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\ » \- *• ■• V /* } 

y V 


Pp. xv+493, 172 figs., i2mo, 1901, 

Pp. x+}6}, 257 figs., i2mo, 1903, 

Pp. vii+671, 812 figs., II colored 
plates, 8vo, 1905 {tAmerican Nahir$ 
Series, Group 7), I5.00. Students' 
edition, $4.00 

Pp. xiiH-405, Svo, 1907, $2.00 

Henry Holt and Company 

Publishers New York 

Sbmtitsxi fiMoxt f^ttiu 

Group V. Diversions from Nature 




With Illustratum 


Mahy Wellman, Maud JjAnntiitEA, Aim Sekko Shimada 

NEW yq^t,^^ 



Pttbliahed June, 1908 

• ••••• 

• •. 








In these days many strange, true stories 
about animals are being written and read, 
but it seems to me that some of our most 
intimate and interesting animal compan- 
ions are being overlooked. So I have 
tried to write about a few of them. These 
stories are true. I know this, for Mary 
and I have really seen almost every- 
thing I have told; and they seem to 
us strange. If there have slipped into 
the stories occasional slight attempts to 
show some reason for the strange things 
or to point an unobtrusive moral, it is 
because the teacher's habit has over- 
come the story-teller's intention. So the 
slips may be pardoned. 

Of course I recognize that it is taking 
great chances nowadays with one's repu- 

vi Prefatory Note 

tation for honesty and truth-telling to 
write or tell stories about ammal behav- 
ior. Nature writers seem to be held, as 
a class, not to be above suspicion. But 
is a truthful man to be kept silent by 
criticism or abuse, or, on the other hand, 
is he to surrender, even for cash, to bad 
examples? I call out, '*No!" and beat 
on the table as I say this until the pens 
and paper hop, and Mary asks, '*No 
what?" Which reminds me that I must 
make some exception to my sweeping 
declaration of the truth of the whole of 
this Uttle book. I am not responsible 
for Mary! She is, bless her, a child of 
dreams, and sometimes her dreams get 
into her talk. So some of Mary in this 
book is fancy; but the beasties and their 
doings are — I say it again — ^true, quite 

V. L. K; 

Stanford Univbrsitt, California. 










I FIRST got acquainted with Maiy when 
she was collecting tarantula holes. This 
appealed to me strongly. It was so much 
more interestmg than collecting postmarks 
or even postage-stamps. 

It is part of my work, the part which is 
really my play — to go out and look at 
things. To do the same, I foimd out, is 
Mary's play — ^which is, of ^course, her mo^t 
serious employment. .W^^p^y.gpX^m^ 
quainted when we first 'nSfet,* and mad6*.azj^^ ^ 
arrangement to go qrut and look at thing's, 
and collect some of.^hjBm, together. So ^^ ; 
after Mary had shoW'Jpne that collecting;...; 
tarantula holes is reaj^t^f.-^tiite simple;-r^'a,Kv / 
though at fiirst thought .Gi A ydil hia^Vii^'-' 
think so — I proposed to her to come along 


4 Insect Stories 

and help me collect a few wasp holes. They 
are smaller of course than tarantula holes 
and do not make quite such a fine showing 
when you get them home^ but they have 
several real advantages over the spider bur- 
rows, only one of which I need tell you now. 
This one is, that you can watch the wasps 
make their holes because they do it in the 
daytime, while you can't watch the taran- 
tula make its hole because it does it at 
night. So Mary and I went together to 
the place of the wasps. 

I ought to tell you right away that Mary 
and I live in California. This explains to 
you .partly r why we are so happy in our 
fainbfes,.b^a^^ any one whose work 

<W whose play it: is to go out and look at 
things, Califomfa is a wonderfully good 
place to live in. Iij -fact, I know of none 
better. But I sRbul^ tell you more of 
wBere we live^ bo^^sg California is so many 
ptafefes at dnoeiXtiiat is, so many different 
kindi;!^f places, such as high mountains. 

TriE NEVv'"\jRk1 


A Narrow-waistcd Mother 5 

burning deserts, great forests, fertile plains, 
salt lakes, blue ocean, low soft hills, wide 
level marshes, fragrant orchards, brilUant 
flower gardens, hot springs and volcanic 
cones, deep cafions and rushing rivers, — O, 
indeed, almost all the kind$ of places that 
the physical geography tells about. 

Mary and I Uve in a beautiful valley be- 
tween two ranges of mountains and vefy 
near the marsh-Uned shores of a great ocean 
bay. Over beyond one range of mountains 
is the ocean itself stretching blue and rip- 
ply all the way to China, while beyond the 
other range of mountains is a desert with 
jackrabbits and bmrowing owls and cac- 
tuses. Not the worst — or best — sort of 
desert like that far south toward Mexico, 
but one that gets a Uttle rain, and hence 
is called a ''Land of Great Possibilities'* 
by men who sell pieces of it now and then 
to people from Maine. 

It is easy for us to get from the little 
town in which we Uve to several very good 

6 Insect Stories 

places for looking at things. The foothills 
and mountain sides with their forests and 
coverts and swift little brooks; the orchards 
and flower gardens and grain and grass 
fields; the wide flat marshes with their salt- 
grass and pickle-weed, their wide channels 
and pools, and finally the bay itself; all 
are near by and all are fine places for 
observing and collecting things. 

When I met Mary first — ^the time she was 
collecting tarantula holes — ^we were on the 
gentle slopes of the lower foothills of the 
mountains. The big hairy tarantulas are 
very numerous there, although one rarely 
sees them because they mostly stay in their 
holes in da3rtime. There are tarantula 
hawks there too, enormous black and rusty- 
red wasps with wings stretching three 
inches from tip to tip. Mary and I saw 
one of these giant wasps swoop down on a 
big tarantula just as he came out of his 
hole one evening after sundown, and that 
was a battle to remember, and it had a 


A Narrow-waisted Mother 7 

very strange ending. The tarantula — ^but 
I must save that battle for another chapter 
all to itself. I must try and stick to the 
wasp holes in this one. 

It was a day in September. This month 
in CaUfomia is the last one of the long, 
rainless, sun-fiUed summer, and everywhere 
it is very dry and brown. The valley floors 
and foothill slopes Ue thirsty and cracking 
imder the ardent sun, and a thin cover of 
fine dust Ues on all the leaves of the Uve- 
oak and eucalyptus trees. Everything out 
of doors is waiting for the first rain. The 
birds are still and the frogs all hidden away. 
The insects buzz about rather heavily and 
keep pretty well under cover. If one wants 
to see much lowly life it is necessary to go 
to the banks of the few persisting streams 
or lakes or to the shores of bay or ocean. 
So Mary and I left the dry foothill 
slopes and their many silk-Uned holes 
with a big black hairy tarantula sitting 
quietly at the bottom of each, and took 

8 Insect Stories 

the gently dropping dusty road to the 

I like the salt marshes of California. 
They are a change arid reUef , in their sooth- 
ing monotony and simple plant life, from 
the lush and variegated flower fields, the 
dense and hostile chaparral thickets, the 
dark forests of great trees, and the miles 
of artificial plantations of orchards and 
vines. On the marshes you are greater 
and more important than the plants. In 
an orchard or a giant-tree forest, you feel 
second-rate someway. The fruit-trees 
have men for servants, while to the giant 
trees with their outlook from a height of 
three hundred feet and their memories of 
two thousand years, a man is no more than 
an ant. But in the marshes you feel that 
you are much more important a kind of 
creature than the pickle-weed, and that is 
almost the only plant that grows there. 

There are many curious little bare dry 
spots in the marshes where we know it. 

A Narrow-waisted Mother 9 

Flat, smooth, salt-encrusted, clean white 
spots rather circular in outline, and per- 
haps twenty feet in diameter. All around 
is the low thick growth of fat-leaved pickle- 
weed, but for some reason it doesn't invade 
these pretty Uttle empty rooms. Mary and 
I Uke to he on the clean dry floor of one of 
these unroofed rooms and look up at the 
blue sky and out beyond the low side walls 
of pickle-weed far across the flat marsh 
stretches, over the shining bay, and on 
through the quivering blue to the beauti- 
ful mountains that bound our views on 
both sides. On clear afternoons we can 
see a gleaming white speck on the top of 
the highest mountain in the eastern range. 
That is the famous Lick Observatory, where 
the astronomers are looking always into 
the sky to read the riddle of the stars and 
planets and comets. We feel rather small, 
Mary and I, when we realize that we are 
only loafing or at best watching insignifi- 
cant Kttle insects and collecting wasp holes 

lo Insect Stories 

that lie at our noses' ends, while those men 
up there are looking at wonders millions of 
miles away. But we are so interested and 
contented with our small doings and small 
wonders that we do not at all envy the 
astronomers on the mountain top. While 
they watch the conflagrations of the stars 
and the mighty saihng of the planets 
through the blackness of space, we watch 
the work and play and Uving of our lowly 
companions on the sim-flooded marshes. 
They like the cold gUttering sky; we like 
the warm brown earth. 

We had been l5n[ng quietly on the white 
salt sand in one of the imroofed marsh 
rooms for some time this September day 
before we saw the first wasp begin to work. 
She was standing on her head, apparently, 
and biting most energetically with her jaws, 
cutting a Uttle circle in the salt crust. 
When she got the circle all cut, she tugged 
and buzzed until she dug up, unbroken, 
thie little circular piece (perhaps one-third 

A Narrow-waisted Mother 1 1 

of an inch across) of crust. She dragged 
this about three inches away. Then she 
returned to the spot thus cleaned and dug 
out with her sharp jaws a bit or pellet of 
soil. Holding this in her mouth, she flew 
away about a foot and dropped it. Then 
came back. Then dug out another pellet 
of soil and carried and dropped it a foot or 
so away. Then back again and so on un- 
til it was plain that she was digging out a 
little cylindrical vertical hole or burrow. 
As the hole got deeper, the wasp had to 
crawl down into it, first with head and 
fore legs, then with head and half her body; 
finally her whole body, long legs, wings 
and all, was hidden as she dug deeper and 
deeper. She had to come out of the hole 
of course to carry away each bit of dug up 
soil. She always backed upward out of 
the burrow, and all the while she was dig- 
ging she kept up a low humming sound. 
It was this humming sound that attracted 
our attention to other narrow-waisted 

12 Insect Stories 

wasps like the first one. By moving about 
cautiously and listening and looking care- 
fully, we found more than a dozen others 
digging holes, each one going about the 
work just Uke every other one. 

When our first wasp had made its hole 
deep enough — ^this took a pretty long time; 
we found out later that it was about three 
inches deep — ^she brought back the first 
Uttle circular piece of salt crust and care- 
fully put it over the top of the burrow, 
thus covering it up entirely and making it 
look as if no hole were there. Then she 
flew away, out of the little bare room and 
off into the pickle-weed somewhere. We 
waited several minutes but she didn't come 
back, so we tumed our eyes to another 
wasp near by which had its hole only just 
begun. It was interesting to see how 
closely Uke the first wasp this second one 
worked. Prying and pulling with the jaws, 
the same fluttering of the wings and hum- 
ming, the same backing out of the hole and 

A Narrow-waisted Mother 13 

the swift Uttle flight for a foot or two feet 
away from the hole to drop the pellet of 

I tried to point out to Mary that this 
was the way animals do which work by 
instinct and not by reason. That all the 
animals of the same kind do things in the 
same way, and that they do them without 
any teaching or imitating or reasoning out. 
They are bom with the knowledge and 
skill and the impulse to do the things in 
the particular way they do. But Mary 
found this very tiresome and let her eyes 
rove, and it is well she did or we might not 
have made our great discovery: a really 
thrilling discovery it was for us, too. 

The first wasp had come backl But not 
empty handed, or rather not empty 
mouthed, for in her pointed jaws she held 
a limp measuring-worm about an inch and 
a quarter long. A measuring-worm or 
looper is the caterpillar of a certain kind of 
moth, and it loops or measures when it 

14 Insect Stories 

walks because it has no feet on the middle 
of the under side of the body as other 
caterpillars have, and so has to draw its 
tail pretty nearly up its head to take a 
step forward. This naturally makes its 
body rise up in a fold or loop. ''See/' 
cried Mary, "the wasp is going to put the 
measuring-worm into the hole." 

That is exactly what happened. How 
the wasp could tell where the hole was, 
was surprising, for it had so carefully put 
the bit of salt crust in place that you 
couldn't tell the top of the hole from the 
rest of the crust-covered ground. But our 
wasp came straight to the right place. 
Perhaps as a carrier-pigeon comes to its 
loft from a hundred miles away, or a cat 
carried away in a bag to a strange place 
finds its way quickly back home. 

Some of the other wasps that we watched 
later weren't so sure of their holes, though, 
and other people who have watched digger- 
wasps in other places have found them 

A Narrow-waisted Mother 15 

showing varying degrees of uncertainty 
about locating their nests. Mr. and Mrs. 
Peckham, who have studied the behavior 
of the various kinds of digger-wasps more 
than anybody else in this country, have 
concluded that the wasps "are guided in 
their movements by their memory of local- 
ities. They go from place to place quite 
readily because they are familiar with the 
details of the landscape in the district they 
inhabit. Fair eyesight and a moderately 
good memory on their part are all that 
need be assumed in this simple explana- 
tion of the problem." 

But quite different from this conclusion 
is that of Fabre, the wonderful French ob- 
server of wasps, who experimented on them 
in regard to this matter of finding and know- 
ing their holes, by carrying them away 
shut up in a dark box to the center of a 
village three kilometers from the nesting 
ground, and releasing them after being 
kept all night in the dark boxes. These 

1 6 Insect Stories 

wasps when released in the busy town, cer- 
tainly a place never visited by them before, 
immediately mounted vertically to above 
the roofs and then instantly and energet- 
ically flew south, which was the direction of 
their holes. Nine separate wasps released 
one at a time did this without a moment's 
hesitation, and the next day Fabre found 
them all at work again at their hole-dig- 
ging. He knew them by two spots of white 
paint he had put on each one. 

"Are the wasps guided by memory when 
placed by man beyond their bearings and 
carried to great distances into regions with 
which they are unacquainted and in im- 
known directions?" asks Fabre. "By 
memory so quick that when, having reached 
a certain height at which they can in some 
sort take their bearings, they launch them- 
selves with all their power of wing towards 
that part of the horizon where their nests 
are? Is it memory which traces their 
aerial way across regions seen for the first 

A Narrow-waistcd Mother 17 

time? Evidently not," emphatically de- 
clares Fabre. So there you are. Where 
doctors (of science) fall out it is not for you 
or me to decide. 

But Mary was growing excited. "See, 
she has put the worm down and is pr3mig 
up the top of the hole. She has got it off. 
She is—" 

'*Ss-h," say I, for wasps can hear. Or, 
wait; that's quite dogmatic. Wasps fly 
away when you talk too loud. That's bet- 
ter. That's not judging wasp doing by 
what we can do. That is just telling an 
observed fact. 

Mary "ssh"-ed, but she pointed a plump 
little finger; a finger trembling with ex- 
citement. The wasp had gone down into 
the uncovered hole with the worm. Then 
she backed out, found the Ud, covered up 
the hole and flew away into the pickle- 
weed againi 

In twenty minutes she came back, with 
another limp measuring-wormy straight to 

1 8 Insect Stories 

the covered hole; worm dropped on the 
ground; lid taken off; worm dragged in; 
wasp backed out; lid carefully replaced; 
flight to the distant jungle of pickle- weed 

O, this was exciting. Mary fairly ex- 
ploded into exclamations and questions 
after the wasp was well away. What are 
the worms for? Are they dead? The 
second one seemed to wriggle feebly a little 
on the ground by the nest while the wasp 
was getting off the Ud. Will she bring 
more? Will she fill the hole full of worms? 
Now I knew the answers to some of these 
questions, for I had been in this happy 
place before, but I wanted Mary to find 
out, to discover — exquisite and prideful 
pleasure — for herself. So I remained 

Three more times the wasp brought 
worms. Three more times went through 
all the performance. But the last time 
she didn't come up for a long time; that 

A Narrow-waisted Mother 19 

is, for several minutes, and when she did 
come, instead of putting the salt crust on 
the hole, she got a little pellet of soil and 
dropped it in; and then another, and many 
others. Sometimes she scraped them in 
with her front feet, but there weren't many 
bits of soil close enough for that, for she had 
carried them all a foot or so away as she 
brought them out of the hole. She worked 
very industriously: jumping and running 
about, making Uttle buzzing leaps and 
jQights, until she had quite filled up the 
hole with the five dead worms in the bot- 

Then she did the most wonderful thing. 
With her fore feet she pawed and raked the 
surface until it was quite smooth, and with 
her jaws and homy head she pressed down 
and tamped the fine bits of soil until they 
were a little below the surface of the salt 
crust around the hole, and then she brought 
again the httle circular lid or top of salt 
crust and carefully put it in the little de- 

20 Insect Stories 

pression on the top of the filled-in burrow, 
so that it fitted perfectly with the hard 
uncut salt crust around the hole's edge! 

This is true. Does it seem wonderful to 
you? Why? Because we think that other 
animals cannot do what would be a very 
simple thing indeed for us? Our wasp was 
evidently concealing the whereabouts of 
her worm-stored burrow. I don't say that 
she wanted to conceal it; or decided to con- 
ceal it; or even intended to conceal it. She 
was simply, I say, concealing it. That 
seems quite certain, doesn't it? Well, this 
action of cutting out and replacing the bit 
of salt crust over the burrow was about the 
simplest and most effective way of con- 
cealing the hole that could be reasoned 
out, if we ourselves were to undertake it. 
The wasp, and all the other wasps of the 
same kind in our marshes, concealed their 
holes in the way that our reason would 
suggest to us as the best way. But I do 
not say an5^hing about the wasp's mental 

A Narrow-waisted Mother 21 

processes toward getting at this behavior. 
One thing is pretty sure. Among a score 
or hundred of us doing this work, there 
would be pretty sure to be some to do it in 
a different sort of way from the others. 
The wasps of the same kind all do it alike. 
Perhaps that is the chief difference between 
reason and instinct. 

But if our digger-wasp— whose name is 
An[miophila, the sand-lover — ^made Mary's 
and my eyes bulge out by her cleverness, 
what shall we think of that other Anmio- 
phila that Dr. Williston watched on the 
plains of Kansas, or that other one still 
which the Peckhams studied in Wisconsin? 
These other Ammophilas, instead of using 
their hard heads to tamp down the soil in 
the hole, hunted about until they found a 
suitable little stone which, held tightly in 
the jaws, was used as a tool to pack and 
smooth the dirt! And the Kansas wasp 
did another odd thing. Instead of making 
its hole of the same caliber or width all the 

22 Insect Stories 

way down, the upper half-inch or so was 
made of greater diameter than the rest of 
the burrow so that a little circular shelf 
ran around the inside of the hole half an 
inch below the top. Now when the clever 
Kansas wasp closed the burrow each time 
it went away to hunt for measuring-worms, 
it did it in a curious way. I quote the 
exact words of Professor WiUiston, the ob- 
server: '*When the excavation had been 
carried to the required depth*' — ^this is our 
professional way of saying, when the hole 
had been dug deep enough-^' 'the wasp, 
after surveying the premises, fljing away, 
soon returned with a large pebble in its 
mandibles, which it carefully deposited 
within the opening; then, standing over 
the entrance upon her four posterior feet, 
she rapidly and most amusingly scraped 
the dust, *hand over hand' back beneath 
her till she had filled the hole above the 
stone to the top. [The stone of course was 
resting on the little circular shelf half an 

A Narrow-waistcd Mother 23 

inch down in the hole.] . . • When she had 
heaped up the dirt to her satisfaction^ she 
again flew away and immediately returned 
with a smaller pebble, perhaps an eighth 
of an inch in diameter, and then standing 
more nearly erect, with the front feet 
folded beneath her, she pressed down the 
dust all over and about the opening, 
smoothing off the surface and accompany- 
ing the action with a peculiar rasping 

Is this not a creature of wits, this Kansas 
wasp? And an undaunted worker? For 
each time she went away to get a nice 
fat looper, she covered up her hole in 
this elaborate way, and each time she 
came back, she had to remove the half- 
inch of tamped-down soil and the Uttle 
covering stone resting on the shelf in 
the hole. 

The Peckhams, too, saw an Ammophila 
in Wisconsin use a pebble as a tool, and 
what is especially interesting and impor- 

24 Insect Stories 

tant, this wasp was only a single individual 
of several others watched by the observers, 
all these wasps being of one kind, that is, 
belonging to the same species. The tool- 
user thus revealed an individuality that 
made its actions seem to be dictated by 
something else than rigid instinct; cer- 
tainly so if instinct is to be defined as un- 
taught and unreasoned behavior common 
to all the individuals of a kind. In fact 
the Peckhams (most persistent, practised 
and inteUigent observers) insist that ''in 
all the processes of Ammophila the char- 
acter of the work differs with the indi- 

But where is Mary in all this digression 
of mine? Never fear for Mary. While I 
was mumbling about instinct and reason 
and automatism and individual idios}^- 
crasy, Mary was crawling slowly and cau- 
tiously about over the salt-crust floor of 
our room, counting the wasp holes in course 
of making, and she was making a second 

A Narrow-waisted Mother 25 

discovery. The measuring-worms, Ump 
and Ufeless as they appeared, were really 
not dead! She had seen at least two, left 
lying on the ground by the hole while the 
wasp prized off the cover, give feeble wrig- 
gles, and one that she poked with a pin 
squirmed rather energetically. That is, it 
did if she poked it at one end, but not if 
she poked it in the middle, which is such a 
great discovery that it really gets to be 

Now as one is entitled to take violent 
measures for the sake of science, Mary and 
I decided after considerable serious discus- 
sion to '^collect'* the hole which our wasp 
had finished and apparently left for good. 
So we dug it up, and on the spot we exam- 
ined it and all of its insides. And we found 
it quite true that the loopers were not dead, 
but they were paralyzed! When we poked 
a head or tail, each worm could squirm just 
a little, but if we touched them in the mid- 
dle, they didn't know it, and on one of 

26 Insect Stories 

them^ the top one, we found a little shin- 
ing white speck. 

Mary's excitement became merged into 
an intense thoughtfulness. Then she cried 
aloud with eyes shining: ''My, its the egg! 
the egg of the wasp! and the worms are for 
food for the young wasp when it hatches!" 

Ah, Mary, you have wits! Have you 
ever heard any one tell about this? Did 
you really guess it, or not guess it, but 
actually reason it out for yourself? Mary, 
I have great hopes of you. 

For it is quite true what Mary says. The 
little white seed-like thing glued on to the 
last looper's body is the egg of the wasp, 
and the stung and paralyzed but not killed 
measuring-worms are the food stored up 
by this extremely clever narrow-waisted 
mother for the wingless, footless, blind, 
almost helpless wasp grub, when it shall 
hatch from the egg. Down in the dark- 
ness of the cell, there will be a horrible 
tragedy. For days and weeks together the 

A Narrow-waistcd Mother 27 

wasp grub will nibble away on the helpless 
loopers until all five are eaten alive! Then 
the grub will change to a winged wasp with 
strong sharp jaws with which she will dig 
her way up and out of the noisome prison 
and into the free air and sunlight of the 
marsh room. And she will then dig holes 
of her own, find and sting and store loopers, 
lay an egg on one, and close up the hole just 
as her mother did. Or at least all this 
would happen if we hadn't collected the 
hole. But it will happen in the other holes. 
But why should the loopers be only par- 
alyzed instead of killed? Isn't it plain 
that if killed they would only be deca)dng 
carrion by the time the wasp grub was 
ready to eat them, and young wasps must 
have fresh meat, not dead and decayed 
flesh. And if the loopers were simply put 
in alive, not paralyzed, wouldn't their vio- 
lent squirming in the hole surely crush the 
delicate egg or the more delicate newly 
hatched wasp grub? Or wouldn't they 

28 Insect Stories 

simply dig their way with their heavy jaws 
out of the hole and away? Or, indeed, 
could the slender-bodied mother wasp carry 
and handle successfully a strong squirming 
looper over an inch long? The reason for 
the paralyzing of the worms is plain then. 
But how is this extraordinary condition 
brought about? And the answer to this, 
which Mary and I didn't discover for our- 
selves, but had to find out from the 
accounts of the men who did, like Fabre 
and others, reveals the most extraordinary 
thing that our wasps do. Most people 
think the wasps that live in communities 
or large families in big paper nests (the 
yellow- jackets and hornets) are the most 
interesting and most intelligent or clever 
of the wasps. But Mary and I do not 
think so. The solitary wasps do the most 
wonderful things, and of all they do, the 
paralyzing of the insects they store up as 
food for their young is the hardest to 
explain on any basis except that of wasp 

A Narrow-waistcd Mother 29 

reasoning. But of course we don't have to 
explain it^ which is fortunate for the high 
record of truth we are trjdng to estabUsh 
in this book. 

Fabre, the patient Frenchman, waited 
for years and years for a chance to see just 
how the Ammophila paralyzes her victims, 
and at last he saw and imderstood it. To 
understand the matter from Fabre's ac- 
count of it, we must remember that the 
measuring-worm's body is made up of a 
series of rings or body segments, in each 
of which (except the very last) is a little 
nerve center or brain situated just under 
the skin on the under side of the body. And 
all this row of brains is connected by a 
slender nerve cord running along the mid- 
dle Une of the under side of the long body. 
Now Fabre saw that the wasp darted its 
sting into each looper, '*once for all at the 
fifth or sixth segment of the victim." And 
when he pricked the stung worms with a 
needle in various parts of the body, he 

30 Insect Stories 

found, just as Mary did, that the needle 
could entirely pierce the middle of the body 
(which is where the fifth and sixth segments 
are), without causing any movement of the 
worm. ''But prick even slightly a seg- 
ment in front or behind and the caterpillar 
struggles with a violence proportioned to 
the distance from the poisoned segment." 

Now what is the reason, asks Fabre, for 
the wasp's selecting this particular spot for 
stinging the worm, and he answers his own 
question as follows: 

'The loopers have the following organi- 
zation, counting the head as the first seg- 
ment: Three pairs of true feet on rings two, 
three, and four; four pairs of membranous 
feet on rings seven, eight, nine, and ten, 
and a last similar pair set on the thirteenth 
and final ring; in all eight pairs of feet, the 
first seven making two marked groups — 
one of three, the other of four pairs. These 
two groups are divided by two segments 
without feet, which are the fifth and sixth. 

A Narrow-waistcd Mother 3 1 

'*Now, to deprive the caterpillar of 
means of escape^ and to render it motion- 
less, will the Hymenopteron [that's the 
wasp] dart its sting into each of the eight 
rings provided with feet? Especially will 
it do so when the prey is small and weak? 
Certainly n6t: a single stab will suffice if 
given in a central spot, whence the torpor 
produced by the venomous droplet can 
spread gradually with as little delay as 
possible into the midst of those segments 
which bear feet. There can be no doubt 
which to choose for this single inoculation; 
it must be the fifth or sixth, which separate 
the two groups of locomotive rings. The 
point indicated by rational deduction is 
also the one adopted by instinct. Finally, 
let us add that the egg of the Ammophila 
is invariably laid on the paralyzed ring. 
There, and there alone, can the young larva 
bite without inducing dangerous contor- 
tions; where a needle prick has no effect, 
the bite of a grub will have none either. 

32 Insect Stories 

and the prey will remain immovable mitil 
the nursling has gained strength and can 
bite farther on without danger." 

But some Ammophilas catch much larger 
caterpillars than the inch-long, slender, Ut- 
tle loopers. Fabre foimd a wasp dragging 
to its nest a caterpillar weighing fifteen 
times the weight of the wasp. Does one 
stab suffice for such a giant caterpillar? 
Here is what Fabre saw: An Anmiophila 
was noticed scratching in the ground around 
the crown of a plant. She was '*puUing up 
little grass roots, and poking her head under 
the tiny clods which she raised up, and run- 
ning hurriedly, now here, now there, round 
the thyme, visiting every crack which gave 
access under it; yet she was not digging a 
burrow, but hunting something hidden un- 
derground, as was shown by manoeuvres 
like those of a dog trying to get a rabbit 
out of its hole. And presently, disturbed 
by what was going on overhead and closely 
tracked by the Ammophila, a big gray 

A Narrow-waistcd Mother 33 

worm made up his mind to quit his abode 
and come up to daylight. It is all over 
with him; the hunter is instantly on the 
spot^ gripping the nape of his neck and 
holding on in spite of his contortions. Set- 
tled on the monster's back^ the Ammophila 
bends her abdomen^ and^ methodically^ de- 
liberately — ^like a surgeon thoroughly fa- 
miliar with the anatomy of his subject — 
plunges a lancet into the ventral surface of 
every segment, from the first to the last. 
Not one ring is omitted; with or without 
feet each is stabbed in due order from the 
front to the back." 

This is what the patient, careful observer 
saw, with all the ''leisure and ease required 
for an irreproachable observation." "The 
wasp acts," says Fabre, "with a precision 
of which science might be jealous; it knows 
what man but rarely knows; it is acquaint- 
ed with the complex nervous system of its 
victim, and keeps repeated stabs for those 
with numerous ganglia. I said 'It knows; 


Insect Stories 

is acquainted' ; what I ought to say is, 'It 
acts as if it did/ What it does is suggested 
to it; the creature obeys, impelled by in- 
stinct, without reasoning on what it does. 
But whence comes this sublime instinct? 
Can theories of atavism, of selection, of the 
struggle for Ufe, interpret it reasonably?" 

When I had finished reading this to Mary 
she looked up and said softly: ''Of course 
I don't understand all this that he says 
about 'avatism and selection' and so on, 
but I think the wasp knows. Don't you?" 

