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name, the God of all power and glory, | Weekly Visitor, 1835, page 349,) and havis so legibly inscribed, that “he. who ingattained a certain elevation, to continue runs may read.” See how the stubble to shoot out threads in still greater abunfields are covered with filmy flakes of dance, it would soon happen that the gossamer, still wet with the dew of morn- streamers of one would become entangled ing. At this season showers of gossamer with those of others so as to form flakes, often fall during the night, and some- which a slight electric change in the tirnes cover a great extent of country. state of the atmosphere might cause to I have seen the fields and hedges for become saturated with moisture, though some miles thus lightly carpetted ; and no clouds were visible, so as to render instances of extraordinary showers of them of greater specific gravity than the this delicate cobweb, the production of air, when they would of course fall, the a small spider, are on record.
spiders either quitting their parachutes, or One of them is mentioned by White, descending with them; but even without in a letter to the hon. Daines Barrington, being saturated with moisture, such It occurred in September, 1775. Before flakes as I have seen, and as have been day-break had commenced, the fields often described, formed either purposely, were matted over, but at nine o'clock, or by accidental entanglement, would not the day being warm, bright, and cloud- be buoyant enough to remain floating on less, a shower of this substance began to a calm day, when no wind occurred to fall, and continued to fall without inter- drive them, as feathers, through the air, ruption to the close of day; the webs which they exceed in weight. were not single, filmy threads floating in Observe that swarm of black ants, all the air in all directions, but perfect flakes, winged; thousands are flying around, some nearly an inch broad, and five or and thousands cover the trees . and six long; and the degree of velocity with bushes: it is the swarming season with which they fell, showed that they were them, when the males and females asconsiderably heavier than the atmos- sume wings, and migrate from their phere. This shower was not limited colony, the females to form fresh settleonly to the lower grounds, but ex- ments and deposit their eggs; after tended to more elevated situations : on a which they probably perish, as do the common, three hundred feet higher than males also, in the course of a short the fields around, the webs filled the air period. Perhaps you are ready to say, above, and descended in constant suc- Surely ants are not winged insects; but cession, twinkling in the sun as they fell; if you examine those which are now and they hung on the trees and hedges found flying in clusters, you will find so thickly, that baskets might have been that they are so. filled with them. To this account, the out- Ants, as is well known, live like bees, lines of which are here only detailed, in societies, and every species is divided White adds:-“The remark I shall make into males, females, and neuters; the on these cobweb-like appearances, called latter, which are in reality imperfect gossamer, is, that strange and supersti- females, never acquire wings, and comtious as the notions about them were pose the labouring population. The formerly, nobody in these days doubts males and perfect females are wingless but that they are the real productions of only for a certain period, when, like small spiders which swarm in the fields other hymenopterous insects, they acin fine weather in autumn, and have a quire four long membranous veined power of shooting out webs from their wings, and these being developed, they bodies, so as to render themselves buoy- quit their habitation in swarms. The ant and lighter than air ; but why these females now seek out fresh settlements, apterous (wingless) insects should take and having detached their wings, by such a wonderful aerial excursion, and means of their feet, they then lay their why their webs should at once become eggs, and thus found a new colony. so gross and material as to be considerably Some, however, it is said, are retained more weighty than the air, and to descend in the parent colony by the neuters, who with precipitation, is a matter beyond my hold them prisoners, cut off their wings, skill."
and constrain them to deposit their eggs It is, I think, to be explained in the in their old habitation, after which, they following manner. Suppose a multitude are either suffered to depart or driven of spiders to rise each on a filmy streamer, from the society. as they have been often seen to do, (see The males may be known from the
females by their much inferior size; by It is well known that ants are very fond the proportionate smallness of the head, of a saccharine juice which oozes from and by the larger size of the eyes. The the aphides, or plant-lice ; and Huber neuters are distinguished, not only by states, that several species of ant make a the absence of wings, but by the size of practice of seizing upon these aphides, the head, the strength of the mandibles, and conveying them to their nests, and the compressed form of the thorax, and that they often dispute among themselves the proportionate length of the feet; on the possession of the richly flavoured these devolves the labour of constructing 'game.” Some species even construct their habitations, and the rearing of the little galleries of earth, leading from their young.
