The dwellers in our gardens

Material Information

The dwellers in our gardens their lives and works
Wood, Sara
Groombridge and Sons ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
Groombridge and Sons
Publication Date:
2nd ed.
Physical Description:
[8], 184 p., 6 leaves of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 19 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Garden ecology -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Garden animals -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1877 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1877
Children's literature ( fast )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London


General Note:
Cover vignette, gilt-stamped, gilt edges.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Sara Wood.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
023643263 ( ALEPH )
13109672 ( OCLC )
AHL7699 ( NOTIS )


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Author of The Gift of Life," &c.

"IIe prayeth best, .h,, loveth best
All things both great and small,
For the dear God who loveth mu,
IIe made and lovcth all.'




















Plate 1.


"A LARGE number of insects wear disguises, the study of which is
most interesting on account of its very close bearing upon their
history. In all cases of disguise it will be found to be of vital im-
portance to the insect; and that portion of its structure which is
concealed by the disguise often presents a striking contrast to the
rest. Our common white butterflies are familiar but good examples,
their colouring being so arranged that not a particle of the very
conspicuous white is exposed when they are asleep, but only the
dusky ycllowish which colours the under sides of the hind wings
and the tips of the fore wings. It may be further observed that
this yellowish colour alone is visible only when the creature rests
strictly speaking, and not when it merely settles on a leaf or flower
on a sunny day-for the wings are then more or less open, and the
white shows strongly; but in this case the insect is always thoroughly
on the alert, and would avoid any approaching enemy by flight,
while in the evening, or on very dull days, they are fast asleep,
and, when found, as easy to capture as the plucking of the flower
which they resemble. Their disguise is also aided by the fastidious
care which they may be observed to use, as evening approaches, in
choosing their sleeping-places, as they often change their places
many times before settling down for the night."
"The Anthocharis cardainincs, or orange-tip butterfly, is most
wonderfully protected by the colouring of its under surface when it
is resting at night on the buds or blossoms of the Anthriscus syl-
vcstris, or wild parsley, or some other small white flower, as shown
in the plate. The insect is not seen to touch the wild parsley for
any purpose but sleep, as it visits the little pink geranium, during
sunshine, for the nectar it contains, at which time the wings are
open, although not widely expanded."

Description of Coloured Plates.

The Blue Butterflies may be found in the evening, resting with
their heads downwards on the buds and blossoms of grass, plantain,
etc., which with their beautifully-spotted undersides and general
appearance when in the attitude shown in our plate, they so
closely resemble that they usually escape notice."
"The Phlogophora mcticulosa, or angle-shades moth, shown in
the plate, is remarkable from its peculiar and probably unique
appearance during the day, its time of resting, the fore wings
being curled on their outer margins, thus adding greatly to the
disguise, which is evidently that of a withered, dried-up leaf. The
curl disappears immediately when the moth prepares for flight, and
the wings then become as flat as those of any other insect."
"There is a small moth belonging to the genus A ntithesia, very
common in gardens, shown on the central leaf in the plate, which,
when at rest, is exactly like the excrement of a sparrow, or other
-mall bird, and, as we always find, the disguise it wears suits its
habits, for it sits fully exposed to view on the upper surface of
leaves, etc., and will drop off when the leaves are shaken as if it
were really a lifeless object."-Curiosities of Entomology.

Plate 2.
Fig. I. Red Admiral Butterfly. Vanessa atalanta.
,, 2. Brimstone Butterfly. Go tcptcryx rhaunii.
,, 3. Common Blue Butterfly. Polyonmmatus alexis.
,, 4. Humming Bird-moth. Macroglossa stcllatarum.
,, Tiger-moth. Arctia caja.
,, 6. Lappet-moth. Gastropacha quercifolia.
,, 7. Clearwing-moth. Scsia ajiformis.
,, 8. Alucita Polydactyla.

Plate 3.
Robin, Blackbird, and Thrushes.

Description of Coloured Plates.

Plate 4.

Plate B.
Fig. I. Nightingale.
,, 2. Blackcap.
,, 3. Garden Warbler.
,, 4. Whitethroat.
,, 5. Wood Warbler.
,, 6. Willow Warbler.
,, 7. Chiffchaff.
,, 8. Wren.
,, 9. Gold-crested Wren.

