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Imperium mrówek It begins by destroying a number of legendary beliefs and prejudices which had obscured the approaches to the formicary since the days of Solomon, and St. Jerome, and the Middle Ages. Above all, he conceived the idea of keeping ants in what he calls "pounce-boxes," which were, according to his own description, "bottles of glass like those found in the cabinets of connoisseurs, of which the mouth has almost the same diameter as the base," thereby inaugurating the artificial nests which since his day have been of such service to entomologists. He states that the ant and experiment has confirmed the statement is able to live nearly a year in moist earth without food. He understands the importance and the significance of the nuptial flight, and is the first writer to explain why the females have wings, which they suddenly discard after their union is consummated; whereas the elder naturalists were convinced that the female ant grew wings only in her old age, as a sort of consolation, so that she might die with greater dignity. Anticipating Gould, he notes the manner in which a fertilized queen founds a colony. He writes of the laying of the eggs, and more than suspects the endosmosis which is the key to the inexplicable enigma of their growth. He describes how the larva or nymph begins its cocoon, whose fabric, as he remarks, "consisting of several layers of threap INTRODUCTION adhering to one another, is so compact that would take it to be a membrane if one did not know how it had been constructed." He does not omit to note the regurgitation which is, as we shall see, the essential and fundamental act of the formicary, He even has some intuition of the phototropisms which play so important a part in the early manifestations of life; and after falling into a few unimportant errors, he makes one, and only one serious mistake: he confounds the ants with the termites; but this confusion was in his day almost inevitable, and the distinction was finally established only at the close of the eighteenth century. Since abridgment is here unavoidable, we must regretfully pass over the myrmecologists of the intervening period Leeuwenhoeck, who dealt with the metamorphoses of ants, Latreille, who made the first tentative classifications, Charles Bonnet, the great naturalist and philosopher, who discovered the parthenogenesis of the plant-lice, the cattle of the ants, and many others' to pass on at once to contemporary myrmecology. First of all we salute Pierre Huber, the son of Francois Huber, the historian of the bees; both citizens of Geneva. Their compatriot, Auguste Forel, who is entitled to judge, since with Was- mann, Wheeler, Emery, 'and a few others he is 12 THE LIFE OF THE ANT one of the great myrmecologtsts of the day, declares that Pierre Huberts "Les Recherches sur les Mceurs des Fourmis indigenes" is "the Bible of myrmecology." He does not exaggerate; it is a work in which only its delightful prolixity seems a little out of date. It enjoyed great success at the time of its publication, and was hotly attacked, but its minute and almost fatherly observations of the Grey-Black Ant, the Miner Ant, and the Amazon, which in his day bore these familiar names, and have since become the Praten$i$> RufibarUs and Polyergus Rufescens of science, have endured more than a century of criticism, and have not been found wanting. For that matter, he began with an admirable principle, of which he never lost sight and which has become the fundamental rule of entomology: "The more I am attracted by the marvels of nature, the less am I inclined to spoil them by alloying them with the fantasies of the imagination." If, as Forel says, "Les Recherches sur les Mceurs des Fourmis indigenes" is the Bible of myrmecology, Forel 's own work, "Les Fourmis de la Suisse," is the Summa. The second edition in particular, published in 1920, is the veritable en- cyclopaedia of the ant, in which nothing has been forgotten; but it has the defects of its quali- ties; in other words, jt is too densely packed; one cannot see the wood for the trees, and one ends by losing one's way. On the other hand, the sureness and exactitude of M, Ford's observa- INTRODUCTION 13 tions and the breadth and integrity of his erudi- tion are beyond criticism. It is hardly- possible to speak of the ant without owing to him at least a third of what one says. It is true that he himself owes two-thirds of what he tells us to other specialists. Thus it is that science progresses, overflowing in all directions the too brief life of man ; or, if you prefer, it is thus that history progresses, for myrmecology, after all, is but the history of a strange and unfamiliar race. Like all histories, it compels us frequently to retrace its record, to go back to its starting-point, and ten successive human lives would not suffice to assemble and combine all the observations which are to-day at our disposal, and which are the fruit of nearly two hundred years' labour. But one thing we may endeavour to do; to extract from these countless little data, apparently so dissimilar and incoherent, a meaning and a general idea, It is easier, however, to