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Who among us would be a "swell'
at such a price? The female ants are
peculiar in the matter of their single
pair of wings. However valuable or
ornamental these may be in the happy period
of their courtship and marriage, they
appear to be incumbrances, or of no account
when materfamilias has grown old. She
discards them (which dowagers in human
life do not do with their finery, when they
have fallen into the sear and yellow leaf)
and makes a considerable and possibly
painful effort to be rid of them. "This
curious process which," says a writer in
the Penny Cyclopædia, "was first hinted
at by Gould in his interesting account
of English ants, we have repeatedly
witnessed; the females extending their
wings, bringing them over their heads,
crossing them in every direction, and
throwing them from side to side, till at
length they are disjointed from the body
and fall off. Those who are desirous of
verifying the observation must procure
winged females immediately after pairing,
and place them under a glass with some
moist earth."

In the construction of their mounds or
ant-hillsa duty which is left to the neutral
or sexless formicans, and with which the
males and females have nothing to doa
great deal of skill, ingenuity, and
perseverance is displayed. The formica fusca,
or yellow ant, constructs a mound of earth,
which it raises to the height of a foot or
more above the soil, with a diameter
varying from six inches to two feet,
according to the number of the population
and the space required for their accommodation.
They quarry out the earth with
their mandibles, always choosing rainy
weather for the purpose, lest the dry and
too friable soil should tumble in upon their
avenues and passages, and block up their
cells or houses. The formica rufa, or
wood ant, builds his cities and mounds in
a different style; and may be considered
more of a carpenter than of a mason.
He collects small twigs, sticks, straws, and
stalks of grass and bent, with which he
builds up a dome, that is doubtless as large,
imposing, and magnificent to his eyes, as
the dome of St. Paul's or St. Peter's is
to the eyes of mankind. In the interior of
one of them, about three feet high and
three feet in diameter, there is accommodation
for about as many formicans, as there
is accommodation in Paris for Parisians.
If the population become too great for the
space, and press upon the means of
subsistence, as in England, Ireland, and
Germany, the formicans, whether they be red,
black, or yellow, resort to emigrationto
an America of their ownand a swarm of
workers set forth, taking care to carry
some aristocratic males and females along
with them. In due time a new dome,
either of earth or twigs, according to the
nature and instinct of the tribe, is reared
by the colony. Another and another
succeeds, just as suburb after suburb is added
to London, or state after state to the
American Union, in which these wonderful little
folk live the lives that all-wise and all-
bounteous Nature intended.

The care of the young among them, as
among their human superiors, is a very
important matter, and is entirely left to
the sexless or nursing ants. Paterfamilias
dies and makes no sign. Materfamilias,
after she has laid her eggs, cares very little
about them; even if she cares at all, which
some observers have doubted. The working
ants, however, come to the rescue
and lest the city should be depopulated
after they themselves have ceased to be,
look after the prospects of a new generation
with the greatest care and tenderness.
The ant eggs, unlike those of other
insects, do not adhere by their viscidity to
any fixed place, but lie loosely in parcels
of eight or ten. In fine weather, when it
is not too hot, it is the duty of the nursing
ants to remove the eggs to the top of the
mound or the hillock, for the sake of the
vivifying warmth of the sun, and carefully
to remove them inside at nightfall, if the
weather threatens to be cold and stormy.
When the eggs are hatched into grubs, the
nurses feed them with a liquid which they
disgorge from the stomach. It is when this
duty has to be performed, that ants become
most voracious. They seem to share with
man, the sparrow, and the ostrich, the
faculty of being omnivorous. They will
make their way into the heart of apples,
pears, and other fruits that have fallen
upon the ground, and into strawberries
that have not fallen, but are conveniently
grown within their reach. They will pick
bones of beef, mutton, and poultry, and by
no means disdain fish, or good red herring.
They will eat bread, sugar, or any other
waifs and strays of a household; or if they
be not near a household, and no such
dainties are attainable, they will perform
the part that the crab plays in the sea, and
eat the dead bodies of beetles and other
insects, or such animals of the woods that
come in their way; and will soon leave the