Plate 6.
But few observers have devoted any attention to these interesting
moths, although of such beautiful hues and metallic lustre, glorious
as the Admiral and Peacock butterflies in the variety and richnez
of their colouring, whilst in their instincts they are as wonderful
as any of their larger brethren. In our plate we give representation
of our commonest leaf-miners, highly magnified, the natural sizo
being indicated by minute figures or by lines beneath.
It was one of the wonders of my childhood," says Mrs. Lane
Clarke, what the hieroglyphic, up:in primrose, bramble, and ro-e
leaves could poss,ily mean. I saw a white winding stream mean
during along with a dark wavy line in the centre, beginning at a,
mere speck and dwelling into a broad river, then suddenly ending.
Holding a ro-e leaf to the light, one day, there was life within that
winding way, a sheltered, naked little worm sustainedd in the narrow
channel between the upper and lower cuticle of the leaf; food,
safety, warmth, all provided within the limit; of the rose-leaf
mine. Picking open the upper skin anld fdinig a small green cater-

Description of Coloured Plates.

pillar, curious to know its metamorphosis, and failing to preserve
the larva in the gathered leaves, I bethought me of muslin bags,
which I tied over the twigs of rose trees and brambles, laburnums,
and lilacs, which were the first mined and rolled leaves I had ob-
served ; and great was my joy when from these pages of nature's
own book I first learnt the mysteries of the microscopic moths.
Every folded leaf is in truth the habitation of the larva of a minute
Lepidoptera, and beneath the leaf a blotch, a pucker, or a tiny
tent, will, if watched, produce one of these beautiful objects."
The beautiful plumed head of the Ochsenheineria (Fig. 15), and
the head of Coriscium (Fig. 16), an oak-leaf miner, plentiful in
April, June, August, and September, with drooping and tufted
palpi, show us the minute yet decided variations which mark the
Fig. I. Cemiostoma scitella. Hawthorn and Pear.
,, 2. Cemriostoma laburnella. Laburnum.
,, 3. Nepticula aurclla. Blackberry.
,, 4. Nepticula trimacuilcla. Poplar.
,, 5. Ncticula sub-bimaculdela. Oak.
,, 6. Nefticula anomalella. Rose-leaf.
,, 7. Lithocollcths st ttinensis. Alder.
,, S. Tischcria marginea. Bramble.
,, 9. Glyptiteryx equiteilla. Stonecrop.
,, Io. Elachista luticoiiella. Dactylis glomerata.
,, I. Ochscnheiineria. Dactylis glomerata.
,, 12. Gclcchia malvella. IIollyhock.
,, 13. Cerostom a xylostdll:. Honeysuckle.
,, 14. Gelcchia hermanclla. Ghenopodium.
,, 15. Head of Ochscnhcimeria.
,,16. Coriscium. Oak.
All thee figures are highly magnified. The natural size is give
in the lines beneath each, or in a minute figure.
Fig. 17. Examples of different larva mines: a, mine of Neftici!:
aurclla on the Bramble. b, mine of the Nclfic:. ,
anomalella on the Rose-leaves. c, mine of Neptic:i'.l
viscerclla on the Elm. d, mine of Ncfticuis ms ;-
.. . on thi Elm.






". i i -1 I': dweller in our garden,
whom cal' l thi: "Slowt
." is, from hi.i very slow
""*.d, l iriasurced pace, not only
--- cas to be seen when lih
S happens to be abroad, but
-froim his quiet and secluded
habits can generally be found at home when he
is wanted. Some people have described him as
never going from home, and as carrying his house

111E I)WII.i.FJ.S IN (IiR (;.\RDENS.

