keeping of domestic herds; 
the policing and sanitation of habitations and streets; 
the nurture and care of the young. All the practical 
results of organized society one sees in the emmet State. 

Is not this government? 



" For government, though high and low and lower, 
Put into parts doth keep in one consent, 
Congreeing in a full and natural close 
Like music." 

But where is the master musician and his orchestral 
leaders? Whose hands arrange the parts, direct the 
performers, give unity to the whole, and from their 
wondrous "congreeing" of action bring forth this per- 
fect piece of social harmony? The Spirit of the Com- 
mune! do you say? It is a phrase to drape our igno- 
rance. The reasonable answer still evades the student's 
grasp. Though the natural philosopher may justly 
claim that "in nature's infinite book of secrecy a little 
I can read," here is a page for whose interpretation no 
Daniel yet has come. Beyond the veil of recorded 
science an insoluble, at least an unsolved, mystery lies. 

This we perceive: Every ant is a law unto itself; 
and in every individual the self-directing faculty is well- 
nigh perfect. There is no private property. All citizens 
are equals absolutely equals in ownership of the com- 
munal property and in the use of, the authority over, and 
the service and responsibility for the same. All serve, 
save natural dependents; but all apparently are free to 
choose the quality, the period, and the amount of service. 
There is no visible head, no representative class or body 
within which the control of the commonwealth is em- 
bodied; and yet, by some occult force hitherto un- 
known to men, all the beneficent effects of government 
are wrought out with the regularity and precision of 
an automatic machine. It is true to-day, as when 
Solomon announced it many centuries ago, that this 
work goes on without "guide, overseer, or ruler." 

Here, in this strange commune, with its absolute law 



and impersonal but imperial executive, the self-directing 
])o\ver of every individual seems perfect. Is this social- 
ism? nature's type of a practical socialism? Learn 
this, then : if socialism as a form of human government 
would be equally or even approximately successful, it 
ni ust first attain that perfect individual discipline and ab- 
solute self-control, self -abnegation, self-surrender, and self- 
devotion to the good of the whole community that one sees 
in a Commonwealth of Ants. 


FOR the sake of economy in space, and to save 
breaking up the pages with foot-notes, the authors 
and works referred to in the text of this book are des- 
ignated thus: Every author, as a rule, has been given 
as a symbol the first or the first two letters of his 
name. His several works used, the titles of which are 
printed in full in this table, are indicated by a number 
or by successive numerals. For example, [McC. 7, p. 
243] shows that the text refers to the seventh title 
(Nature's Craftsmen) listed under the name McCook. 

Due acknowledgment has thus been made throughout 
the text of those to whose writings the author has been 
largely indebted. Yet, among these fellow-naturalists, 
he here expresses his special indebtedness to the veteran 
myrmecologist Prof. August Forel, M.D., of Zurich, 
who inspired and guided his earliest studies; and to 
Prof. William Morton Wheeler, of Harvard University, 
who stands primus inter pares among the later and 
younger myrmecologists, by whose devoted and in- 
telligent labors the writer and readers of Ant Com- 
munities have profited. 


Myrmecologiska studier. Formicoxenus nitidulus. Of- 
versigt af Kongl. Veterenskaps-Akademiens For- 
handlingar, 1884. Nr. 8, Stockholm. 



Ai. AITKEN, E. H. 

Red Ants' Nests. Bombay Nat, Hist. Soc., 1890, vol. 
v., No. 4. 


1. Les Fourmis. Paris, Libraire Hachette et Ce 7 1885. 

2. Species des Formicides d 'Europe. Gray (Haute- 

Saone). Francis Bouffant, 1881-1882. 

AY. LORD AVEBURY. See Lubbock. 

C. CALDERWOOD, PROF. HENRY, LL.D., University of 


The Relations of Mind and Brain. London, Macmillan 
& Co., 1884. 

De. DEAN. G. A. 

The Mound-Building Prairie Ant (Pogonomyrmex occi- 
dcntalis). Bulletin 154, Kansas State Agricultural 

E. EMERY, PROF. CARLO, Bologna. 

1. Zur Biologie der Ameisen. Sonderabdruck aus dem 

Biologischen Centralblatt. Bd. xi., Nr. 5 u. 6 
ausgegeben am 1. April, 1891. 

2. Arbeiterstandes bei den Ameisen. Ueber Entstehung 

des Soziallebens bei Hymenopteren. The same. 
Bd. xiv. January, 1894. 

3. Beitrage zur Kenntniss der nordamerikanischen 

Ameisenfauna. Zoologischen Jahrbiichern. Abth. 
pin. Syst., etc. Siebenter Band, pp. 633-681. 

