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White Ant (Termes): magnified; a, Male Worker; b, Soldier ;
C, same more magnified (the lines represent the natural size); d, distended female surrounded with body-guard of workers-natural size, but only a portion of the body shown in the cut.
in the African desert, Dr. Livingstone says there would be constant pestilence, which the winds would waft in all directions.
One nest of the white ants has been said to yield half a bushel of eggs, which both in shape and colour very much resemble grains of rice; they are really not eggs, but the larvæ of the insect-life “number one.” These larve are much sought after by the Hottentots in times of scarcity: they wash them and boil them in water, and they are considered a delicacy, just as the Romans considered stewed caterpillars.
The white ants have their queen; the workers are the most wonderful engineers, architects, and builders in the world, for so high do they erect their buildings that wild animals stand upon their summit, and in the desert they resemble high hills ; but their interior is very remarkable as displaying an amount of instinct rarely surpassed by intelligence.
The royal chamber is always placed in the centre of the building; then there are nurseries for the larvæ and pupa, the babies in their first and second stages of life; then there are magazines or storehouses where the food is carefully preserved by the workers, the nurseries and storehouses being entirely different in their structure, as they are in their uses.
The number of eggs laid in one season by the queen of the white ants is almost incredible : she has been known to deposit sixty in a minute, or 80,000 and upwards in twentyfour hours, the number of nurseries being accommodated by the industrious workers to the number of eggs laid by their queen. These persevering labourers are continually occupied in pulling down, repairing, or rebuilding the apartments, performing these operations with wonderful sagacity, regularity, and foresight.
Then there are the Chasseur ants of the West Indies, who much resemble the insects mentioned by the prophet
Nest of White Ant in Central Africa : 1, Male (winged); 2, 4, 5,
Neuters (workers); 3, the Queen, or distended female. The nest (in section) showing royal apartments, nurseries, and storehouses, with subterranean connection.
Joel, marching in military order, sending out scouts to ascertain the wants of a village, returning with their experience, when a combined attack is made by the little people upon the cockroaches in the house, and finally an onslaught in the cellars upon the larger vermin, rats and mice, never leaving the house till the clearance is complete. Of such one author writes : “ These would march in troops, as if they were busy in seeking somewhat; they were always in haste, and always followed their leaders, let them go where they would. They had no beaten path to go in, but rambled about like hunters. Sometimes a band of these ants would happen to march through our huts, over our beds, or into our pavilions—nay, very often into our chests, and there ransack every part; and wherever the the foremost went, the rest all came after. We never disturbed them, but gave them free liberty to search where they pleased, and they would all march off before night. They were so very numerous that they would sometimes occupy two or three hours in passing the house, though they went very fast.”
Wherever there are big people to notice there are the little people to be seen, all busily and differently occupied, but all alike teaching the splendid lessons of perseverance, sagacity, courage, love, harmony, and amusement.
We think we have sufficiently shown the wisdom of the Book where we read, “ Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee." In each, in all of these, the patriarch Job said, could be found an answer to his friend's desire that God would show to him the secrets of wisdom; and hence we learn that a knowledge of the works of God should convince us of that wisdom which is not only from above, but which is above all earthly wisdom, and which is promised to be liberally given to “ any of you” that may ask it, and you will find with the poet Tennyson that
And remember that “the exception proves the rule ; ” the “ blunders ” of the atheist only show the truth of Pascal's wise saying, that “ Nature has perfection in order to show that she is the image of God, and defects in order to show that she is only His image."
Among the various kinds of usefulness attributed to the white ant may be mentioned that of affording food to the inhabitants of the country where it is abundant. Dr. Livingstone once gave à chief who came to visit him a piece of bread with preserved apricots, for his lunch. As he seemed to relish it, the Doctor asked him if his country produced any food equal to it.
“Ah,” said the chief, “ did you ever taste white ant ? ”
On his replying that he had not, he said, “Well, if you had, you never could have desired to eat anything better."
Pliny, the great Roman naturalist, tells us that his fellow countrymen considered a preparation of caterpillars, when served up in a paste, a great delicacy.
In Sweden ants are distilled along with rye, to give a flavour to the inferior kinds of brandy; and in Ceylon, “ an ungrateful return for their honey and wax," says Kirby, bees are eaten as food; and he adds, “ Ants—I speak from experience—have no unpleasant flavour; they are very agreeably acid, and the taste of the trunk and abdomen is different.”
Even the polished Greeks esteemed the worm (larva) of the common cricket “most delicious ; " and we know that the locust, to which family the cricket belongs, was