with him on his back at all times ; but we shall show
that this is a wrong notion, and though by nature
his body is provided with a comfortable and convenient
covering, yet he requires a dwelling-place as well as
other creatures. We shall find that he likes above all
things a nice little retired nook to live in-shady, coo!,
and damp, under the shelter of leaves and branches, or
on the shady side of a bank, or among stones or trct
trunks-anywhere so that it is secluded, cool, and shady.
Never, by any chance, is he to be seen taking a walk in
the glare and warmth of the hot noon-day ; but before
the sun has risen, or not had time to mount up high in
the heavens, and when the early dew is still on the
grass and every flower and leaf moist with it, the Slow
One may be seen making his way as fast as he ie
crawl towards some juicy lettuce or cabbage leaves, or
succulent young flowering plant or bed of seedlings, to
eat his breakfast. There are other times, too, when he
will venture forth from home ; as, for instance, when a
shower of rain has ju t fallen, and made the ground soft
and damp, and when every leaf and blade of grass is
dripping with rain-drops, and the sun still hid behind
rain-clouds-theni he will all at once unglue himself from
his tree-trunk, stone, or wall, and raising up his shell,
poke out his head and stretch out his one great foot,
and iirst thrusting up his two tallest horns, and then
putting out his two smaller ones-will glide forth with
his usual slow, dignified, and not ungraceful pace, to take
a second meal.



Learned people give the name of Helix aspersa' to
our slow friend. Helix, because that is the Latin for a coil
or a screw, and describes the form of his outer covering
or shell; and aspersa, because of the spottings and
blotches of darker colour on the whorls or windings of
it. From the softness of his body, the snail-whom,
after all, we must call by his most common name some-
times-belongs to the large class of animals which are
called Molluscs or Mollusca, from the Latin word imollis,
soft; and then he has another family name, made up of
two Greek words, which describe his manner of crawling
on his stomach as if it were a large foot, so that all
molluscous animals who crawl in that manner, whether
on land, or at the bottom of the sea on sea-weeds and
rocks, are called gastero-foda, or stomach-footed. Like
most other living creatures, the snail requires air for his
support, as well as food. If we observe him closely as
he is crawling abroad, we may perceive a round opening
come every now and then under the edge of the shell at
his right side. He is taking air into his lungs; and air
is as much needed for the growth of his body, and the
continuance of his life, as with ourselves. As he eats,
too, we can see that there is something which he can do
quickly, like ourselves, since the rapid motion of his mouth
as he munches his leaves is very perceptible, it being
provided with a hard and toothed upper jaw. Let us
notice, too, his delicate and flexible horns, at the tips of
which are his round eyes, and admire the grace with
which he bends them this way and that as he crawls, as
1; 2


if to look about him. Small round knob> arc these eve:
of his. w without lid or lah s o wonder that he avoids
the glare of bright sunshine. ]lu: instead of an eyelid t
shut over them, how easily he can protect his organs of
sight by drawing the eye with the whole horn into hi.
head again at the approach of the slightest danger. With
v'hat delicate muscles must not this lie effected within
that slender horn I He has the sense of smell-that we
are sure of, from his detecting so far off his favourite
fod ; but we know not where are his organs of smell.
Are they at the tips of the short horns nearer his mouth.
and do these small knobs at their end act as noses or
nostrils, or is there all over the body the power of per-
ceiving in the air odoriferous particles, imperceptible t,,
our silht aud smell. which come from the plants he feeds
on ?
It seems to us when he gathirs hn lnlf so complete :
"up into his shell, and fasten, hi:se>; s closely agaii> t
some smooth surface alter a ni al, i !i' Aheen meant t:
sleep ; but we really know ittiLe a1 'L. it. for it is quit:
certain that while he is so quiet and >:i something is
going on very imllpoltalnt to the Slow ( )ne. ()1t course he
is growing all the time, like every other creatuti:-
noturihed by the particular food which i suitcd to thei-
na:tures ; the food adding f resh material t ttle hIdy. an:!
tihe operation which we call digestion helping to change
the food into the matter wanted for the :'.:ilhti:ng upt of
the body. or for repairing thie wa-te of \hat is used up
by the act of living; and yet samt e!se i ides this

TII kE wrT. .I :' IN OC:RC; \:',!)iN .