4. Ossewationi ad Esperimenti sulla Formica Amazzone. 

Nota letta alia R. Acad. delle. Institute di Bologna. 
Bologna, 1908. 


1. Tenacity of Life in Ants. 

2. Portable Ant-Nests. Biol. Bull., vol. ii., No. 2, 1900. 

3. Artificial Mixed Nests of Ants. Biol. Bull. No. 6, 

\ovember, 1903. 



Fo. FOREL, PROF. AUGUST, M.D., Zurich. 

1. Les Fourmis de la Suisse. Geneve. 1874. 

2. Etudes Myrmecologiques en 1884, avec une description 

des organes sensoriels des antennes. Bull. Soc. 
Vaud. Sc. Nat., xx., 19. 

3. Die Nester der Ameisen. Neujahrsblatt heraus- 

gegeben von der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft 
auf das Jahr, 1893. 

4. Ants' Nests. The same as No. 3, translated by Pro- 

fessor Wheeler. Smithsonian Report for 1894, pp. 

5. Ants and Some Oth r Insects. Translated from the 

German by Prof. William M. Wheeler. The Open 
Court Pub. Co., Chicago. 

6. Habits of North American Ants. Revista di Sci. 

t Biol., vol. ii. , No. 3, pp. 1-13. (Quoted by Wheeler.) 

7. Etudes Myrmecologiques en 1886. Annales de la 

Societe Entomologique de Belgique, tome xxx. 
Polymorphisme, etc. 

8. Hermaphrodite de 1'Azteca instab'lis SMITH. Bull. 

Soc. Vaud. Sc. Nat., xxviii., 109. PL xvi. 

9. Eine myrmekologische Serienreise nach Tunesien und 

Ostalgerien nebst einer Beobachtung des Herrn 
Gleadow in Indien iiber Aenictus. "Humboldt" 
Band ix., Heft 9. 

Go. GOULD, THE REV. WILLIAM, Exeter College, Oxon. 
An Account of English Ants. London, 1747. 

H. HUBER, M. P. 

The Natural History of Ants. Translated by J. R. 
Johnson M.D., London, 1820. 


Ueber die Koloniengri'mdung bei Atta Sexdens. Biol. 

Centralbl. xxv., 1905, pp. 606-619, 625-635. 




New Observations on the Natural History of Bees. 
3d ed., Edinburgh, 1821. 


1. Ameisen von Rio Grande do Sul. Berlin Entomog. 

Zeits. Bd. xxxix., 1894, Heft 3. 

2. Die Anlage neuer Colonien und Pilzgarten bei Atta 

sexdens Zool. Anzeig. 21 Jahr 9, 1898. 


1. Etudes sur les Fourmis. Structure des Membranes 

Articulaires des Tendons et des Muscles (Myrmica, 
Camponotus). Limoges, 1895. 

2. Les Fourmis. Address on the Occasion of the Re- 

union Generate annuelle de la Societe Zoologique 
de France Paris, 1896. 


3. Etudes sur Fourmis. Note 17, Systeme glandulaire 

tegumentaire de la Myrmica rubra. Note 18, 
Aiguillon de la Myrmica rubra. Appareil de ferme- 
ture de la glande a venin. Paris, Georges Carre et 
C. Naud, 1898. 

4. Anatomic du corselet de la Myrmica Rubra Heine. 

Note 19, Memoires de la Societe Zoologique de 
France, 1898. 

5. Rapport des Animaux Myrmecophiles avec les Four- 

mis, pp. 1-99. Limoges, 1897. 

6. Sur les Muscles des Fourmis, des Guepes et des Abeilles. 

Extrait des Comptes rendus hebdornadaires des 
seances de 1'Academie des Sciences. Paris, 1895. 

Lb. LUBBOCK, SIR JOHN, BART. (Lord Avebury). 

1. Ants, Bees, and Wasps. London, Kegan Paul, Trench 

& Co., 1882. 

2. Journal Linnean Soc. Zoology, vol. xii., p. 487, Ob- 

servations on Ants, Part iii. 

3. Observations on Ants, Bees, and Wasps. Part xi. 

Lim. Soc. Journal Zoology, vol. xx., pp. 118-136. 



See also the same journal for Lubbock's original 
observations on Ants, subsequently published in 
book form, substantially. 

4. On the Habits of Ants. Popular Science Monthly, 
May, 1877. 


Travels and Researches in South Africa. Harper & 
Brothers, N. Y., 1858. Pp. 149, 576, 577. 


