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Without the loss of matter, or of room,
Wisely defend, or wage offensive war. In the buildings of the termite ants, their stupendous dimensions, the order, regularity, and beauty of the architectural design, and inimitable convenience to the purposes for which it is intended, cannot fail to excite the astonishment of every observer. These diminutive insects, known more generally by the name of the white ants, though, technically speaking, they are entirely of a distinct genus, are vatives of the East Indies, Africa, and the southern parts of America. They live in societies, each of which is composed of some thousand individuals, all of whom are accommodated in the same habitation. Their structures are of a pyramidal form, rising to the height of ten or twelve feet, and covering no inconsiderable extent of ground at the base. They usually build in the plains several contiguous to each other, and from their size and form may sometimes be mistaken at a distance for the huts of the natives. These nests are so common all over the island of Bananas, and the adjacent continent of Africa, that it is scarcely possible to stand on an open place where one of these buildings is not to be seen. The domes are so strong that they will easily bear the weight of three or four men standing on them at once, and shelter the interior from every attack of the weather,
The interior is divided with the utmost regularity into an immense number of apartments, arched chambers, magazines, and avenues leading to them; and the centre, on a level with the ground, contains the royal apartment, in which the queen resides, surrounded by the nursery, &c.
Of the manners and habits of ants in general many curious particulars will be found in our former volumes'. The following reflections on a mole-hill by an amiable writer are too appropriate and entertaining to be omitted. We will fancy, if you please,' (he observes) that yonder mole-hill is inhabited by reasonable creatures, and that every pismire (his shape and way of life only excepted) is endowed with human passions. How should we smile to hear one give us an account of the pedigrees, distinctions, and titles that reign among them? Observe how the whole swarm divide and make way for the pismire that passes through them! You must understand he is an emmet of quality, and has better blood in his veins than any pismire in the mole-bill. Do not you see how sensible he is of it, how slowly he marches forward, how the whole rabble of ants keep their distance? Here you may observe one placed upon a little eminence, and looking down on a long row of labourers. He is the richest insect on this side the hillock; he has a walk of half a yard in length, and a quarter of an inch in breadth; he keeps a hundred menial servants, and has at least fifteen barley-coins in his granary. He is now chiding and beslaving the emmet that stands before him, and who, for all that we can discover, is as good an emmet as himself.
* But here comes an insect of figure! Do not you
* For a particular account of ants, see Time's Telescope for 1814, pp. 185, 195; for 1816, pp. 205-211; and a poetical illustration in the present volnme, pp. 121, 122.
take notice of a little white straw that he carries in - his mouth? That straw, you must understand, he would not part with for the longest tract about the mole-hill: did you but know what he has undergone to purchase it! See how the ants of all qualities and conditions swarm about him! Should this straw drop out of his mouth, you would see all this numerous circle of attendants follow the next that took it up, and leave the discarded insect, or run over his back to come at his successor.
If now you have a mind to see all the ladies of the mole-hill, observe first the pismire that listens to the emmet on her left hand, at the same time that she seems to turn away her head from him. He tells this poor insect that she is a goddess, that her eyes are brighter than the sun, that life and death are at her disposal. She believes him, and gives herself a thousand little airs upon it. Mark thc vanity of the pismire on your left hand. She can scarce crawl with age; but you must know she values herself upon her birth; and if you mind, spurns at every one that comes within her reach. The little nimble coquette that is running along by the side of her, is a wit. She has broke many a pismire's heart. Do but observe what a drove of lovers are running after her. We will here finish this imaginary scene; but first of all, to draw the parallel closer, will suppose, if you please, that death comes down upon the moleħill in the shape of a cock sparrow, who picks up, without distinction, the pismire of quality and his flatterers, the pismire of substance and day-labourers, the white-straw officer and his sycophants, with all the goddesses, wits, and beauties of the molebill.
May we not imagine that beings of superior natures and perfections regard all the instances of pride and vanity among our species in the same kind of view, when they take a survey of those who inhabit the earth? or, in the language of an ingenious French poet, of those pismires that people this heap of dirt, which human vanity has divided into climates and regions ?'-(Guardian, No. 153.)
Where greatness is to Nature's works deniedy
This order consists of
insects with two wings only, as the whole race of flies strictly so called, as well as gnats and a great variety of other insects. The genera are:
-1. Estrus, gad-fly.-2. Musca, common flies.-3. Culex, gnat, musquito.-4. Hippobosca, horse-fly.
The different species of this order, beside wings, are furnished with what is called a halter, or a poiser (ballancier) which is situate under each wing, and is terminated by a knob. The caterpillars of the cestrus, or gad-fly, lie concealed in the skins of cattle, where they are nourished during the whole winter. The perfect insects are frequent wherever horses, cows, or sheep, are grazing. Some of them deposit their eggs
in the skins of cows or oxen; others deposit them in the intestines of horses, and others in the nostrils of sheep. In these habitations the caterpillars reside till they are full grown, when they throw themselves down to the earth, and generally pass the chrysalis state under the first stone they meet with. --See T. T. for 1815, p. 216.
The mouth of the musca, or common fly, consists, of a soft, fleshy proboscis, with two lateral lips. The caterpillars of some of this genus devour the pucerons; others consume all kinds of putrid flesh; others are found in cheose; and many of them live in the water, and prefer that which is most corrupted and muddy.-For an account of various species of fies, see Time's Telescope for 1816, pp. 243, 244; for 1817, p. 274-276; and some poetical illustrations in pp. 179, 277.
The fecundity of the culex or gnat is so remarkable, that in the course of summer they might increase to the amazing number of five or six hundred thousands, if Providence had not ordered that they should become the prey of birds, who by this means prevent their multiplying more than they generally do.
The fleam, or lancet, which this insect carries at its mouth, is a microscopic object, and affords the lover of natural wonders great subject for inquiries. Its trunk is in the shape of a scaly sheath, and so fine, that the extremity can scarcely be seen with the assistance of the best microscope: from this trunk it darts four small cutting instruments which inflict those troublesome wounds we feel so keenly, and which are attended with a local swelling, which produced by a small drop of poison distilling down the lancet, and a drop of caustic liquid emitted at the hinder part of the body; this swelling occasions the blood to rush to the wound, and the insect is seen to swell and become red, as the blood ascends into its body'. The microscopical view of the gnat is thus drawn by the poet:
The wonderful construction of this curious but troublesome insect is this alluded to by that great naturalist Pliny, in the following wellknown but beautiful passage. “Where has Nature fixed the senses of the gnat? Where is the seat of its sight, of its taste, of its smell? Where has she fixed the organs of that shrill and deafening voiect With what artifice has she adjusted the wings, extended the legs, and formed its stomach; given it a keen thirst for blood, especially for human blood ?