I I 5

goes on within the ate e arc describing. As we
grow our bones grow with us aid help to give support
and strength to our bodice, and 1,ak us what we are
--trong and upright creatures, able to move about
esily and with the soft lieby parts of our limbs outside
our hard bones. liut with the soft-bodied race to whilh
)ur garden friend belongs, the hard parts most often
iome outside. They answer the same purpose as bones
:m some respects, and serve to protect their tender
bodies, especially those of the race who inhabit the sea,
where they are constantly exposed to the buftfting of
waves and the ebbings and flowing of tides. Jike our
' mns, shells are principally composed of lie, but some-
how it seems as if the animals who are covered with
them had more to do w-ith the making of them than we
human creatures have to do with the growth of our
bones. Their shells are made of matter which oozes out
of their soft bodies-part line and part a sort of animal
glue, which hardens into the covering they want outside
Our Slow One, therefore, seems to have something to
do, while apparently idle or asleep, in building up the
w horled shell which protects him. We hlve described
the kind of dwelling places in our gardens that le gene-
:ally chooses for a home, and perhaps it i. nit far ifnin
ouich nooks that he ni hv been born. In a hol in
the earth, half hid by a stone, peralps, was dropped by
its parent, one by one, a bunch of little white eggs, about
the size of a small pea, and out of each of them in due



time came a tiny soft creature, with already the beginning
of a shell upon its almost transparent body. The greater
part of the body had a tendency from the first to grow in
a spiral or twisting form, and the shell had the same
tendency, or rather could not help doing so, as it grew
in size with the growth of the small creature it was to
cover and protect. The head could be freed at will
from the shell envelope, and the foot on which it was to
crawl, but the upper portion of the body was to be
always attached to and covered by the shell; and as this
part of the body grew and was always coiling round in its
growth the shell too became spiral, and each whorl
became larger than the one before, as it increased with
the creature's growth.
Now the manner in which matter is constantly being
added, so as to make the shell larger and larger, is a very
curious affair. Almost all animals belonging to the soft-
bodied race which are called MIolluscs (or Mollusca),
like the Helix of our gardens, have their bodies
enveloped in a sort of loose skin, which has been called
a mantle, because it wraps them round like a cloak or
mantle. All sea molluscs, such as whelks and peri-
winkles, as well as those which have shells composed of
two parts, like oysters and mussels, have the same
envelopes or mant/cs, and it is round the edges of them
that are the small pores out of which oozes the matter
which builds up the shell. It is thus at /th edge of /th'
opening, or iouthi ot f/ te shell that the fresh matter is con-
stantly added, and it naturally follows the growth of the



creature's body. While it is in repose, the mantle comes
"up to the very edge of the shell's mouth, and a fresh
little layer of shelly matter is deposited. If we examine
a shell with a magnifying glass, we can see how small
furrows or ridges are left outside by these repeated addi-
tions, and we may observe too that more of the animni
matter comes to the outside, and, drying, inmkes a kind of
brown skin, while within the shell it is almost wholly com-
posedof lime, and is kept smooth and polished like marble.
The glue-like matter may be seen plainly at the edge of
a young snail's shell projecting a little, like a film. The
limey matter is added within it afterwards, making it serve
as a mould. This same gluey matter, mixed, perhaps,
with a little lime, seems to ooze out at all times from the
,ody of the creature, and especially from his large
stomach-foot as he crawls, leaving, as we know, a
glistening white track behind him at all times; the
same sticky matter being used for helping to fasten
himself up against some object when at home. Thus it
is that the shell always fits the growing creature-never
too small or too large, or too tight or too loose, but
always of the right size and form for covering the coiled-
up part, and fir packing the whole body into when
needed. Which of us can say the same of any of our
own clothing ?
While we are examining the shell, of which we have
so many specimens at all times in our gardens that we
forget to admire them, let us notice that it is curiously
marked by some addition of darker-coloured matter,


which must have been poured out at certain parts of the
mantle from time to time, and which following the
windings of the shell end in making elegant bands of
spots, or rather blotches, around it; and we may
also observe that its whole form is most beautiful and
symmetrical. The coils of the shell, as it has grown, are
as regular and exact as if following some law or rule, as
any object made by art.

No clever artist or mechanic who might take out his
ingenious tools, his compasses and rulers, and then
sitting down, open out his learned books on geometry
and other long-named sciences, and after studying them,
might make trials and experiments, and calculate and re-
calculate; even then would not be able to design such
graceful, pretty, and accurate coils as have been pro-
duced by nature while our garden friend has been
digesting all his life's breakfasts But, after all, the secret
of the shape of the shell and its regularity comes from
the shape of the creature itself, which, if it were taken
out of its shell and laid straight, would present the strange
form of a very tall fool's-cap, with its long foot and head
at the bottom. The book about geometry would call it
an elongated cone."