On the Agricultural Ant of Texas. Proceed. Acad. Nat. 
Sci., Philadelphia,, 1866. 

Ma. MARSHALL, PROF. WILLIAM, Universitat Leipzig. 
Leben und Treiben der Ameisen. Leipzig, 1889. 

McC. McCooK, HENRY C, D.D., Sc.D., LL.D. 

1. Notes on Architecture and Habits of Formica (Cam- 

ponotus) pcnnsylramca, the Pennsylvania Carpenter 
Ant. Trans. Amer. Entomolog. Soc., Philadelphia, 
vol. v., 1874. 

2. The Mound-Making Ants of the Alleghanies, Formica 

exsecto'ides. Trans. Amer. Entomol. Soc., vol. vi., 

3. The Agricultural Ant of Texas. 1880. (Book now 

out of print.) Lippincotts, Philadelphia. 

4. The Honey -Ants of the Garden of the Gods. Pro- 

ceed. Acad. Nat. Sci. of Philadelphia, 1881, pp. 
17-77, Plates i.-x. 

5. The Honey and Occident Ants. (Book now out of 

print.) Lippincotts, Philadelphia, 1882. 

6. Tenants of an Old Farm. George W.Jacobs & Co., 

Philadelphia. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1889. 
Chapter xiii., p. 231, on Cutting Ants of Texas. 

7. Nature's Craftsmen. Harper & Brothers, N. Y., 




8. Ants as Beneficial Insecticides.' Proceed. Acad. Xat. 

Sci., Philadelphia, 1882, p. 263. 

9. On Certain Ants Associated with the Cotton Worm. 

Professor Comstock's Report, 1870, p. 182. U. S. 
Depart . Agriculture. 

10. Observations on the Cutting Ants of Texas. 

Proceed. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia, 1879, p. 
33 sq. 

11. Combats and Nidification of the Pavement Ant 

(Tetramorium ccespitum). Proceed. Acad. Nat. Sci., 
Philadelphia, 1879, p. 156. 

12. Note on the Adoption of an Ant Queen (Crenmsto- 
gaster lineolata). Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia, 

1879, p. 137. 

13. Mode of Depositing the Ant Eggs. Acad. Nat. Sci., 

Philadelphia, 1879, p. 140. 

14. Note on Marriage Flight of Ants. Acad. Nat. Sci., 

Philadelphia, 1879, p. 141. 

15. Note on a New Northern Cutting Ant (Atta septen- 
trionalis McCook). Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia, 

1880, p. 359. 

16. The Shining Slave-maker Pohjergus lucidus: Archi- 

tecture and Habits. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia, 
1880, p. 376. PI. xix. 

17. Mode of Recognition Among Ants. Acad. Nat. Sci., 
Philadelphia, 1878, pp. 15 sq. 

18. Modification of Habits in Ants through Fear of 

Enemies. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia, 1887, p. 
27. (Slave-Making Ants and Their Slaves.) 

19. Prolonged Life of Invertebrates. Acad. Nat. Sci., 

Philadelphia, 1887, pp. 369-386. (Sir John Lub- 
bock's "Old Ant Queen.") 

20. Toilet Habits of Ants. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia, 

1878, p. 119. 

21. Note on Mound-Making Ants, Formica exsccto'ides. 

Acad. Nat, Sci., Philadelphia, 1879, p. 154. (Gath- 
ering Pine-Bark Pellets, Foraging for White Ants, 
etc.; Moss-Grown Mounds, Closing Gates.) 



22. The Rufous or Thatching Ant, of Dakota and Colo- 

rado. Acad. Nat. ScL, Philadelphia, 1884, pp. 57 sq. 

23. The Sense of Direction in a European Ant (Formica 
rufa). Acad. Nat. ScL, Philadelphia, 1887, pp. 336 
sq. (Mounds, Road-Making, Sentinels.) 

24. American Spiders and Their Spinning-Work. Vols. 

i., ii., iii., quarto. P. Blakiston & Son, Philadelphia. 


Die Pilzgiirten einiger siidamerikanischer Ameisen. 
Jena, Gustav Fischer, 1893. 

MG. MOGGRIDGE, J. TREHERNE, F.L.S., London, 1873. 
Harvesting Ants and Trap-Door Spiders. 


1. Die Formiciden der Vereinigten Staaten von Nord- 

amerika, Wien, 1886. 

2. Siidamerikanische Formiciden. Wien, 1887. 


1. Animal Intelligence. D. Appleton & Co., N. Y., 


2. Intelligence of Ants. Popular Science Monthly, 

October, 1881. 