make the attempt than to succeed. After Forel comes Wasmann, a German Jesuit, whose name recurs on every page of the history of the ant. He turned his attention more especially to the study of the slave-holding races, and devoted thirty years to studying the parasites of the ants 7 nest a subject, as we shall presently see, of truly formidable dimensions. He is an admir- able observer whose patience and lucidity are exemplary. The mere list of his books, pamphlets, and 14 THE LIFE OF THE ANT articles would occupy a dozen pages of this volume. They have only one defect: when explana- tion becomes difficult the theologian or the casuist gets the better of the scientist, and goes out of his way to excuse or glorify a God who is too manifestly the deity of the Jesuits. In the work of William Morton Wheeler, Professor of Entomology in the University of Harvard, it is not theology, but human thought which is blended with, and gives life to, the purely objective science of the entomologist. As an observer. Wheeler is no less scrupulous than Forel and Wasmann; but as a thinker he sees farther and probes more deeply and derives from what he has seen reflections and general ideas of greater scope than those of his colleagues. I must not forget to mention the engineer, Charles Janet, whose innumerable treatises, mono- graphs, and communications to learned societies, clear, precise, and impeccable, and adorned by anatomical plates which have become classic, have for nearly fifty years enriched myrmecology as well as many other sciences. He is one of those great workers to whom justice is done only when they are dead. Above all, we must not forget the Italian, C. Emery, the great classifier, who has devoted himself to the dry and ungrateful but necessary task of establishing the minute and technical description the myrmecological catalogue, so to speak of most of the ants, in order that they may INTRODUCTION 15 be accurately identified. It is probable that good photographs in natural colours, with enlarge- ments of details, will in time take the place of these descriptions, which are almost as deceptive as the descriptions on passports. Other specialists, notably Bondroit and Ernest Andr6, have applied themselves to the same task. Ernest Andre, more- over, is the author of the only popular and easily accessible monograph in the French language. Unfortunately it is somewhat out of date, having appeared nearly fifty years ago that is, at a time when Forel had only just published his first version of the u Fourmis de la Suisse," and when Wasmann and Wheeler were beginning their labours. He was not familiar, for example, with the fungus-growing ants, which in his day were known as the Leaf-cutter Ants, since it was believed that the only use which they made of the segments which they cut from leaves was to line their tunnels with them. He knew nothing of the extraordinary Weaver Ants; nor of the latest observations of the Visiting Dorylinus, nor of the interesting experiments relating to the olfactory sense and the power of orientation, nor of the tragic manner in which a colony is founded. On the other hand, he accepted, perhaps too readily, though not without reserve, certain sentimental imaginings relating to the cemeteries of our fossorial hymenoptera, their cult of the dead, their funeral processions, their first-class inter- ments, their concessions to perpetuity, and the 1 6 THE LIFE OF THE ANT like; whereas they do no more than get rid of corpses as promptly as possible, carrying them out of the nest; and while they do not devour them as the termites do, this is probably because they would not be able to digest them, rather than because of any delicacy of feeling. But further enumeration would become tedious. Other names will occur in the following pages, and will be found, at the end of the volume, in a bibliography which is necessarily brief but which comprises all that is really essential. It will perhaps be said that these hundreds of scientists, by no means the least of their profession, who might have done so many other things of a more profitable nature, have wasted a great deal of time and taken a great deal of trouble to observe the habits and discover the petty secrets of some very insignificant creatures. But where the mysteries of life are concerned nothing is insignificant. All creatures, great and small, are on the same plane, and equally important; and the astronomer works on the same plane, and with the same material, as the entomologist. There is no hierarchy in the sciences, and myrmecology is a science, and one which approaches more closely than many others the subtler contours of the most tragic and baffling problems. From a certain point of view the INTRODUCTION 17 meanest ant-hill, a replica in little of our own destinies, is more interesting than the most formidable congeries of extra-galactic nebulae, even though this contain millions of stars thousands of times larger than our own sun. It may perhaps help us to decipher, a little sooner and more effectually, the thoughts and the afterthoughts of Nature, and certain of her secrets, which are every- where identical, whether on the earth or in the heavens.