"Mary," I reply promptly, "the word is 
'atavism,' not 'avatism,' please remem- 

"I hope I can," said Mary, 

'^■ '^*Wf--y ' ^%r"i^7fff-'-^*^ '' l" ' ' ' i^'i 




The meadow lark on the fence post be- 
hind my house is unusually voluble this 
uncertain morning; maybe he is getting 
his da/s singing off before the sun shall 
hide, discomfited, behind the unrolling 
cloud furls. A solemn grackle, with yellow 
eyes and bronzed neck, stalks with cocking 
head in the wet green of the well-groomed 
front lawn; a whisking bevy of gold- 
finches, which chat to each other in high- 
pitched hiuxied phrases, disposes itself with 
much concern in the bare tree across the 
road, and swinging along overhead, a wood- 
pecker cries its harsh greetings. But the 
life here on the street is tame and usual 
compared to that busy living and to those 
eventful happenings taking place in a re- 


38 Insect Stories 

moter comer of the garden. There where 
the warm dust is figured with the dainty 
tracks of the quail hosts and the flower- 
flies hum their contentedest note; there 
in that half-artificial, half-wild covert of 
odorous vegetation, a life in miniature, with 
the excitement and stresses, the failures 
and successes and the inevitable comedies 
and tragedies of any world of life is going 
on, with the history of it all unrecorded. 

Mary has just come to call on me, bring- 
ing an unkempt bouquet of Scotch broom 
from the garden. On these branches of 
broom are many conspicuous white spots. 
They are not flowers, for it is not broom 
flower time, and the flowers are yellow when 
their time does come. But these white 
spots, soft Uttle cottony masses, like little 
pillows or cushions, and with regular tiny 
flutings along the top, have puzzled Mary, 
and she has come to ask me about them, 
for I am supposed to know all things. Well, 
luckily, I do happen to know about these, 



.o^ ^,.s 


^- >oo»^' 

Red and Black against White 39 

but I suggest that we go into the garden 
together and see if we can find out. The 
truth is, I am glad of an excuse to get away 
from this tiresome German book about 
Entwicklungslehre. And then, too, I want 
to look at things and talk with Mary. 

Mary has such a fascinatingly serious 
way of doing things that aren't serious at 
all. She has got the curious notion lately 
that many Uttle people live among the 
grasses, the grass people she calls them, and 
that that is the reason there are so many 
very Uttle white flowers coming up in my 
lawn. My own notion had been that some 
rascally seedsman had sold me unclean 
grass seed, but Mary's notion that the grass 
people are planting and raising these Uttle 
flowers for their own special delectation is, 
of course, a much wiser one. So when we 
walk on the lawn, we go very slowly, and I 
have to poke constantly among the grasses 
with my stick as we move along so that the 
Uttle people may know we are coming and 

40 Insect Stories 

have time to scurry away from mider our 
great boots. 

When we got out to the row of brooms, 
we foimd many of the soft white cushions 
on all the bushes. But some of them were 
torn and dishevelled. And in these torn 
masses many tiny round particles could be 
seen. These little black specks are simply 
eggs, insect eggs, as I told Mary, and soon 
she had discovered among them some 
slightly larger but still very small red spots 
which were waving tiny black feet and 
feelers about. They were of course the 
baby insects just hatching from the eggs. 

*'Does the mother lay the eggs in these 
little white cushions and then go away and 
leave them?'' asks Mary. 

"No, she stays right by them," I answer. 

"But where is she then? ' I can't — Yes 
I can too," cries Mary in great triimiph. 
"Here she is at one end of the egg cushion. 
She is a part of it." 

"Well, no, not exactly," I have to say. 


Red and Black against White 41 

"It is part of her, or rather she spins the 
cushion, which is really a sac or soft box 
of white wax, in which to lay her eggs. 
Something the way the spiders do, you 
know. Only their egg box is made of silk 
and usually fastened to a fence rail or on 
the bark of a tree and left there. But some 
of the spiders, the large, swiftly running, 
black kinds that live under stones, carry 
the silken ball with the eggs inside about 
with them, fastened to the end of the body. 
Well, this cottony cushion scale insect — 
that's its right name — ^keeps its waxen sac 
of eggs fastened to it, but as the egg sac is 
much larger than the insect itself, it can't 
run about any more, but has to stay for all 
the rest of the time tmtil it dies in the spot 
where it makes the sac. However,. as it 
gets all the food it wants by sticking its 
slender little beak into the broom or other 
plant it is on and sucking up the fresh sap, 
it gets on very well." 
*'But what makes some of the egg cush- 

42 Insect Stories 

ions — ^how pretty they are, too!— -so torn 
and pulled open," asks Mary, who has lis- 
tened to my long speech very nicely. She 
often gets impatient when I lecture for too 
many minutes together. " 

"That is for you to find out," I say. 
* There is a dreadful thing going on here if 
you can only see it. But a rather good 
thing too. Good for the broom bushes 
anyway, and as they are my broom bushes 
and I like their flowers, good for me." 

Just then a very stubby, round-backed, 
quick little red beetle with black spots 
walked off a broom stem on to Mary's hand. 
She didn't scream, of course, nor even jerk 
her hand away. She may learn when she 
is older to be frightened when pretty, harm- 
less, little lady-bird beetles walk on her. 
But now she likes all sorts of small animals, 
and is not afraid at all. 

Mary is not at all slow to understand 
things, and when this hard-bodied little 
beetle, with a body like half a red-and-black 

Red and Black against White 43 

pill, walked off the broom on to her hand^ 
she guessed that he might have something 
to do with the tom-up egg cushions. So it 
didn't take her long to find another Uttle 
beast like him actually nosing about in an 
egg sac and voraciously snapping up all the 
unforttmate tiny, red, black-legged baby 
scale insects. He ate the eggs, too, and 
seemed to take some bites at the mother 
insect herself, and then Mary found more 
of the lady-bird beetles, and still more. 
They were on all the broom bushes where 
the white cushions were. And so one of 
the dreadful tragedies going on in my gar- 
den was soon quite plain to Mary, and she 
was very sorry for the helpless white in- 

''Where did the red beetles come from?'' 
she asked pretty soon. 

"From Australia," I answered. ''Or 
rather their great-great-grandparents did. 
These particular beetles were probably bom 
right here in the garden, because a colony 

44 Insect Stories 

of them live here. But they couldn't if 
there were not some cottony cushion scale 
insects here too. For this particular kind 
of lady-bird beetle can't live on any other 
food — at least they don't— except this par- 
ticular kind of scale insect and its eggs, 
which is surely a curious thing, isn't it?" 

But Mary is so used to finding that the 
insects have extremely unusual and curious 
habits — ^that is, habits different from ours 
— ^that she doesn't get excited any more 
when I tell her about them. She does 
though when she finds them out for her- 
self, which makes me wonder if I haven't 
wasted a good deal of time in my life giv- 
ing lectures to students about things in- 
stead of always making them find out for 
themselves. And maybe I am wasting 
some more time now while I am writing! 

'*How did they come from Australia?" 
asks Mary. For she knows that Australia 
is several thousand miles awiay across the 
ocean from California, and lady-bird beetles 

Red and Black against White 45 

do not swim. At least not from Australia 
to America. So I have to give Mary an- 
other informing lectm-e, and this is it: 

"Years and years ago, there lived in some 
fragrant-leaved orange-trees in Australia 
some white cottony cushion insects whose 
life was untroubled by other cares than 
those of eating and of looking after the 
children. As each insect was fastened for 
life on the leaf or twig that suppUed it with 
all the food it needed, which was simply an 
occasional drink of sap, and as the white 
insects always died before thefr children 
were bom, neither of these cares was very 
harassing. On thousands of other similar 
fragrant-leaved orange-trees in Australia 
Uved millions of other similar white insects. 
And for a long time this race of white in- 
sects enjoyed Ufe. Those were happy days. 
But on a time there came into one of the 
trees a few small red beetles, who eagerly 
and persistently set about the awful busi- 
ness of eating the defenceless white insects. 

46 Insect Stories 

From this tree the red beetles, or the chil- 
dren of them, went to other trees where 
white insects lived, and with unrelenting 
rapacity and uncloyed appetite ate all the 
white insects they could find. And so in 
other trees; and finally, with years, the red 
beetles had invaded all of the thousands of 
fragrant-leaved orange-trees in Australia^ 
and had eaten nearly all of the millions of 
white insects. 

'*One day a very small orange-tree was 
taken out of the ground in Australia and 
sent with many others across the ocean to 
California. On this small tree there were 
a few of the white insects. The little tree 
was planted again in California and soon 
put out many fresh fragrant leaves. The 
white insects were astonished and rejoiced 
that day after day went by without the ap- 
pearance of any red beetles. The white 
insects increased in numbers; there were 
thousands of fragrant-leaved orange-trees 
in California, and in a few years there were 

Red and Black against White 47 

millions of white insects in them. One 
morrdng a man stood among the trees and 
said^ 'Confound these bugs; the}^'!! ruin me; 
what shall I do?' and a man who knew said^ 
'Get some red beetles from Australia/ So 
this orange-grower, with some others, paid 
a man to go to Austraha and collect some 
Uve red beetles. The collector went across 
the ocean, three weeks* steady steaming, and 
sent back a few of the voracious Uttle bee- 
tles in a pill box. They were put into a 
tree in a CaUf omia orange-orchard in which 
there were many cottony cushion scale in- 
sects. The red insects promptly began eat- 
ing the white ones; and their children and 
grandchildren and great-grandchildren 
have kept up this eating ever since. And 
so the orange-growers never tire of telling 
how the red beetles (whose name is Veda- 
lia) were brought from Australia to save 
them from ruin by the white insects (whose 
name is Icerya)." 
Now there are not many cottony cush- 


Insect Stories 

ion scales left in Califorina. A very prom- 
ising colony of them seems to have spnmg 
up in my Scotch broom bushes. But the 
red beetles have found their way there 
already^ as Mary and I discovered to-day, 
and so we think that by the time the broom 
flowers come, there will be few white in- 
sects left in the bushes. 



\ :r ••' 


Tras is the story of a fight. In the first 
story of this book, I said that Mary and I 
had seen a remarkable fight one evening at 
sundown on the slopes of the bare brown 
foothills west of the campus. It was not 
a battle of armies — ^we have seen that, too, 
in the little world we watch, — ^but a com- 
bat of gladiators, a struggle between two 
champions bom and bred for fighting, and 
particularly for fighting each other. One 
champion was Eurypelma, the great, black, 
hairy, eight-legged, strong-fanged taran- 
tula of California, and the other was Pepsis, 
a mighty wasp in dull-blue mail, with rusty- 
red wings and a poisonous javelin of a 
sting that might well frighten either you 
or me. Do you have any wasp in your 



$2 Insect Stories 

neighborhood of the ferocity and strength 
and size of Pepsis? If not^ you can hardly 
realize what a terrible creature she is. 
With her strong hard-cased body an inch 
and a half long^ borne on powerful wings 
that expand fully three inches, and her 
long and strong needle-pointed sting that 
darts in and out hke a flash and is always 
full of virulent poison, Pepsis is certainly 
queen of all the wasp amazons. But if 
that is so, no less is Eurypehna greatest, 
most dreadful, and fiercest, and hence king, 
of all the spiders in this country. In South 
America and perhaps elsewhere in the 
tropics, live the fierce bird-spiders with 
thick legs extending three inches or more 
on each side of their ugly hairy bodies. 
Eurypehna, the CaUfomia tarantula, is not 
quite so large as that, nor does he stalk, 
pounce on and kill little birds as his South 
American cousin is said, to do, but he is 
nevertheless a tremendous and fear-inspir- 
ing creature among the small beasties of 
field and meadow. 

The Vendetta 53 

But not all Eurypelmas are so ferocious; 
or at least are not ferocious all the time. 
There are individual differences among 
them. Perhaps it is a matter of age or 
health. Anyway, I had a pet tarantula 
which I kept in an open jar in my room 
for several weeks, and I could handle him 
with impunity. He would sit gently on 
my hand, or walk deliberately up my arm, 
with his eight, fixed, shining, httle reddish 
eyes staring hard at me, and his long 
seven- jointed hairy legs swinging gently 
and rhythmically along, without a sign of 
hesitation or excitement. His hair was 
almost gray and perhaps this hoariness 
and general sedateness betokened a ripe 
old age. But his great fangs were un- 
blunted, his supply of poison undiminished, 
and his skill in striking and killing his 
prey still perfect, as often proved at his 
feeding times. He is quite the largest 
Emypelma I have ever seen. He measures 
— ^for I still have his body, carefully stuffed. 

54 Insect Stories 

and fastened on a block with legs all 
spread out — ^five inches from tip to tip of 
opposite legs. 

At the same time that I had this hoary 
old tarantula, I had another smaller, coal- 
black fellow who went into a perfect ecstasy 
of anger and ferocity every time any one 
came near him. He would stand on his 
hind legs and paw wildly with fore legs and 
palpi, and lunge forward fiercely at my 
inquisitive pencil. I found him originally 
in the middle of an entry into a classroom, 
holding at bay an entire excited class of 
art students armed with mahl-sticks and 
paint-brushes. The students were mostly 
women, and I was hailed as deliverer and 
greatest dompteur of beasts when I scooped 
Eur5^1ma up in a bottle and walked off 
with him. 

But this is not telling of the simdown 
fight that Mary and I saw together. We 
had been over to the sand-cut by the golf 
links^ after' mining-bees, and were coming 

The Vendetta $$ 

home with a fine lot of their holes and 
some of the bees themselves, when Mary 
suddenly called to me to '*see the nice 

Perhaps nice isn't the best word for him, 
but he certainly was an unusually impos- 
ing and fluffy-haired and fierce-looking 
brute of a tarantula. He had rather an 
owly way about him, as if he had come 
out from his hole too early and was dazed 
and half-bUnded by the light. Tarantulas 
are night prowlers; they do all their hunt- 
ing after dark, dig their holes and, indeed, 
carry on all the various businesses of their 
life in the night-time. The occasional one 
found walking about in daytime has made 
a mistake, someway, and he blunders 
around quite like an owl in the simshine. 

All of a sudden, while Mary and I were 
smiling at this too early bird of a taran- 
tula, he went up on his hind legs in fight- 
ing attitude, and at the same instant down 
darted a great tarantula hawk, that is, a 

56 Insect Stories 

Pepsis wasp. Her armored body glinted 
cool and metallic in the red smiset light, 
and her great wings had a suggestive shin- 
ing of dull fire about them. She checked 
her swoop just before reaching Eurypelma, 
and made a quick dart over him, and then 
a quick turn back, intending to catch the 
tarantula in the rear. But lethargic and 
owly as Eur5^elma had been a moment 
before, he was now all alertness and agility. 
He had to be. He was defending his life. 
One full fair stab of the poisoned javelin, 
sheathed but ready at the tip of the flexi- 
ble, blue-black body hovering over him, 
and it would be over with Eur5^1ma. 
And he knew it. Or perhaps he didn't. But 
he acted as if he did. He was going to do 
his best not to be stabbed; that was sure. 
And Pepsis was going to do her best to 
stab; that also was quickly certain. 

At the samie time Pepsis knew — or any- 
way acted as if she did — that to be struck 
by one or both of those terrible vertical. 

The Vendetta S7 

poison-filled fangs was sure death. It 
would be like a blow from a battle-axe, 
with the added horror of mortal poison 
poured into the wound. 

So Euiypelma about-faced like a flash, 
and Pepsis was foiled in her strategy. She 
flew up and a yard away, then returned 
to the attack. She flew about in swift 
circles over his head, preparatory to darting 
in again. But Eurypelma was ready. As 
she swooped viciously down, he lunged up 
and forward with a half-leap, half-forward 
fall, and came within an ace of striking the 
trailing blue-black abdomen with his reach- 
ing fangs. Indeed it seemed to Mary and 
me as if they really grazed the metallic 
body. But evidently they had not pierced 
the smooth armor. Nor had Pepsis in that 
breathless moment of close quarters been 
able to plant her lance. She whirled up, 
high this time but immediately back, al- 
though a little more wary evidently, for 
she checked her downward plunge three 

58 Insect Stories 

or four inches from the dancing champion 
on the ground. And so for wild minute 
after minute it went on; Emypelma always 
up and tip-toeing on those strong hind legs, 
with open, armed mouth always toward 
the point of attack, and Pepsis ever dart- 
ing down, up, over, across, and in and 
out in dizzy dashes, but never quite 

Were Mary and I excited? Not a word 
could we utter; only now and then a swift 
intake of breath; a stifled ^'0'* or ''Ah" 
or ''See.*' And then of a sudden came the 
end. Pepsis saw her chance. A Ughtning 
swoop carried her right on to the haiiy 
champion. The quivering lance shot home. 
The poison coursed into the great soft body. 
But at the same moment the terrible fangs 
struck fair on the blue armor and crashed 
through it. Two awful wounds, and the 
wings of dull fire beat violently only to 
strike up a Uttle cloud of dust and whirl 
the mangled body around and aroimd. 

The Vendetta 59 

Fortunately Death was merciful, and the 
brave amazon made a quick end. 

But what of Emypelma, the killer? Was 
it well with him? The sting-made woimd 
itself was of Uttle moment; it closed as 
soon as the lancet withdrew. But not be- 
fore the deUcate poison sac at its base in- 
side the wasp-body had contracted and 
squirted down the slender hollow of the 
sting a drop of Uquid fire. And so it was 
not well with Eurypelma in his insides. 
Victor he seemed to be, but if he could 
think, he must have had grave doubts 
about the joys of victory. 

For a curious drowsiness was coming 
over him. Perhaps, disquieting thought, it 
was the approaching stupor of the poison's 
working. His strong long legs became 
limp, they would not work regularly, they 
could not hold his heavy hairy body up 
from the grotmd. He would get into his 
hole and rest. But it was too late. And 
after a few uneven steps, victor Eury- 

6o Insect Stories 

pelma settled heavily down beside his 
amazon victim, inert and forevennore 
beyond fighting. He was paralyzed. 

And so Mary and I brought him home 
in our collecting box, together with the 
torn body of Pepsis with her wings of slow 
fire dulled by the dust of her last struggles. 
And though it is a whole month now since 
Eurypelma received his stab from the poi- 
soned javelin of Pepsis, he has not recov- 
ered; nor will he ever. When you touch 
him, he draws up slowly one leg after 
another, or moves a palpus feebly. But it 
is Hving death; a hopeless paral5^ic is the 

Dear reader, you are of course as bright 
as Mary, and so you have noticed, as she 
did right away, the close parallel between 
what happened to Eurypelma and what 
happened to the measuring-worms brought 
by Ammophila to her nest burrow as de- 
scribed in the first story in this book. And 
so, like Mary, you realize that the vendetta 

The Vendetta 6i 

or life feud between the tarantula family 
and the family of Pepsis, the tarantula 
hawk, is based on reasons of domestic 
economy rather than on those of sentiment, 
which determine vendettas in Corsica and 
feuds in Kentucky. 

To be quite plain, Pepsis fights Eury- 
pelma to get his huge, juicy body for food 
for her young; and Eurypelma fights Pepsis 
to keep from becoming paralyzed proven- 
der. If Pepsis had escaped unhml in the 
combat at which Mary and I "assisted," as 
the French say, as enthralled spectators, 
we should have seen her drag by mighty 
effort the limp, paralyzed, spider giant to 
her nest hole not far distant — a great hole 
twelve inches deep and with a side cham- 
ber at the bottom. There she would have 
thrust him down the throat of the burrow, 
and then crawled in and laid an egg on the 
helpless beast, from which in time would 
have hatched the carnivorous wasp grub. 
Pepsis has many close allies among the 


62 Insect Stories 

wasps, all black or steely blue with smoky 
or dull-bronze wings, and they all use 
spiders, stung and paralyzed, to store 
their nest holes with. 

''Do the Uttle black and blue wasps 
hunt the Uttle spiders and the larger ones 
the big spiders?'' asks Mary. 

''Exactly," I respond, "and the giant 
wasp of them all, Pepsis, the queen of the 
wasp amazons, hunts only the biggest 
spider of them all, Eurypelma, the taran- 
tula king, and we have seen her do it." 

"Well," says Mary, "even if she wants 
him for her children to eat, it's a real ben- 
detta, isn't it?" 

"Indeed it is," I answer, " it's more real, 
and fiercer, and more relentless, and more 
persistent than any human vendetta that 
ever was. For every Pepsis mother in the 
world is always hunting for Eurypelmas to 
fight. And not all Corsicans have a ven- 
detta on hand, nor all Kentuckians a 

nr- or-Avoi^owBiE-jvKEsi 


''It seemed that some one was calling 
to me in a whisper — 'Sahib! Sahib! Sa- 
hib!' exactly as my bearer used to call me 
in the mornings. I fancied that I was de- 
lirious until a handful of sand fell at my 
feet. Then I looked up and saw a head 
peering down into the amphitheater — ^the 
head of Dunnoo, my dog-boy, who at- 
tended to my collies. As soon as he had 
attracted my attention, he held up his 
hand and showed a rope. I motioned, 
staggering to and fro the while, that he 
should throw it down. It was a couple of 
leather punkah-ropes knotted together, 
with a loop at one end. I slipped the loop 

over my head and under my arms; heard 


66 Insect Stories 

Dunnoo urge something forward; was con- 
scious that I was being dragged, face down- 
ward, up the steep sand-slope, and the 
next instant found myself choked and 
half-fainting on the sand-hills overlooking 
the crater.'* 

And then Mary broke in. We were ly- 
ing in a sunny warm spot on an open hill- 
side a Uttle way off the road, and I was 
reading aloud from a favorite author, 

"That is a fairy story,'* said Mary, ''and 
I thought we were not going to read any 
more fairy stories now that I am grown 

Mary's idea of being grown up is to be 
more than three feet eleven inches high 
and to have her hair no longer in two 

"Not exactly a fairy story," I replied. 
"For Kipling rather prefers soldiers to 
fairies and machines to caps of invisibility. 
Of course, though, he wrote the Mowgli 

The Pit of Morrowbie Jukes 67 

''But those are not fairy stories," inter- 
rupted Mary, "Those were about a real 
boy and real animals only a long way off 
and different from ours." 

"Ah-um, real? Well, perhaps; any- 
way, the Mowgli animals seem more real 
than most real animals. But this story of 
the sand-pit and the man shding down 
into it and not being able to get out isn't 
impossible at all. Only the other people 
down in the bottom seem a Uttle unusual." 

"No, there can't be any such place," 
said Mary positively, "and as there can't 
be any such place, nobody could have slid 
into it or been in the bottom, and so it is 
a fairy story. Any story that isn't so is a 
fairy story." 

"Well, that makes it easy to tell a fairy 
story from the other kinds, and I never 
knew exactly how before. But I once saw 
a place much hke the sand-pit that Mor- 
rowbie Jukes sUd into, or that KipUng 
says he sUd into. It is on the side of a 

68 Insect Stories 

great mountain in Oregon; Mt. Hood its 
name is. I had climbed far above timber 
line, that is, above where all the trees and 
bushes stop because it is too cold for them 
to live, and there is only bare rocks and 
snow and ice, and had sat down to rest 
near a great snowbank a mile long. As I 
looked back down the mountain I saw a 
curious yellowish smoke rising in little 
puffs and curls. I decided to find out 
about this smoke on my way down; per- 
haps it was the beginning of a forest fire, 
and ought to be put out. 

''Well, when I got to it there was no 
fire; the puffs and curls were not smoke. 
It was a real Morrowbie Jukes pit; a great 
crater-Uke hole in the mountain, with its 
side so steep that the loose volcanic sand 
and rocks (for the whole mountain is an 
old volcano) kept slipping down in little 
avalanches from which puffs and curls of 
fine yellow dust kept rising and drifting 
lazily away. If I had made the mistake 

feci >- 

-J O 

^_[ o 

o z 

►-^ CQ 



^ Q- 

The Pit of Morrowbie Jukes 69 

of going too close to the edge, I should 
certainly have started one of these ava- 
lanches and gone sUpping and sUding, 
faster and faster, to the very bottom, a 
thousand feet below." 

**My!'' said Mary; "and were there 
horrible people in the bottom, and 

"Well, really, Mary, I couldn't see on 
account of the dust-smoke." 

"Of course there weren't, probably," 
said Mary thoughtfully and a little wist- 

"Probably not," I had to reply regret- 

But a bright thought came to me. I re- 
membered something. Several days before 
I had tramped along this hillside road near 
which Mary and I were lying and I had 
seen — well, just wait. So I said to Mary: 
"But I know where there is a Morrowbie 
Jukes pit, several of them, indeed, near 
here. Sha'n't we go and see them?'* 

JO Insect Stories 

''Why, of course/' said Mary rather 

''Let us go galloping as Morrowbie Jukes 
did," said I. So we took hold of hands 
and as soon as we got out of the chapar- 
ral, we went galloping, hop, hop, hoppity, 
hop, down the road. I must confess that 
I got out of breath pretty soon and my 
knees seemed to creak a little. And when 
a swift motor-car came exploding by, go- 
ing up the hill, all the people stared and 
smiled to see an elderly gentleman with 
spectacles and a long coat hoprhopping 
along with a yellow-haired red-cheeked 
Uttle girl in knee skirts. But we don't 
mind people much! They simply don't 
know all the things that go with being 

Pretty soon — and it was high time, for 
I had only three breaths left — ^we came to 
a place where the road bent sharply around 
the hillside and was especially broad. 

"Now, Mary," I said, "be careful and 

The Pit of Morrowbie Jukes 71 

don't fall in. I'm afraid I could not get 
you out." 

'*Fall in where? Get me out of what?" 
asked Mary, quite puzzled. She was star- 
ing about excitedly, looking most of the 
time down into the canon with its spiry 
redwood trees pushing far up from the bot- 
tom. And then suddenly she saw. She 
flopped down on her hands and knees in 
the warm sand by the roadside and cried 
out, ''What funny httle holes!" 

*'Why, Mary," I said with pained sur- 
prise. ''You don't really mean to call 
these awful Morrowbie Jukes pits 'funny 
little holes' ! That isn't fair after all we've 
done to find them. Especially after my 
galloping all the way right to the very edge 
of this largest one." 

As I spoke I pointed it out with the toe 
of my shoe, but inadvertently filled it all 
up by poking a couple of tablespoonfuls 
of sand and dust into it. But size is quite 
a relative matter, and for the tiny creatures 

72 Insect Stories 

with whom Mary and I have to deal, the 
Uttle crater-Uke holes in the sand of the 
roadside are large and dangerous pits. We 
sprawled down on our stomachs among the 
pits to see what we could see. 

Mary saw first. Ah, those bright eyes! 
My spectacles are rather in the way out-of- 
doors, I find. But if I keep on getting 
younger — ^and I certainly am younger since 
I got acquainted with Mary — I shall be 
able soon to leave them at home in my 
study when I go out to see things. 

Mary, then, saw first. What she saw 
were two very small shining, brown, gen- 
tly curved, sharp-pointed, sickle-Uke jaws 
sticking up out of the loose sand in the very 
bottom of one of the pits. They moved 
once, these curved and pointed jaws, and 
that movement caught Mary's eye. 

"It's the dragon of the pit," I cried. 
"Dig him out!'' 

So Mary dug him out. He was very 
spry and had a strong tendency to shuffle 

The Pit of Morrowbie Jukes 73 

backwards down into the hiding sand. 
But it takes a keen dragon to get away 
from Mary^ and this onq wasn't and 

He was an ugly little brute, squat and 
hump-backed, with sand sticking to his 
thinly haired body. But he was fierce- 
looking for all his diminutiveness. Re- 
member again that whether a thing is big 
or little to you depends on whether you 
are big or little. This dragon of the sand- 
pit was Uttle to us. He is terribly big to 
the ants. 

When Mary got him out and had put 
him down on the sand near the pit, he 
trotted about very actively but always 
backwards. He seems to have got so used 
to pulling backwards against the frantic 
struggles of his prey to get up and out of 
the pit, that he can now only move that 
way. After we watched him a while, we 
* 'collected" him; that is, put him into a 
bottle^ with some sand, to take home and 

74 Insect Stories 

see if we could keep him in our room of 
live things. Then we turned our attention 
to another crater. It was about three 
inches across at the top and about two 
inches deep; a S5nnmetrical httle broad- 
mouthed funnel with the loose sand-slopes 
just as steep as they could be. The sUght- 
est disturbance, a touch with a pencil- 
point for example, would start Kttle sand 
avalanches down the slopes anywhere. It 
is, of course, easy to see how this horrible 
pit-trap works. And, in fact, in the very 
next moment we saw actually how it did 

A foraging brown ant that was running 
swiftly over the ground plunged squarely 
over the verge of the crater before she 
could stop. She certainly tried hard to 
stop when once over, but it was too late. 
Slipping and sUding with the rolling sand- 
grains, down she went right toward those 
waiting scimitar-Uke jaws. 

Now, these jaws deserve a word of de- 

The Pit of Morrowbie Jukes 75 

scription. Because, horrible as they may 
seem to the unfortunate ants, they are so 
well arranged for their particular purpose 
that they must attract our admiration. 
The dragon of the pit, ant-Uon he is usually 
called, has no open, yawning mouth behind 
those projecting jaws, as might be expected. 
Indeed there is no mouth at all, just a 
throat, thirsty for ant blood! The slender 
scimitar jaws have each a groove on the 
concave inner side, and down this groove 
runs the blood of the struggling victim, 
held impaled on the sharp points of the 
curving mandibles. The two fine grooves 
lead directly into the throat, and thus 
there is no need of open mouth with Ups 
and tongue, such as other insects have. 

''But see," cried Mary, ''the ant has 
stopped sUding. It is going to get out!" 