Les Fourmis Americaines. Archives des sciences phy- 
siques et naturelles, t. x., Geneve, 1883. 


Through the Dark Continent. Vols. i., ii., Harper & 
Brothers, N. Y., 1878. 


1. A Chapter in the History of Ants. Harper's Maga- 

zine, January, 1879, p. 177. 

2. My Garden Pets. D. Lothrop Co., 1887. 

31 311 



1. Compound and Mixed Nests of American Ants. 

American Naturalist, Nos. 414, 415, 417. 418. Re- 
print by Ginn c\: Co., Boston, 1901. 

2. On the Founding of Colonies by Queen Ants, with 

Special Reference to the Parasitic and Slave-Holding 
Species. 1906, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat, Hist,, vol. 

3. Notes on a New Guest- Ant. Bull. Wisconsin Nat. 

Hist, Soc., vol. v., No. 2, 1907. 

4. Ethological Observations on an American Ant. 

Journal fur Psychologic und Neurologic, ii., pp. 
1-31. Leipzig, 1902. 

5. A Crustacean-Eating Ant. Biological Bulletin, vol. 

vi., No. 6, May, 1904. 

6. The Polymorphism of Ants, with an Account of Some 

Singular Abnormalities Due to Parasitism. Bull. 
Am. Mus. Nat. Hist,, vol. xxiii., 1907. 

7. A New Type of Social Parasitism Among Ants. Bull. 

Am. Mus. Nat, Hist., vol. xx., art, xxx., pp. 347- 
375, 1904. 

8. The Habits of the Tent -Building Ant (Cremastogaster 

lineolata SAY). Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 

9. Ants' Nests. Translation of Doctor Forel's paper on 

Ants' Nests for Smithsonian Report for 1894. 

10. Comparative Ethology of the European and North 
American Ants. Journal fiir Psychologic und Neu- 
rologie, pp. 400-435, Leipzig, 1908. 

11. A European Ant (Myrmica hvinodus) Introduced 
into Massachusetts. Journal of Economic Entomol- 
ogy, vol. i., No. 6, 1908. 

12. Studies on Myrmecophiles. I. Cremastochclus. Jour- 
nal N. Y. Entomolog Soc., vol. xvi., No. 2, June, 1908. 

13. Ditto. II. Hetjerius. Id., Sept., 1908. 

14. Ditto. III. Microdon. Id., Dec.. 1908. 



Die zusammengesetzten Nester und gemischten Kolonien 
der Ameisen. Minister, Aschendorffische Buch- 
drackkerei, 1891. 


1. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., 1892, pp. 56, 58. Quoted 
W. 5, p. 256. 


ACACIA, Mexican, nest of ants 
in, 36. 

Accidents repaired, 50. 

Achray, ants in Pass of, 58. 

Adaptation of means, 50. 

Adlerz, Gottfrid, 108. 

.Ecophylla smaragdina, 34. 

African ants, 34, 192. 

Agricultural ant, 20, 21, 22, 55, 
130, 187, 206, 257, 286; open 
plaza, 56; roads, 56; transpor- 
tation, 57; feeding, 84, 146. 

Agriculture, Department of, 114. 

Agriculture destroying ants' 
nests, 107. 

Alien associates and affinities in 
ant communes, 224 et se<j. 

Alleghany mound-makers, 151. 

Amazons, ants are, 155. 

Ancestral habit, 30. 

Andre, M. Ernest, 233. 

Anger and rudeness, absence of, 
toward dependents, 180. 

Ant cows. See Aphides, 

Antennae, organs of smell, 81, 
123; as hearing organs, 148; 
sensibility of, 149; functions 
of, 150; cleansing, 50. 

Antennal parley, 153. 

Ants, factors determining be- 
havior, 181; lack of personal 
benevolence, 292; communal 
loyalty the onlv benevolence, 

Aphis herds and ant associates, 
243 et seq. 

Aphides, 30, 102, 227, 244, 245; 
of Formica exsectoides, 5, 13. 

Aphenogastcr tennesseensis, 35. 

Appetite, pleasures of an ant's, 


Architecture, nesting, 17; sim- 
plest types, 26; development 
of, 26, 27. 

Argiope aurantium (spider), 124. 

Ashmead, Professor, 233. 

Asian ant, 34. 

Atta fervens, 72, 86, 87, 92, 146; 
big-headed workers, 205. 

Atta sexdens, 95. 

Attaphila fungicola, 229. 

Attidsp, 37, 66, 86. 

Auditory organs, 147. 

Avebury, Lord (Sir John Lub- 
bock, Bart.), 152, 210, 273, 

BANKOK, Siam, ant of, 31, 32. 