habitation along the stem of the tree, up The nature and form of their habita- to its branches, on which the aphides are tions, or the ants' nests, differ according clustered. to the instincts of the different species ; The following singular trait in the hisgenerally they are made in the ground. tory of two species of ant, called legionSome species construct their domicile of ary, or amazon ants, (one the Fourmi grains of earth or sand, and form galle- roussátre of Latreille, the other termed ries, leading to an underground encamp- the sanguineous ant, Formica sanguinea,) ment: others make a raised city above is so curious, that had we not the authe surface, using fragments of vegeta- thority of Huber and other observers for ble and other matters, which they collect it, it might be well discredited. The for that purpose : and some live in old colonies of most ants consist of an assemdecayed trees, piercing them with laby- blage of the same species, but in the two rinthine galleries in all directions, which species alluded to, this law seems to be however lead to a central apartment, strangely set aside, for the neuters of where the eggs are deposited and the these ants procure by force auxiliaries or
slaves, of the same caste as themselves, One of the labours of the neuters is but of different species, (one the Formica the acquisition of provisions; and while cunicularia, the other the Formica fusthus engaged, they appear, as M. La- ca,) for the purpose of availing themtreille says, to gain information, by their selves of their co-operative labours. touch and smell, of the success of their When the heat of day begins to decline, respective searches, and to encourage and and regularly at the same hour, at least assist each other. Fruits, insects and their for several days, the legionary ants quit larvæ, and the dead bodies of small their citadel, and advance in a close animals, as mice or birds, serve them as column consisting of a greater or less food. They carry morsels of food in their number of warriors, according to the mandibles to their young, (or larvæ ;) extent of the population, and direct their transport them, when the weather is fine, march upon the city they intend to desto the surface of their habitation, for the poil. They besiege it, and enter it, in sake of warmth and air ; re-descend with spite of the opposition of its inhabitants, them as night comes on, or when rain and seize with their mandibles the larvæ approaches, defend them, and watch over and nymphæ of the neuter caste, belongthem, and when the nest or habitation is ing to the conquered colony; these they torn up, exert every energy in the at- carry off, in the same order, to their own tempt to preserve them, and carry them habitation, and commit them to the care out of danger. When the larvæ assume of neuter ants of the same species, which the nympha state, they still continue to in like manner had been originally attend them; during this period of trans- dragged into slavery from their homes, formation, the nymphæ of some species and who not only take care of the fresh are naked, of others enclosed in a case, arrivals during their larva state, but also which, when the period of the last meta- labour in taking care of the offspring of morphosis arrives, they strip off, and set the females of their victors. Such is the the now perfect ant free from its encum- economy of these mixed societies of vicbrance. Among the neuters of some of tors and vanquished, according to Huber, the species, individuals occur larger than whose observations M. Latreille, the ordinary, but of inconsiderable number; coadjutor of Cuvier, affirms that he has according to M. de Cordaire, these are verified. the defenders of the society, and serve
Towards the latter end of autumn, also as leaders or captains in the foraging the males and females of the ants of our expeditions of the troop.
portion of Europe perish, but the neu.
ters remain during the winter in a torpid Extensive reed beds, however, constistate in their habitations, which they have tute their favourite resting place during previously secured and consolidated. this month, perhaps from the shelter Against this season they lay up no pro- they afford against the chilly breezes of visions, as has been imagined, for such our autumnal nights. When the sun would be useless.
begins to decline, vast flocks may be seen How much is there in this slight out- wheeling and sweeping over the reeds, line of the history of the ant, to call forth now settling, now rising again simultareflection! How wonderfully is the faculty neously, and again settling, while they of instinct displayed in the operations keep up an incessant and noisy twitterand conduct of these insects, which can- ing, till, at length, they finally rest, and not but astonish us: instinct impelling their vociferation gradually subsides. them to actions which in man would be It is from their partiality to reed beds, the result of a process of reasoning, and at this time of the year, that the old belief leading us at once to the great source of in the swallow's submersion beneath the
all wisdom, the God of creation, who has water, in a state of torpidity, appears to be 1
implanted in every animal the innate im- have arisen. Many of the earlier naturalpulse necessary to such labours and ists were inclined to think that they thus operations as are essential to its well- passed the winter, buried in the oozy being, and which often surprise the phi- mud of fens and marshes, and that their losopher. But the ant works blindly; migration was not actual, forgetting that not so man-accountable, rational man ; birds of far less power of flight, as woodto whose reason God appeals in all his cocks and quails, were positively known to ways, claiming the homage, obedience, take long aèrial journeys, as indeed it is and gratitude of an immortal soul. well ascertained that the swallow does; its
Pursue we our ramble. Observe- destination being Africa. It is proved
the bee is still abroad, hovering around from swallows kept in confinement in our there the flowers which now blossom; and the climate through the winter, that they
saffron butterfly (Papilio hyale) flits moult in February: a circumstance of Formic lightly by. Among our wild autumn great interest, inasmuch as it is not only ailing flowers, that of the great bindweed ( Con- a fact utterly at variance with their going
volvulus sepium) is one of the most into a torpid state, but as showing that
elegant; its large white blossoms adorn they acquire renovated plumage, in their hour , the hedgerows, which are garlanded with natural state in Africa, and so become
its luxuriant festoons, the chaplets of prepared to take their flight back to in a Pomona. This graceful weed is not Europe, in the month of January or reater: universally spread throughout our island. February, when travelling by easy stages,
In the midland and more northern coun- they would reach our island and the od dva ties, it is either rare or not to be found. northern portions of the continent, by
It is interesting now to notice the the early part of April, regulating their habits and manners of the feathered race, progress according to the state of the and especially of our summer birds of weather. passage.