The males and females alone possess wings, 
which, for that matter, they discard after the 
nuptial flight. 
There is not, as among the bees and 
termites, one sole queen or mother, but as many 
fruitful females as are judged to be necessary by 
the secret council which presides over the 
destinies 
of the myrmecaean republic. In small nests there 
will be two or three, in large nests as many as 
fifty, and in confederate nests their number is 
indeterminate, 

Here we are confronted once more by the 
great problem of the hive and the termites* nest. 
Who reigns and governs in the State? Where is 
the mind or spirit that gives the orders which 
are never disputed? Concerted action is as 
indubitable and as wonderful among the ants as 
among the bees and termites, and must present 
greater difficulties, for the life of the ants is, in 
general, far more complex and adventurous, and 
richer in unforeseen contingencies. 
In the absence 
of a better explanation, perhaps the most admis- 
sible is that which I suggested in "The Life of 
the White Ant": namely, that the formicary must 
be regarded as an individual, whose cells, unlike 
those of our bodies, which number about sixty 
trillions, are not agglomerated but dissociated, 
disseminated, externalized, while remaining sub- 
ject, despite their seeming independence, to the 



 

same central law. 
It is equally possible that we shall 
one day discover in the ant-hill a whole complex of electro-magnetic or etheric or psychic 
relations of 
which we have as yet but the vaguest notion. 



As a matter of fact, if we look more closely, we 
shall find that our sixty trillions of cells, although 
they are enclosed in our bodies, are relatively as 
widely disseminated as the thousands of bees, 
termites, or ants outside the limits of their dwel- 
lings. The intervals between cell and cell are in 
proportion to their size, or rather, in proportion 
to the size of the electrons which constitute their 
soul; and these distances must, comparatively 
speaking, be as great as the distances which 
separate the stars in the heavens, for the infinitely 
little is equivalent to the infinitely great. If the 
human body (as Wheeler very justly remarks) could 
be compressed until its electrons were in contact 
with one another, its volume would not exceed a 
few cubic millimetres, This compression or density 
is not impossible, since Nature has realized it in 
certain stars known as " white dwarfs/' notably in 
the mysterious satellite of Sirius, on which a pint 
of water if water could remain liquid there 
would weigh nearly thirty tons. 

If this be so we can more readily explain why, 
as we shall see later on, the workers of an enormous 
colony of confederate nests know, or rather "feel," 



z6 THE LIFE OF THE ANT 

with a precision which amazes us, how many 
fecundated females are indispensable. When we 
are hungry and thirsty an analogous phenomenon 
occurs in our vast confederation of cells. They 
experience a collective hunger and thirst. All 
our cells experience this hunger and thirst 
simultaneously, and they order those which act 
upon the external world to do what is necessary 
to satisfy the general hunger and thirst, just as 
they command them to cease operations so soon 
as they are appeased. 

It will be seen that this comparison is less 
temerarious than might have been supposed. Each 
of us is merely a collective being, a colony of 
social cells; but we do not in the least know what 
commands, directs, regulates, and harmonizes the 
prodigiously complex and disseminated activities 
of our organic life, the basis of an existence of 
which our conscious or intellectual life is only an 
accessory manifestation, belated, precarious, and 
ephemeral. We do not know, we cannot under- 
stand our own secret, which seems to us so 
obvious; how then can we hope to fathom the 
great analogous secret which is concealed in the 
colonies of the social insects ? 



s 

It is probable, then, that there is, to begin 
with, a collective and unanimous life, which guides, 
in a massive or general fashion, the destinies of the 



GENERAL IDEAS 27 

formicary. But within this general and fundamental 
movement a host of individual activities are 
perceptible, which support it, and may even 
exert an influence over the direction which it 
follows. As in our human history, we detect a 
certain liberty within its inevitability. In order 
to realize this we have only to observe the ants 
at work. We shall there at once behold the picture 
drawn by Huber, to whom we must refer^the 
reader, for it cannot be described more precisely 
than he has described it: 

"It is above all when the ants begin some under- 
taking that we seem to see an idea taking shape in 
their minds and being realized in execution. Thus, 
when one of them finds on the nest a couple of 
intersecting blades of grass, which might favour 
the formation of a cell, or a few tiny beams which 
outline the sides and corners of such a cell, we 
see the ant examine the different parts of this 
arrangement, and then, with great skill and con- 
sistency, place fragments of earth in the gaps, 
and along the stems ; bringing from all directions 
the materials which it may require, sometimes 
even without respecting the work which others 
have begun, so wholly is it dominated by the idea 
which it has conceived, and which it pursues 
without succumbing to any distraction. It comes, 
and goes, and returns again, until its plan has 
become perceptible to other ants. . . . 