Bees, language of, 125, 127; 
spiracular voicing, 137. 

Beetles, with ants, 225; Lome- 
chusan, 232. 

Behavior of ants, factors deter- 
mining, 181. 

Bell wood, Pennsylvania, ant, 35. 

Big-headed workers, 116, 203. 

Boll- weevil, destroyed by ants, 

Brains of ants, 183. 

Brunelli, Signer, 140. 

Buckley, Prof. S. B., 86. 

Building up mounds, 43, 46. 

CAGES for stridulating insects, 

Japanese, 142. 

Calderwood, Prof. Henry, 150. 
Callow antlings, 164. 
Camponotus abdominah's, 199. 
Camponotus americanus, 107. 
Camponotus maccooki, 237. 
Camponotus pennsylvanicus, 192. 

Cnni])onotus rufipcs, 32. 


Cannibals, ants as, 80. 
Captives carried, 272. 
Carpenter ant queen, 18. 
Carpenter ants, 222. 
Carton nests of ants, 29, 30, 


Caste, 9. 
Casualties, 158. 
Catacombs of Rome, an analogy, 

17, 18. 

Caves, mushroom, of ants, 94. 
Cecropia adenopus, 36. 
Cedius ziegleri, 231. 
Cereal foods, taste developed for, 


Ceylon ant, 34. 
Chalcid parasite, 233. 
Challenge of antenna?, 151. 
Christian theory of war, 190. 
Cicada, stridulating, 142. 
Claw, 54. 
Cleanliness, habitual, 50; tools 

for, 279. 

Cleansing body and head, 283. 
Cockroaches, with ants, 225. 
Cold, effects of, 228. 
Column of march, 117. 
Commensals, 237. 
Communal analogies, ants and 

men, xv, xvi. 

Communal dependents, the prob- 
lem of, 171 et seq. 
Communal life, influence of, 297. 
Communal righteousness, 10, 15. 
Communicate, how ants, 136 et 


Comstock, Prof. J. H., 114. 
Cooper, William S., Detroit, 

Michigan, 12. 
Courage, 11, 12, 198. 
Courtiers of queen, 300. 
Cowardice, rare, 195; example of, 

Cremastogaster, architecture of, 

27, 29; form of, 28, 32. 
Cremastogaster (brevispinosa} , 


Cremastogaster lincolata, 29. 
Cricket, wing-cover of male, for 

chirruping, 141. 
Criminal and degenerate ants, 9, 

Crustaceans, ants feed on, 120. 

Cutting ants, 205; underground 
engineering, 64; head of, 88; 
night raids, 90; plants pre- 
ferred by, 91; forms of, 93; 
caves of, 94. 

Cutting leaves, mode of Atta, 89. 

Dean, Mr. G. A., 25. 

Death's-head moth, 138, 139. 
Degeneration, without young, 

Dependents, immature tax on 

communes, 172; winged, 184. 
Development of honey-bearers, 


Devotion to commune, 13, 194. 
Differentiation of functions of 

workers, 205. 
Digestive tract, 110. 
Dipteron parasites, 238. 
Discord, absence of, 55. 
Distribution, universal, 224. 
Dolichoderus bituberculatus, 31, 


Dorymyrmex flavus, 196. 
Dorymyrmex pyramicus flarus, 


Drainage of nests, 285. 
Dumping-grounds, or chambers, 

in nests, 23, 115. 

ECITON, or " driver ant," 28. 
Eciton Carolinense, 153. 
Ectatomma tuberculatum, 114. 
Education by the State, 168. 
Eggs, eaten, 78; taken from 

queen by workers, 161; of 

queen, 181. 

Emery, Prof. Carle, 36, 233. 
Engineering, 37, 40, 43, 49, 63. 
Engineering methods in ant 

structures, 49 et seq. 

FACE of ant, 148. 

Fecundation, in nest, 174. 

Feeding the commune, 101 et seq. 

Female ant, 77; after marriage 
flight, 95. 

Female government in nnt com- 
munities, 155 et seq. 

Female temperament, 156; ex- 
hibited with young, 165. 



Females, .spurious pseudogynes, 


Fetid ant, 257. 
Fielde, Miss Adele, 10S, 273. 
Florida harvester, 117, 204. 
Florissant basin fossils, 176. 
Food, 77; supply, variation in, 

107; solid, given, 109; bearers' 

arrival in nest, 179; quarrels 

over, 219. 

Food call, in ants, 146. 
Foot, 53, 54. 