Ah, Mary, you are not making allowance 
for all the resources of this dreadful dragon 
of the pit. Not only is the pit a nearly 
perfect trap, and the eager jaws at the 

76 Insect Stories 

bottom more deadly than any array of 
spikes or spears at the bottom of an ele- 
phant pit, but there is another most effect- 
ive thing about this fatal dragon's trap, 
and that is this: it is not merely a passive 
trap, but an active one. Already it is in 
action. And Mary sees now how hopeless 
it is with the ant. For a shower of sand 
is being thrown up from the bottom of the 
pit against the ant and it is again sliding 
down. The dragon has a flat, broad head 
and powerful neck muscles, and has wit 
enough to shovel up and hurl masses of 
dry sand-grains against the victim on the 
loose slopes. And this starts the ava- 
lanche again, and so down slides the frantic 

What follows is too painful for Mary 
and me to watch and certainly too cruel 
to describe. But one must live, and why 
not ant-lions as well as ants? If truth 
must be told, many ants have as cruel 
habits and as bloodthirsty tastes as the 

The Pit of Morrowbie Jukes 77 

ant-dragon. Indeed, more cruel and re- 
volting habits. For ants have a gastro- 
nomic fondness for the babies of other 
ants, which is a fondness quite different 
from that which they ought to have. It 
means that they like these babies — ^to eat. 
Some communities of ants, indeed, spend 
most of their time fighting other com- 
munities just to rob them of their babies, 
which they carry off to their own nests and 
use in horrible cannibaUstic feasts. 

Mary and I had seen enough of the Mor- 
rowbie Jukes pits. So we went back to 
our little open simny spot in the chaparral 
on the hillside and lay quiet and silent for 
a long time. Then Mary mimnured, ''I 
wonder how the ant-Uon digs its pit." 

*'I can tell you, Mary,'* I rephed. "For 
a man who once saw one digging told me. 
It is this way: First he makes a circular 
groove the full circumference of the top of 
the pit. Then he burrows into the sand 
inside of the groove and piles sand-grains 

yS Insect Stories 

on top of his flat, homy, shovel-like head 
with his fore feet. This sand he tosses over 
the groove so that it will fall outside. He 
works his way all around the groove, doing 
this over and over, and then makes another 
groove inside the first, and digs up and 
tosses the sand out as before. And so on, 
groove after groove, each inside the one 
made before, thus gradually making a con- 
ical pit with the sides as steep as the loose 
sand will lie. The pit must always be 
made in a dry sandy spot, and is usually 
located in a warm sunny place at the foot 
of a large rock. This man said that it is 
easy to get the ant-Uons to dig pits in 
boxes of sand in the house, and so we can 
try with our ^collected' fellow.*' 

Mary was silent some moments. Then 
she said softly, "But how will he get any- 
thing to eat?'* 

"Why,'' said I, "of course we can give 
him — " Mary looked up at me in a spe- 
cial way she has. I go on, more slowly, 


The Pit of Morrowbie Jukes 79 

but still without very much hesitation: 
'*But, of course, we sha'n't do that, shall 
And Mary said quietly: '*No, we sha'n't." 
-We rested our chins on our hands and 
lay still, looking down over the chaparral- 
covered hillside and far out across the hazy 
valley. On the distant bay were Uttle 
white specks, small schooners that cany 
wood and tan-bark and hay from the bay 
towns to San Francisco; and across the 
blue bay lifted the bare, brown mountains 
of the Coast Range, with alwa5rs that gleam- 
ing white spot of the Observatory a-tiptop 
of the highest peak. It was a soft, lan- 
guid, lazy day. Such a peace-giving, re- 
laxing, healing day! And we were so en- 
veloped by it, Mary and I, that we simply 
lay still and happy, with hardly a word. I 
had, of course, intended to give Mary an 
informing lecture about how the ugly, hor- 
rid ant-lion finally stops preying on ants 
and rolls himself up in a neat httle silk-and- 


Insect Stories 

sand ball, and changes into a beautiful, 
slender-bodied, gauzy-winged creature 
without any resemblance at all to its earlier 
incarnation. But I didn't. It was too fine 
a day to spoil with informing lectures. 

And so Mary and I lay still and happy. 
Finally it was time to go. As we went 
down the road we passed again the place 
of the pits, and Mary looked once more at 
the neat little craters with their patient 
waiting jaws at the bottom. 

'*I wonder,*' she said, musingly, '4f Mr. 
Kipling ever saw an ant-lion pit." 

''I wonder," said I. 


:. -A 


Argiope of the Silver Shield is the hand- 
somest spider that Mary and I know. Do 
you know a handsomer? Or are you of 
those who have prejudices, and hold all 
spiders to be ugly, hateful things? We are 
so sorry for you if you are, for that means 
you can never enjoy having a pet Argiope. 
The truth is, Mary and I like clever and 
skillful people, but when we can't find that 
kind, we rather prefer clever and skillful 
spiders and wasps or other lowly beasties 
to the other sort of people, which shows 
just how far a fancy for nature may lead 

It is rather bad, of course, to prefer to 
chum with a spider, even such a wonder- 
fully handsome and clever one as Argiope, 


84 Insect Stories 

instead of with a human soul. But that 
isn't our situation exactly. We prefer 
human souls to anything else on earth, but 
not human stomachs and livers and human 
bones and muscles and sick human nerves. 
And, someway, too many people leave on 
one an impression of bowels or sore eyes 
rather than one of mind and soul. So we 
rush to the fields or woods or roads after 
such an experience and Uve a while with 
the keen bright eyes, the sensitive feelers, 
the dexterous feet and claws and teeth, and 
the sharp wits of the small folk who, 
while not human, are nevertheless inhabi- 
tants and possessors of this earth, side by 
side with us, and are truly our blood- 
cousins, though some incredible nmnber of 
generations removed. 

Mary and I scraped acquaintance with 
our Argiope in a cypress-tree. That is, 
Argiope had her abiding-place there; she 
was there on her great symmetrical orb- 
web^ with its long strong foundation lines^ 

Argiope of the Silver Shield 85 

its delicate radii and its many circles with 
their thousands of tiny drops of viscid stuff 
to make them sticky. In the center was 
the hub, her resting-place, whence the 
radii ran out, and where she had spun a 
broad zigzaggy band of white silk on which 
she stood or sat head downward. Her 
eight long, slender, sensitive legs were out- 
stretched and rested by their tips Ughtly 
on the bases of the taut radii so that they 
could feel the sUghtest disturbance in the 
web. These many radii, besides support- 
ing the sticky circles or spiral, which was 
the real catching part of the web, acted 
like so many telegraph lines to carry news 
of the catching to waiting Argiope at the 

I have said that Mary and I think Ar- 
giope of the Silver Shield the most hand- 
some spider we know. There are, however, 
other Argiopes to dispute the glory with 
our favorite; for example, a golden-yellow- 
and-black one and another beautiful silver- 

86 Insect Stories 

and-russet one. Other people, too, may 
fancy other spiders; perhaps the little pink- 
and-white crab-spiders of the flower-cups, 
or the curious spiny Acrosomas and Gaster- 
acanthas with their brilliant colors and bi- 
zarre patterns and shape. Others may 
like the strawberry Epeira, or the diadem- 
spider, or the beautiful Nephilas. There 
are enough kinds and colors and shapes of 
spiders to satisfy all tastes. But we like 
best and admire most the long-legged, 
agile, graceful Argiopes, and particularly 
her of the silver shield. Her full, firm body 
with its flat, shield-shaped back, all shin- 
ing silver and crossed by staring black-and- 
yellow stripes, the long tapering legs 
softly ringed with brown and yellow, the 
shining black eyes on their little rounded 
hillock of a forehead, and the broad, brown 
under body with eight circular silver spots; 
all go to make our Argiope a richly dressed 
and stately queen of spiders. But the 
royal consort — O, the less said of him, the 

Argiope of the Silver Shield 87 

better. A veritable dwarf; insignificant, 
inconspicuous and afraid for his life of his 
glorious mate. How such a queen could 
ever — ^but there, how tiresome, for that is 
what gets said of most matches, royal or 

Mary and I brought Argiope in from her 
home in the cypress-tree and put her in a 
fine, roomy, light and airy cage, where she 
could live quietly and unmolested by ene- 
mies, and where we could see to it that she 
should not lack for food. There are many 
of the small creatures with which we get 
acquainted that do not object at all to be- 
ing brought into our well-Ughted, well- ven- 
tilated, warm vivarium — that means Uve- 
room. Creatures of sedentary habits, and 
all the web-making spiders are of course 
that, ought not to object at all and usually 
do not seem to. For they get two things 
that they cannot be sure of outside: pro- 
tection and plenty of food. Argiope seemed 
perfectly content and settled right down to 

88 Insect Stories 

spinning a glistening new web, a marvel of 
symmetry and skillful construction, in her 
roomy cage, and in a day or two was seated 
quietly but watchfully on the broad-banded 
hub in the center, with her toes on her tele- 
graph Unes, ready for good news. It was, 
of course, our duty to see that she was not 

The message she wanted was from some 
struggling fly fastened anywhere in the 
broad expanse of web. So we tossed in a 
fly. It buzzed about a moment, then 
blundered into the web which it shook 
violently in its struggle to escape. Argiope 
rushed at once out upon the web. 

''How can she run about on the sticky 
web without getting caught, too?'* inter- 
rupts Mary. 

I think a moment, then with some dig- 
nity reply: 'Tretty soon, please, Mary.*' 

Argiope, I repeat, rushed at once out 
upon the web, seized the fly in her jaws 
and ran back to the hub with it, where she 

Argiope of the Silver Shield 89 

appeared to wet it all over, squeeze it into 
a ball and then proceed to feed upon it, 
holding and manipulating it skUlfully all the 
time in her jaws. Evidently Argiope was 
very hungry, for as you will see, this is not 
her usual way of taking care of her prey. 

"Now, Mary, what was it you asked?" 

"Oh, just how the spider can run around 
so fast on the web without sticking to it 
and getting caught or tearing it all to 

"Ah,— ah, yes. Well, Mary, I don't 
know! that is, exactly; or, well not even 
very close to exactly. But she does it, 
you see.'* 

"Yes, I see," said Mary, demurely, and 
— can it be that Mary is slightly winking 
one eye? I do hope not. 

"Of course you know, Mary, that the 
web is made of two kinds of silk or rather 
two kinds of Unes? Oh, you didn't know?' ' 
Mary has shaken her head. 

"WeU it is," I continue, with my usual 

90 Insect Stories 

manner of teacher-who-knows somewhat 
restored again. 'The foxmdation Unes, 
the radii and a first set of circles are all 
made of Unes without any sticky stuff on 
them. As you see" — and I touch my pen- 
cil confidently to a radius, with the manner 
of a parlor magician. 'Then the spider, 
on this foundation, spins in another long 
spiral, the present circles of the web, which 
is liberally supplied with tiny, shining drop- 
lets of viscid silk that never dries, but stays 
moist and very sticky all the time. This 
is the true catching part of the web/' 

''We surely must watch her spin a web 
sometime," breaks in eager Mary. 

"We certainly must," say I, and con- 
tinue. "Now perhaps when Argiope runs 
out on the web from her watching-place at 
the hub, she only puts her long delicate feet 
on the unsticky radii. Or perhaps her feet 
are made in some peculiar way so that they 
do not stick to the circles. As a matter of 
fact, a spider's foot is remarkably fash- 

Argiopc of the Silver Shield 9 1 

ioned, with curious toothed claws, and 
hosts of odd hairs, some knobbed, some 
curved and hook-Uke, and some forming 
dense Uttle brushes. But after all, Mary, 
the truth is, I don't know really how it is 
that spiders can run about over their webs 
without getting stuck to them." 

After my long discursus about web-mak- 
ing and spider's feet, it seemed time to give 
Argiope another fly. Indeed her bright 
little black eyes seemed to Mary to be shin- 
ing with eagerness for more fly, although 
she still had the remains of the first one in 
her jaws — ^gracious, Argiope's jaws, please, 
not Mary's! 

So we tossed in another fly. We hope 
you won't think this cruel. But flies are 
what Argiope eats, and if she was out in the 
garden, she would be catching them, and, 
what is worse, they would not be the dis- 
gusting and dangerous house-flies and blue- 
bottles that we feed her, but all sorts of 
innocent and beautiful little picture-winged 

92 Insect Stories 

flower-flies and pomace-flies and what not. 
House-flies and stable-flies and bluebottles 
are truly dangerous because they help 
spread human diseases, especially typhoid 
fever. So if we are to Uve safely they 
should be killed. Or, better, prevented 
from hatching and growing at all. 

So we tossed in another fly. Argiope 
immediately dropped the nearly finished 
first fly into the web, ran out to the new 
one and pounced on it, seizing it with her 
fore legs. Then she doubled her abdomen 
quickly underneath her and there issued 
from the spinnerets at its tip a jet, a flat 
jet of silk, which was caught up by the hind 
feet and wrapped around the fly as it was 
rolled over and over by the front feet. She 
tumbled it about, all the time wrapping it 
with the issuing band of silk, until it was 
completely enswathed. Then she left it 
fastened in the web, went back to the hub, 
and resimied her feeding on the first fly. 
But soon she finished this entirely^ dropped 

Argiope of the Silver Shield 93 

the wreck out of the web and went out and 
got the second fly, bringing it back to the 
hub to eat. 

''But why/' asked Mary, ''does Argiope 
wrap the fly up so carefully in silk? Why 
not just kill it by biting, and then leave it 
in the web until she wants it?-' 

"Perhaps," I answer, "she wants to 
make it helpless before she comes to close 
quarters with it. You notice she holds it 
away from her body with her fore feet and 
pulls the silk band out far with her hind 
feet so that her body does not touch the 
fly at all while she wraps it. Perhaps she 
is not sure that it isn't a bee or some other 
stinging insect. It buzzes loud enough to 
make me think it a bee." 

So Mary and I decided to try some ex- 
periments with our Argiope to find out, if 
possible, first, if she could tell a bee from a 
fly, and second, if so, whether she treated 
it differently, and third, why she wraps 
her prey up so carefully before coming to 

94 Insect Stories 

too close quarters with it. We feel quite 
proud of these experiments because we 
seemed to be doing something really scien- 
tific; and we know that Experimental 
Zoology, that is, stud5dng animals by ex- 
perimenting with them, is quite the most 
scientific thing going nowadays among pro- 
fessional naturaUsts. So here are our notes 
exactly as we wrote them during our ex- 
perimenting. This is, of course, the cor- 
rect manner for pubUshing real scientific 
observations, because it gives the critical 
reader a chance to detect flaws in our tech- 


''Nov. i8, 4:45 P.M.; released a fly in the 
cage. The spider pounced upon it, seized 
it with fore and third pair of legs, threw 
out a band of silk and enswathed it, tmn- 
bling it over and over with her hind feet 
about thirteen times, hence enswathed it 
in thirteen wrappings of silk. The fly was 

Argiope of the Silver Shield 95 

then disconnected from the web, the spider 
maJdng but Uttle attempt to mend the gap. 
It was carried to the hub and eaten. While 
the feast was going on, a honey-bee [with 
sting extracted; we didn't want to run any 
risks with Argiope!] was liberated in the 
cage. As soon as it touched the web, the 
spider was upon it, throwing out a band of 
silk in a sheet a quarter of an inch broad. 
['Drawing out' would be more accurate, 
for the spinnerets cannot spurt out silk; 
silk is drawn out and given its band char- 
acter by hghtning-Uke movements of the 
comb-toothed hind feet.] With her hind 
legs Argiope turned the bee over and over 
twenty-five or twenty-six times, thus en- 
swathing it with twenty-five or twenty-six 
wrappings of the silken sheet. 

*'No sooner was the bee enswathed than 
a second bee was Uberated in the cage and 
caught in the web. This was treated by 
the spider Uke bee No. i. 

'*Nov. 20, 8:15 A.M.; Argiope perfectly 

96 Insect Stories 

still in center of hub, feeding on bee No. 2. 
The only thing that reveals the feeding is 
a slight moving of the bee's body as the 
juices are sucked up. Remains of bee 
No. I dropped to the bottom of the 

''Fed all day, 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., on bee 
No. 2. 

''At 2:30 P.M., a box-elder bug, which is 
very ill-smeUing, was thrown into the web. 
Argiope did nothing for three minutes, then 
went out on the web to it and wrapped, 
making five complete turns; then went, 
away. Probably not hungry, as she has' 
had two bees and a fly in three days. 

"Nov. 21, 8:15 A.M.; box-elder bug fin- 
ished during last night. Old web replaced 
by a new one with twenty-nine radii, eleven 
complete spirals and several partial spirals. 
The hub is formed of fine irregular web- 
bing about an inch and a half in diameter, 
without the viscid droplets that cover the 
spirals. An open space of about a half- 

Argiopc of the Silver Shield 97 

inch intervenes between the hub and the 
beginning of the spirals. 

"4:30 P.M.; Uberated a fly in the cage. 
Argiope pounced upon it and began to eat 
immediately, not taking time or trouble to 
enswath it. 

''While the fly was being devoured, we 
Uberated a strong-smelling box-elder bug 
in the cage. It flew into the web. Ar- 
giope, by a quick movement, turned on the 
(phub toward the bug and stood in halting 
"^position for eight seconds, then approached 
^ the bug slowly, hesitated for a second or 
'^ two, then wrapped it about with five wrap- 
pings, halted again, and finally finished 
with five more wrappings. The bug was 
then attached to the web where it had first 
touched, the spider passing back to the cen- 
ter and resuming her meal. 

"When the fly was finished, Argiope 
walked over to the bug, grasped it in her 
mandibles, walked up to the hub, turned 
herself about so that her head was down* 

98 Insect Stories 

ward, manipulated the bug with her fore 
and third pair of feet until it seemed to be 
in right position for her with reference to 
the hub of the web, and began to feed. 

*'5 P.M.; bee Uberated in cage with sting 
not extracted. Argiope leaped instantane- 
ously to the spot where it was caught, 
enswathed it with great rapidity thirty- 
seven times, then bit at it, and enswathed 
it five times more, making forty-two com- 
plete wrappings in all, then left it fastened 
in the web and resumed feeding upon the 
bug. All the time she was wrapping it, 
Argiope kept her body well clear of the 
bee's body, the spinnerets being fully one- 
half an inch from the bee, making the 
broad band of issuing silk very noticeable. 
In biting it, which she seemed to do with 
marked caution, she of course had to bite 
through the silken covering. 

*'A few minutes later a second bee, with 
sting, was Uberated in the cage, caught in 
the web and rapidly pounced on by the 

Argiope of the Silver Shield 99 

spider. As before, she turned it over and 
over with great rapidity, using apparently 
all of her legs. She enswathed it fifty times, 
bit it, and then wrapped it with five more 
silken sheets, making fifty-five wrappings in 
all. Leaving it hung to the web, she went 
back to the bug. 

''Before Argiope had reached the bug, 
bee No. 3 was caught in the web at the 
exact spot where bee No. 2 was hung up. 
In its efforts to disentangle its feet, it shook 
the whole web violently. In spite of the 
violent vibration of the web, Argiope pur- 
sued her course to the bug at the hub of 
the web, adjusted herself with head down- 
ward, and resumed feeding. 

''Query: Did Argiope think the web- 
shaking due to futile struggles of the well- 
wrapped bee No. 2, and hence needing no 

"Vibration of the web continued. After 
several seconds had elapsed, Argiope seemed 
suddenly to reaUze that her efforts were 


loo Insect Stories 

called for out on the web, for she pounced 
down as rapidly as before and rolled and 
tumbled both bees together, enswathing both 
in the same sheet of silk, never stopping 
until she had given them fidfty-five wrap- 
pings. After biting twice, she wrapped 
them with five more trniis, bit again, and 
wrapped again with seven more turns, mak- 
ing sixty-seven in all. Argiope then re- 
turned to her bug. 

''Query: Does Argiope distinguish bees 
from flies? 

''Further query: Does Argiope distin- 
guish bees with stings from bees with stings 

"Nov. 22, 9:45 A.M.; Argiope feeding at 
hub on bees Nos. 2 and 3 introduced into 
cage yesterday afternoon. With her right 
second leg she holds taut a line connected 
with bee No. i. 

"10:25 A.M.; packet dropped to the bot- 
tom of the cage, the juices of only one of 
the bees having been sucked out. The 

Argiope of the Silver Shield loi 

web is constructed at an angle so that any- 
thing dropped from the center falls free 

*'5 P.M.; began feeding again on bee 
No. I. 

''Nov. 23, 9:30 A.M.; another bee re- 
leased in cage, caught in web and en- 
swathed approximately thirty turns by 

*'Nov. 25, 8:30 A.M.; the web has been 
destroyed during the night. 

''Nov. 26, Argiope has made an entirely 
new web. 

"Nov. 30, 2 P.M.; gave Argiope a bee 
with sting. It was wrapped forty-seven 
times, but not so expeditiously as has been 
her wont. Later another bee was Uberated 
in the cage, caught and wrapped about 
forty-five times. 

"Dec. 2, II A.M.; the body of a live bee 
was bathed in fluid from the freshly 
crushed body of a box-elder bug [very 
malodorous], and the bee Uberated in 

I02 Insect Stories 

Argiope's cage, and soon caught in the 
web. The bee was not very lively and 
did not shake the web violently, but 
Argiope rushed to it without hesitation, 
wrapped it with twenty-five turns of silk 
and returned to the hub of the web. 

"Dec. 3; Argiope stayed all day in the 
upper part of the web, on foundation lines, 
with head downward. 

'*Dec. 5; yesterday Argiope moved 
down to her normal place on the hub. 
To-day she is on the hub, but in reversed 
position [head up], and with legs bent and 
limp, not straight out and stiffened as 

*'Dec. 6; Argiope hung all day from 
foundation Unes of upper part of web, in 
reversed position [head up], with legs Ump 
and bent. 

**Dec. 7; Argiope hanging by first and 
second right legs, from upper part of web; 
barely alive. 

*'Dec. 8; Argiope dead.'* 



An entire colony of those strange little 
people, the Orange-dwellers, were killed in 
our town yesterday morning. And not a 
newspaper reporter found it out! Just one 
of the Orange-dwellers escaped, and as 
Mary and I were the mekns of saving his 
life, and are taking care of him as well as 
we can (Mary has him now on a small 
piece of orange-rind in a pill box), he has 
told us the story of his life and something 
about the other orange-dwelling people. 
Some of the Orange-dwellers live in Mex- 
ico; some live in Florida, and some in 
California; in fact they are to be found 
wherever oranges grow. Of course, you 
have guessed already that the Orange- 
dwellers are not human beings; they are 

not really people; they are insects. 


io6 Insect Stories 

The name of the Orange-dweller we had 
saved, and with whom we became very 
well acquainted, is so long and strange that 
I shall tell you merely his nickname, which 
is Citrinus. The oranges on which Citri- 
nus and a great many of his brothers and 
sisters and cousins lived grew in Mexico, 
and when these oranges were ripe, they 
were gathered and packed into boxes and 
sent to our town. Imagine if you can the 
fearful strangeness of it! To have one's 
world plucked from its place in space, 
wrapped up in tissue-paper, and packed 
into a great box with a lot of other worlds; 
then sent off through space to some other 
place where enormous giants were waiting 
impatiently for breakfast! When Citrinus's 
world reached our town, one of these giants, 
who is my brother, took it up, and saying, 
''See, what a specked orange," straight- 
way began unwittingly to kill all of the 
Orange-dwellers on it by vigorously rul> 
bing and scraping it. For Citrinus and his 

The Orange-dwellers 107 

companions were the specks! That is all 
an Orange-dweller seems to be when care- 
lessly looked at; simply a little circular, 
scale-like, blackish or reddish-brown speck 
on the shining surface of the orange, his 
world. You can find the Orange-dwellers 
almost any morning at breakfast. 

When my brother began to scrape off 
the specks, I hastily interfered, but only in 
time to save one of the Uttle people, Cit- 
rinus, whom, as I have said, Mary has since 
faithfully cared for. He will soon die, 
however, for he has Uved already nearly 
three months, and that is a ripe age for an 
Orange-dweller. But he has had time 
enough to tell me a great deal about his 
life, and as it is such a curious story, and 
is undoubtedly true, I venture to repeat 
it here to you. As a matter of fact I 
must confess — ^still Mary says that of course 
Citrinus can talk, because he talks with 
other Orange-dwellers later in the story, 
and so of course can talk to us now. 

io8 Insect Stories 

Citrinus has lived for almost his whole 
life on the orange on which we found him. 
His mother lived on one of the fragrant 
leaves of the tree on which the orange 
grew. She was, as Citrinus is now, simply 
a reddish-brown circular speck on the 
bright-green orange-leaf; and because she 
couldn't walk, she had to get all her food 
in a peculiar way. She had a long (that 
is, long for such a tiny creature), slender, 
pointed hollow beak or sucking-tube, which 
she thrust right into the tender orange- 
leaf, and through which she sucked up the 
rich sap or juice which kept flowing into 
the leaf from the twig it hung on. She 
had thus a constant supply of food always 
ready and convenient; whenever she was 
hungry she simply sucked orange-sap into 
her mouth until she was satisfied. This is 
the way all the Orange-dwellers get their 
food, the very youngest of the family being 
able to take care of itself from the day of 
its birth. They never taste any other kind 

The Orangc-dwcllcrs 109 

of food but the juice from the leaf or twig 
or golden orange on which they live. 

Citrinus is one of a large number of 
brothers and sisters^ more than fifty in- 
deed, who were hatched from tiny reddish 
eggs which the mother laid under her own 
body. Before la3dng the eggs, Citrinus's 
mother had built a thin shell or roof of 
wax over her back, and after the eggs were 
laid she soon died and her body shriveled 
up, leaving the eggs safely housed under 
the waxen roof. When the baby Orange- 
dwellers were hatched, each had six legs 
and a delicate little sucking-beak project- 
ing from his small plump body. Citrinus 
and his brothers and sisters scrambled out 
from under the wax shell and started out 
each for himself to explore the world. 
First, however, each thrust his beak into 
the leaf and took a good drink of sap. 
Then they were ready to begin their jour- 
neying. But a terrible thing happened! 

Just as Citrinus was pulling his beak out 

no Insect Stories 

of the soft leaf, he saw a great six-legged 
beast, in shape like a turtle, with shining 
red-and-black back and fearful snapping 
jaws. On each side of its head, which it 
moved slowly from side to side, it had an 
immense eye, which looked Uke a hemi- 
spherical window, with hundreds of panes 
of glass in it. The beast's legs were large 
and powerful, and on each foot there were 
two claws, each of them as long as the 
whole body of Citrinus. Truly this was 
an appalling sight, and all of the little 
Orange-dwellers ran as fast as they could, 
which, unfortunately, wasn't very fast. 
The beast leisurely caught up in its great 
jaws one after another of Citrinus's brothers 
and sisters, and crushed and tore their ten- 
der bodies to pieces and ate them! 

Now this beast, which seemed so large to 
Citrinus, was what is to us a very small 
and pretty insect, one of the lady-bird 
beetles. These beetles care for no other 
food than plimip Orange-dwellers and 

The Orange-dwellers 1 1 1 

other equally toothsome small insects; and 
instead of being sorry for its victims, we 
are glad it eats them! This seems very 
cruel indeed, but there are so many, many 
miUions of the Orange-dwellers all suck- 
ing the juice of orange-trees that although 
they are so small, and each one drinks so 
little sap, yet altogether they do a great 
amount of damage to the orange-trees, 
often kiUing all the trees in a large orchard. 
So the lady-birds are a great help to the 

Little Citrinus escaped from the Beetle 
by crawling into a small, dark hole in the 
surface of the leaf; but he was badly 
frightened. This was his first experience 
with the terrible dangers of the world, with 
the struggle for life, which is going on so 
bitterly among the people of his kind, the 
insects. For although there would seem 
to be enough plants and trees to serve as 
food for all of them, many insects find it 
easier or prefer to eat other insects than to 

112 Insect Stories 

live on plant food. Now because the in- 
sects which live on plant food do injury to 
our fruit-trees and vegetables and grain 
crops by their eating, we call them inju- 
rious insects; while we call the insect-eating 
kinds beneficial insects, because they de- 
stroy the injurious insects. 

But little Citrinus didn't look at the 
matter at all in this light. He thought 
the lady-bird beetle a very cruel and 
wicked being, and resolved to warn every 
Orange-dweller he met in his travels to 
beware of the cruel, turtle-shaped beast 
with the shining black-and-red back. As 
he wandered on from leaf to leaf along 
the tender twigs in the top of the tree, 
he met many other Orange-dwellers, 
whom he would have told all about 
the Beetle, but he found that all of 
them had had experiences as sad as his; 
in fact he soon learned that of all the 
Orange-dweUers who are bom, only a very, 
very few escape the Beetles and other de- 

The Orange-dwellers 113 

vouring beasts who pursue them. And 
he was highly mdignant when one shrewd 
Orange-dweller told him that it really was 
a good thing for the race of Orange-dwellers 
that so many of them were killed. For, 
the shrewd Orange-dweller said, if all of 
us who are bom should Uve and have fam- 
ilies, and not die until old age came on, 
there would soon be so many of us that we 
should eat all the orange-trees in the 
world, and then we should all starve to 
death. And this is quite true. 

Finally Citrinus came to a remarkable 
being, a very beautiful being indeed. It 
had two long, slender, waving feelers on 
its head, four large ball-shaped eyes, and, 
strangest of all, two delicate gauzy wings. 
This beautiful creature greeted Citrinus 
kindly and asked him where he was going. 
Citrinus, who was at first a little afraid of 
the strange creature, was reassured by its 
kind greeting, and answered simply, ''I 
don't know. My brothers and sisters were 

114 Insect Stories 

all eaten by the Beetle; my father and 
mother I have never seen; and no one has 
told me where to go." 

