When, therefore, the laying-time is at hand, the Bee takes possession of the first vacant nest that suits her and settles there; and woe to any sister or neighbour who shall henceforth dare to contest her ownership. Hot pursuits and fierce blows will soon put the newcomer to flight.
Besides, as laying-time approaches, the phosphorescence of the eggs is already made manifest through this clumsy midwifery. A soft opalescent light shines through the integument of the belly. The hatching follows soon after the laying. The young of either sex have two little rush-lights on the last segment. At the approach of the severe weather they go down into the ground, but not very far.
A few adults, unquestionably connections of the brood, are also swarming amid the putrescence. The laying-time is over now and victuals are plentiful. Having nothing else to do, the foster-parents have sat down to the feast with the nurslings. The undertakers are quick at rearing a family.
We will now retrace our steps a little. When laying-time comes, the mother forsakes her dwelling, her crater into which her falling victims dropped, her labyrinth in which the flight of the Midges was cut short; she leaves intact the apparatus that enabled her to live at her ease. Thoughtful of her natural duties, she goes to found another establishment at a distance. Why at a distance?
I have just served up a Linnet shot two days ago. I next place in the cage a Bluebottle, one only, to avoid confusion. Her fat belly proclaims the advent of laying-time. An hour later, when the excitement of being put in prison is allayed, my captive is in labour.
The laying-time has not yet set in, for I find no eggs, no young Scolia-larvae. September apparently will be the propitious month. But there are bound to be many injured in the course of this upheaval; some of the Scoliae have flown away who will perhaps have a certain difficulty in finding the new site; I have disarranged everything in the overturned heap.
And there is little need for increased solidity when the work has to be done again on the morrow. On the other hand, in the late autumn, the full-grown Spiders, feeling laying-time at hand, are driven to practise economy, in view of the great expenditure of silk required for the egg-bag.
As laying-time approaches, towards the middle of August, I instal half-a- dozen Labyrinth Spiders in large wire-gauze cages, each standing in an earthen pan filled with sand. A sprig of thyme, planted in the centre, will furnish supports for the structure, together with the trellis-work of the top and sides.
Then, on the surface of the nest, whose chambers are hidden under the old general mortar covering, new cells are built, as the needs of the laying-time call for them. They are placed horizontally, or nearly so, side by side, with no attempt at orderly arrangement.
And yet, like the others, the builder of this slovenly edifice must have her own principles of beauty and accuracy. As it is, the prettily-latticed mouth of the crater makes us suspect this; the nest, the mother's usual masterpiece, will prove it to the full. When laying-time is at hand, the Spider changes her residence; she abandons her web in excellent condition; she does not return to it.