Foraging habit formed, 78. 
Foramen, 80. 
Forel, Dr. August. 8, 31, 32, 34, 

153, 154, 199, 200, 256, 257, 273. 
Formic acid of ants, 38, 101; 

marking out roads, 59; fumes 

as guide, 63; batteries, 210. 
Fort Clark, Texas, ants, 65. 
Fossil ants, of Oligocene and 

amber, 176. 

Fossils, ants burrow in, 24. 
Founder of commune, 77. 
Founding community, 17. 
Fountain, Gen. S. W., 65. 
Fraternization, 6, 7. 
Fruits, as ant food, 82. 
Forelius faetidus, 257. 
Forelius maccooki, 257. 
Formica diffitilis-conscians, 264. 
Formica ex secta, 8. 
Formica ex sectoides, 2, 3; size of 

communities, 8, 37, 61, 225. 
Formica, 263; of Baltic 

amber, 177. 
Formica gnava, 227. 
Formica pratensis, 255. 
Formica rufibarbis, 256. 
Formica Sanguinea, 265. 
Formica sanguinea - rubicund a, 


Formica Schaufussi, 153, 230, 258. 
Formica Schaufussi-inccrta, 230, 


Formica subsericea, 153, 199, 263. 
Formica ru/a, 58, 61, 265. 
Fraternal confederacies, 1 et seq. 
Fury, under assault, 41. 

GALLERIES, as lodgings, 41; 

arched, 49. 
Galls, oak, as food, 110. 

Gardner on insect music, 131. 
Gate closing, Occident ants, 68, 

70; opening, 69. 
Gate closing, cutting ants, 72-75. 
Goeldi, Dr., 95. 

Good-temper and harmony, 194. 
Grass, use of, in building, 38. 
Grasshopper, shrilling, 140. 
Gryllus riridissimus, 140. 
Guards, 188. See also Sentinals. 
Gustatory organs, 80. 

HAIRS, specialized, 149; and 

spine, 279. 

Hardening material, 42, 44. 
Harvesting ants, 119. 
Health, 289. 

Hearn, Prof. Lafcadio, 141. 
Herbert, Edmund, 241. 
Hill, Mr. R., 24. 
Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, 

ants of, 2. 
Honey-ants, 274, 290; nest and 

sentinels, 10; exterior of nest, 

19; face, 80; abdomens of, 103; 

oak galls with, 110; structure, 

111; queen, 173. 
Honey-bearers in natural site, 


Honey-dew as food, 30, 102. 
Horse ants, 58. 
House-fly spiracles, 136. 
Huber, Francis, pere, 137, 138. 
Huber, Jakob, 95, 97. 
Human parasites, social, 233. 

INDIVIDUALISM in ant commune, 

Industry, martyrs of, 160. 

Insectivorous, habit utilized, 110. 

Instinct, co-operating, 41 ; elastic, 
50; to preserve species, 180. 

Intelligence, ants', key to, 150, 

Internal economy of ant com- 
munes, 155. 

Island Heights ants, 99. 

Japanese insect cages, 141, 142. 


KANSAS ants, Sapa Creek, 24, 25. 
Katydid, stridulating, 143. 


Kauffman, Col. A. B., U. S. A., 

65, 66. 

"Kelep," the, 114. 
Keys of insects' notes, 131. 
Kohlrabi-fungus of cutting ants, 


LABIAL palp, 80. 

Labium, 80. 

Labor, division of, 9; influenced 
by physical condition, 51. 

" Ladybirds" are beetles, 248. 

Language of ants and other in- 
sects, 121 et seq. 

Larvae, as food, 83; care of, 164, 
281; kept in common, 165, 182. 

Lasius flavus, 174. 

Lasius fuliginosus, 183. 

Lasius niger, 152, 159. 

Leadership of commune, 301. 

Leaf-made tents, 35. 

LeConte, Dr., Coleopterist, 230. 

Legs of ants, 279. 

Leidy, Prof. Joseph, 24. 

Leptogenys, 109. 

Leptogenys elongata, 120. 

Leptothorax emersoni, 25,0. 

Leptothorax petiolatus, 199. 

Life, waste of, 158, 160. 

Light within nests, 185. 

Lincecum, Dr. Gideon, 65. 

Litter cleaned up, 287. 

Living chain, working by, 35. 

Livingstone, Dr. David, 9, 148, 

Lobopelta chinensis, 119. 

Lobopolata distinguenda, 118. 

Loch Katrine, 58. 

Lycurgus the Spartan, 167. 

M AGO WAN, DOCTOR, Wenchow, 
China, 110. 

Maimed, described, 215. 

Males, nonentities in work of 
commune, 167; not fighters, 

Mandibles, 80, 206, 270. 