The stranger smiled a little sadly and 
said, ''That is the common story among us 
Orange-dwellers. Our fathers and mothers 
always die before we are bom. It is a 
great pity. Yes, before my Uttle Orange- 
dweller children are bom — " 

''What," cried Citrinus, "are you an 
Orange-dweller; you, who are so different 
from me?'* 

"Indeed I am," repUed the gauzy-winged 
creature. "I am an old* Orange-dweller. 
Oh, I know it seems strange to you," he 
continued, noticing the look of astonish- 
ment on Citrinus's face, "but some day 
you will look just like me. You will have 
wings, and be able to fly; and will have 
long feelers on your head to hear and to 
smell with, and big eyes to see all around you 
with. You will have some strange experi- 
ences, though, before you become like me." 

The Orange-dwellers 115 

''But as I had started to say, we fathers, 
and the mothers too for that matter, al- 
ways die before you youngsters are hatched 
out of your eggs. Now I shall probably 
die to-morrow or next day, because I have 
Uved three days already, and that is a 
long time to Hve without eating/' 

Little Citrinus could hardly believe his 
senses. It was so wonderful. "But why 
don't you eat," urged Citrinus, who felt 
very badly to think of any one's going 
without food for three days. He always 
took a drink of sap every few minutes. 

*'Why, how absurd," replied the winged 
Orange-dweller, * 'don't you see I have 
nothing to eat with? No sucking-beak, no 
mouth at all. When I get my wings and 
my four eyes, I lose my mouth, and can't 
eat or drink any more." 

This was incredible; but when Citrinus 
looked at the head of his companion, he saw 
it was perfectly true. He had no mouth. 
Citrinus gently waved his Uttle sucking- 

Ii6 Insect Stories 

beak, to be sure he still had it. Suddenly 
he began to cry; a sad thought had come 
to him. ''And did my mother starve to 
death too?" he sobbed. 

''Not at all, little one," rather impa- 
tiently exclaimed the other. Little Cit- 
rinus seemed to know so very little, indeed. 
"Your mother was not at all like me. 
When she was full-grown she had no wings, 
no legs, and no eyes, but she had a very 
long beak, and could suck up a great deal 
of orange-sap. If you will listen and not 
interrupt, I will tell you how we Orange- 
dwellers grow. When we are hatched 
from our eggs we are all alike, brothers and 
sisters. We each have a plmnp little body, 
six legs, two eyes, and a sucking-beak to 
get food with. We walk about for a few 
days, and finally stop on some nice green 
leaf or juicy orange, and stick our beaks 
far in and go to sleep, or do something very 
Uke it. We never walk about any more. 
Indeed, if you are a girl Orange-dweller 

The Orange-dwellers 117 

you never leave this spot, but live all the 
rest of your life and die here. However, 
I am getting too far along in my story. 
While we are asleep we shed all of our skin, 
fold it up into a Uttle ball or cushion and 
put it on our backs, together with some 
wax which comes out of small holes in our 
bodies. While shedding our skin we make 
a great change in our bodies. We lose 
our legs! So we simply remain where we 
went to sleep, with our beaks stuck into 
the leaf, sucking the sap. After a few days 
we go to sleep again, and again we shed 
our skins and fold them on our backs. But 
at this time something even more wonder- 
ful than before happens to our bodies. 
That is, to the bodies of the boy Orange- 
dwellers. For this time we lose our suck- 
ing-beaks, but we regain our six legs, and 
in addition we get a second pair of eyes, 
we find on our heads a pair of long, slen- 
der, hairy feelers, and, most pleasing of all, 
we have been provided with a pair of wings. 

1 1 8 Insect Stories 

Our wings are not yet full-grown or ready 
to fly with, so we still remain quietly in 
our resting-place for a few days longer, 
when we shed our skin once mtfre, and 
then fly away, looking just as I do now. 
Our sisters, though, when they shed their 
skins the second time, make no change in 
their bodies, except to grow larger. They 
remain with their sucking-beaks thrust 
into the leaf. They keep increasing the 
size of the wax scale or shell over their 
backs, until they are entirely covered by 
it. Now they look just as your mother 
did. From above, all one can see is the 
flat circular wax scale with two spots on 
it, where the folded-up cast skins are. Un- 
derneath the scale lies the Orange-dweller, 
with its sucking-beak stuck into the sap, 
but with no legs or wings or long, hairy 
feelers. After a while she lay^ a lot of 
eggs under her body, and then dies. And 
soon the new family is bom. Now this is 
the way we grow, and all of the wonder- 

The Orange-dwellers 119 

fill things which have happened to me will 
happen to you, — ^if the Beetle does not get 

With that the winged Orange-dweller 
flew away, and little Citrinus was left alone, 
wondering over the strange story. After 
taking a drink of sap from the leaf on which 
he was standing, he wandered aimlessly 
about until he came to a large yellow ball 
hanging from the branch, which gave out 
a deUghtful odor. Scrambling down the 
slender stem by which it was suspended, 
he walked out on to the shining surface of 
the orange; for, of course, that is what 
the yellow ball was. He tried a drink of 
sap from the ball and fotmd it deHcious. 
He decided to stay on the ball, the more 
readily as he was getting rather tired with 
his long traveling, and a sort of sleepy 
feeling was coming over him. So thrust- 
ing his beak far into the ball, he went to 
sleep. How long he slept he doesn't know, 
but when he awoke he could hardly be- 

I20 Insect Stories 

lieve his senses. He had no legs; and on 
his back there was a thin shell of wax and 
a little packet. He realized, too, that he 
was bigger than he was before he went to 
sleep. Then the strange story told him 
by the winged Orange-dweller came back 
to him, and he knew that the stranger had 
told the truth. The first great change had 
happened. He was delighted, for he 
thought it would be very pleasant to have 
wings and fly about wherever he wished, 
to see the world. 

Suddenly a great shock came: his World 
trembled, then shook violently, and, with 
a quick wrench, started to move swiftly 
through space. Then came a stop, a ser- 
ies of shocks and curious whirlings, and 
then a filmy-white cloud settled down over 
it all, shutting out the sunlight and the 
blue sky. Finally there came a few more 
shocks and wrenches, and then total dark- 
ness and silence. Citrinus had held on to 
his world all through this, because his beak 

The Orange-dwellers 121 

was still thrust into the fragrant surface, 
and now he felt thankful that he had come 
alive through these series of world catas- 
trophes and convulsions and still had all 
the food he could possibly use. 

After a few days, when Citrinus's world 
all nicely wrapped in tissue-paper and 
packed in a box with ninety-nine other 
similar worlds had traveled a thousand 
miles, the sunUght came again, and soon 
after came that greatest danger of all — 
that danger from which I saved him by 
staying my brother's hand in its ruthless 
rubbing off of the specks on his break- 
fast orange! Now Citrinus and Mary and 
I are all waiting impatiently for the day 
when he shall get his beautiful wings and 
his two pairs of eyes. 

Dig^ON • OF -lAGyNlXA ^ 


When Mary and I came to examine our 
ant-lion dragon the day after our adven- 
tures among the Morrowbie Jukes pits, we 
found him dead in the bottle of sand. Per- 
haps his haughty spirit of dragon could not 
stand such ignominious bottling up, or per- 
haps there wasn't enough air. Anyway, 
His Fierceness was dead. His cruel curved 
jaws would seize and pierce no more forag- 
ing ants. His thirsty throat would never 
again be laved by the fresh blood of vic- 
tims. Vale dragon! 

But there are more dragons than one in 
our world. Not only more ant-lion drag- 
ons, but more other kinds of dragons. And 
this is one of the great advantages tha;t 
Mary and I enjoy in our looking about in 



1 26 Insect Stories 

the fields and woods for interesting things. 
If we were looking for the dragons of fairy 
stories, we could only expect to find one 
kind — ^if, indeed, we could expect to find 
any kind at all in these days when so few 
fairies are left. If we could find it, how- 
ever, it would be a monstrous beast in a 
forest cavern, with scaled body and clawed 
feet and great ugly head that breathed fire 
and smoke from its gaping mouth. That 
would be an interesting sort of dragon to 
see, we confess, more interesting than the 
great one, a hundred . yards long, that we 
saw in a Chinese procession in Oakland, 
with two excited Chinamen jumping about 
in front of its head and jabbing at its eyes 
with spears. And more interesting than 
the one that roars and spits at Siegfried on 
the stage while the big orchestra goes off 
into wild clamors of 0-see-the-dragon mu- 
sic. But we do not expect ever to find a 
real fairy-story dragon any more, and so 
we content oiu^ves with trying to find as 


^ ^ ;\ 


The Dragon of Lagunita 1 27 

many different kinds of real dragons as we 
can in our world of little folk on the cam- 
pus. These dragons are rather small^ but 
they are unusually fierce and voracious, to 
make up for their lack of size. And so they 
serve very well to interest us. 

To make up for the death of the ant- 
lion dragon of the sand-pits, I promised to 
take Mary to see the Dragon of Lagunita. 
Or rather the dragons, for there are many 
in Lagunita, and indeed many in several 
other places on the campus. Have I ex- 
plained that Lagunita is a pretty Spanish 
word for "little lake," and that our Lagu- 
nita is just what its name means, and be- 
sides is as pretty as its name? There is 
only one trouble about it. And that is, 
that every year, in the long, rainless, sun- 
filled summer, it dries up to nothing but 
a shallow, parched hollow in the ground, 
and all the dragons have to move. But 
this moving is a remarkable performance. 
For while during the spring the Lagunita 


128 Insect Stories 

dragons live rather inactively in their lairs 
under the water, when summer comes they 
all transform themselves into great fLying 
dragons of the air, and swoop and swirl 
about in a manner very terrifying to see. 

The morning we were to make our jour- 
ney to Lagunita, I came to Mary's house 
with a rake over my shoulder. 

''But what are you going to do with the 
rake?" said Mary. 

"One doesn't go to seek a dragon with- 
out weapons," I replied with dignity. 
"And a rake is a much more formidable 
weapon in the hands of a man who knows 
how to rake than a gun in the hands of a 
man who doesn't know how to shoot." I 
am something of an amateur gardener, but 
not at all the holder of a record at day 
pigeons nor king of a Schutzen-verein. So 
I carried my rake. 

"Then what weapon shall I carry?" asks 

I ponder seriously. 

The Dragon of Lagunita 1 29 

*'A tin lunch-pail/' I finally reply. 

''With luncheon in?** asks Mary. 

"Empty/' I say. 

So we start. 

I have already said that Lagunita is a 
pretty little lake. It lies just under the 
first of the foothills that rise ridge after 
ridge into the forested mountains that sep- 
arate us from the ocean. Indeed, it is on 
the first low step up from the valley floor, 
and from its enclosing bank or shore one 
gets a good view of the level, reaching val- 
ley thickly set with Uve-oak trees and 
houses and fields, Around the little lake 
have grown up pines, willows and other 
beautiful trees, and at one side a tiny 
stream comes in during the wet season. 
There is no regular outlet, but the water 
which usually begins to come in about 
November keeps filling the shallow bowl 
of the lake higher and higher until by 
spring it is nearly bank full and may even 
overflow. Then as the long dry sunun«: 


1 30 Insect Stories 

season sets in, the level of the water grows 
lower and lower until in August or Sep- 
tember there is only left a small muddy 
puddle crammed with surprised and de- 
spairing little fishes and salamanders and 
water-beetles and the like, who are not at 
all accustomed to such behavior on the 
part of a lake. And then a few days later 
they are all gasping their last breaths there 
together on the scum-covered, waterless 

But when Lagunita is really a lake, it is 
a very pretty one, and Mary and I love to 
go there and sit on the bank under the wil- 
lows near the horse paddocks and watch 
the college bo)^ rowing about in their 
graceful, narrow, long-oared shells. These 
swift-darting boats look like great water- 
skaters, only white instead of black. You 
know the long-legged, active water-skaters 
or water-striders that skim about over the 
surface of ponds or quiet backwater pools 
in streams in summer time? 

The Dragon of Lagunita 131 

So Mary and I went to Lagunita with 
our rake and tin lunch-pail to hunt for 
dragons. No shining armor; no great 
two-handed sword; no cap of invisibility. 
Just a rake and a tin lunch-pail. 

"Where, Mary, do you think is the like- 
liest place for the dragon?'' I ask. 

Mary answers promptly, "There at the 
foot of the steep stony bank where the big 
willow-tree hangs over." 

We go there. I grasp my rake firmly 
with both hands. I reach far out over the 
shallow water. Then I beat the rake sud- 
denly down through the water to the bot- 
tom, and with a quick strong pull I drag it 
out, raking out with it a great mass of oozy 
mud and matted leaves. I drag this well 
up on shore, and both Mary and I flop 
down on our knees and begin pawing 
about in it. Suddenly Mary calls out, 
"I've got one," and holds up in her fin- 
gers an extraordinary, kicking, twisting 
creature with six legs, a big head, and a 


132 Insect Stories 

thick, ugly body on which seem to be the 
beginnings of several fins or wings. It 
has, this creature, two great staring eyes, 
and stout, sharp-pointed spines stick out 
from various parts of the body. 

''Put him in the lunch-pail," I shout. 
I had already filled it half-full of water 
from the lake. 

Then I found one; then Mary another, 
and then I still another. It was truly 
great sport, this dragon-hunting. 

We put them all into the lunch-pail 
where they lay sullenly on the bottom, 
glaring at each other, but not offering to 
fight, as we rather hoped they would. 

Then, what to do? These dragons in 
their regular lairs at the bottom of Lagu- 
nita might do a lot of most interesting 
things, but dredged up in this summary 
way and deposited in a strange tin pail in 
the glaring light of day, they seemed 
wholly indisposed to carry on any per- 
formances of dragon for our benefit. So 

The Dragon of Lagunita 133 

we decided to taJce them home, and try to 
fix up for them a still smaller lakelet than 
Lagmiita; one, say, in a tub! Then, per- 
haps, they would feel more at home and 
ease, and might do something for us. 

So we took them home. And we fixed 
a tub with sand in the bottom, water over 
that, and over the top of the tub a screen 
of netting that would let air and sunlight 
in, but not dragons out. Then we collected 
some miscellaneous small water-beasties 
and a few water-plants, and put them in, 
and so really had a very comfortable and 
home-Uke place for the dragons. They 
seemed to take to it all right; we called 
our new lakelet Monday Pond, because of 
some relation between the tub and wash- 
day, I suppose, and we had very good fun 
with our dragons for several weeks. Think 
of the advantage of having your dragon 
right at home! If it is a bad day, or we 
are lazy, or there may be visitors who stay 
too long so there is only a Uttle time for 


1 34 Insect Stories 

ourselves^ how convenient it is to have a 
dragon — or indeed a whole brood of dragons 
— bright in your study. Much better, of 
course, than to have to sail to a distant 
island and tramp through leagues of forest 
or thorny bushes or over burning desert 
or among spouting volcanoes to find your 
dragon, as most princes in fairy stories 
have to do. 

I can't, of course, venture to tell you of 
all the interesting things that Mary and I 
saw our dragons do. Two or three will 
have to do. Or my publisher will cry, 
''Cut it short; cut it short, I say." And 
that will hurt me, for he is really a most 
forbearing pubUsher, and quite in the way 
of a friend. The three things shall be, 
one, eating, and what with; two, getting 
a new skin, and why; and third, changing 
from an under-water, crawling, squirmy, 
ugly dragon into an aerial, whizzing, flash- 
ing, dashing, beautiful-winged dragon, and 
when. Of course one of the most impor- 

The Dragon of Lagunita 135 

tant things about any dragon is what and 
how he eats; and the other most important 
thing about Mary's and my special kind of 
dragon is his remarkable change. This 
was to us much more remarkable than hav- 
ing three heads or even getting a new head 
every time an old one is cut off, which seems 
to be rather a usual habit of fairy-book 

The dragons lay rather quietly on the 
sand at the bottom of Monday Pond most 
of the time. Sometimes one would be up 
a Uttle way on the shore, that is, the side 
of the tub, or clinging to one of the plant- 
stems. When poked with a pencil, — ^and 
we were fearless about poking them, if the 
pencil were a long one, — ^they would half- 
walk, half-swim away. But mostly they 
lay pretty well concealed, waiting for some- 
thing to happen. What would happen oc- 
casionally was this: a young May-fly or a 
water-beetle would come swimming or walk- 
ing along; if it passed an inch away from 


136 Insect Stories 

the dragon^ all right; but if its path brought 
it closer, an extraordinary " catcher," rather 
like a pair of long nippers or tongs, 
would shoot out Uke a flash from the head 
of the dragon and seize on the unfortunate 
beastie. Then the " catcher' ' would fold up 
in such a way as to bring the victim against 
the dragon's mouth, which is provided with 
powerful, sharp-toothed jaws. These jaws 
then had their turn. And that was the end 
of the May-fly. 

Mary was rather shocked when she saw 
the dragon first use its "catcher." She 
wanted to rescue the poor May-fly. But 
after all she has got pretty well used to 
seeing tragedies in insect life. They seem 
to be necessary and normal. Many insects 
depend upon other animals for food, just 
as we do. Only fortunately we don't have 
to catch and kill our own steer or pig 
or lamb or chicken. We turn the bloody 
business over to men who Uke — ^well, at 
least, who do it for us. But in the world of 

The Dragon of Lagunita 137 

lower ajiimals each one is usually his own 

Mary soon wanted to see the dragon's 
"catcher/* and so we dredged one out of 
Monday Pond, and put him on the study- 
table. As he faced us with his big eyes 
glaring from his broad heavy head, he 
looked very fierce. But curiously enough, 
he didn't seem to have any jaws; nor even 
a mouth. The whole front of his face was 
smooth and covered over by a sort of mask, 
so that his terrible jaws and catching nip- 
pers were invisible. However, we soon un- 
derstood this. The mask was the f olded-up 
" catcher " so disposed that it served, when 
not in use, actually to hide its own iniquity 
as well as that of the yawning mouth be- 
hind. Only when some small insect, all 
unsuspecting this smooth masked face, 
comes close, do the long tongs unfold, 
shoot out, and reveal the waiting jaws and 
thirsty throat. A veritable dragon indeed; 
sly and cruel and ever hungry for living prey. 


138 Insect Stories 

One day when we were looking into Mon- 
day Pond, Mary saw a curious object that 
looked more like a hollow dragon than any- 
thing else. It had all the shape and size 
of one of the dragons; the legs and eyes 
and masked face, the pads on the back 
that looked like half-fledged wings. But 
there was a transparency and emptiness 
about it that was uncanny and ghost-Uke. 
Then, too, when we looked more closely 
there was a great rent down the back. 
And that made the mystery plain. The 
real dragon, the flesh and blood and breath- 
ing live dragon, had come out of that long 
tear, leaving his skin behind! It was his 
complete skin, too, back and sides and 
belly, out to the tips of his feelers and down 
to his toes and claws. 

''But why should he shed his skin? 
Hasn't he any skin now?*' asked Mary. 

''Of course he must have a skin. How 
could he keep his blood in, and what 
would his muscles be fastened to, for he is 

The Dragon of Lagunita 1 39 

a boneless dragon^ and his skeleton is his 
outside shelly with his muscles fastened to 
it? So how could he Uve at all without a 
skin? He must have a new skin." 

And, of course, that was exactly it. He 
had cast his old skin, as a snake does, 
and had got a brand-new one. Why 
shouldn't a dragon change his skin if a 
snake can? 

But Mary is persistent about her *'whys," 
and I was quite ready for her next ques- 
tion, which came after a moment of mus- 

*'Why should he shed his old skin and 
get a new one? Is the new one different; 
a different color or shape or some- 

'*No; not a different color or different 
shape especially, but a different size. The 
dragon is growing up. He is like a boy 
who keeps on wearing age-nine clothes un- 
til they are too short in the sleeves, too 
tight in the back, and too high-water in the 

140 Insect Stories 

legs. Then one day he sheds his age-nine 
suit and gets an age-eleven one. See?'' 

''What a funny professor you are! Is 
that the way you lecture to your classes?" 

''Gracious, no, Mary! This is the way: 
As the immature dragon grows older, his 
constant assimilation of food tends to 
create a natural increase in size. But the 
comparative inelasticity of his chitinized 
cuticula prevents the actual expansion, to 
any considerable degree, of his body mass. 
Thus all the cells of the body become tur- 
gid, and altogether a great pressure is 
exerted outwards against the enclosing 
cuticular wall. This wall then suddenly 
splits along the longimesial line of the 
dorsum, and through this rent the dragon 
extricates itself in soft and defenceless 
condition, but of markedly larger size. 
The new cuticula, which is pale, elastic 
and thin at first, soon becomes thicker, 
strongly chitinized and dark. The old 
cuticle, or exuvia, which has been moulted^ 

The Dragon of Lagunita 141 

is curiously complete^ and is a hollow or 
shell-like replica of the external appear* 
ance of the dragon even to the finest de- 
tails. How is that, Mary?" 

''Very instruct — ^instructing" — ^with an 
effort — ''indeed/' repUes Mary, with grave 
face. "But I guess I understand the 
change from age-nine to age-eleven clothes 

And then we saw the third wonderful 
happening in our dragon's life that I said 
we should tell about. We saw one of the 
dragons getting wings! That is, changing 
from an ugly, blackish, squat, crawling 
creature into a glorious long-bodied, rain- 
bow-tinted, fljdng dragon. Another dragon 
had crawled up above the water on a plant- 
stem and was also "moulting its chitinized 
cuticula." But it was coming out from 
the old skin in very different shape and 
color. I had forgotten, when I told Mary 
that they only changed in size after cast- 
ing the skin, about the last moulting. 

142 Insect Stories 

Each dragon casts its skin several times in 
its lif e^ but the last time it does it^ it makes 
the wonderful change IVe already spoken 
about^ from crawling to flying dragon. 
And it was one of these last skin-castings 
that was going on now under our very 

I can't describe all that happened. You 
must see it for yourself some time. How, 
out of the great rent in the old skin along 
the back, the soft damp body of the dragon 
squeezes slowly out, with its constant rev- 
elation of delicate changing color and its 
graceful new shape; how out of the odd 
shapeless pads on the back come four, long, 
narrow, shining, transparent wings, with 
complex framework of fine Uttle veins, or 
ribs, and thin flexible glassy membrane 
stretched over them; how the new head 
looks with its enormous, sparkUng, iri- 
descent eyes making nearly two-thirds of 
it and so cleverly fitted on the body that 
it can turn nearly entirely around on the 


The Dragon of Lagunita 143 

neck. And then how the body fills out 
and takes shape, and the wings get larger 
and larger^ and everj^hing more and more 
beautifully colored! All this you will have 
to see for yourself some time when you have 
a Monday Pond in your own study, with a 
brood of dragons in. 

'*It is wonderful, isn't it, Mary? How 
would you Uke to see twenty, thirty, forty, 
oh, a hundred dragons doing this all at 
once. We can if we want to. All we have 
to do is to go over to Lagunita some morn- 
ing early, very early, just a httle after sun- 
rise — ^for that is their favorite time — and 
we shall see scores of dragons crawhng up 
out of the water on stones, plants, sticks, 
anything convenient, and sloughing oif 
their dirty, dark, old skins and coming 
out in their beautiful iridescent green and 
violet and purple new skins, with their 
long slender body and great flashing wings. 
They sit quietly on the stones and plant- 
stems until the warm rising sim dries them 


144 Insect Stories 

and their new skins get firm and all nicely 
fitted, and then they begin their new life, 
— ^wheeUng and dashing over the lake and 
among the hills and bushes and above the 
grasses and grain along the banks. Like 
eagles and hawks they are seeking their 
prey. Watch that Uttle gnat buzzing there 
in the air. A flying dragon swoops by and 
there is no gnat there any longer. It has 
been caught in the curious basket-Uke trap 
which the dragon makes with its spiny 
legs all held together, and it is being crushed 
and chewed by the great jaws. Still a 
dragon, you see, for all of its new beauty!" 
Mary muses. '*Not all beautiful things 
in the world are good, are they?" she mur- 

''Mary, you are a philosopher," I say. 
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

As I read this over I realize quite as 
keenly, I hope, as you do, my reader, how 
little there is in this story. And yet find- 
ing out this little was real pleasure to Mary 

The Dragon of Lagunita 145 

and me. Now we must perforce estimate 
the pleasures and pains^ the likes and dis- 
likes, of other people by our own. And 
however untrue this estimate may be for any 
one other person, it must be fairly true for 
any considerable number of persons. There- 
fore — ^and this is the reason for putting 
down our simple experiences with the in- 
sects for other people to read and perhaps 
to be stirred by to see and do similar things 
— ^therefore, I say, other people, some other 
people, also must be able to get pleasure 
from what we do. 

Now if there is any way and any means 
of getting clean pleasure into the crowded 
days of our Uving, then that way and 
means should be suggested and opened to 
as many as possible. Mary and I, you see, 
have the real proselyting spirit; we are mis- 
sionaries of the reUgion of the unroofed tem- 
ples. And we want all to be saved! So 
we give testimony willingly of our own ex- 
periences, and of the saving grace of our 


Insect Stories 

belief. We have no names for our idols, 
nor any formulation of our creed. But in 
various voice and word we do gladly con- 
fess over and over again the reahty of the 
happiness that comes to us from our hours 
with the lowly world that we are conning to 
know better and better. And any one of 
these happy hours may contain no more 
than the Uttle that has been told in this 
story of the "Dragon of Lagunita/' and 
yet be really and truly a happy hour. 





"Are you comfortable, Mary?*' I ask, 
"and shaU I begin?'' 

"Yes; in just a minute," Mary repKes; 
"I want to sit so that I can see both wa}^, 
Lagunita that way and the brown field with 
the tarantula holes that way," and she 
sweeps half the horizon with a chubby 

We are half-sitting, half-lying, in the 
shade at the base of a live-oak on a little 
knoll back of the campus, whence we can 
look down on the red-tiled roofs and warm 
buffy walls of the Quadrangle, and on be- 
yond to the Arboretum with its great eu- 
calyptuses sticking out above the other 
trees. We can catch glimpses of the bay, 
too, and of the white houses of the care- 


150 Insect Stories 

takers of the oyster-beds perched on piles 
above the water like ancient Swiss lake- 

Strolling about over the brown field of 
the tarantula holes and carrying bundles 
of sticks, and stooping down now and then 
to strike at the ground with one of the 
sticks, are several young men. Sophomores 
by their hats, and one of them with a red 
jacket on: 

"Gowfin* a' the day, 
Daein' nae wark ava'; 
Rinnin* aboot wi' a peck o' sticks 
Efter a wee bit baM'' 

Mary recites this in a pretty singsong. 

"Why, Mary, where did you learn that?" 
I ask in surprise. 

''From the Scotch lady that I take of." 

'Take of! What is it you take of her? 
I hope not measles or smallpox, or — '* 

' 'Why no, of course not. Music. That's 
what all young ladies take." 



A Summer Invasion 151 

*'0h, I see! It is catching, isn't it? I 
have seen some bad cases, especially in 
small towns. Every young lady, even just 
girls'* — I glance sidewise at Mary — *'down 
with it. But is that what those boys over 
there are doing? I hope they won't inter- 
fere with the tarantulas. They probably 
don't know what lively times there are at 
nights in that field. Scores of big black 
tarantulas racing about, hunting, and hun- 
dreds of beetles and things racing about, 
trying to keep from being eaten. Well, 
I'd better begin, because we have to get 
back by luncheon time. I have a most 
profound lecture to give on Orthogenesis 
and Heterogenesis to that unfortunate 
Evolution class at two o'clock." 

'Tm all ready," said Mary, looking up at 
me with confidence. She appreciates the 
kind of lectures I give outdoors, even if the 
lunch-gorged students don't appreciate my 
efforts ex cathedra. 

"Well this summer invasion that I prom- 

152 Insect Stories 


ised to tell you about happened when I 
was a boy in a little town in Kansas. It 
was in Centennial year; the one-hundredth 
anniversary of the freedom of the United 
States, and the summer of the Centennial 
Exposition at Philadelphia. 

"I was going down town one day in July 
to buy some meat for dinner. I was going 
because my mother had sent me. Natu- 
rally this promised to be a very uninterest- j 
ing excursion. But you never can tell. 

*'When I had got fairly down to Com- 
mercial Street, I saw that all the people 
were greatly excited. Some were talking 
loudly, but most were staring up toward 
the Sim, shading their eyes with their 
hands. Then I heard old Mr. Beasley say: 
'That's surely them all right; doggon, 
they'll eat us up.' 

'*My heart jumped. Who could be com- 
ing from the sim to eat us up? I burst into 
excited questions. 'Who are coming, Mr. j 
Beasley? I can't see anybody/ 

A Summer Invasion 153 

'"Hoppers is comin', boy; see that sort 
o' shiny thin cloud up there jest ofiE the 
edge o' the stm? Well, them's hoppers/ 

"'But how'll they eat us up, Mr. Beas- 
ley? No grasshopper can eat me up/ 

"They'll eat us up with their doggoned 
terbaccy-spittin' mouths; thet's how. And 
they'll eat you up by eatin' everything you 
want to eat; thet's how, too. Havin'noth- 
in' to eat is jest about the same as bein' et, 
accordin' to the way I looks at things/ 

"It is evident that Mr. Beasley was a 
philosopher and a pessimist; that is, a man 
who sees the disagreeable sides of things, 
who doesn't see the silvery Uning to the 
dark clouds. In fact, in this particular 
case Mr. Beasley was seeing a very dark 
lining to that silvery cloud 'jest off the 
edge o' the sun.' 