See what a strange figure our Slow One appears
when divested of his elegantly formed and close-fitting
shell garment, and stretched out to his real length!
When we cut in half the empty shell of a snail, we shall
also see how much more delicate and thin were the first
whorls of it, when the animal was young,
compared to the very last whorl-the
body as it grew requiring a thicker and
thicker covering, while the point of the
tall cone in our figure shows where was
the beginning of the coiling, which now
forms the apex or top of the spire of
the shell.
And now let us ask what happens
when the gardener gets rather savage at
finding some of his choice lettuces or
delicate seedlings nearly eaten up one ,
morning, and then takes the trouble to :- .,,
trace the offender back to his ;
hiding place by his silvery I
track? What happens if he -_- s--.'
should ruthlessly tear him from -----.-
his home, and intending to throw him over the garden
wall fail to do so, and our friend, striking against the top-
most brick of the wall, receives a violent blow, and falling
down behind some tree is not killed, but stunned, while his
shell is all crushed and broken-all his life's work, it would
seem at first, quite spoiled. The broken edges of shell
forced in against his tender body, and a piece of shell



gone, so that there, at the back of the last whorl is now
a terrible hole, letting in the air, and making him feel
dreadfully uncomfortable, besides altogether spoiling his
whole appearance. Perhaps he recovers gradually from
the shock-waits for nightfall, and then crawls home thus
wounded and maimed; but we rather fancy that he stays
where he is, fastens himself to the wall which has so
cruelly injured him, and then and there mends himself!
No surgeon wanted for him-no bandages needed, or
forceps, or lancet. Friend Helix repairs his own shell.
He keeps quite still, oozes out more limey and gluey
matter just where it is wanted (for it would seem as if the
whole of that envelope called the mantle can produce or
secrete shell), and the matter dries and hardens; all is
comfortable once more, and bye-and-bye he can, if he
like, crawl home to his old nook again. Should you
meet with him after this dreadful catastrophe, and exa-
mine the traces of the accident, you can just see where
the shell patch has been put in, but that is all, for it is
very cleverly done.
But the gardener is not the only enemy which the snail
has to dread, since many birds feed on slugs and snails,
the shells of the latter, be they ever so strong, not always
protecting them from some of the larger birds. We may
see even on our garden paths, near some particularly
large stone which is embedded in the gravel, fragments
of snail shell, where some thrush or starling has carried a
snail to knock and crush its shell against the hard surface,
leaving not a particle of its soft body after the meal; and


we have noticed frequently around some particularly
large stone on the surface of a common, a circle of frag-
ments of snail shell, showing where birds have often used
the stone in preparing their dinners; so that the snail, while
nourishing his own body with his natural vegetable food,
supplies to other animals their natural food-just as the
grass-eating sheep furnishes food for mutton-eating men.
It is to be so, by a law of nature, and we need not look
upon it as a terrible or cruel law, but rather one to be
reverenced and obeyed, though we should try at all times,
and above all things, to respect and spare life as much
as it is possible.
We have said that 'Helix aspersa' likes coolness and
damp and dislikes warmth, but it is also true that he
avoids the cold of winter and spends that season in a
kind of stupor or sleep, taking no food, and never un-
fastening himself from the smooth surface of bark or wall
or stone to which his shell is attached; and besides
glueing himself round the edge of his shell to such a
surface, he also covers the mouth of the shell inside with
a thin coating of shelly matter, and withdraws still
farther back into his largest whorl. Perhaps for the sake
of getting a little warmth from each other, a number of
his family, on the coming on of cold weather, will fasten
themselves to the shells of each other, the mouth of one
shell being made to adhere to the back of the last whorl
of another until a large ball is formed. What a curious
sight must it be, when, on some mild, damp morning in
early spring, the whole assembly of Slow Ones awake from



their winter sleep, and unpacking themselves from their
ball, crawl off, each his way, to break his long fast!
'Helix aspersa' has many relations-some of them
very like himself, and others only distant cousins, though
all have several very striking points of resemblance.