The swallows have now col- The swallow arrives in Greece at the caste.it lected into vast hordes, and are rapidly latter part of February, on its return to
traversing the regions of the air, as if Europe. According to the Greek Calendar Gto be trying their powers of wing preparatory of Flora, by Theophrastus, of Athens, em :05 to their final departure; doubtless they the ornithian wind blows, and the swalspecies are also in the eager pursuit of their low comes between the 28th of February en e insect prey. The old birds, now that the and the 12th of March ; the nightingale
their toilsome duties of incubation and of rear- between the 11th and 26th of March ; 2 of 2 ing their broods are over, recruit their and the cuckoo at the time the young figs
energies in the interval between their appear on the trees ; so that the most he ove last incubation and the time of their southern portions of Europe are occupied
flight from our shores ; and the young by their winged sojourners, long before Locieties birds have to train their strength, against the northern parts have received their ding ret the coming crisis. As the evening draws influx. on, the thousands of these swallows now We may now look in vain for the swift;
the wing cluster around barns, it has already taken its migratory course churches, and tall trees, on which they southwards : it leaves us about the middle od of + settle during the night, huddled together or latter part of August. Starlings now
arv E e
TS DE bles the
congregate in numerous flocks, and often
mis that on
in close array.
7, but i
accompany rooks in their search over / they breed, and keep up a due supply. fallow or new ploughed lands for food. It is common to call oysters “fish," but This circumstance was noticed by White, this term, though it may be tolerated in who expresses his wonder at it, and con- ordinary discourse, is very erroneously siders that the starlings attend upon their applied, and like all terms so used, liable sable brethren for the sake of their own to produce mistakes. Hence I have interest, availing themselves of the su- heard many assert the oyster to be a fish, perior sense of smell which the rook as truly as the salmon or sole: the oysenjoys, and which enables it to detect the ter, however, is a• molluscous animal
, spots where larvæ most abou'nd; this is, belonging to the acephalous (or headless) perhaps, rather fanciful. It appears that testaceous section of Cuvier, or the conthe starling has a natural partiality, not chiferous (shell-bearing) section of Laonly for the companionship of its own marck. species, but for the society of other birds : To the same section belong the mussel, flocks of starlings are often seen mingled the cockle, the scallop, and thousands with lapwings, which at this season
As is well known, these animals leave the moors and boggy grounds for are housed in a firm, hard, calcareous fallow lands and cultivated fields, where shell, consisting of two parts, or valves, food is easily obtained. Like the swal- secreted by what is termed a mantle, low, the starling is partial to reed beds, and which in some species, undergoes, at as roosting places for the night; and it certain seasons, a temporary developis interesting to watch a phalanx of these ment, so as to enable it to produce spines, birds, wheeling, sinking, and rising over ridges, or raised ornamental lines on the the reeds, and performing a multitude of shell, a row of such being added at given aërial evolutions, all acting in unison, as intervals. If we separate the shells of if guided by some signal from a leader, an oyster, not in the usual way, but as till at length they settle to rest.
if the animal naturally opened them, Wheatears now begin to congregate, (which may be done when the animal and pass towards the south-eastern coast, within is just dead,) we perceive that covering the downs of Kent and Sussex, each shell is lined with a delicate mempreviously to their departure. The stone brane, or first investment of the body of curlew, (cdicnemus,) which scatters itself the oyster, having its margin free, except in pairs during the summer over high at the part of the shell occupied by the pasture grounds and extensive upland elastic hinge. These membranes form commons, now also collects into flocks, the mantle, and their edges are thickened. which make their way to the coast in Between them are the branchiæ, or readiness to migrate. The ringouzel, aquatic respiratory organs; consisting of (Merula torquata,) by no means a com- two upper and two lower leaves, common bird in our island, now leaves the posed of fine radiatory fibres; these mountain districts of England and Scot- leaves are free, except at their base, land, and associating in small companies, where they are attached to the body of journeys to the south, preparatory to its the animal, as the axis which they enflight to a warmer climate. They are compass. The body of the mollusk surnow to be observed in Sussex, and oc- rounds a thick muscular column, passcasionally in considerable numbers, fre- ing from shell to shell, by the action of quenting the shrubs and bushes which which they are closed. The mouth, a are scattered over the downs, and which simple orifice, with two pairs of lips, is afford them shelter.