"I stared at the thin shining cloud for a 
long time, wondering if it were really true 
that it was grasshoppers. People said the 
silvery shimmer was made by the reflec- 

154 Insect Stories 

tion of the sunlight from the gauzy wings 
of the hosts of fl5dng insects. It occurred 
to me that if the hoppers were just off the 
edge of the sun, they would all be burned 
up, or at least have their wings so scorched 
that they would fall to the ground. How- 
ever, as the sun is 90,000,000 miles away 
from the earth, it would take a very long 
time for the scorched grasshoppers to fall 
all the way. I guessed that we might 
have a rain of dead and crippled hoppers 
about Christmas-time. Anyway there were 
no grasshoppers now, dead or alive, in the 
street. And I decided, rather disappoint- 
edly, that we probably shouldn't get to 
see any of the live hoppers at all. Then I 
asked Mr. Beasley where they came from. 

"'Rocky Moimtains,' he answered, 

"This seemed a bit steep, for the nearest 
of the Rocky Mountains are nearly a thou- 
sand miles west of Kansas. And to think 
of grasshoppers flying a thousand miles! 


A Summer Invasion 155 

A bit too much, that was. Still I thought 
I ought to go home and tell the folks. But 
mother interrupted me in my picturesque 
tale with a dry request for the meat. Oh, 
yes. Oh — ^well, I had forgotten. So the 
first disagreeable result for me from the 
grasshopper invasion of Kansas in the sum- 
mer of 1876 was a painful domestic inci- 

"But Mr. Beasley was right. The grass- 
hoppers had come. Next morning all the 
boys were out, each with a folded news- 
paper for flapper and a cigar-box with lid 
tacked on and a small hole just large 
enough to push a hopper through cut in 
one end. The rumor was we were to be 
paid five cents for every hundred hoppers, 
dead or alive, that we brought in. As a 
matter of fact nobody paid us, but we 
worked hard for nearly half a day; that 
is as long as it was fun and novelty. By 
noon the grasshoppers were an old story 
to us. And besides there were too many 

156 Insect Stories 

of them. Hundreds, thousands, millions, — 
oh, billions and trillions I suppose. And 
all eating, eating, eating! 

* 'First all the softer fresher green things. 
The vegetables in the little backyard gar- 
dens; the sweet com and green peas and 
tomato- and potato-vines. Then the flow- 
ers and the grasses of the front yards. Then 
the leaves of the dooryard trees. Then the 
fresh green twigs of the trees! Then the 
bark on the younger branches!! 

'*And you could hear them eat! Nip- 
ping and crunching, tearing and chewing. 
It got to be terrible, and everybody so 
downcast and gloomy. And the most aw- 
ful stories of what was going on out in 
the great corn-fields and meadows and 
pastures. Ruin, ruin, ruin was what the 
hoppers were mumbling as they chewed. 

**And then the reports from the other 
states in the great Mississippi Valley corn- 
belt came in by telegraph and letter. Over 
thousands and thousands of square miles 

A Summer Invasion 157 

of the great granary of the land were 
spread the hordes of hoppers. Farmers 
and stockmen were being ruined. Then 
the storekeepers and bankers that sell 
things and lend money to the farmers. 
Then the lawyers and doctors that depend 
on the farmers' troubles to earn a Uving. 
Then the millers and stock-brokers and 
capitalists of the great cities that make 
their fortimes out of handling and buying 
and selling the grain the farmers send in 
long trains to the centers of population. 
Everybody, the whole country, was aghast 
and appalled at the havoc of the hopper. 

''What to do? How long will they keep 
up this devastation? Have they come to 
settle and stay in Kansas and Nebraska 
and Iowa? What will the coimtry do in 
the future for com and wheat and pigs and 
fat cattle? 

''Well, it would be too long a story to 
tell of how all the entomologists went to 
work studying the grasshoppers and their 


158 Insect Stories 

wa}^: their outddes and insides^ their 
hopping and their flying, their egg-laying 
and the growth and development of the 
Uttle hoppers; how the birds, and what 
kinds, stuffed on them, and the robber- 
flies and the tachina flies and the red mites 
and the tiny braconids and chaldds at- 
tacked them and laid eggs on them, and 
their grubs burrowed into them; and every- 
thing else about them. But aU the time 
the hoppers kept right on eating; at least 
they did where there was an5rthing left to 
eat. Stories were told of their following 
roots of plants and trees down into the 
ground to eat them; of how they stripped 
great trees of bark and branches; of how 
they massed on the warm rails of railroads 
at nights and stopped trains; of how en- 
terprising towns by offering rewards to 
farmers collected and killed with kerosene 
great winrows and mounds composed of 
innmnerable bushels and tons of grass- 

A Summer Invasion 1 59 

•*Some people of active mind and fertile 
imagination suggested that if the grass- 
hoppers were going to eat up all our usual 
food, we should leam to eat them/ And 
they got chemists to figure out how much 
proteids and carbohydrates and hydrocar- 
bons and ash, etc., there was in every Uttle 
hopper's body. And there was a remark- 
able dinner given in St. Louis by a famous 
entomologist to some prominent men of 
that city, in which grasshoppers were served 
in several different ways: hopper saiM, 
hopper au grattn, hopper escallopp^y hopper 
souffle, and so on. The decision of the 
guests — ^those who lasted through the din- 
ner — ^was that Hhe dry and chippy char- 
acter of the tibiae was a serious objection 
to grasshoppers as food for man/ 

"But you want to know the end of it 
Mary, don't you? Well, it was a very sim- 
ple end. Simply, indeed, that the hoppers 
went back! Yes, actually, when autumn 
came they all — ^that is, all that hadn't been 


i6o Insect Stories 

eaten by birds and toads and lizards^ or 
collected by farmers and burned, or hadn't 
got walked on by horses and people, or 
hadn't got studied to death by entomolo- 
gists — ^flew up into the air and sailed back 
to the Rocky Mountains. Or at least they 
started that way. I never heard if any of 
them really got all the thousand of miles 
back. But whereas in the summer they 
had all been flying southeast, in the fall 
they all began flying northwest. 

''But some of them had laid eggs in the 
ground in little cornucopia-like packets 
before d3mig or flying away. And much 
alarm was caused by predictions that mil- 
lions of new hoppers would come out of 
the ground in the coming spring and eat 
all the crops while young, even if the old 
ones or more Uke them didn't come again 
in the summer and eat the mature crops. 
But these predictions were only partly ful- 
filled. Not many hatched out in the 
spring, and those that did seemed to be 

A Summer Invasion i6i 

more anxious to get back to the Rocky 
Mountains where their brethren were than 
to eat the Kansas crops. Indeed as soon 
as the young hoppers got their wings — ^and 
that takes several weeks after they come 
from the egg — ^they began flying north- 

"So this remarkable and terrible inva- 
sion was over. And all the poor farmers, 
and the bankrupt or about to be bankrupt 
storekeepers and bankers and the idle 
lawyers and doctors and the terrified cap- 
italists and the hard-studying entomolo- 
gists drew a long breath of reUef together." 

"But have the hoppers come back any 
time since 1876?'' asks Mary. 

"No, that was the last invasion. There 
had been earKer ones, though, one or two 
of them just as bad as the Gentennial-year 
one. Indeed Kansas was called the Grass- 
hopper State on account of these terrible 
summer invasions. There was a bad one 
in 1866 and another in 1874. The inva- 

1 62 Insect Stories 

sions of 1874 and 1876 cost the farmers of 
the Mississippi Valley at least fifty millions 
of dollars in crops eaten up." 

"But what made them come to Kansas? 
Why didn't they stay in the Rocky Moun- 
tains? It's much more beautiful and in- 
teresting there than in Kansas^ isn't it?" 

"Much, Mary. But it probably wasn't 
a matter of scenery with these tourist hop- 
pers. Much more Ukely a matter of food. 
In those days there were no farmers with 
irrigated fields on the great plateaus along 
the eastern base of the Rocky Moimtains 
in Colorado and Wyoming. Nothing much 
but sage-brush and not overmuch of that 
grew there. And probably there simply 
wasn't enough food for all the hoppers. So 
in seasons when there were too many hop- 
pers or too little food — ^and if there was one, 
there was also the other — ^they flew up into 
the air, spread their broad wings and 
sailed away on the winds from the north- 
west for a thousand miles to Nebraska and 

A Summer Invasion 163 

Kansas and Texas. And that made an 

''But, then, why didn't they stay there, 
where there were cornfields and wheat- 
fields and vegetables?" persisted Mary. 

"Mary, I can only tell you what the hard- 
studying entomologists decided about this, 
and pubHshed along with all the other 
things they found out, or thought they 
did, in several big volumes devoted to the 
grasshoppers. They found out that the 
hoppers tried to go back because they 
couldn't stay! That is, odd as it may 
seem, either the climate or the low altitude 
or something else uncomfortable about 
Kansas and Missouri disagrees with the 
Rocky-Mountain hoppers and they can't 
live there permanently. They can't raise 
a family there successfully; at least it 
doesn't last for more than one generation. 
They have to Uve on the high plateaus of 
the northern Rockies, but they can get on 
very well for a single summer away from 


164 Insect Stories 

home. Then they must get back if they 
can. Anil so it was that the hoppers that 
came to Kansas solved the weighty prob- 
lem and reUev^d the great anxiety of the 
farmers and the whole country in general 
as to what was to become of the great grain- 
fields of the Middle West, by going back 
home again. 

**And will they ever evade Kansas 

"That, Mary, is not a question for a 
stick-to-what-is-known scientific person like 
me to answer. But as ever since farms 
and grain-fields and vegetable gardens have 
been established on the Rocky Mountain 
plateaus by the farmers who keep moving 
west, the hoppers haven't come back to 
Kansas, and as this is probably because 
they have enough food at home in these 
Colorado and Wyoming fields, I should be 
very much surprised if they ever come back 
to Kansas again." 

"Yes, but weren't you surprised that 

A Summer Invasion 


first time you saw them in the Sentinel 

''Mary, you are a quibbler. Well, then, 
1*11 say that I don't think they'll ever make 
another foreign invasion. There!" 

It is time for us to stroll home for lunch- 
eon. As we get up from under the live- 
oak, a stumpy-bodied little grasshopper 
whirs away in front of us. 

'To think that such a little thing could 
make a summer evasion one thousand 
miles away from here,'' said Mary. 

''Much littler things have done much 
bigger things," I reply, with my serious 
manner of lecturer-after-luncheon. 




We were sitting in the warm sun on the 
very tip- top of Bungalow Hill. This is a 
gentle crest that rises three hundred and 
fifty feet above the campus level, and gives 
one a wonderful view far up and down the 
beautiful valley and across the blue bay to 
the lifting mountains of the Coast Range. 
Square-shouldered old Mt. Diablo standing 
as giant warder just inside the Golden Gate, 
the ocean entrance to California, looms 
massive and threatening directly to our 
east, while to its south stretches the long 
brown range with its series of peaks. Mis- 
sion, Mt. Hamilton, Isabella, and so on, 
way down to the twin Pachecos that guard 
the pass over into the desert. In the north 
rises Mt. Tamalpais, the wonderful fog 

moimtain that looks down on the busy life 


170 Insect Stories 

at its feet of San Francisco, and its clus- 
tering child cities growing up rapidly these 
days, while the mother is l3dng ill of her 
wounds by earthquake and conflagration. 
To the south stretch the long orchard 
leagues of the Santa Clara Valley, with the 
little white spots of towns peeping out 
from the massed trees so jealous of every 
foot of fertile ground. And to the west — 
ah, that is the view that Mary and I lie 
hours long to look at and drink in and feel, 
— "our view," we call it. 

We think we see things there that other 
people cannot. We see these things es- 
pecially well when we half-close our eyes, 
and describe what we see in a sort of low, 
drowsy, monotone murmur. Then the 
fringe of towering spiry redwoods along 
the crest of the mountain range that Kes 
between us and the great ocean and lifts 
its forested flanks full two thousand feet 
above us, becomes a long row of giants' 
spears sticking up above the battlements 

A Clever Little Brown Ant 171 

of a mighty castle. And the shadow-filled 
somber slashes and tunnel-hke holes of the 
dropping canons are the great entrances 
and doors to this castle. At our feet the 
broad shallow caiiada that stretches all 
along the foot of the mountains and was 
made ages ago by some tremendous earth- 
quake seems, seen through our half-closed 
eyes, to be full of water and to be really a 
broad moat shutting off all access to the 

The giants themselves we have never 
yet seen. But some day when the light is 
just right, and they are stirring themselves 
to look out at the world, we probably shall. 
Perhaps if we had been up here that day 
not long ago when the last earthquake 
came, we should have seen the giants look- 
ing out to see who was knocking at their 
gates. For it will take an earthquake's 
knocking ever to be felt in the heart of 
that mountain castle where the giants keep 

172 Insect Stories 

The air was so clear this day that it 
seemed as if we could see each individual 
great redwood, each red-trunked, glossy- 
leaved madrono, each thicket of crooked 
manzanita and purpling Ceanothus, on the 
whole mountain side. Straight across 
through the clear blue-tinged atmosphere 
above the canada to the shoulders and 
caiions, the forests and clear spaces and 
chaparral of the mountain flanks, we look. 
And it rests our eyes that are so tired of 
reading. It is good to be a-stretch on sun- 
bathed Bungalow Hill this afternoon in 
October. The rains will be coming in a 
few weeks and then we can't be out so 
much. Or at any rate we can't lie close 
to the warm, brown, dry earth as we can 
now. But the rains will bring the fresh, 
green grasses and the flowers. If they 
come early enough the manzanitas will 
have on their little trembling pink-white 
Uly-of-the-valley bells by Christmas-day, 
and the wild currants will be all green-and- 

A Clever Little Brown Ant 173 

rose color, with little leaves and a myriad 
fragrant blossoms. 

But Mary has found something. She 
had turned over a little flattish stone and 
under it was — ^life! Living things dis- 
turbed in their work, their play, their lay- 
ing up of riches, their care of their children; 
little animate creatures revealed in all the 
intimacies of their housekeeping and daily 

But they didn't lose their presence of 
mind, these active, knowing Uttle ants, 
when the Catastrophe came. There was 
work to be done at once and wisely. First, 
the saving of the children; and so in the 
moment that passed between Mary's over- 
turning of the stone and our immediate 
shifting into comfortable position on our 
stomachs, head in hands, for watching, 
half of the racing workers had each a lit- 
tle white parcel in its jaws and was speed- 
ing with it along the galleries toward the 
underground chambers. 

174 Insect Stories 

"Ants' eggs/' said Mary. 

"No," said I. "That's a popular delu- 
sion. These little white things are not 
ants' eggs, but ants' babies. They are the 
already hatched and partly grown young 
ants, the larvae and pupae, which are so 
well looked after by the nurse ants. For 
these young ants are quite helpless, like 
young bees in the brood-cells in a honey- 
bee hive. And they have to be fed chewed 
food, and as they have no legs and so can't 
walk, they have to be carried from the cool 
dark nurseries up into the warmer lighter 
chambers for air and heat every day al- 
most, and then carried back down again. 
See how gently the nurse ant holds this 
baby in its jaws; jaws that are sharp and 
strong and that can bite fiercely and hold 
on grimly in battle." 

And I hand Mary my httle pocket-lens 
through which she tries to look with both 
eyes at once. She could, of course, if she 
would keep her blessed eyes far enough 

A Clever Little Brown Ant 175 

away, but as she persists in holding the 
glass at the tip of her nose as she has seen 
me do, and as she cannot shut one eye 
and keep the other open, as I can, and 
have done now so many years that I have 
wrinkles all round the shut-up eye, why, 
she makes bad work of it. So she hands 
back the lens with a poUte ''thank you,*' 
and sticks to her own keen unaided eyes. 
And sees more than I do! 

For in the next breath she cries, with a 
little note of triiunph in her voice: ''But 
some of the ant babies are walking. See 
there! And you said they have no legs. 
I can see them; Uttle stumpy blackish legs 
sticking out from their soft white body! 
And some of the ants are carrying these 
babies with legs; I can see them!" 

I squirm around nearer Mary. True 
enough there are some Uttle white chubby 
creatures walking slowly around in the 
narrow runways. But I know they cannot 
be ant larvae. For ant larvae have no legs 


176 Insect Stories 

and simply can't walk. What are they? 
I get out the httle pocket-lens. And the 
mystery is solved. They are the "ant- 
cattle/* the curious Uttle mealy-bugs that 
many kinds of ants bring into their nests 
and take care of for the sake of getting 
from them a constant supply of * 'honey- 
dew." This ' 'honey-dew' ' which the mealy- 
bugs make and give off from their bodies 
is a sweetish syrupy fluid of which almost 
all ants, even those most fiercely carnivo- 
rous, are very fond. And as the mealy- 
bugs and plant-hce that make the honey- 
dew are quite defenceless, soft-bodied, 
mostly wingless -and rather sedentary in- 
sects, the bright-witted ants estabUsh col- 
onies, or "herds," of them in their nests, or 
visit and protect colonies of them Uving on 
plants near the ant-nest. Some kinds of 
ants even build earthen "sheds," or tents, 
over groups of honey-dew insects on plant- 
stems. The mealy-bugs are white because 
they cover their soft little bodies with del- 

A Clever Little Brown Ant 177 

icate threads or flakes of glistening white 
wax which they make in their bodies and 
pour out through tiny openings in the 

We watch the busy, excited ants until 
they have carried all-their babies and cat- 
tle dovm into the underground nursery 
chambers, out of harm's way. Then we 
put the stone carefully back in place, and 
roll back again to where we can watch the 
wonderful mountains in the west. The 
redwood-fringed crest stands so sharply out 
against the sky-line that we really can 
distinguish every tree that Ufts its head 
above the crest, although they are several 
miles away from us. These great trees, 
which are the giants' jagged spears, are one 
hundred and fifty feet high, some of them, 
and as big around at the base as one of 
the massive columns in the Cologne 

Finally I say, rather lazily, ''Mary, shall 
I tell you about the special way the clever 

178 Insect Stories 

little brown ant of the Illinois com-fidds 
takes care of its cattle?'* 

''Yes, please, if it isn't too long," says 

Mary and I are on perfectly frank terms. 
We are polite, but also inclined to be hon- 
est. And Mary is not going to be an un- 
resisting victim of a garrulous old professor. 
But Mary need not be afraid that I sha'n't 
know when I am boring her. We have 
wireless communication, Mary and I. 
That's one, probably the principal, reason 
why we are such good companions. No 
true companionship can possibly persist 
without wireless and wordless communica- 

"All right," I answer, "here goes, Mary. 
Say whenl" 

"I forget how many millions of bushels 
of com were raised in the state of Illinois 
last year, but they were very many. And 
that means thousands and thousands of 
acres of com-fields. Now in all these com- 

A Clever Little Brown Ant 179 

fields there live certain tiny soft-bodied 
insects called corn-root aphids. Their food 
is the sap of the growing corn-plants which 
they suck from the roots. Although each 
corn-root aphid is only about one-twentieth 
of an inch long and one-twenty-fifth of an 
inch wide and has a sucking-beak simply 
microscopic in size, yet there are so many 
millions of these Uttle insects all with their 
microscopic little beaks stuck into the 
corn-roots and all the time drinking, drink- 
ing the sap which is the Ufe-blood of the 
corn-plants that they do a great deal of 
injury to the corn-fields of Illinois and 
cause a great loss in money to the farmers. 
"So the wise men have studied the ways 
and Ufe of these little aphids to see if some 
way can be devised to keep them in check. 
The aphids Uve only two or three weeks, 
but each one before it dies gives birth to 
about twelve young aphids. Now this is 
a very rapid rate of increase. If all the 
young which are bom live their allotted 

1 8o Insect Stories 

two or three weeks and produce in their 
turn twelve new aphids, we should have 
about ten trilUon descendants in a year 
from a single mother aphid. Ten trillion 
corn-root aphids, tiny as they are, would 
make a strip or belt ten feet wide and two 
hundred and thirty miles long! 

''Some other kinds of aphids multiply 
themselves even more rapidly. An EngUsh 
naturaUst has figured out that a single-stem 
mother of the common aphis, or 'green- 
fly' of the rose, would give origin, at its 
regular rate of multiplication and provided 
each individual bom Uved out its natural 
Ufe, which is only a few days at best, to 
over thirty-three quintrillions of rose aphids 
in a single season, equal in weight to more 
than a billion and a half of men. Of course 
such a thing never happens, because so 
many of the young aphids get eaten by 
lady-bird beetles and flower-fly larvae and 
other enemies before they come to be old 
enough to produce young. 

A Clever Little Brown Ant 1 8 1 

"However, besides this rapid increase of 
the corn-root aphids, there is something 
else that helps them to be so formidable a 
pest. And this is that they find very good 
and zealous friends in the miUions of little 
^rown ants that also live in the Illinois 
corn-fields. These swift, strong, brave lit- 
tle ants make their nmwa}^ and nests all 
through the corn-fields, and are very de- 
voted helpers of the soft-bodied helpless 
aphids. For the aphids pay for this help 
by acting as 'cattle' for the ants. 

"This is what Professor Forbes, a very 
careful and a very honest naturaUst, found 
out about the ants and the aphids. The 
eggs of the aphids, hosts of shining black, 
round, little seed-Uke eggs, are laid late in 
the autiunn. These eggs are gathered by 
the ants and heaped up in piles in the 
galleries of their nests, or sometimes in 
special chambers made by widening the 
runways here and there. All through the 
winter these eggs are cared for by the ants. 

1 82 Insect Stories 

being carried down into the deeper and 
warmer chambers in the coldest weather, 
and brought up nearer the surface when it 
is warm. When the sunny days of spring 
begin to come, the eggs are even brought 
up above ground and scattered about in 
the simshine, then carried down again at 
night. The little ants may be seen some- 
times turning the eggs over and over and 
carefully licking them as if to clean them 
of dust-particles. 

'*In the late spring the aphid eggs hatch, 
and the young must have sap to drink 
right away. Their little beaks are thirsty 
for the plant- juices that are their only 
food. But there are no tender corn-roots 
ready for them in the fields because the 
corn has not yet been planted. What, then, 
shall the hungering baby aphids and their 
foster-mothers, the Uttle brown ants, do? 

*'This is what happens. Although it is 
too early yet for the com to be growing, 
there are various kinds of weeds that be- 

A Clever Little Brown Ant 183 

gin to sprout with the coming on of spring, 
and two of these, especially, the smart- 
weed and the pigeon-grass, abundant and 
wide-spread in all the Mississippi Valley, 
are sure to be growing in the fields. While 
the aphids much prefer corn-roots to live 
on, they will get along very well on the 
roots of smart-weed or pigeon-grass. So 
the clever Uttle brown ants put the ahnost 
helpless baby aphids on the tender roots of 
these weeds, and there their tiny beaks 
begin to be satisfied. Don't you call that 
clever, Mary?'* 

''Clever! Gracious!*' says Mary. "Do 
you know Professor Forbes? Is he really 
— does he always tell the — '* 

I interrupt. I am sensitive about such 
questions. I answer rather sharply. ' 'Yes, 
I do know him; and yes, he always tells 
the truth. Don't interrupt any more, 
pleise, for there is still more of the story." 
Mary is silent. 

"Well, the aphids stay on the smart- 

1 84 Insect Stories 

weed roots until the com is planted, which 
is in about ten days, and the kernels begin 
to germinate and to send down the tender 
juice-filled roots. And then the little 
brown ants take the aphids, now getting 
larger and stronger, of course, but still too 
helpless or stupid to do much for them- 
selves except to suck sap, and carry them 
from the smart-weed roots to the corn- 
roots— What's that, Mary?*' 

But Mary had said nothing; just drawn 
in her breath with a little sound. Still I 
think it best to remind her that I do know 
Professor Forbes and that he really does 
always tell the truth. In fact, I quote to 
Mary this honest professor's exact words 
about this transfer of the aphids from the 
weed-roots to the corn-roots. This is what 
he writes in his intensely interesting ac- 
coimt of the whole life of these Uttle in- 
sects: ''In many cases in the field, we 
have found the young root aphis on sprout- 
ing weeds (especially pigeon-grass) which 

A Clever Little Brown Ant 185 

have been sought out by the ants before 
the leaves had shown above the ground; 
and, similarly, when the field is planted to 
com, these ardent explorers will frequently 
discover the sprouting kernel in the earth, 
and mine along the starting stem and place 
the plant aphids upon it/* 

"And the Uttle brown ants do all this 
so as to get honey-dew from the aphids?" 
asks Mary. 

''Exactly/' I reply. 'The ants take 
such good care of the aphids not because 
they pity their helplessness or just want 
to be good, but because they know, by 
some instinct or reason, that these are the 
insects that, when they grow up, make 
honey-dew, which is the kind of food that 
ants seem to Uke better than any other. 
Indeed not only the little brown ants alone 
take care of the corn-root aphids to get 
honey-dew, but at least six other kinds of 
ants that Uve in the Illinois com-fields do 
it. But the Uttle brown ants are the most 

1 86 Insect Stories 

abundant and seem to give the aphids the 
best care/' 

'*It is exactly Uke keeping cows, isn't 
it/' says Mary. "But they don't have to 
milk them." 

''Well," I reply, ''I don't know what 
you would call it, but some other ants that 
take care of some other kinds of honey- 
dew insects seem to have to carry on a 
sort of milking performance to make them 
pour out their sweet Uquid. The ants have 
to pat or rub them with their hairy Uttle 
feelers; sort of tickle them to get them to 
squeeze out a Uttle drop of honey-dew. 
The truth is, Mary, if I should tell you the 
really amazing things that ants do, you 
simply wouldn't beheve me at all. But 
the next time we go out, I'll take you to 
see for yourself an ant community right 
on the campus that does some remarkable 
things. I'd much rather have you see the 
things yourself than tell you about them." 

''I'd rather, too," says Mary, which isn't 

A Clever Little Brown Ant 187 

exactly the nicest thing she could say, but 
I know what she means. It's that seeing 
is better than being told by anybody. 

And then the up-and-down " ding, dang, 
dong, ding,*' of the clock-bells begins its 
little song in four verses that means the 
end of an hour. And then come the six 
slow deep calls of the biggest bell that tell 
what hour it is. It is the hour for us to 
go home. 



''But why didn't he go back if he Uked 
France so much better; and if he had 
plenty of money?*' asked Mary. 

"Ah, well, even having plenty of money 
doesn't always make it possible to do just 
what we prefer," I say. 'The truth is, — 
if it is the truth, and not jiist malicious 
gossip, — ^it was exactly because he had 
plenty of money that he couldn't go back. 
He is supposed to have got that money in 
some wrong way. Anyway, he didn't seem 
to care to go back to la belle France, but 
preferred to Uve soUtarily here, and to 
plant lines of trees and lay out Uttle lakes 
and build rockwork towers and make ter- 
races and driveways and paths, all in very 
formal lines, as in the parks at Versailles 


192 Insect Stories 

and St. Cloud, which were the playgrounds 
of French kings and the pride of all France." 
Mary and I were seated on a curious 
little cement-and-stone imitation tower- 
ruin that stuck up out of Frenchman's 
Pond, which is near the campus, and is a 
good place for seeing things and getting 
away from the classroom bells. A long 
row of scraggly Lombardy poplars stretches 
away from the pond along an old terraced 
roadway with a cave opening on it. Around 
two sides of the Uttle lake is a rockwork 
wall, and across one end, where the pond 
narrows, is a picturesque stone bridge of 
single span. Everything is neglected, and 
altogether Frenchman's Pond and its sur- 
roundings are a good imitation of some- 
thing old and foreign in this glaringly new 
and extremely Califomian bit of the world. 
It is a favorite place for us to come when 
I want to tell Mary stories of the castles 
on the Rhine. We get a proper atmos- 

An Hour of Living 193 

It was so sunny and warm this morning 
that we had given up chatting and were 
simply sitting or sprawling as comfortably 
as we could on the irregular top of our Aus- 
sichtsthurm. A few flying dragons, some 
in bronze-red mail, some in greenish blue, 
were wheeling about over the pond, and a 
meadow-lark kept up a most cheerful sing- 
ing in the pasture nearby. It was really 
just the sort of day and place and feeling 
that Mary and I like best. We knew we 
ought, as persevering Nature students, to 
get down and poke around in the weeds 
and ooze of the edges of the pond so as to 
see things. But we didn't want to do it, 
and so we didn't. That is one perfectly 
beautiful thing about the way Mary and I 
study Nature. We don't when we don't 
want to. 

But if we didn't climb down to the live 
things this day at Frenchman's Pond, they 
came up to us. One of the flying dragons 
actually swooped so close to our heads that 

194 Insect Stories 

we could hear its shining brittle wings 
crackle, and only a few minutes after, a 
curious deUcate Uttle creature with four 
gauzy wings, a pair of projecting eyes with 
a fixed stare, and three long hair-like tails 
on its body, lit on Mary's hand and walked 
slowly and rather totteringly up her bare 
wrist and fore arm. Then without any 
fluttering or struggling, it slowly fell over 
on one side and lay quite still. It was 

This rather took our breath away. We 
are only too well accustomed, unfortu- 
nately, to seeing death come to our little 
companions; they do not Uve long, at best, 
and then so many of them get killed and 
eaten. But they usually make some pro- 
test when Death approaches. They do not 
surrender their brief joy of Uving in such 
utterly unresisting way as this Uttle crea- 
ture did. But when I had got my spec- 
tacles properly adjusted, I saw what it was 
that had died so quietly and suddenly. 