Marriage-flight, 174-176. 

Massagerie among ants, 228. 

Mathematical skill in road mak- 
ing, 61. 

Matriarchate, an ant commune, 

Maxillary palp, 80. 
Megachile, 89. 

Mclanoplifs femur-rubrum, red- 
legged locust, 141. 

Mendicants killed, 109. 

Mermithergates, 108. 

Metopina pachycondylce , 236, 238. 

Mimetic language, 122, 123. 

Mimetic entreaties, 108. 

Minims, 78. 

Mites, parasites, 282. 

Moggridge, J. Treherne, 116. 

Moller's corpuscles, 37. 

Moller, Dr. Alfred, 37, 95, 96. 

Monomorium pharaonis, 82. 

Morris, Rev. George K., 99. 

Mosquito voicing, 137. 

Mound-making ants of Alle- 
ghenies, 2, 3, 85, 101. See 
also Formica exsectoides. 

Mounds, sectional views, 42. 

Mushroom gardening ants, 95, 

Mycetophagous ants, 120. 

Myrmecocyst us hort ideoru m, 10; 
exterior architecture, 19. See 
also Honey ants. 

Myrmecophylous insects, 229. 

Myrmica brevinodis, 250. 

studies therein, xv; on slave- 
making ants, chap, v, 19, 85, 
104, 110, -160, 175, 243, 263, 

Nest odor acquired by aliens, 

Night' life, 224. 

Noiseless toil, 48. 

Northern cutting ants, 98. 

Numbers of ants, 92. 

Nurse ants, duties, 167. 

Nursery, emmet, 166. 

Nurses, female, 165. 

OCCIDENT ant, exterior nest, 24; 
closing gates, 67, 68; store- 
rooms and dumping-rooms, 
116; gathering seed, 117; in 
action, 196; in duel, 207; 
parasitic nests on, 259; sting 
of, in fights, 260. 

Odontomachus, 108. 



Odor, specific, in recognition, 14; 

of nest as giving recognition, 


Oils, as ant food, 81. 
Olfactory sense, 148. 
Opportunism, 47. 
Opportunists, ants as, 35. 
Orange-trees preserved by ants, 


Orasema coloradensis, 233. 
Orasema viridis, 233, 234. 
Orb weaver's eggs, 2. 
Overseers, absence of, 40. 

Pachycondyla harpax, 240. 
Panics, spread of, 178. 
Parasites on ants, 233, 236, 282. 
Parasitic formicaries, 259. 
Parasol or cutting ants, 86. See 

also Atta. 

Pasteboard ant nest, 31. 
Patriotic feeling, supreme, 194. 
Peace among men, 278. 
Pear-tree psylla, 246. 
Pennsylvania harvester, 118. 
Pheidole commutata. 108. 
Pheidole instabilis, 116, 203, 233, 


Pheidole kingi, 233. 
Pheidole pennsylvanica, 27, 118. 
Philadelphia Academy of Natural 

Sciences, 95. 
Philosophy of ants, 51. 
Physical condition affected by 

work, 51. 
Physical expression as language, 


Pine leaves in nests, 30. 
Piping of bee queens, 137. 
Plant culture, 98. 
Plant-lice, aphides, described, 243. 
Play, ants sporting, 186, 187. 
Pleasures of, 185. 
Plesiobiosis, double nests, 257. 
Pluck in small ants, 197. 
Pogonomyrmex crudelis, forms of, 

Pogonomyrmex occidentals s, 10, 

20. See also Occident ant. 
Police administration, 14. 
Polyergus ru/escens, 153; lucidus, 


Polyrachis jerdonii, 34; spinigera, 
34; dires, 34. 

Portage of pebbles, 25, 26; im- 
plements for, 37. 

Post-petiole in stridulation, 147. 

Providing work for young, 169. 

Pseudogynes, 231. 

Pseudomyrma belli, 36. 

Pseudomyrma (gracilis), 199. 

Psychic contagions, 178. 

Pteratic language, loO, 132. 

Public sentiment, 15. 

Pulvillus, 54. 

QUEEN, 268, 271; cutting ant 
founds mushroom garden, 96; 
mother, 156; surrounded by 
guard, 157; eggs of, 158; among 
workers, 159; winged, of honey- 
ant, 173; not seen in wars, 201. 

RAID, or march, of cutting ants, 
88, 89, 119; raiding in column, 

Rain, effect on work, 37. 

Rations, supplying the com- 
munal, 77 et seq. 

Recognition, 14, 15, 101, 104; in 
wars, 220; by odor, 223. 

Red ants, house pests, 82. 