"In another part of the ants' nest several bits 
of grass seemed to have been placed expressly 



28 THE LIFE OF THE ANT 

in order to form the framework of the roof of a 
large cell ; a worker took advantage of this arrange- 
ment; these fragments, lying horizontally half an 
inch from the ground, crossed one another in such 
a manner as to form an elongated parallelogram. 
The industrious insect began by placing earth in 
all the corners of this framework, and along the 
little beams of which it was composed; the same 
worker then placed several rows of these 
materials 
in juxtaposition, so that the roof of the house 
was beginning to grow quite distinct; when, 
having perceived the possibility of employing 
another plant as the support of a vertical wall, 
it laid the foundation of this wall in the same 
manner. Other ants having by then arrived, they 
completed in common the structures which the 
first had begun," 

5 comentaris:

  1. Amanhã, às 18h30, Gregorio Byington Duvivier estará na Feira do Livro.

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    Marco Segur Paul gregorio quê? by ing town? ton é pesadão mesmo
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    Marco Segur Paul cês mora no parque é?

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    1. o IMPARÁVEL NÃO PARA NEM PARA ALMOÇO .....Marcelo não pára ? com acento? nem se cala: a magistratura de influência foi substituída pela magistratura do erro crasso

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  2. NA SOMBRA DO PÁRA-RAIOS UM BARBUDO GRITOU PÁRA PARA ESSE FIM E PAROU PARANDO NO PRADO PARADO BRADANDO AOS CÉUS PÁRA POR AMOR DO AXENTO NO JUIZ DE FÓRA ----ESSE CARA É BRASUCA BOTA ELE FÓRA ..... Com as alterações de grafia trazidas pelo Acordo Ortográfico de 2008, importa analisar se o acento agudo de pára (verbo) foi abolido, ou continua existindo. 2) No passado, a regra era o emprego do acento agudo na forma verbal pára (flexão do verbo parar – ele pára NO BRASIL ELE EM PORTUGAL JÁ TINHA PARADO HÁ BUÉRERÉ ), a fim de diferenciá-la da preposição para. 3) A explicação para essa ocorrência era que o verbo constituía forma tônica, enquanto a preposição era forma átona, de modo que se empregava, assim, na primeira, um acento diferencial de tonicidade. 4) O Acordo Ortográfico de 2008, porém, aboliu, de modo expresso, esse acento agudo da forma verbal para, de modo que, hoje, o correto é escrever sem acento algum tanto a forma verbal como a preposição, como se confere a seguir: a) "Então, estranhamente, sem motivo algum, ele para no semáforo aberto" (3ª pessoa do singular do presente do indicativo do verbo parar); b) "Instruções para pouso na água" (preposição).31 de maig de 2016 a les 14:21

    PÁRA DE DIZER BOBAGEM PARA PARA PARA NO PARÁ

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    1. Esse tipo de gente esquisita, que tem um ódio feroz contra a igreja católica , se fossem coerentes e tivessem um pingo de vergonha na cara, nunca deviam deixar de trabalhar nos feriados católicos.
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      Marco Segur Paul trabalhar? pôrra se fossem cuerentes nem trabalhavam pá de resto meio país está na SORNA
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      Marco Segur Paul MAIS UM GNR REFORMADO AOS 55......
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      Marco Segur Paul IDE PASSAR MULTAS AO MENINO JASUS IDE....
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      Marco Segur Paul E À GALDÉRIA DE SUA MÕE QUE ENCORNOU SÃO JOSÉ SEU MARIDO

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    2. E NA TERRA ONDE AS MONTANHAS SONHAVAM SONHOS OCOS E AS COLINAS SONHAVAM SER MONTANHAS UMA BRISA GELADA ESCOOU-SE LENTA LENTAMENTE SOBRE O PAÍS DE ABRIL ONDE O VERÃO QUENTE SE ABRIA EM FLOR E DAS GELEIRAS DO NORTE DESCONGELOU-SE UM JESUS JÁ ABERTO EM CRUZ ..... 1 comentário Curtir · Comentar Ordem cronológica Comentários Marco Segur Paul Marco Segur Paul E era barbudo e com 4 olhos o tal jasus ...jasus gritaram as gentes DAS PALAVRAS PERMUTADAS POR MIÚDOS E GRAÚDOS MANTEÚDOS - E ALGURES DAS MONTANHAS GELADAS DA MONA LISA ESCORREU UMA BRISA QUENTE E SECA E A CRIATURA QUE SONHAVA CONCORDOU EM ACORDAR NA CONCÓRDIA DOS DIAS VAZIOS.......etc E NO CÉU NADA DE NOVO SEMPRE OS VELHOS PRODÍGIOS QUE TODAS AS NOITES CAGAM O CÉU DE ESTRELAS E TODAS AS MANHÃS FAZEM NASCER UM NOVO SOL2 de juny de 2016 a les 10:24

      e assis foi ...

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