An Hour of Living 195 

The little gauzy-winged creature was a 
May-fly, or ephemera, and Ufe with the 
May-flies is such a truly ephemeral thing, 
and death comes regularly so soon and so 
swiftly, and without any apparent illness 
or injury intervening between health and 
dissolution, that we naturalists have ceased 
to wonder at it. Although this is not be- 
cause we understand it at all. Far from 
it. Indeed the death of any creature, ex- 
cept from obvious accident or wasting ill- 
ness, is one of the m3^teries of Ufe. Which 
sounds rather Irish, but is just what I 

But Mary was looking thoughtfully at 
this dead Uttle May-fly in her hand. It was 
so soft and deUcate of body, had such frail 
and filmy wings, that it seemed that it 
must have been very ill-fitted to cope with 
the hard conditions of insect Uving, to 
escape the numerous insect-feeding crea- 
tures and to find food and shelter for it- 
self, to be successful, in a word, in the 

196 Insect Stories 

''struggle for existence"! And in a way, 
this is quite true. But, in another way, 
it is not true. For the May-flies, in their 
flying stage, make up for their frailness 
and feebleness, their inability to feed — 
they have really no mouth-parts and do 
not eat at all in their few hours or days of 
flying life — ^by existing in enormous num- 
bers, and millions may be killed, or may 
die from very feebleness, and yet there are 
enough left to lay the eggs necessary for a 
new generation, and that is success in life 
for them. Nothing else is necessary; their 
whole aim and achievement in life seems 
to be to lay eggs and start a new genera- 
tion of May-flies. 

I settled back into a still more comfort- 
able position and said: ''Did I ever tell 
you, Mary, of the May-flies' dance of death 
I saw in Lucerne once, not far from the old 
bridge across the Reuss with its famous 
pictures of our own dance of death? Well, 
then, we'll just about have time before the 








An Hour of Living 197 

tower-clock calls us home. Do you want 
to hear about it?*' 

**Yes, please/' said Mary. 

*'Well, I had been studying in a great 
university in an old German town all the 
spring and early summer and had come to 
Switzeriand for my vacation. You know 
there are splendid mountains there — " 

'The Alps/' mterrupted Mary. 'The 
highest is Mt. Blanc, 15,730 feet above the 

How Mary does know her geog- 

' 'And beautiful lakes," I continue. ' 'And 
the roads are good for tramping, and the 
hotels cheap. Anyway, the ones the stu- 
dents go to. I had come to Lucerne from 

"Noted for its silks and university where 
women can go," Mary broke in again. 

Bless me, what's the use of going to 
Europe anyway, if you learn everything 
about everywhere in the grades? 

198 Insect Stories 

'*And had gone straight to the Muhlenr 
hriicke^' I go on, — ''that's the old bridge 
all covered with a roof that crosses the 
Reuss only a few rods from where it flows 
out of the lake; the lake of Lucerne, you 

''Of course," said Mary. 

"For it is on the ceiUng of that bridge," 
I persist, "that these curious old Dance of 
Death pictures are painted, and I had 
heard a great deal about them. They show 
how everybody is dancing through life to 
his grave. Not very pleasant pictures, 

"Very unpleasant, I should think," sa)^ 
Mary, positively. "I hope you didn't 
look at them long." 

"No, because, for one reason, it was get- 
ting too dark to see them. The sun had 
set behind the Gutsch — ^that's a pretty hill 
just west of Lucerne — ^and the electric 
lights were already flashing along the lake- 
shore promenade. You know what a won- 

An Hour of Living 1 99 

derf nlly beautiful lake Lucerne is, of course, 

''Yes; it is unsurpassed in Switzerland, 
perhaps in Europe, for magnificence of 
scenery," replies Mary, in level voice. 

I resolve to cut geographic infonna- 
tion out of any further stories I tell Mary. 
Do they commit Baedeker to memory 
nowadays in the schools? 

"Exactly," I manage to reply without 
betraying too much astonishment at this 
revelation of the American educational 

''Well, along the shore of this unsur- 
passed lake at the town of Lucerne there 
is a broad promenade with trees and 
benches and electric Ughts. Behind it 
are the big hotels all in a curving row, and 
after dinner all the people come out and 
stroll about while the band plays. It is a 
fine sight." 

Mary seemed to be getting a little less 
than interested. She squirmed into a new 

200 Insect Stories 

position on the rough rockwork and then, 
looking out over the Uttle pond with its 
hawking dragons whizzing back and forth, 
she asked: ''What about the May-flies, 

I really beheve she knew all about the 
hotels and promenade and the band. 
What wonderful schools! 

''I was coming — I have just come to 
them," I reply with dignity. 

I am a professor and have a certain 
stock supply of dignity to draw on when 
necessary. It isn't often necessary with 

''Well, as I came from the covered Milh- 
lenhrUcke and out on to the lake-shore 
promenade, I saw a little crowd of people 
gathered under and about a briUiant arc- 
Ught hanging in an open place in front of 
the great Schweizerhof Hotel. The light 
seemed to me curiously hazy, and even 
before I got near the crowd I had made a 
guess at what was going on. My guess 

An Hour of Living 20 1 

that it was a May-fly dance of death was 
quite right. Perhaps it would really be 
better to call it a 'dance of Ufe/ for it 
really was sort of a great wedding dance. 
But it was a dance of death, too, for the 
dancers were falling dead or dying out of 
the dizzying whiriy circles by thousands. 
How many hundreds or thousands or mil- 
lions of May-flies there were in the dense 
circling cloud about the light, I have no 
idea. But the air for twenty feet every 
way from the Ught was full of them, and 
the ground for a circle of thirty or forty 
feet underneath was not merely covered 
with the delicate dead creatures, but was 
covered for from one to two inches deep! 

''The crowd of promenaders looked on 
in gaping wonder. Not one seemed to 
know what kind of creature this was, nor 
of course anything about what was really 
going on; that this was all of the few hours 
of feverish Ufe which these May-flies en- 
joyed in their winged state, and that they 

202 Insect Stories 

gave it all up to the business of mating 
and egg-laying; where they came from, 
how they had lived before, why they 
should be here to-night and no other in 
the whole year, all these things which it 
seems to me the onlookers ought to have 
wanted to know, nobody seemed to know, 
nor anybody seemed particularly to care 

''But there are places in the world where 
the people do want to know these things, 
and a great many more, about the May- 
flies. One such place is the Thousand 
Islands in the St. Lawrence River. One 
day I was sailing down this river among 
the Thousand Islands, and the acquaint- 
anceship of a small and imusually dehcate 
kind of May-fly was forced on me by the 
hundreds of them that persisted in alight- 
ing on my clothes, my hat, and my hair. 
They kept walking unsteadily about over 
my face and hands and the open pages of 
the book I was trying to read. And they 

An Hour of Living 203 

kept dying, dying, all around. One would 
light on the outer edge of the page, and 
before it had walked across to the begin- 
ning of a sentence, it would die and its 
body would slide gently down into the 
back of the book and — ^be a book- 

'That's not a very nice way to talk 
about the poor httle dead May-flies," said 
Mary, rather seriously. 

''It isn't, Mary, I know," said I. "But 
weVe got to reheve the gloom of this tale 
someway, don't you think? There is too 
much wholesale death in it to suit my pub- 
lisher! And so I am tr5dng to introduce 
a Uttle jocularity into it, don't you see, 

"People are not supposed to be very 
fimny at funerals," said Mary, severely. 
"Where did the Uttle Thousand Islands 
May-flies come from, and why do the people 
there want to know about them?" 

"Because there are so many May-flies 

204 Insect Stories 

that they axe a great pest. Not by eating 
crops — for there aren't any, I suppose, and 
the May-flies don't eat anything oxiyway — 
' nor by canying malaria, but just by living 
and d5dng all over; ever5nvhere in one's 
summer cottage, down on the river-bank 
where you are watching the sunset, under 
the trees when you are l3dng in your ham- 
mock and tr3dng to read, in your rowboat 
when you are paddling about to visit your 
neighbors on other islands. To be walked 
on and died on by himdreds and hundreds 
of Uttle flies, and all the time, grows to be 
very uncomfortable. So the May-flies or 
river-flies or lake-flies as they are variously 
called are cordially hated by all the Thou- 
sand-Islanders and the St. Lawrence- 
Riverers. And the people want to know 
about where they come from, and how they 
live, and all about them, indeed, so as to 
try to find some way to be rid of 
'*And do you know where they come 


An Hour of Living 205 

from, and how they Uve, and all about 
them/' asks Mary, with a slightly roguish 
manner, I fear. 

''Well, I know something. In the first 
place, after the dance of death, the few 
that don't die fly out over the lake or 
river or pond and drop a lot of Uttle eggs 
into it. Then they die happy — ^if May- 
flies can be happy. Mind you, I don't say 
they can. We are the only animals that 
we know can be happy. And we mostly 
aren't. From the eggs hatch young May- 
flies without wings or long thread-like tails, 
but just little, flat, under-water creatures 
with gills along the sides so they can 
breathe without coming up to the surface. 
Some kinds burrow into the mud at the 
bottom, some kinds make Uttle tubes or 
cases in which to Uve, while others stay 
mostly on the under side of stones. They 
eat little water-plants or broken-up stuff 
they find in the water, although some eat 
other little live animals, even other young 

2o6 Insect Stories 

May-flies. And many of them get eaten 
themselves. They are favorite food of the 
under-water dragons. You remember, don't 
you, Mary, how our dragons of Lagunita 
would snap up the young May-flies in 
Monday Pond? 

''Well, these young May-flies — ^the ones 
that don't get eaten by dragons, stone- 
flies, water-tigers, and other May-flies — 
grow larger slowly, and wing-pads begin 
to grow on their backs. In a year, maybe, 
or two years for some kinds, they are 
ready for their great change. And this 
comes very suddenly. Some late after- 
noon or early evening thousands of young 
May-flies of the same kind, living in the 
same lake or river, swim up to the surface 
of the water, and, after resting there a few 
moments, suddenly spUt their skin along 
the back of the Head and perhaps a little 
way farther along the back, and like a 
flash squirm out of this old skin, spread 
out their gauzy wings and fly away. They 

An Hour of Living 207 

do this so quickly that your eye can hardly 
follow the performance." 

"And then they all fly to the light and 
begin their dance of death/' breaks in 

''No, wait; they are not yet quite ready 
for that. First, they do a very unusual 
thing; something that no other kinds of 
insects have ever been seen to do. This 
is it: They fly away to a plant or bush or 
tree at the water's edge, and there they 
cling for a little while and then cast their 
skin again." 

''The new skin they have just got, with 
the wings and everything?'* asks Mary. 

"Exactly; the new skin. It comes off 
of the wings, off of the long tails and the 
short feelers, and all the rest of the body. 
No other kind of insect but the May-fly 
casts its skin once its wings are outspread. 
But now the May-fly is ready for its dizzy 
dance. And as it has only a few hoius to 
do it in, it usually starts as soon as there 

2o8 Insect Stories 

are any lights to dance about. Think of 
it, to come up from under the water, get 
your wings and be a real May-fly, not just 
a crawling thing on the bottom of a pond, 
and have only one evening to live in! Prob- 
ably to dance the whole evening through is 
about the best thing to do under such cir- 

"Don't any of the poor May-flies Uve for 
more than one evening?'' asks Mary. " It 
does seem a shame to put in so long a time, 
one year, two years for some, getting ready 
to fly and then have only one evening or 
night for fl5ang." 

'*Well, yes, some do, Mary. That is, 
there are many different kinds of May- 
flies; some large ones, some small ones, 
some kinds with four wings, some kinds 
with only two, and the length of the 
flying time is not the same for all these 
kinds. Some live a day, some two, some 
perhaps even three or four. But there are 
several kinds whose flying Ufe is just a few 

An Hour of Living 209 

hours; they are bom, that is, as flying 
creatures, after sundown and they die be- 
fore the next sunrise. The first kind of 
May-fly whose life was ever carefully stud- 
ied — this was nearly two hundred and fifty 
years ago, by a famous naturaUst of Hol- 
land — Olives only five hours after it comes 
from the water. But remember what a 
fine long time they have ,being young! If 
we could be young — ^but there, that's fool- 
ish. Mary, the chimes in the tower-dock 
are sounding. Listen!" 

And we sit perfectly still and hear the 
beautiful Haydn changes on the four bells, 
and then count twelve clear strokes of the 
big clock-bell that come all the way from 
the Quadrangle to us, softened and mel- 
lowed by the distance. We must go home 
to luncheon. And after luncheon I must 
go and lecture — Ugh! How sad! — sad for 
the students and sad for me. But that's 
the way we do it, and until we find the real 
way, we must all continue to suffer together. 


Insect Stories 

"Come, Mary, we're off. How would 
you like to be a May-fly?'* 

'*And have only one day to live when 
I'm all grown up?" 

''You might be saved some troubles, 


.^^• . 


Fuzzy was distinguished from most of 
her brothers and sisters, when we first be- 
came acquainted with her, by the fine 
head of hair which she had. It has been 
several weeks now since we first saw her, 
and there are bald places already — so stren- 
uous has been her life. To be sure that we 
should be able to recognize her even after 
she became worn and bald, like the others, 
we dabbed a spot of white paint on her 
back between the shoulders, and although 
old age and its attendant ills, including 
the loss of much of her hair, have come on 
rapidly, the white spot is still there, and 
we know Fuzzy whenever we see her. 

We were watching what was going on in 

Fuzzy's glass house at the very time that 


214 Insect Stories 

Fuzzy first came out of her six-sided little 
private nursery room. In this she had 
spent all of her three weeks of getting 
hatched from an egg — ^we had seen her 
own very egg laid by the queen mother! 
— then of Uving as a helpless baby bee 
without wings or feet or eyes or feelers, 
and having to be fed bee- jelly and bee- 
bread by the nurses, and then as a slowly 
maturing young bee with legs and wings 
and eyes and feelers all forming and grow- 
ing. Part of this time she had been shut 
up in her room by having the door sealed 
with wax, and she had had no food at all. 
But she had been fed enough at first to 
last her through the days when she had no 

It was the twentieth or twenty-first day 
since she had been bom, that is, had 
hatched from the Uttle, long, white, seed- 
like egg that the queen bee had laid in this 
six-sided waxen room or cell. And Fuzzy 
was all ready to come out into the world. 


In Fuzzy's Glass House 215 

So she tried her strong new trowel-like 
jaws on the thin waxen door of her room, 
and found no trouble at all in biting a hole 
through it large enough to let her \mggle 
out. Which she did right under our very 

Indeed we had planned Fuzzy's glass 
house and had had it built in the way you 
see it in Sekko's picture just so we could 
see plainly and certainly what goes on in 
the house of a bee family. Everybody has 
watched bees outside gather pollen and 
drink nectar and hang in great swarms, 
and do the various other things they do 
in their outdoor Ufe. But not everybody 
has seen what goes on indoors. Many peo- 
ple have seen the inside of a hive every 
now and then. But it is always when the 
bees are greatly excited and often when 
the people are too. And so besides seeing 
that the honey and pollen are in such and 
such combs and cells and the young bees 
in others, some of them in open and some 

2i6 Insect Stories 

in closed cells, and perhaps a few other 
things, one doesn't learn much by peering 
into a hive through a mass of smoke-dazed 
bees while dodging a few extra-lively and 
energetic ones! 

Mary and I had watched bees outside 
and we had looked into lots of hives and, 
of course, had learned a little about indoor 
bee ways. But ever since we got Fuzzy's 
glass-sided house built and a conununity 
of pretty amber-bodied gentle ItaUans liv- 
ing in it, we have never got over being 
sorry for ourselves in the old days and 
sorry for other people all the time. For 
it is so easy and sure, so vastly entertain- 
ing and utterly fascinating to sit quietly 
and comfortably in chairs (one of us on 
each side) for hours together and see all 
the many things that go on in the bee's 
house. The bees are not disturbed in the 
slightest by our having the black cloth 
jacket off of the hive and by the Ught shin- 
ing in through the great window-like sides 


In Fuzzy's Glass House 217 

of the house^ nor by Mary's bright eyes and 
my round spectacles staring ever so hard 
at them. 

We have seen the queen lay her eggs, 
the httle bees hatch out, the nurse bees 
feed them, the foragers come in and dance 
their whirling dervish dance and unload 
their baskets of pollen and sacs of honey, 
the wax-makers hang in heavy festoons and 
make wax, the carrying bees carry the wax 
to the comb-builders, and the comb-builders 
build comb of it, the house-cleaners and the 
ventilators clean house and ventilate, and 
the guards stopping intruders at the door. 
We have heard the piping of the new 
queens in their big thimble-Uke cells, and 
seen them come out, and the terrible ex- 
citement and sometimes awful tragedy 
that follows; we have seen the wild ecstasy 
that comes before swarming out, and the 
swarming itself begin in the house; we 
have looked in at night and found some of 
the bees resting, but others working, and 

21 8 Insect Stories 

slwBys some on guard; we have seen the 
lazy drones loaf all the morning and then 
swing out on their midday flight and come 
back and fall to drinking honey again; we 
have seen a great battle when our gentle 
Italians fought like demons and repulsed 
a fierce attack of foraging black Germans, 
and again a nomad band of yellow-jackets; 
and we have seen the provident workers 
kill the drones and even drag young worker 
bees from their cells when the first cold 
weather comes on. We have seen, in truth, 
a very great deal of all the. wonderful life 
that these wise and versatile little crea- 
tures Uve in their nearly perfect coopera- 
tive community. But above all we have 
followed with special interest and affec- 
tionate pride the education and experi- 
ences of Fuzzy, our most particular friend 
in all the thousands of our gentle Italian 

Fuzzy must have been very glad to get 
out finally from her tight, dark, little cell 

In Fuzzy's Glass House 219 

and into the airy, light hive, with all of her 
sisters and brothers moving around so lively 
and busily. And she must have been es- 
pecially delighted when she went to the 
open door of the house for a peek out — 
for she wasn't allowed really to go out- 
doors for exactly eight days — ^and saw the 
beautiful arcades of the outer Quadrangle 
underneath her and the red-tiled roof on a 
level with her, and then the great eucalyp- 
tus trees and the beautiful live-oaks in the 
field beyond, and far ofiE on the horizon 
the crest of the distant mountains, with 
the giant redwoods standing up against 
the sky-line. You have a glimpse in 
Sekko's pictmre of all this that Fuzzy saw 
that day. That is, if she could see so 
much. I am afraid she couldn't. 

"But what are those other bees doing 
to her," cried Mary in some alarm, as two 
or three workers crowded around Fuzzy 
just as she came from her cell. ''Are they 
trying to bite her?*' 

220 Insect Stories 

*'Not the least in the world," I hasten 
to answer reassuringly. ^*Just look sharp 
and you will see." And Mary did look 
sharp and did see. And she clapped her 
hands with glee. *'Why, they are licking 
her with their long tongues; cleaning her, 
just as a cat does her Uttle kittens," sang 
Mary. Which was exactly so. For a bee 
just out from its nursery cell is a very 
mussed-up looking, and, I expect, rather 
dirty Uttle creature. And it needs clean- 

It was soon after Fuzzy had got cleaned 
and had her hair brushed and had begun 
to wander around in an aimless way in the 
glass-sided house that we got hold of her 
and dabbed the spot of white paint on her 
back. We did it this way. She had 
walked up to just under the roof of the 
house near where you see (in Sekko's pic- 
ture) one of the cork-stoppers sticking up 
like a Uttle chinmey-pot. These corks 
stop up two round holes in the roof which 

In Fuzzy's Glass House 221 

we had made for the express purpose of 
putting things, — other insects, say, — ^into 
the hive to see what the bees would do 
with them, and also to take out a bee when 
we wanted to experiment with it. When 
Fuzzy got up just under one of the holes, 
we took the cork-stopper out gently and 
thus let her come walking slowly up and 
out on top of the roof. Then we caught 
and held her very gently with a pair of 
flat-bladed tweezers, and put the white 
paint on. Then we dropped her back 
through the hole and put the cork in its 

We watched Fuzzy for a long time after 
she came out of her cell that day, and al^ 
though she walked about a great deal, she 
only once ventured near the real door or 
entrance-slit of the hive through which 
the foraging bees were constantly cocwng 
and going. And next day we watched 
many hours and looked often between 
regular watching times, alwa}^ finding 

222 Insect Stories 

Fuzzy in the house. And so for eight 
days. And then she made her first ex- 
cursion outside. 

It was interesting to watch her on this 
eighth day. She would fly a Uttle way 
out, then turn around and come in. Then 
she would fly out farther, turn around, 
hover a Uttle in front of the window, and 
finally come in again. A lot of other 
young bees were doing the same thing. 
They seemed to be getting acquainted 
with things around the door of the house 
so they would know how to find it when 
they came back from a long trip. On the 
ninth day Fuzzy brought in her first loads 
of pollen, two great masses of dull rose- 
red pollen held securely in the pollen- 
baskets on her hind legs. And after that 
she brought many other loads of poUen 
and later sacs of honey. 

But you must not imagine that Fuzzy 
was idle during all those eight days before 
she went outside of the glass house. Not 

In Fuzzy' s Glass House 223 

a bit of it. No bees are idle. But yes, 
the drones. Big, blunt-bodied, hairy, 
blundersome creatures that move slowly 
about over the combs. Not over the 
nursery combs where there is work to be 
done, feeding and caring for the young 
bees. Dear me, no. But over the pantry 
combs. They keep dose to the honey- 
pots and bread-jars. But even they have 
their work. Each day from spring into 
late summer they all, or nearly all, fly out 
about eleven o'clock and circle and trav- 
erse the air for long distances in search 
of queens. Then in the early afternoon 
they come back and fall to sipping honey 

However, to return to Fuzzy and her 
work in those first eight days spent all 
inside the house. One day Mary saw 
Fuzzy stretching her head down into one 
open cell after another in the brood-comb. 
At the bottom of each of these cells was a 
little white grub; a very young bee, of 

224 Insect Stories 

course, only one or two or three or four 
days out from the egg. Several days be- 
fore (it takes only three days for a bee's 
egg to hatch) we had seen the beautiful 
long slender-bodied queen moving slowly 
about over these cells, with her little circle 
of attendants all moving with her with 
their heads alwa}^ facing toward her. 
She would thrust her long hind body down 
into one of these empty cells and stand 
there quietly for two or three minutes. 
Then draw her body out and go on to 
another. And in the cell she had just left 
we could see plainly a tiny seed-like white 
speck stuck to the bottom of the cell. It 
was an egg of course. That is nearly all 
the queen does; she simply goes about all 
through the spring and sunuher laying 
eggs, one at a time, in the nursery or brood- 
ceUs. There is one other thing she does, 
or really several things, at the time of the 
appearance or the birth of a new queen. 
But that will come later. 

In Fuzzy's Glass House 225 

We do seem to have trouble keeping to 
Fuzzy and her Ufe, don't we? Well, when 
Mary saw Fuzzy sticking her head down 
into the cells with the bee-grubs in, she 
knew at once what Fuzzy was doing. For 
it was plain that the yoiuig bees had to 
have something to eat and it was plain, 
too, that they couldn't get it for them- 
selves, for they have no legs, and can't 
even crawl out of their cells. Fuzzy was 
feeding them. She would drink a lot of 
honey from a honey-cell, and eat a lot of 
pollen from a pollen-filled cell, and then 
make in her mouth or front stomach (for 
bees have two stomachs, one in front of 
the other), or in certain glands in her head 
(it doesn't seem to be exactly known 
which), a very rich sort of food called bee- 
jelly. Then she sticks the tip of her long 
tongue into the mouth of the helpless, 
soft-bodied little white bee-grub and pours 
the food into it. After the bee-grub is 
two or three days old, the nurse bees — 

226 Insect Stories 

and that is what Fuzzy could be called 
now — ^feed the babies some honey and 
pollen in addition to this made-up bee- 
jelly, unless the baby is to be a queen bee, 
and then it gets only the rich bee-jelly all 
the time. 

Mary thought Fuzzy should have a neat 
cap and white apron on and drew a clever 
little picture of Fuzzy as a nurse. But we 
are being very careful in this book not to 
fool anybody, and if we should print the 
picture Mary drew, some people would be 
stupid enough to think that we meant 
them to beheve that the nurse bees wear 
uniformsl We say right now that they 
don't, and that you can't tell them from 
the other bees except that most of them 
are the younger or newly issued bees and 
hence haven't lost any of their hair, and so 
look "fuzzier'' than the other bees in the 
hive. For just as with Fuzzy, so with the 
other younger bees; they stay in the hive 
for a week or more and act as nurses. 

In Fuzzy* s Glass House 227 

When they once axe allowed to go out, 
and begin bringhig in pollen and honey, 
however, then the new bees are ready to 
do any of the many other things that have 
to be done inside the hive. One day Mary 
saw Fuzzy standing quite still on the floor 
of the house, with her head pointed away 
from the door and held rather low, while 
her body was tilted up at an angle. She 
just stood there immovable and apparently 
doing nothing at all. Suddenly Mary 
called out: *'Why, what has happened to 
Fuzzy? Her wings are gone!'* I hurried 
to look. And it did seem, for a minute, 
as if Mary were right. Which would have 
been a most surprising and also a most 
terrible thing. But my eyes seemed to 
see a sort of blur or haze just over Fuzzy 's 
back, and I bade Mary look close at this 
blur with her sharp eyes. And Mary 
solved the mystery. 

''She is fanning her wings so fast that 
you can't see them," cried Mary. ''And 

228 Insect Stories 

here is another bee about two inches in 
front of Fuzzy doing the same thing; and 
another," called out Mary, who was greatly 
excited. And it rather did seem as if these 
bees had gone crazy, or were having a very 
strange game, or something. Until I made 
Mary remember what would happen to us 
if not just three or foiu: or five or six of us, 
but many thousand — ^indeed in Fuzzy's 
house there are more than ten thousand — 
were shut up in one house with but a 
single small opening to let fresh air in and 
bad air out. For bees breathe just as we 
do, that is, take fresh air into their bodies 
and give out poisonous air. And then 
Mary understood. Fuzzy and the other 
bees fanning their wings so fast and stead- 
ily were ventilating the house! They were 
making air-currents that would carry the 
poisonous air, laden with carbonic-acid 
gas, out of the door, and then fresh air 
would come in to replace it. 
And another time Fuzzy kept Mary 

In Fuzzy *s Glass House 229 

guessing a little while about what she was 
doing. We had looked all through the 
crowds of nurses and wax-makers and 
comb-builders and house-cleaners without 
finding Fuzzy. And we decided she was 
out on a foraging trip, when Mary caught 
sight of our white-spotted chum loafing 
about in the little glass-covered runway 
that leads from the outer opening into the 
house proper, a sort of little glass-roofed 
entry we have arranged so that we can see 
the foragers as they aUght and come in, and 
the various other things that go on by the 
door. Fuzzy seemed to be loafing, but 
both Mary and I have seen so much of the 
feverish activity and the constant work of 
bees in the hive, and out of it for that mat- 
ter, that we never expect to find a worker 
honey-bee really loafing. They Uterally 
work themselves to death, dying some- 
times at the very door of the hive, with the 
heavy baskets of pollen on their thighs, 
the gathering and carrying of which has 

230 Insect Stories 

been the killing of them. Only the bees 
that over-winter in the hive must have 
some spare moments on their hands. And 
here in California even these are few, for 
a certain amount of foraging goes on prac- 
tically all the year round. 

But Fuzzy did seem to be loafing there 
in the entry. Until Mary's sharp eyes 
discovered her important business. She 
was one of the warders at the gate, a guard 
or sentinel told off, with one or two others, 
to test each arrival at the entrance. As a 
forager would alight and start to walk in 
through the entry. Fuzzy would trot up 
to it and feel it with her sensitive antennae. 
If the newcomer were a member of the 
community, all right; it was passed in. 
But if not, — ^if it were one of the vicious 
black Germans from the other observation 
hive that stands close by, opening out of 
the same window indeed, — ^there would be 
an instant alarm and a quick attack. Two 
or three Italians would pounce on the in- 

In Fuzzy's Glass House 231 

trader, who would either hurry away or, 
if bold enough to fight, would get stung to 
death and pitched unceremoniously out of 
the entry. Or if it were a stray yellow- 
jacket attracted by the alluring odor of 
honey from the hive, one of the same 
things would happen. One day not a 
single German came, but an army, a guer- 
rilla band intent on pillage and murder. 
And then there was a grand battle — ^but 
we must wait a minute for that. 

There were also other enemies of Fuzzy's 
glass house besides German bees and yel- 
low wasps. There is a delicate Uttle 
moth, bee-moth it is called, that sUps into 
the hive at night all noiselessly and with- 
out betraying its presence to any of the 
bees if it can help it. And it la}^, very 
quickly indeed, a lot of tiny round eggs in 
a crack somewhere. It doesn't seem to 
try to get out. At any rate it rarely does 
get out. For it almost always gets found 
out and stung to death and pulled and 

232 Insect Stories 

torn into small pieces by the enraged bees, 
who seem to go almost frantic whenever 
they discover one of these innocent-seem- 
ing little gray-and-brown moths in the 
house. And well they may, for death and 
destruction of the community follow in 
the train of the bee-moth. From the eggs 
hatch little sixteen-f ooted grubs that keep 
well hidden in the cracks, only venturing 
out to feed on the wax of the comb near- 
est them. As they grow they need more 
and more wax, but they protect them- 
selves while getting it by spinning a silken 
web which prevents the bees from getting 
at them. Wherever they go they spin 
silken Unes and Uttle webs until, if several 
bee-moths have managed to lay their eggs 
in the hive and several hundred of their 
voracious wax-eating grubs are spinning 
tough silken lines and webs through all 
the corridors and rooms of the bees' house, 
the household duties get so difficult to 
carry on that the bee community begins 

In Fuzzy 's Glass House 233 

to dwindle; the unfed young die in their 
cells, the indoor workers starve, and the 
breakdown of the whole hive occurs. 
Such a thing happened in this very glass 
house of Fuzzy-s a year before we got ac- 
quainted with Fuzzy herself. And we 
had to get a new family of bees to come 
and live in the house after we had cleaned 
out and washed and sterilized all the 
cracks and comers so that no Uve eggs of 
the terrible bee-moth remained. 

