The white ant that grand destroyer of all timber always works under cover; he builds as he progresses in his work of destruction, and runs a long gallery of fine clay in the direction of his operations; beneath this his devastation proceeds until he has penetrated to the interior of the beam, the centre of which he entirely demolishes, leaving a thin shell in the form of the original log encrusted over the exterior with numerous galleries.
Maurice saw a pair on his right, a thin, puny little fellow lugging a burly sergeant, with both legs broken, suspended from his neck; the sight reminded the young man of an ant, toiling under a burden many times larger than itself; and even as he watched them a shell burst directly in their path and they were lost to view.
Between them they killed the ant, for Ruth finally recovered a part of the unfortunate creature. "But just think," consoled Helen, "how much more awful it would have been if you had swallowed him, Heavy, instead of his wriggling down your spinal column." "Oh, don't! I can feel him wriggling now," sighed Jennie.
One thinks of a column of foragers as a tendril with only the tip sensitive and growing and moving, while the corpuscle-like individual ants are driven in the current of blind instinct to and fro, on their chemical errands. And then this whole theory, this most vivid simile, is quite upset by the sights that I watch in the suburbs of this ant home!
The animals we must examine next, on account of their superiority to the rest, are insects. Small as the ant is, it would not be right to let her be preceded by the oyster. Before speaking of insects, my dear child, it will be necessary, in the first place, to tell you to what primary division they belong and on what characters this division has been established.
From thence we find our hedgehog, still wandering devious, but with always a direction, just as an ant has, heading his way down-ditch to a farm, and all the way he ate beetles mostly, but with slugs and worms thrown in. Now, those of the wild-folk who approach the farm, even by night, do so with their life in their paws, and most of them know it.
But most of the ant communities are already so excellently adapted to the conditions of their life as to leave little opportunity for improvement, so that the adoption of new and advantageous habits are certain to be exceedingly rare. It is an interesting fact that communalism has been confined to animals of comparatively low organization.
To sit near by and concentrate solely upon the doings of these ant people, was as easy as watching a single circus ring of performing elephants, while two more rings, a maze of trapezes, a race track and side-shows were in full swing. The jungle around me teemed with interesting happenings and distracting sights and sounds.
Then perhaps he told the other ants. Maybe he let them know that there was a string by which they could get down to the jar. In about half an hour after the ant had gone up the string, Franklin saw a swarm of ants going down the string. They marched in a line, one after another. Soon there were two lines of ants on the string. The ants in one line were going down to get at the sweet food.
I saw at once that it was the nest of a termite, or ant, which the Mexicans call comejen. "It is a nest of white ants," I said to my son; "they are insects of the neuropteral order, and allied to the libellula." "But where are they?" "You will soon see," I answered.