seated between the two innermost leaves We are now approaching to the sea of the branchiæ, and appears to open at shore. Mark that fleet of small vessels once, from the shortness of the gallets, in the distance : how animated the scene! into the digestive cavity, which is imhow beautiful a picture they present, bedded in the substance of the liver, and crowded on the placid surface of the receives the secretion of this organ, water, blue as the sky above! They are throngh several tubular orifices. The out with men engaged in dredging for liver is of large size, of a dark colour, oysters, which are taken at this season and consists of an aggregation of small from the beds they form, and sent in glands connected into a mass by a cellugreat quantities to the markets. These lar tissue. The intestinal tube is short, oyster beds are often artificial, or rather and makes a double convolution, one produced by oysters being purposely loop encircling the stomach. The heart deposited in convenient situations, where is situated between the muscular pillar, and the other intestinal fold, and may be it remains cemented to the rock, or to its distinguished by its dark purple colour: fellows forming the bed, by a calcareous it consists of two chambers, namely, an exudation on the outer surface of its shell; auricle and a ventricle: the former is a there it ever continues, fixed and unthin muscular sac, communicating, by movable, (as far as itself is concerned in means of two short canals, with the ven- locomotion,) and grows and lives the tricle, which is more firm. The auricle allotted term of existence. But other receives the circulating fluid from the bivalves are not so chained down; they branchiæ, where has undergone the can propel themselves along the bottom necessary aëration, and then transmits it of the sea, or burrow in the sand with through the two canals into the ventricle, considerable facility, as in the instance of whence it is sent to circulate through the cockle, and the razor-shell, (solen.) every part of the animal system. În These animals are provided with a foot, some bivalve mollusks the heart is more as it is commonly called, in shape recomplex, and is divided into two auricles sembling the tongue of an ox, and firm and a ventricle, or even into two auricles and muscular; it grows from the anteand two ventricles; a distinct heart being rior part of the body, and is capable of appropriated to each pair of branchiæ. being protruded, and brought into vigorThe branchiæ are highly vascular, con- ous action. In the cockle, this organ is sisting of minute tubes having a parallel large, and enables the animal to move course, countless in number, and united along by a succession of leaps, or sudden by most delicate cellular tissue ; and it impulses ; in the razor-shell, it is a buris on its course, through these tubes, rowing organ, by means of which this which alternately merge into larger ves- mollusk can bore in the sand, to the sels at the base of the branchiæ, that the depth of two or three feet or more, with circulating fluid becomes subjected to the singular rapidity; but in the sea mussel, oxygen of the water,
the foot, which is small, is used only as But the branchiæ have another and a finger for fixing the gummy threads not less important office. Deprived, as of the beard, or byssus, as they are the oyster is, (and other bivalve mollusks secreted, to any fixed substance; adding are also,) of the power of pursuing or thread after thread, until the animal seizing its prey-imprisoned as it were swings by a secure cable. The filaments in its own shells-incapable of making composing the byssus are secreted at the any active bodily efforts, the question base of the foot, in the form of glutinous naturally suggests itself, How does the filaments, which soon harden, and ac
The mouth, as already quire considerable strength. In the observed, is placed between the two in- pinna these threads are very fine, long, nermost leaves of the branchiæ, and it is and numerous ; and are sometimes spon to these organs that it owes its reception and manufactured into gloves, and other of food. Now, on examining the bran articles, preserved as curiosities in the cachiæ with a powerful microscope, it is binets of naturalists, or in public museums. found, that every filament of their fringe Much respecting the economy of the is covered with countless minute vibra- bivalve mollusks remains to be cleared up. tory cilia, or threadlets, in const They live and fulfil their allotted task action, incessantly vibrating, and so where the eye of the naturalist cannot causing a strong current in the water pursue them; but to Him who formed washing their surface, and which is di- them, their ways are all open; they are the rected straightway to the mouth, carry- work of His hands, who, in the begining with it animalcules and different ning said, “ Let the waters bring forth nutritious particles. The lips appear to abundantly the moving creature that hath be endowed with some singular power of life;" and in their structure and habits discrimination, as they close against per- they proclaim the power of their Creator. nicious or unfit materials, receiving such But if thus mysteriously glorious in the only as are suitable for food. So ener- creation of the myriads of beings which getic is the movement of the cilia over tenant earth, and air, and water, what the surface of the branchiæ, that, it is tongue can tell how glorious is the God said, if a portion of one of these branchiæ of all grace in the revelation which he be cut off, it will continue to work itself has given of himself to man, who, but along on the water by their rapid move- for that bright light, would, in despite of ments, till their vital energy departs. reason, be left in darkness amidst the
The oyster has no locomotive powers ; I wonders of nature around him! M.
oyster live ?