Some days we found Fuzzy at work 
with several companions on more prosaic 
and commonplace things about the house; 
chores they might be called. She had to 
help clean house occasionally. For the 
bees are extremely cleanly housekeepers, 
with a keen eye for all fallen bits of wax, 
or bodies of dead bees, or any kind of dirt 
that might come from the housekeeping of 
so large a family. Every day the hive is 
thoroughly cleaned. If there comes a day 
when it is not, that is a bad sign. There 

2J4 Insect Stories 

is something wrong with the bee commu- 
nity. They haven't enough food, or they 
are getting sick, or something else irregu- 
lar and distressing is happening. 

Also the house has to be ''calked*' occa- 
sionally to keep out draughts and more 
particularly creeping enemies of the hive, 
like bee-moths and bee-lice. The cracks 
are pasted over with propolis, which is 
made from resin or gum brought in from 
certain trees. If something gets into the 
hive that can't be carried out, then the 
bees cover it up with propolis. If they 
find a bee-moth grub in a crack where they 
can't get to it to sting it to death, they 
wall it up, a living prisoner, with propolis. 
Once our bees kept coming in with a curi- 
ous new kind of propolis; a greenish oily- 
looking stuff that stuck to their legs and 
got on their faces and bodies and wouldn't 
dean off. We discovered that they were 
tr3dng to unpaint a near-by house as fast 
as it was being freshly paintedl 

In Fuzzy's Glass House 235 

Fuzzy took her turn at all these odd 
jobs, and though she was beginning to 
show here and there a few places where 
her luxuriant hair was rubbed off a little, 
she was still as lively and willing and in- 
dustrious as ever. Every day we liked 
her more and more and wished, how many 
times, that we could talk with her and tell 
her how much we Uked her, and have her 
tell us how she enjoyed life in the glass 
house. But we could only watch her and 
keep acquainted with all her manifold 
duties and hope that nothing would hap- 
pen to her on her long foraging trips for 
pollen and nectar and propolis. When- 
ever Mary and I came to the glass house 
and couldn't find Fuzzy, we were in a sort 
of fever of excitement and apprehension 
until she came in with her great loads of 
white or yellow or red pollen and went to 
shaking and dancing and whirUng about 
in the extraordinary way that she and her 
mates have while hunting for a suitable 

236 Insect Stories 

pantry cell in which to unload ner pollen- 
baskets. Sometimes she would walk and 
dance and whirl over almost all of the pol- 
len-cells in the house before she would 
finally decide on one. Then she would 
stand over it and pry with the strong 
sharp spines on her middle legs at the 
solidly packed pollen loads on her hind 
legs, trying to loosen them so they would 
fall into the cell. Sometimes she simply 
couldn't get the pollen loads loose, and 
then a companion would help her. And 
after they were loosened and had fallen 
into the cell, she or a companion would ram 
her head down into the cell and pack and 
tamp the soft sticky pollen loads down 
into one even mass. And then how in- 
dustriously she would clean herself, draw- 
ing her antennae through the neat little 
antennae combs on her front legs, and lick- 
ing herself with her long flexible tongue, 
or getting licked by her mates all over. 
Perhaps as she was washing herself after 

In Fuzzy 's Glass House 237 

a hard foraging trip, the stately and grace- 
ful queen of the house would come walk- 
ing slowly by, looking for empty cells in 
which to lay eggs. Then Fuzzy would 
turn around, head toward the queen, and 
form part of the little circle of honor that 
always kept forming and re-forming around 
the queen mother. For the honey-bee 
queen is the mother of all the great family, 
and her relation to the comimunity is 
really the mother relation rather than 
that of a reigning queen. She does not 
order the bees; indeed, the worker bees 
seem to order her. They determine what 
cells she may have to lay eggs in and when 
she shall be superseded by a new queen. 
And when they decide for a new queen, 
they immediately set to work in a very 
interesting way to make one. 

This is the way, as Mary and I saw it 
through the glass sides of Fuzzy's house. 
First, a little group of workers went to 
work tearing down, apparently, some comb 

238 Insect Stories 

already made; that is, they began on the 
lower edge of a brood-comb, in the cells of 
which the old queen had just laid eggs, 
to tear out the partitions between two or 
three of the cells. What became of the eggs 
we couldn't tell, for they are very small, 
and the bees were so crowded together 
that we could see only the general results 
of their activity. Soon it was evident that 
they were building as well as tearing down, 
and a new cell, much larger than the usual 
kind and quite different in shape, began to 
take form. It was Uke a thimble, only 
longer and slenderer, and it had the wide 
end closed and the narrower tapering end 
open. They worked excitedly and rapidly, 
and the new cell steadily grew in length. 
Never was it left alone for a minute. Al- 
ways there were bees coming and going 
and alwa3rs some clustered about. It was 
a constant center of interest and excite- 
Mary and I knew of course that this was 

In Fuzzy 's Glass House 239 

a queen cell^ and that at its base there was 
one of the eggs laid by the old queen in a 
worker cell. This egg hatched^ we knew, 
in a few days, although we could not see 
the little grub, but nurse bees were about 
constantly besides the cell-builders, and all 
the bees that came to the wonderful new 
cell seemed to realize that a very impor- 
tant, if at present rather grubby and 
wholly helpless, personage was in it. The 
cell finally got to be more than an inch 
long, and at the end of five days it was 
capped. A lot of milky bee-jelly had 
been stored in it before capping. After 
this nothing happened for seven days. 

Mary was in the room where the glass 
bee-houses are, and I was in an adjoining 
room, with the door between the two 
open. As I sat peering through my big 
microscope, I seemed to hear a curious un- 
usual sound from the bee-room, a sort of 
piping rather high-pitched but muffled. 
Perhaps it was Mary trying a new song. 

240 Insect Stories 

She has a good assortment of noises. But 
now came another somid; lower-pitched 
but louder than the other; a trumpet-call, 
only of course not as loud as the soldiers' 
trumpets or the ones on the stage when the 
King is about to come in. Then the shrill 
piping again; and again the trumpet an- 
swer. And finally a third and new sound, 
but this last unmistakably a Mary sound. 
And with it came the dear girl herself, with 
her hair standing on— well, no, I cannot 
truthfully say standing on end, but trjdng 
to. And her eyes shooting sparks and her 
mouth open and her hands up. 

'The bees," she gasped, ''the bees are 
doing itf' 

There was no doubt of what "if' meant. 
It was this sounding of pipes and trum- 
pets; these battle calls. 

I leaped to my feet; that is, if an elderly 
professor, who has certain twinges in his 
jomts occasionally, can really leap. Any- 
way I knocked over my chiair — ^and pre- 

In Fuzzy's Glass House 241 

dous near my nMcroscope — ^in getting up, 
and started for the bees. And that shows 
the high degree of my excitement. But 
never before in all the years I had played 
with bees had I heard the trumpet chal- 
lenges of queen bees to the death duel. In- 
side the cell was the new queen shut up in 
darkness, but ready and eager to come out, 
and piping her challenge. And outside, 
brave and fearless, if old and worn/was the 
mother queen trumpeting back her de- 
fiance. It was the spirit of the Amazons. 
And what excitement in the hive! Sim- 
ply frantic were the thousands of workers. 
We watched them racing about wildly; up, 
down, across, back; but mostly clustering 
in the bottom near the queen cell. And 
working industriously at the cell itself, a 
a group of builders, strengthening and 
thickening the cell's walls especially at 
the closed lower end. They seemed to be, 
yes, they were, preventing the new queen 
inside from coming out. She was probably 

242 Insect Stories 

gnawing away with her trowel-like jaws at 
the soft wax from the inside^ while they 
were putting on more wax and keeping her 
a prisoner. 

This went on for two or three da}^. 
The piping and trumpeting kept up inter- 
mittently^ and the thickening of the cell 
constantly. Until the time camel 

And now I am going to disappoint you 
dreadfully. But much less than Mary and 
I were disappointed. We were not there 
when the time came! 

The bees were excited, I have said. 
Mary and I were excited, I have said. The 
bees put in all their time being excited and 
watching the queen cell. We put in tnost 
of ours. But we had to eat and we had to 
sleep. The bees didn't seem to. And so 
we missed the coming out. What a pity! 
How unfair to us! And to you. 

As there is by inunemorial honey-bee 
tradition but one queen in a commimity 
at one time, when new queens issue from 

In Fuzzy 's Glass House 243 

the great cells, something has to happen. 
This may be one of three things: either the 
old and new queens battle to death, and it 
is believed that in such battles only does 
a queen bee ever use her sting, or the 
workers interfere and kill either the old 
or new queen by * 'balling" her (gathering 
in a tight suffocating mass about her), or 
either the old (usually old) or new queen 
leaves the hive with a swarm, and a new 
conmiunity is founded. In Fuzzy's com- 
munity this last thing happened when the 
new queen came out. 

Mary and I were on hand very early the 
morning of the third day after the piping 
and trumpeting had begun. As we jerked 
the black cloth jacket off the hive to see 
how things were, we were astonished at 
the new excitement that was apparent in 
the hive; the bees seemed to be in a per- 
fect frenzy and had suspended all other 
operations except racing about in appar- 
ent utter dementia. We could find neither 

244 Insect Stories 

the old queen nor the new queen in the 
seething mass, nor could we even see 
whether the queen cell was open or still 
sealed up. 

Another curious thing was that the tak- 
ing off of the black cloth jacket seemed to 
affect the bees very strongly. They had 
suddenly become very sensitive to light, 
and whfle, when the jacket was on, they all 
seemed to be making towards the bottom 
and especially towards the exit comer, 
which was the lower comer next to the 
window, as soon as we Ufted off the jacket 
they seemed all to rush up to the top where 
the Ught was strongest. So nearly simul- 
taneous and uniform were the turning and 
rushing up that the whole mass of bees 
seemed to flow Uke some thick mottled 

It was evident that all this was the ex- 
citement and frenzy of swarming. And it 
was also evident that the bees, in their 
great excitement, were finding their way 

In Fuzzy 's Glass House 245 

to the outlet by the light that came 
in through it. And when we removed the 
cloth jacket we confused them because the 
light now came into the hive from both 
sides and was especially strong at the top, 
which was nearest the greatest expanse of 
the outer window. So we finally let the 
jacket stay on, and after a considerable 
time of violent exertion, the bees began to 
issue pell-mell from the door of the house. 
'Hie first comers waited for the others, 
and there was pretty soon formed a great 
mass of excited bees around the doorway, 
and clustered on the stone window-sill 
just outside. Then suddenly the whole 
mass took wing and flew away together. 
And pretty soon all was quiet in the hive. 
Mary and I had been nearly as excited 
as the bees, and we were glad to sit and 
rest a little and get breath again. Soon it 
was luncheon time and we went off to 
Mary's house without looking into the 
hive. We had had just about all the bee 

246 Insect Stories 

observing we needed for one forenoon. 
But almost the first thing that Mary did 
at the table was to straighten up suddenly 
and cry out, *'I wonder if Fuzzy swarmed!'* 
And thereafter that was all we thought of, 
and we made a very hasty meal of it. And 
the moment we got up we hurried back to 
Fuzzy's home and jerked ofi the black 

How quiet everything was inside. And 
how lessened the number of bees. FuUy 
one-third of the conmaunity must have 
gone out. We set to work looking care- 
fully at all the remaining bees. It was 
only a minute or two before Mary clapped 
her hands and cried, ' ^She's here! " ' *She' ' 
was Fuzzy, of course. And, we were both 
very glad that Fuzzy had not deserted the 
glass house — and us. 

Some one came in and said that a *'lot 
of your bees are out here hanging on to 
a bush." But we had seen * 'swarms'' 
before, and were much more interested 

In Fuzzy's Glass House 247 

in finding out what the bees do inside 
after a swarm has gone off than in watch- 
ing the swarm outside. We knew that 
'^scouts'* would fly away soon from the 
great hanging bunch or swarm to look for 
a suitable new home; a hollow tree, a de- 
serted hive, a box in hedge comer, any 
place protected and dark, and when they 
had found one, they would come back, and 
soon the whole swarm would fly off to the 
new house. Once one of our swarms 
started down a chimney of a neighbor's 
house, and immensely surprised the good 
people by coming out, with a great buzzing, 
into the fireplace! And another swarm, 
not finding a suitable indoors place, sim- 
ply began to build new combs hanging 
down from the branch of a cypress-tree in 
the Arboretum, and really made an out- 
door home there, carrying on all the work 
of a bee-community for months. But 
usually a bee-swarm gets found by some 
bee-keeper and put into an empty hive. 

248 Insect Stories 

And that is what happened to our desert- 

After Mary had found Fuzzy, who seemed 
to have lost considerable hair and to have 
got pretty well rubbed in the grand mel^e, 
she continued to peer carefully through the 
glass side of the hive. And I looked care- 
fully too. Of course we wanted to find 
out about the queens. Was there any 
queen left in our hive? We knew there 
must be a queen with the swarm; bees 
don't go off without a queen. So if the 
old and new queen had fought and one had 
been killed, or if the workers had '^balled'* 
the new queen when she came out, there 
could be no queen left in the hive. Of 
course this would not be very serious. 
For there were many eggs and also many 
just-hatched bee-grubs in the brood-combs, 
and the workers cotild easily make a new 
queen. But this wasn't necessary, for we 
soon found a graceful, slender-bodied bee, 
but so fresh and brightly colored and clean 

In Fuzzy's Glass Hoiise 249 

that we knew her to be the new queen and 
not the old. 

Things were perfectly normal and quiet. 
Some foragers were coming and going; 
house-cleaners were busily at work on the 
floor of the house, and nurses were moving 
about over the brood-cells. Not a trace 
of the wild frenzy of the forenoon. What a 
puzzling thing it is to see all the signs of 
tremendous mental excitement in other 
animals and yet not to be able to under- 
stand in the least their real condition! 
They may seem to do things for reasons 
and impulses that lead us to do things, but 
we can't be at all sure that their mental 
or nervous processes, their impulses and 
stimuli, are those which control us. We 
can't possibly put ourselves in their places. 
For we are made differently. And there- 
fore it is plainly foolish to try to interpret 
the behavior of the lower animals on a 
basis of our understanding of our own 
behavior. Insects may see colors we can- 

250 Insect Stories 

not see; may hear sounds we cannot hear; 
smell odors too delicate for us to smell. 
In fact, from our observations and experi- 
ments, we are sure they do all these things. 
The world to them, then, is different from 
the world to us. And their behavior is 
based on their appreciation by their senses 
in their own way of this different 

What determines which queen shall leave 
the hive with the swarm? What deter- 
mines which five thousand out of fifteen 
thousand worker bees, all apparently simi- 
larly stimulated and excited, shall swarm 
out, and which ten thousand shall stay in? 
These are questions too hard for us to an- 
swer. We may take refuge in Maeter- 
linck's poetical conception of the ''spirit 
of the hive." Let us say that the ''spirit 
of the hive'' decides these things. As 
well as what workers shall forage and what 
ones clean house; what bees shall venti- 
late and what make wax and build comb. 

In Fuzzy ^s Glass House 251 

Which is simply to say that we don't know 
what decides all these things. 

The reduction in numbers of the in- 
mates of Fuzzy's house made it much 
easier to follow closely the behavior of 
any one bee, or any special group of bees 
doing some one thing. And both Mary 
and I had long wanted to see as clearly as 
possible just what goes on when the bees 
are making wax and building comb. We 
had often examined, on the bodies of dead 
bees, the four pairs of five-sided wax- 
plates on the under side of the hind body. 
We knew that the wax comes out of skin- 
glands under these plates as a liquid, and 
oozes through the pores of the plates, 
spreading out and hardening in thin sheets 
on the outside of the plates. To produce 
the wax certain workers eat a large amoimt 
of honey, and then mass together in a 
curtain or festoon hanging down from the 
ceiling of the hive or frame. Here they 
increase the temperature of their bodies 

252 Insect Stories 

by some strong internal exertion; and after 
several hours or sometimes two or three 
days, the fine glistening wax-sheets appear 
on the wax-plates. These sheets get 
larger and larger mitil they project beyond 
the edges of the body, when they either 
fall off or are plucked off by other workers. 
It was only two or three days after the 
excitement of the swarming out that 
Mary and I saw one of these curtains or 
hanging festoons of bees making wax, and 
you may be sure we tried to watch it close- 
ly. The bees hung to each other by their 
legs and kept quite still. The curtain hung 
down fully six inches from the ceiling of 
the house, and the first or upper row of 
bees had therefore to sustain the hanging 
weight of all those below. And there were 
certainly several hundred bees in the cur- 
tain. The wax-scales began to appear on 
the second day. And many of them fell 
off and down to the floor of the house. 
Some of the scales were plucked off by 

In Fuzzy's Glass House 253 

other workers and carried in their mouths 
to where a new comb had been started be- 
fore the swarming, and either used by 
themselves to help in the comb-building or 
given to comb-builders already at work. 
Some of the scales were plucked off by 
the wax-making workers themselves, who 
then left the curtain and carried the 
wax-scales to the seat of the comb-build- 
ing operations. Various other workers 
picked up from the floor the fallen scales 
and carried them to the comb-builders. 
These building bees would chew up pieces 
of wax in their mouths, mixing it with 
saliva, and then would press and mould it 
with their Uttle trowel-Uke jaws against 
the comb, so as to build up steadily the 
famiUar six-sided cells. 

Each layer of comb is composed of a 
double tier or layer of these cells, a com- 
mon partition or base serving as bottom 
of each tier. The cells to be used for brood 
are of two sizes, smaller ones for workers 

254 Insect Stories 

to be reared in^ and larger ones for the 
drones. Sometimes the queen lays drone 
eggs in worker cells and then the cells have 
to be built up higher when the drone-grub 
gets too large for its cell. Sometimes, too, 
the worker bees lay eggs — ^this happens 
often in a hive bereft by some accident of 
its queen — ^but these eggs can only hatch 
into drones. Occasionally the workers 
make a mistake and build a queen cell 
around a drone egg. This happened once 
in our hive when there were no queen-laid 
eggs in the brood-cells, and some workers 
had laid eggs. The workers tried to make 
a new queen out of one of these eggs, but 
of course only a worthless drone came out 
of the queen cell. In building comb and 
cells for storing honey, new wax is almost 
exclusively used, but for brood-comb old 
wax and wax mixed with pollen may be 
used. Any comb or part of a comb not 
needed may be torn down and the wax 
used to build new comb or to cap cells with. 

In FuzTy's Glass House 255 

I have said that the nearest neighbors 
of Fuzzy's family are a lot of black Ger- 
man bees, housed in a larger house than 
Fuzzjr's, but one also with glass sides so 
that we can see what goes on inside. The 
door of the house opens through the same 
large window as that of Fuzz5r's house, 
but the foragers coming back from their 
long trips rarely make a mistake in the 
doors, the Germans coming to their door 
and the Italians to theirs. The German 
community is much the larger, there being 
probably thirty or forty thousand workers 
in it, although of course only one queen, 
and only a few hundred drones. Some- 
times the foragers, both Germans and Ital- 
ians, make the mistake of coming to the 
wrong window of the room in which their 
houses are. There are five large windows 
all alike in the west wall of this room, and 
often we find our bees bumping against the 
other windows, especially the ones just 
next to the right one. They can't, of 

256 Insect Stories 

course^ see in through these windows be- 
cause the room is much darker than out- 
side, and so all that the home-coming bees 
can see as they approach the building is 
a row of similar windows separated from 
each other by similar spaces of buffy stone. 
And keen as our bees are in finding their 
way straight to their hives from distant 
flower-fields, this repetition of similar win- 
dows seems to confuse some of them. 

But what I started to tell about is some- 
thing that happened between the neigh- 
boring bee-houses quite different from the 
troubles of the bees finding their way 
home. It was something that gave Mary 
and me the principal excitement that we 
had in all our many da}^ of watching 

Mary and I do not want to say that the 
German bees knew that a third of Fuzzy's 
community had swarmed out and gone 
away. Though how they could help know- 
ing it really seems more a puzzle, for there 

In Fuzzy*s Glass House 257 

was excitement and buzzing and window- 
sill covered and air full of bees enough to 
have told everybody within a rod of what 
was going on in the Italian house. But it 
was true that Fuzzy's community had 
never been troubled at all seriously 
by the belligerent Germans, until after 
it had been much reduced in strength 
by the loss of one-third of its members. 
And then this trouble did come, and came 
soon. So it looks as if the Germans real- 
ized the weakness of their neighbors. But 
perhaps not. 

Just as our other exciting time beginning 
with the piping of the new queen and last- 
ing until the subsequent swarming was a 
discovery of Mary's, so with this new time 
of high excitement; high excitement I 
may say both on our part and the bees'. 
Mary was in the room where the bees are, 
although not at the moment watching 
them, when she heard a sound of violent 
buzzing and humming. It grew quickly 

258 Insect Stories 

louder and shriller, and in a moment both 
commmiities were in an uproar. 

It was a battle, a great battle. On the 
one hand, a struggle by brutal invaders 
intent on sacking the home and pillaging 
the stores of a conamunity given to wa}^ of 
peace and just now reduced in numbers by 
a migration or exodus from home of a large 
group of restless spirits; on the other hand, 
a struggle for home and property and the 
Uves of himdreds of babies by this weak 
and presumably tinoid and unwarlike peo- 
ple. A great band of Germans were at 
the door of Fuzzy's house trying to get 
in! They buzzed and pushed and ran 
their stings in and out of their bodies, 
and crowded the entryway full. But the 
Italian workers and guards had roused 
their community, and pouring out from the 
hive into the narrow entry was a stream 
of angry and brave amber bees, ready to 
fight to the death for their home. 

It was really a terrific struggle. The 

In Fuzzy *s Glass House 259 

Italians^ few in numbers as a community^ 
were yet enough to oppose on fairly equal 
terms the band of Germans, for by no 
means all the Germans had come from 
their house. And the Italians had the 
great advantage of being defenders. They 
had only to keep out the black colunm 
trying to force its way in through the 
narrow door and entry. And they were 
no laggards in battle. They fought with 
perfect courage and great energy. Often 
a small group of Italians would force its 
way out of the door and into the very 
midst of the Germans outside on the win- 
dow-sill. These brave bees were all killed, 
overwhelmed by the superior nmnbers of 
the enemy. But not until they had left 
many d3dng Germans on the stone window- 
ledge were their own paralyzed and dying 
bodies hustled out of the way. 

In many cases the combat took on the 
character of duels between single pairs of 
combatants. A German and an ItaUan 

26o Insect Stories 

would clasp each other with jaws and legs, 
and thus interlocked and whirling over and 
over with violent beating of their wings 
would stab at each other until one or both 
were mortally wounded. All the time the 
frenzied ball would be rolling nearer and 
nearer the outer edge of the treacherous 
sloping window-ledge, until finally over it 
would go, whirUng in the air through the 
thirty feet of fall to the ground below. 
Here the struggle would go on, if the 
fighters were not too stunned by the fall, 
until one or both bees were dead or para- 

It is really too painful to tell of this fight. 
And it was painful to watch. But the end 
came soon. And it was a glorious victory 
for Fuzzy and her companions. The Ger- 
man robbers flew back, what were left of 
them, to their own hive. Mary and I 
tried all through the fight to watch Fuzzy. 
But we saw her only once; she was in the 
entry then and nearly in the front row of 

In Fuzzy's Glass House 261 

fighters. We were glad to see her so 
brave, but fearful for her fate. After the 
fight we looked anxiously through the 
hive for our Uttle white-spotted friend. 
We didn't see her, and were ready to 
mourn her for lost, when Mary happened 
to look out on the window-ledge where a 
few Italians were pushing the remaining 
paralyzed or dead Germans off. There 
was Fuzzy dragging, with much effort, a 
dead, black bee along the rough stone. 

We were very happy, then, and wanted 
more than ever to be able to talk to our 
brave Uttle champion and rejoice with 
her over the splendid victory. But we 
could only do as Fuzzy seemed to be doing. 
That is, take up again the work that lay 
at our hands. My work was to go into 
the lecture-room and talk to a class about 
the absence of intelligence and mind and 
spirit in the lower animals and the de- 
pendence of their behavior upon physics 
and chemistry and mechanicsl Mary's 


Insect Stories 

work was to go out into the poppy-field 
and talk with the Uttle grass people whom 
she never sees or hears^ but knows are 

IBHE Anim^edhoney^^^ 






It was one evening not long after our 
afternoon on Bungalow Hill, where Mary 
had found the mealy-bugs in the runways 
of an ant's nest under a stone, and I had 
told her about the clever Uttle brown ants 
and their aphid cattle in the Illinois corn- 
fields. Ever since that afternoon Mary 
had been asking questions about ants, and 
so this evening I was translating bits to 
her from a new German boob about ants. 
It told about the cruel forays of the hordes 
of the great fighting and robbing Ecitons 
of the Amazons; of the extraordinary 
mutually helpful relations between the 
Aztec ants and the Imbauba tree of South 
America, which result in the ants getting 

a comfortable home and special food from 


266 Insect Stories 

the tree, while the tree gets protection 
through the Aztecs from the leaf-stealing 
Ecodomas. It told of the ants that live 
in the hollow leaves of the Dischidia plants 
in the Philippine Islands, and the way the 
plants get even by sending slender aerial 
rootlets into the leaves to feed on the dead 
bodies of the ants that die in the nests. 
It told of the ants in this country that 
build sheds of wood-pulp over colonies of 
honey-dew insects or ant-cattle on the 
stems of plants; of the fungus-garden 
ants of South America and Mexico and 
Texas that bite off Uttle pieces of green 
leaves and make beds of them in special 
chambers in their undergroimd nests, so 
that certain moulds grow on these leaf- 
beds and provide a special kind of food 
for the ant-gardeners. It told of the ants 
that make slaves of other ants, and get to 
depend so much on these slaves that they 
can't even care for their own children, and 
it told about the honey-ants of the Garden 

Animated Honey-jars 267 

of the Gods that make some of the workers 
in each nest — ^but that's what this story 
is going to tell about, so we had better 

But it was all a veritable fairy-story 
book, as any good book about the ways 
and life of ants must be. And Mary lis- 
tened eagerly. She Uked it. When going- 
home time came she had, however, one 
insistent question to ask. '*What can I 
see?'' she demanded. **What can I see 
right away; to-morrow?'' 

'*Mary you can — see — ^to-morrow," — and 
I think rapidly, — *'you can see — ^to-mor- 
row," — still thinking, — ''ah, yes — ^yes you 
can; you can see them to-morrow." 

"But whaJt can I see to-morrow?" 

"Why the animated honey-jars; didn't 
I say what? No? Well, to-morrow we 
can go to see them; in the Arboretum at 
the foot of the big Monterey pine. I think 
I remember the exact place." 

'But I thought the honey-ants were 


268 Insect Stories 

only in Mexico and New Mexico and Colo- 
rado," says Mary. ''Didn't the book say 

"Yes, that kind; but we have a kind of 
our own here in California. The sort that 
McCook found in the Garden of the Gods 
and studied all that summer twenty-five 
years ago is foimd only there and in the 
Southwest, but there are two or three 
other kinds of honey-ants known, and one 
of them that has never been told about in 
the books at all is right here on the cam- 
pus. There are several of the nests here, 
or were a few years ago, and we'll go to- 
morrow and try to find one. It will be 
fine, won't it?" 

'Tine," said Mary. "Good-night." 
And so the next morning we went. The 
Arboretum is a place where once were 
planted almost all the kinds of trees that 
grow wild in CaUfomia, besides many other 
kinds from Australia and Japan and New 
Zealand and Peru and Chili and several of 




^ •■ rni NIDATIONS. 

Animated Honey-jars 269 

the other Pacific Ocean countries. But 
the big, swift-growing eucalyptuses and 
Monterey pines have crowded out many of 
the other more tender and less-pushing 
kinds. However, it is still a wonderful 
place of trees. Many birds Uve there; 
swift troops of the beautiful plumed Cali- 
fornia quails; crimson-throated Anna hum- 
ming-birds, crestless California jays, fidget- 
ing finches and juncos, spunky sparrows 
and wrens, chattering chickadees and tit- 
mice, fierce Uttle fly-catchers and kinglets. 
There are winding paths and Uttle-used 
roads in it, and altogether it is a fine place 
to go when one has only a short hour for 
walking and seeing things. 

And so Mary and I came with a garden- 
trowel and a glass fruit- jar to the foot of 
the big Monterey pine near the toyon. A 
toyon, if you are an Easterner and need 
telling, is the tree that bears the red ber- 
ries for Christmas for us Pacific-Coasters. 
It is our holly, as the Ceanothus is our 

270 Insect Stories 

Ulac, and the poison*oak is our autumn* 
red sumac. 

At the foot of the Monterey pine we be- 
gan our search for the honey-ants. We 
didn't, of course, expect to find them walk- 
ing about with their swollen bodies full of 
amber honey, for the honey-bearers are 
supposed not to walk aroimd, but to stay 
inside the nest, in a special chamber made 
for them. We looked rather for the honey- 
gatherers, the worker foragers. 

Pretty soon Mary found a swift little 
black ant. But, no, it was an ApfuBno- 
gaster that — 

"A feeno-gasser?'* asks Mary. ''What 
is that?'' 

"That has the curious, flat-bodied dwarf 
crickets living with it in its nests," I con- 
tinue. '^Myrmecophila, the ant-lover, they 
call this little cricket which has lost its 
wings and its voice and is altogether an 
insignificant and meek little guest unbidden 
but tolerated at the ant's table. And here. 