Repletes, 106. 

Republic, the ideal, 171. 

Resemblance to spider's work, 35. 

Roads, 119; of Formica rufa, 59. 

Romanes, George J., 150. 

Roofing habit, 24, 25. 

Roziies gongylophora, 98. 

Rufous ants of Britain, 58. 

SALIVARY secretions, 44. 

Sanitation and personal benev- 
olence, problem of, 279 et seq. 

Santiago de Cuba, cutting ants 
of, 90, 91. 

Scavengers, ants are, 81, 288. 

Schaufuss ant, 264. 

Schimpfer, Prof. A. F. W., 37. 

Scott, Sir Walter. 58. 

Scouts, or pioneers, 83. 

Scudder, Prof. Samuel C., 133, 

Self-control, 51. 

Self-feeding, 109. 

Senses of ants, 134. 



Sensibilities in antenmr, 149. 

Sensory organs, key to intelli- 
gence, 150. 

Sentinels, 123, 124, 299. 

Sentries, 10. 

Shakespeare on insect com- 
munes, 298. 

Shampoo dejeune, 252. 

Shining slave-maker, 263. 

Silence of ant work, 45, 48. 

Silk-made nest, 32, 34. 

Slave-making ants, 200, 258; 
communes, founding of, 261 
et seq. 

Slave-making habit, how formed, 

Slavery, human, compared with 
ant, 261-262; raid described, 

Slaves eaten, 83. 

Slingerland, Prof. M. V., 245. 

Social insects, 1, 2. 

Soldier caste, 11, 115. 

Solenopsis fugax, 254, 256. 

Solenopsis molesta, 257. 

South African ants, 9. 

South American ant, 32. 

Sphinx atropos, 138. 

Spiders, American, and Their 
Spinning Work, McCook, 177. 

Spiders, stridulating, 40; an- 
cestral, and their habits, 177; 
fossil, 177. 

Spinning habit, 32. 

Spiracles, use of, 136. 

Spirit of the commune, 40. 

Stanley, Henry M., 192. 

Steering committee for queen. 

Stem-mother of aphis, 246. 

Stinging organs, rudimentary, 
207-209; of Pogonomvrmex, 
described, 207-209. 

Store-rooms for grain, 21, 115. 

Stridulation, as language, 140; 
organs in ants, 143, 145, 146; 
modes of, among locusts, 
crickets, and grasshoppers, 
141, 143; delicate sounds, 144. 

Structure of ants, 111. 

Subterranean career, 185. 

Swarming of sexes, 174. 

Sweet tooth of ants, 79. 

Symbiosis, with plants, 37, 81. 
Sympathetic excitement, incit- 
ing to marriagj-flight, 178. 

TENACITY of life, 108. 

Termes flavipes, 85, 225. 

Termites, 84, 117, 119. 

Tetramorium ccespitum, 152, 212, 

Thief-ants, 254-255. 

Tidiness of ants compared with 
working-men, 284. 

Tmesiphorus costatis, 230. 

Tongue, 80; described and illus- 
trated, 280. 

Tools, natural, of ants, 53. 

'Topochemical trail," 154. 

Trachymyrmex septentrionalis, 99. 

Transportation methods, 57. 

Tree-nests, 32. 

Tree-trails, 101. 

Trenchers, communal big-headed 
caste, 116. 

Trossachs, ants of, 58. 

Tunnels under streams, 66. 

UBIQUITY of ants, 79. 
Underground wars, 219. 

Vieveck, Mr. H. L., 25. 
Voice of ants, 136. 
Voltaire, 51. 
Von Ihering, Dr. H., 95, 98. 

WAR, how ants carry on, 211; 
origin, 274; brutal but nat- 
ural, 190; alarms, 193; war 
note of bee, 127; return from, 

Warrior ants and their equp- 
ment for war, 190 et seq., 258; 
all workers are, 202. 

Wassman, Father Edmund, 200, 
231, 254-255, 257. 

Waste products disposed of by 
ants, 81. 

Watchers, queen's guard, 162. 

Weapons, 206. 

Wheeler, Prof. William M., 17, 
29, 86, 99, 145, 146, 175, 176, 
199, 227, 236, 257, 258, 264, 



White ants, 118. See also Term- 

Winged forms of ants, 173. 

Winged dependents, arrival of 
food-bearers, 179. 

Winter, influence of, 225, 227. 

Workers, complex instincts, 182. 

Wounded ants uncared for, 214. 
Wroughton, Mr., 117. 
Wyoming ants, 24. 


YOUNG cared for, 77; care and 
presence of, needful, 289.