Animated Honey-jars 271 

here is a big black-and-brown carpenter- 
ant going home with a seed in its mouth." 

''Where is its home? Does it build a 
house out of wood? Let's follow it/' 
Mary bursts in. 

''No, we are after honey-ants, remember. 
We mustn't let ourselves get distracted by 
all these others. The carpenter-ants do 
make themselves a home of wood, but 
they do it by gnawing out galleries and 
chambers in a dead tree tnmk or stump 
or in a neglected timber. That isn't 
exactly building, but it is at least a kind 
of carpentering, a sort of — " 

"Is this one?" interrupts Mary, poking 
violently at an angry red-headed Uttle 
slave-maker ant that seemed anxious to 
get off to its home where its slaves, which 
are other ants captured when still yoimg 
and unacquainted with their rightful fam- 
ily, do all the work of food-getting and 
cleaning and taking care of the babies. 

And then I recognized a PrenolepiSy that 

2JZ Insect Stories 

is, — and I do beg pardon, — one of our cam- 
pus honey-ants. Of course I suppose they 
are elsewhere in California and perhaps 
north in Oregon and east in Nevada and 
Arizona, but I have only seen them here, 
and hence always think of them as belong- 
ing exclusively with us campus-dwellers. 
It was a little brown ant with black hind 
body and paler under side. It isn't par- 
ticularly impressive, for it is only about 
one-eighth of an inch long, and its colors 
and appearance are much Uke those of 
many other ants, but there is something 
about it sufficiently distinctive to let one 
recognize it at sight. 

The thing to do now, of course, was to 
find its nest. There are various ways of 
finding the nest of any particular ant you 
may happen to discover running about 
loose over the country, but not one of them 
am I going to tell you. They are good 
things to work out for yourself. Mary and 
I know how, and so we had Uttle trouble 

Animated Honey-jars 273 

and didn't have to spend much time in 
finding the home of our wandering Preno- 
lepis, — ^there it is again^ — campus honey- 
ant I mean. And that is a fair name for 
it, for McCook who found the famous 
honey-ants of the Garden of the Gods in 
Colorado named his kind Myrmecocystus 
meUiger hortusdeorum, which is straight 
Latin and Greek for the "honey-pot ant 
of the Garden of the Gods." But what a 
name for a Uttle ant one-eighth of an inch 
long to carry! 

It would take too many words and I am 
afraid would be too trivial a story for even 
this very happy-go-lucky Uttle book to 
tell how Mary and I dug and dug in the 
ground near the foot of the tree, and how 
carefully we worked with our garden- 
trowel and mostly with our fingers! And 
how we traced out runway after runway 
and opened chamber after chamber of the 
honey-ant's nest until we foimd the honey- 
pantry with its strange jars of sweetness 

274 Insect Stories 

all hanging from the roof. The picture 
that Mary carefully sketched in, and that 
Sekko Shimada painted for us with his 
dainty Japanese brushes and little saucers 
of costly Japanese ink, shows very well 
part of the nest, that part that had one of 
the honey-rooms in. You won't see the 
base of the Monterey pine-tree in the pic- 
ture, nor any of the other trees that were 
all around, because Mary didn't put them 
into her sketch, and we forgot to tell Sekko 
where the nest was. But the galleries and 
honey-chamber and the ants themselves 
are all right in Sekko's picture. 

In some of the galleries we had found 
ants with considerably swollen hind bodies, 
which evidently had the stomach or crop 
well filled with some nearly transparent, 
pale yellowish-brown Uquid. But it was 
not until we discovered the honey-pantry 
that we saw the extraordinary fully laden 
real live honey-jars, which were, of course, 
nothing but some of the worker ants hang- 

Animated Honey-jars 275 

ing by their feet from the roof of the cham- 
ber, with their hind bodies enormously 
swollen by the great quantity of honey 
held in the crop. In opening the cham- 
ber we dislodged two or three of the honey- 
jars that fell to the floor and could hardly 
turn over or walk at all, so helpless were 
they. And one of them broke and the 
honey came out in a big drop, and I tasted 
it on the tip of my little finger, and it was 
sweet. So it was surely honey. And you 
should have seen how eagerly two or three 
other workers in the chamber, without 
swollen bodies, lapped up this sweet drop 
that came out of the body of the poor, 
broken honey-jar! 

As we had broken into the home of the 
honey-ants and had pretty nearly wrecked 
it, it seemed only fair that we should try 
to help our honey-ants begin another home 
under as kindly conditions as possible. So 
we put as many of them as we could find, 
foraging workers, honey-holders, and the 

2/6 Insect Stories 

queen whom we found in a special queen 
room, into our glass fruit-jar with some 
soil, and brought them all home and put 
them into a formicary. Which is simply 
an artificial ants' nest, or house already 
arranged for ants to live in. It has a place 
to hold food and has dark rooms and sunny 
rooms, cool rooms and warm ones, all nicely 
fixed with runways connecting them, and 
food is put in as often as necessary and 
always in one place, which the ants learn 
to know very soon, indeed. This makes 
housekeeping easy and pleasant for the 
ants, and lets us see a great deal of how it 
is carried on, because there are glass sides 
and top to the house, so that by Ufting lit- 
tle pieces of black cardboard or cloth we 
can look in and watch the ants at work. 

The honey-ants' colony seemed to live 
very contentedly in our formicary, for they 
went ahead with all their usual business of 
la5dng eggs and rearing babies and feeding 
them, and finding honey and getting the 



Animated Honey-jars 277 

honey- jaxs loaded with it and hung by 
their feet from the ceiUng of their room, 
and all the other things that go on regu- 
larly in a honey-ant's house. 

The principal thing we wanted to do, 
however, was to learn how the honey-jars 
got filled and also how they got emptied 
again! And this was not at all hard to 
find out, although we never found out cer- 
tainly where the worker foragers got their 
honey in the Arborettmi. McCook found 
that his foragers in the Garden of the Gods 
gathered a sweet honey-dew liquid that 
oozed out in little drops from certain live 
oak-galls near the nest. But our ants 
seemed to be getting their honey from some- 
where up in the pine-tree, for there was a 
constant stream of them going up and 
down the trunk. Besides, many of those 
coming down had swollen bodies partially 
filled with honey, while none of those go- 
ing up did. Now the only honey supply 
in the pine-tree that we know is the honey- 

278 Insect Stories 

dew given off liberally by a brown roundish 
scale insect that hves on the pine-needles. 
So we think our honey-ants gathered their 
honey material from these honey-dew 
scale insects. But we have seen them 
collect honey stuff from various aphids and 
also from the growing twigs of live-oak 
trees. They seem to be willing to take 
it wherever they can find it. 

Of course we had to provide a supply of 
honey for our indoor colony, and this sup- 
ply was eagerly and constantly visited by 
the foraging workers. They would lap it 
up and then go into the nest and feed the 
live honey-pots! That is, a well-fed for- 
ager would go into the honey-pantry and 
force the honey out from its own crop 
through its mouth into the mouth of one 
of the Uve honey- jars. Undoubtedly the 
honey-bee honey we furnished them was 
considerably changed while in the body of 
the foraging worker. 

But all the time the nurses and workers 

Animated Honey-jars 279 

inside the nest needed honey for food. And 
this they got by going to the honey-pantry, 
and by some gentle means inducing the 
live honey-pots to give up some of their 
store. Mouth to mouth the feeder and 
the filled honey-ant would stand or cling 
for some minutes. And there was no 
doubt of what was going on. The honey- 
pot was this time forcing honey out of its 
own over-filled crop and into the mouth 
of the nurse. 

Thus all the time there went on a con- 
stant emptying and replenishing of the 
strange honey-pots. What an extraor- 
dinary kind of Ufe! Nothing to do but to 
drink and disgorge honey; to cUng mo- 
tionless to the ceiling of a Uttle room, or 
lie helpless, or feebly dragging about on 
the floor and be pumped into and pumped 
out of! To have one's body swollen to 
several times its natural size by an over- 
loaded stomach, and to be likely to burst 
from a fall or deep scratch! 

28o Insect Stories 

But there is simply no telling before- 
hand what remarkable condition of things 
you may find in an ant's nest. There is 
an ardent naturalist student of ants in the 
great museum of natural history in New 
York, who keeps pubUshing short ac- 
counts of the new things he is all the time 
discovering about the habits and life of 
ants. And if I didn't know him to be not 
only a perfectly truthful man but a trained 
and rigorously careful observer and scien- 
tific scholar, I should simply put his 
stories aside as preposterous. But on the 
contrary, as I do know them to be true, I 
am more and more coming to be able to 
beUeve anything anybody says or guesses 
about ants! Which is, of coiurse, not a 
good attitude for a professor! 

Dr. Wheeler, this New York student of 
ants, is putting a great deal of what he 
knows about ants into a large book which, 
when published, will make a whole shelf- 
ful of green, red, blue, and yellow fairy 

Animated Honey-jars 281 

books hide their faded colors in shame. 
For tellers of fairy tales cannot even think 
of things as extraordinary and strange as 
the things that ants actually do! 

But what a prosaic lecture this story of 
the animated honey-jars has come to be. 
Mary is long ago asleep, curled up in a big 
leather arm-chair in my study, and I sit 
here in the falling dusk, straining my be- 
spectacled eyes to write what will, I am 
afraid, only put other little girls to sleep. 
Which is not at all my idea in writing this 
book. It is, indeed, just the opposite. It 
is to make anybody who reads it open his 
eyes. But, ^'ScfUuss,'^ as my old Leipzig 
professor used to say at the end of his long 
dreary lecture. So Schluss it is! 

. \ 


There are eight different kinds of oak- 
trees growing on or near the campus 
where Mary and I live. And each kind of 
oak-tree has several kinds of houses pecu- 
liar and special to it. Which makes al- 
together a great many styles and sizes of 
houses of oak for Mary and me to get 
acquainted with. For we have made up 
our minds to know them all, and some- 
thing about the creatures that live in 
them. This is a large undertaking, we are 
finding, but an intensely interesting and 
delightful one. Some of it is quite scien- 
tific, too, which makes us proud and ser- 
ious. We are keeping notes, as we did 
about Argiope and the way it handled flies 
and bees, and some day we shall print 


286 Insect Stories 

these notes in the proceedings of a learned 
society^ and make a real sensation in the 
scientific world. Anyway we think we 
shall. Just now, however, we shall only 
tell the very simplest things about these 
houses of oak and their inhabitants, for 
we suppose you wouldn't be interested in 
the harder things; perhaps, indeed, not 
even imderstand them all. 

Although, as I have already said, there 
are eight different kinds of oak-trees growing 
in our valley and mountains, two of these 
kinds, the live-oaks and the white oaks, 
are by far the most common and muner- 
ous. As one stands upon the mountain 
tops or foothills and looks down and over 
the broad valley, all still and drowsy under 
the warm afternoon sun, it seems as if you 
were looking at a single great orchard with 
the trees in it in close-set regular lines and 
plots in some places, and irregularly scat- 
tered and farther apart in other places. 
Where they are regular and close together. 

Houses of Oak 287 

they really axe orchard trees; where they 
are irregular and widely spaced and larger, 
they are the beautiful live-oaks and white 
oaks that grow in all the grain-fields and 
meadows and pastures of our valley. The 
live-oaks have small leaves, dark green 
and close together, and the head of the tree 
is dense and like a great ball; the white 
oaks have larger, less thickly set leaves of 
Ughter green, and the branches are more 
irregular and straying and they often send 
down delicate pendent Unes that swing 
and dance in the wind Uke long tassels. 
The live-oaks have leaves on all the year 
through; the white oaks lose theirs in 

In both of these kinds of trees the oak 
houses can be found, but especially in the 
white oaks. And there are, as I have 
said, many kinds of the hous^es. Mary 
and I have fotmd Uttle round ones, big 
bean-shaped ones, Uttle star-shaped ones, 
slender cornucopia-like ones, green, whit- 

288 Insect Stories 

ish, red-striped, pink-spotted, smooth, 
hairy, rough-coated, spiny ones, and still 
other kinds. Some of the houses are on 
the leaves, some on the leaf-stems, some on 
the little twigs, and some on the branches. 
Some of the houses stay in the trees all 
through the year, but most of them drop 
off in the autimm, especially in the white- 
oak trees, just as the leaves do. 

We go out and hunt for the houses in 
the trees and among the fallen leaves on 
the ground under the trees. They are 
sometimes, especially the Uttle ones, hard 
to find, for their colors and shapes often 
seem to fit in with their surroundings, so 
as to make them very hard to see. But 
others, like the big ball-shaped white ones 
shown in Sekko Shimada's picture, are, on 
the contrary, very conspicuous. If the 
houses are on the ground, or even if they 
are still on the tree and we think they are 
all through being made — ^and there are 
various ways of knowing about this, but 

Houses of Oak 289 

the most important is the time of year— 
Mary and I bring them home with us and 
put them in httle bags of fine cloth netting, 
tarlatan usually, the houses that are alike 
and from one place being put together in 
a single bag. Then we tie a string around 
the mouth of the bag and wait for the 
dwellers in the houses to come out. 

For one has to be careful about trying 
to see the oak-house dwellers before they 
are ready to come out. It is much better 
to await their own sweet pleasure in this 
matter, than to go digging or pr5dng in, 
for the houses have no doors or windows 
until just at the time the dwellers come 
out! In fact they make the doors as they 
come out. You will see, after we tell you 
a little more, that this arrangement is a 
very good one. Even as it is, various un- 
welcome intruders find their way into the 
house much to the annoyance and even to 
the fatal disaster of the inmates. 

So we wait until the dwellers are ready 

290 Insect Stories 

to. come out. Or if occasionally we really 
think we ought to see how things are go- 
ing on inside, we chop a house or two open 
and see what we can see. What this is, 
usually, is a house's insides very unusual 
and curious, for the rooms occupy so little 
space and the walls so much. Sometimes 
there is only one room and that right in 
the middle, all the rest of the house being 
just a dense or sometimes loose and spongy 
wall all around it. In the single room, or 
in each of the several rooms, we find a 
curled-up httle shining white grub with- 
out legs, and of course without wings, and 
with a head that doesn't seem much like 
a head, for it has no eyes nor feelers, and 
most of the time is drawn back into the 
body of the grub so that it is hardly visi- 
ble at all. But there is a mouth on this 
silly sort of head, and the grub eats. What 
it eats is part of its own house! 

The houses, or galls, as the entomologists 
call them, are of course not actually made 

Houses of Oak 291 

by the insects that live in them; they are 
made by the oak-tree on which they are. 
But they are only made at the demand, 
so to speak, of the insects. That is, the 
oak-galls are formed only where a gall- 
insect has pricked a Uve leaf or stem or 
twig with her sharp, sting-Uke little egg- 
layer, and has left an egg in the plant-tis- 
sue. Nor does the gall begin to form even 
yet. It begins only after the young gall- 
insect is hatched from the egg, or at least 
begins to develop inside the egg. Then 
the gall grows rapidly. The tree sends an 
extra supply of sap to this spot, and the 
plant-cells multiply, and the house begins 
to form around the Uttle white grub. Now 
this house or gall not only encloses and 
protects the insect, but it provides it with 
food in the form of plant-sap and a special 
mass or layer of soft nutritious plant-tis- 
sue l5dng right around the grub. So the 
gall-insect not only lives in the house, but 
eats it! 

292 Insect Stories 

After it is full-grown, the grub stops eat- 
ing. Then the house, or gall, stops grow- 
ing and becomes harder and changes from 
greenish to some other color, and, in most 
cases, pretty soon drops off the tree to the 
ground. The gall-insect is still alive in- 
side, of course, but is perfectly quiet and 
is simply waiting. » It is at this time in 
the Ufe of the houses and their dwellers 
that Mary and I collect them and bring 
them home and put them into little tar- 
latan bags. This is autumn, the time that 
the trees in the East turn yellow and red, 
but in CaUfomia do not. They just stay 
green, but get quiet or turn brown or sim- 
ply drop off their leaves and stand bare. 

All through the autumn and winter the 
gall-insects do nothing inside their houses. 
Indeed we can take them out and keep 
them in little vials, and most of them get 
on very well. They require no food; they 
simply want to be let alone. But in early 
spring — and spring in California comes 

Houses of Oak 293 

very early; indeed, it comes in winter! — 
they wake up and in a short time change 
into stout-bodied Uttle real insect-looking 
insects with six legs, four wings, a round 
head with feelers and eyes and whatever 
else an insect's head ought to have. Es- 
pecially sharp jaws. For each gall-dweller 
has now to get out of its house. And as 
there are no doors, it has to make them. 
Which it does with its sharp jaws, gnaw- 
ing a tunnel from the center of the house 
right out through the thick hard wall to 
the outside. 

When it gets out it flies around in lively 
manner for a few days, finally settling on 
a sprouting oak-leaf or bud or green stem 
or twig, and laying a few eggs, or several, 
or many, according to the habits of its 
special kind, and then it dies. And when 
the tiny white grubs hatch from these eggs, 
new houses begin to be made around them 
by the oak-trees, and a new generation of 
gall-insects is fairly started. 

294 Insect Stories 

But not all the dwellers in the houses of 
oak have such a smooth and easy Ufe as I 
have described. There will often come 
out of one of the galls that Mary and I 
have in a tarlatan bag, not one kind of in- 
sect, but several kinds, and only one of 
these kinds is the regular proper house- 
owner. The others are interlopers. Some 
of them may be only uninvited but not 
especially harmful guests, just other kinds 
of gall-insects that seem to have given up 
the habit — ^if they ever had it — of starting 
houses of their own, and have adopted the 
cuckoo-like way of laying their eggs in the 
just-starting houses of other gall-insects. 
The grubs, or young of these messmate 
gall-insects, Uve in, and feed on, the same 
house, with the rightful dwellers, but as the 
oak-tree has plenty of sap and the gall- 
house is usually large enough for all, there 
is generally no harm done by these cuckoo 

But some of the intruding insects that 

Houses of Oak 295 

come from our galls axe not so harmless. 
They are the ones called parasites. They 
live in the houses not for the sake of the 
protection or the food furnished by the 
house, but in order to eat the actual 
dwellers in the house. Often and often 
not a single real gall-insect would come 
out in the spring from many of our col- 
lected houses, but only a little swarm, or 
sometimes just two or three or even one, 
of these insect-devouring parasites that 
has eaten up the rightful owners of the 

There axe other enemies, too, of the oak- 
house dwellers. Birds Uke to peck into the 
soft, growing galls to get at the tidbits in- 
side. And predaceous beetles and other 
strong- jawed insects with a fondness for 
helpless, soft-bodied, juicy grubs would 
like to gnaw into the houses. So the 
houses have to protect the dwellers inside, 
and they do this in various ways. Some 
are extra thick-walled or have an extra- 

296 Insect Stories 

hard outer shell. Some axe covered with 
spines or hairs. Some have a viscous gluey 
excretion^ some have a very bad odor, 
some are so colored and patterned that 
they are very hard to distinguish from the 
foliage or from the fallen leaves around 
them, and, finally, some secrete a sweet- 
ish honey-dew which attracts ants, and 
these fierce visitors, who are content with 
the honey-dew, probably drive away many 
visiting parasites and predaceous insects. 

But it would be tiresome to go on and 
tell you all the things we are finding out 
about the houses of oak and the insects 
that Uve in them. Of how we have got 
them to lay their eggs right before our 
eyes on little fresh branches that we bring 
into the house. Of how the houses begin 
to form under the bark or leaf surface as 
mere little swellings and then break through 
and get larger and larger and take on their 
characteristic form and color. Of how we 
have to study the gall-dwellers with a mi- 

Houses of Oak 297 

croscope, for the largest that we have found 
yet — ^the ones that make the big galls 
shown in Sekko's picture — ^are only one- 
fifth of an inch long, while others are not 
more than one-twenty-fifth of an inch long. 
Of how some kinds have to lay their eggs 
always on the same kind of oak-tree,, while 
others prick different kinds of oaks. 

Nor can we tell of the questions and 
problems that we are trying to answer. 
As why it is that two galls made by two 
different kinds of gall-insects, but in the 
same parts, as leaves, of the same oak- 
tree, should be so different, or why the 
galls in different kinds of trees, though 
made by the same kind of insect, should 
be alike, as they usually are. And why 
with some kinds of the house-dwellers the 
children grow up to be different from the 
mother, but their own children grow up 
like the grandmother, and different from 
themselves. Or how they know not to lay 
too many eggs in one place, the ones mak- 

298 Insect Stories 

ing little galls often laying several to many 
eggs in one leaf, but the ones making large 
galls being careful to lay only one egg 
in a leaf. And a lot of other things that 
they do that need explaining. 

Perhaps we shall find out the reason for 
some of these things. But naturalists have 
known the houses of oak-insects for two 
hundred years now, and if they haven't 
found the answers to some of these ques- 
tions yet, perhaps no one ever can. But 
that isn't a good way to look at Nature. 
And so Mary and I don't. We think we 
may make a great discovery any day. We 
are Uke prospectors in the gold mountains. 
We never give up; we always keep prying 
and peering., The worst of it is, I suppose 
you think, that we always keep talking 
too. Well, this is the last sentence of this 
dose of talking; or next to last. For this 

is the 


of this rambling, talky, little book. 



In the hope of doing something toward furnishing a series where 
the nature-lover can surely find a readable book of high authority, 
the publishers of the American Science Series have begun the publi- 
cation of the American Nature Series. It is the intention that in its 
own way, the new .series shall stand on a par with its f&mous prede- 

The primary object of the new series is to answer questions 
which the contemplation of Nature is constantly arousing in the 
mind of the unscientific intelligent person. But a collateral otqect 
will be to give some intelligent notion of the "causes of things." 

While the cooperation of foreign scholars will not be declined, 
the books will be under the guarantee of American experts , and gen- 
erally from the American point of view; and where material crowds 
space, preference will be given to American facts over others of not 
more than equal interest. 

The series will be in six divisions : 


This division will consist of two sections. 

Section A. A large popular Natural Hutory in several vol- 
umes, with the topics treated in due proportion, by authors of un- 
questioned authority. 8vo« 7^x1 Oi in. 

The books so far publisht in this section are: 
FISHES, by David Starr Jordak, President of the Leland Stanford 

Junior University. $6.00 net; carriage extra. 
AMERICAN INSECTS, by Yernok L. Kcixogo, Professor in the 

Leland Stanford Junior University. |5.00 net; carriage extra. 

Arranged for are : 
SEEDLESS PLANTS, by Gcoroe T. Moore, Head of Department 

of Botany, Marine Biological Laboratory, assisted by other spe- 

RiAM, Chief of the United States Biological Survey. 
BIRDS OF THE WORLD A popular account by Frank H. 

Kkowltok, M.S., Ph.D., Member American Ornithologists 

Union, President Biological Society of Washington, etc., etc.. 


with Chapter on Anatomy of Birds by Frsde&ic A. Lucas. 
Chief Curator Brooklyn Museum of Arts and Sciences, and edited 
by Robert Ridowat, Curator of Birds, U. S. National Museum. 

REPTILES AND BATRACHIANS, by Leoithard SrEJinE&n, Cuiar- 
tor of Reptiles, U. S* National Museum. 

Section B. A Shorter Natural History, mainly by the Authors 
of Section A, preserying its popular character, its proportional treat- 
ment, and its authority so far as that can be preserved without its 
fullness. Sise not yet determined. 


1. library Series, very full descriptions. 8yo. TixlOj in. 

Already publisht : 
NORTH AMERICAN TREES» by N. L. Briitoh, Director of the 

New York Botanical Garden. $7.00 net; carriage extra. 
FERNS, by Campbeix E. Waters, of Johns Hopkins Uniyersity. 

8yo, pp. zi+369. $3.00 net; by mail, |3.30. 

2. Pocket Series, Identification Books—" How to Know/* brief and 

in portable shape. 


These books will treat of the relation of facts to causes and 
effects — of heredity and the relations of organism to environmeut. 
8vo. 68x83 in. 

Already publisht: 

Curator of Birds in the New York Zoological Park. Sto, 496 pp. 
$3.50 net; by mail, $3.80. 
Arranged for t 

Keixooo, Professor*in the Leland Stanford Junior University. 

the U. S. Bureau of Fisheries. 



How to propsgate, derelop, care for and depict the plants and 
animals. The yolumes in this group coyer such a range of sut^ects 
that it is impracticable to make them of uniform siae. 

Already publisht : 
NATURE AND HEALTH, by Edward Cumns, Professor Emeritiis 

in the College of Physicians and Surgeons. ISmo. $1.95 net; 

by mail, $1.37. 

Arranged fort 
PHOTOGRAPHING NATURE, by E. R. Saitborit, Photographer 

of the New York Zoological Park. 
THE SHELLFISH INDUSTRIES, by James L. Kkixooo, Professor 

in Williams CoUege. 
CHEMISTRY OF DAILY LIFE, by Henrt P. Talsot, Professor 

of Chemistry in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 
DOMESTIC ANIMALS, by Wiluam H. Brewer, Professor Emeri- 
tus in Yale University. 

B. E. Fkrnow, Professor of Forestry in the UniTersity of 



This diTision will include a wide range of writings not rigidly 
systematic or formal, but written only by authorities of standing. 
Large 19mo. 5^x81 in. 

FISH STORIES, by Charles F. Holder and David Starr Jordav. 
HORSE TALK, By William H. Brewer. 
BIRD NOTES, by C. W. Beebe. 
INSECT STORIES, by Verkok L. Kellooo. 


A Series of rolumes by President Jordak, of Stanford Univer- 
sity, and Professors Brooks of Johns Hopkins, Lull of Yale, Thom- 
soK of Aberdeen, Przisram of Austria, zur Strassen of Gennany, 
and others. Edited by Professor Kbllooo of Leland Stanford. ISmo. 

6^x74 in. 


Juirs. *0S. 



Young Folks' Cyclopedias 

LmU Ats0ciaU Editor cftke Amtriean CydoptuUa 
Bound in substantial red buckram. Each volume complete 
in itself and sold^separately. i2mo, $3.00 per volume, retail 


New, Enlarged Edition, 850 pp. Profusely Illustrated 

"A book which will be of permanent value to any boy or sirl to 
whom it may be ffiren, and which fills a place in the juvenile Ubraiy, 
never, so far as I icnow, supplied before.**— ^ikmm CooUdgt. 


New, Up4o-Date Edition, 985 pp. Over 375 Illustrations 
** We know copies of the work to which their young owners turn 
Instantly for information upon every theme about which they have 
questions to ask. More than this, we know that some of these copies 
•re read daily, as well as consulted; that their owners turn the leaves 
as they miflfht those of a fairy book, reading intently articles of which 
they had not thought before seeing them, and treaungthe book simply 
as one capable of furnishing the rarest entertainment in ezhaustless 
quantities. *'—JV: K Evening Post. 


604 pp. 970 Illustrations 

*'Few poems, pIays,'novels, pictures, statues, or fictitious characters 
that children—or most of their parents— of our day are likely to inquire 
about will be missed here. Mr. Champlin's judgment seems unusually 
sound.**— rA# Nittion, 


By John D. Chamflin and Aathur Bostwick 
Revised Edition, 784 pp. 900 Illustrations 
** Should form a part of every juvenile library, whether public or 


By John D. Chamflin, assisted by Frederick A. Lucas 
735 pp. Over 800 Illustrations 

** Here, in compact and attractive form, is valuable and reliable !■• 
formation on every phase of natural history, on every item of interest 
to the student. Invaluable to the teacher and school, and should be on 
every teacher's desk for ready reference, and the children should be 
taugnt to go to this volume for information useful and interesting.'*— 
Journal of Education. 






lUattrmted from photognphs, with map, words aod 

music of Mexican national sonsrs, and index, large 

lamo, 400 pp., $1.75 net, by mail $1.90 

A story of Mexican travel for 
children. Roy and Ray Stevens, 
twins " going on twelve," with 
their parents, spend a summer 
in Mexico. The book tells from 
the children's standpoint what 
they see and do, and what they 
learn about Mexico. The^ visit 
eight Mexican cities, going as 
far south as Oaxaca. They meet 
President Diaz, learn Mexican 
habits and customs, particularly 
those of the mass of the population, take part in the 
Fourth of July celebration of the American colony in the 
City of Mexico, visit the ruins of Mitla, learn some very 
interesting Mexican history, and spend much time com* 
paring things Mexican with things American. 

Many minor responsibilities of travel are in the child- 
ren's hands, and the^ learn much of traveling customs and 
etiquette. The spirit of travel permeates the book. 

" Will be weloooM to many readers of matvre ream as well as to 
Uie inveniles for whom it is primarily written. . . . Rmhndies 
WT mneh that is of interest respectinc Mexican history, manners 
and eastoms as well as descriptions of scenery. It deserres the 
widest circulation in this country, and no public library can aflbrd 
to be without it.**— Boston Tnmier^. 

"Ifost pleasinff style. . . . The book is an aocnrate travel 
coide in [its main points, and should be particularly helpfbl to 
teachers and school children. . . . Bxpenenoes of interest even 
to adults.**— GMea^ Evening Bott' 

**Very bright and accurate. ... All the novel sights of 
this tropical land come before the vision of these children like a 
movingDictnre show. They visit eight cities, and what they don't 
sse is not worth telling about. . . . Pictures are good and nally 
miistrate.**-jrs0ieflm flerold (City of Mexico). 


Compiled by Edward V. Lucas. Over 200 poems from 

eighty authors. Revised Edition, $2.00 net 

Popular Edition 

" We know of no other anthology for children so complete ami 
weU arranged.**— 2^ Oriffo. 

** It contains much that is charming, much that is admirably in 
tone with the spirit of childhood.**— JTew For* Tnhrni^.