'Helix nemoralis,' for instance (whose name means
'of the woods'), who is of a more delicate and
refined nature, also lives 'sometimes in our gardens,
where disdaining such common fare as lettuce or
cabbage leaves, he selects the tender foliage of the
grape vine for his diet, while, as his name betokens, he
is also to be found in country hedges, and among the
moss about the trunks of trees. It is no doubt from the
delicacy of his food that his shell is more fine in texture,
and of a pale yellow or straw colour, elegantly banded
with brown.


Another, called 'Helix hortensis' (or 'of the garden'),
iay also be found in some of our gardens, and


is to be distinguished from nemoralis' by a greater
number of stripes around the shell, which is finished off
with a pretty rim at the mouth, while the graceful and
almost transparent body shows that the creature lives on
delicate leaves and fruit. 'Helix arbustorum,' or the shrub-
snail, is also found in some country gardens, especially
where there are shrubberies and plantations of young
trees; and where gardens happen to have ponds in them,
in which chickweed grows on the surface, or which
have other fresh-water plants growing in the mud at the


bottom--such as the pretty water ranunculus, which,
while it has its roots in the mud, and fennel-like foliage
under the water, sends up to float on the surface its
delicate white blossoms and round glossy leaves. When
this happens, we may be sure to find many shell-
covered molluscous animals feeding on these plants
which are near relations to the Helix. The 'Lymnea
stagnalis,' for instance, is sure to be there, clinging to
the stalks or leaves, or swimming on the surface of the
water, the bottom of his foot serving as a kind of float,
while his shell and body hang downwards. The shell



of this water-snail is more spiral than the land shells,
while in another variety of fresh-water snails often found



in ponds, called the Planorbis' (which name means
'flat-round'), the whorls of the shell are wound round
like a flat coil of rope. In all these creatures the
cone-shaped part of the body gets its shell covering,
while the head and foot can also be drawn at times into
it for protection and shelter.


Perhaps the Helix thinks the slug or Limax but a sort
of poor relation, and of a very inferior nature to himself,


crawling about as he does with his long, dark, slimy body
unprotected by any shell. One of his brother slugs, to
be sure, does bear upon his back a flat piece of shell, like
a shield, but this one is of a still coarser nature, and
instead of feeding on vegetables like his brethren and
cousins, likes nothing so much as flies and beetles for his
daily fare.
And now to return to Helix aspersa,' whose life is
spent in our gardens, and whose manner of life we have
described, we have only left to tell that his shell building
goes on until his body has attained its full size, and then
it seems as if he meant to take a little rest, or in other
words when he stops growing no larger shell is required
for him. When this time comes, he completes his
shell with a sort of moulding or cornice round the mouth
of it, as if to give it a finish and make it strong, and
having done this- if the gardener and the birds will let
him-lives on to the natural end of his quiet and secluded
life. And must not we who have been laying bare and
looking into some of the secrets of that quiet life, feel
after so examining into his nature and ways more respect
than we have hitherto been accustomed to feel for a
creature so often seen and so contemptuously spoken of ?
-and who yet, after all, is gifted with some of the same
senses as ourselves-sight, smell, taste-so that we per-
ceive that it has been intended that he too should enjoy
life, and that even when he is doing us the greatest
mischief that he can, is, after all, but living according to
the nature given to him ; while if we are at all inclined



to doubt whether he values his life, and in common
with all other living creatures, has had given to him a
desire to preserve it, together with some power of pro-
tecting it from danger, we may

"Give but his horns the slightest touch,
His self-collecting power is such
He shrinks into his shell' with much

".... y- '- .-_

6Lr~ I,1^"^ -^




OR a greater part of the year, espe-
cially during the late autumn months,
There are to be seen suspended in
our gardens, among the boughs of
trees and shrubs, or in the angles of
gates or doorways, samples of the
beautiful workmanship of the clever
Spinner and Weaver, who is sure to
live there. When the morning sun
happens to fall on the delicate fabrics, making
them glisten like spun glass or silver, or when the dew
has left tiny beads upon them which reflect all the
colours of the rainbow, or when some early morning
frost late in autumn has frozen the dew-drops so that
the whole looks as if carved out of ivory, then it is that
the texture of these elegant hangings is most easily seen,
and their wonderful workmanship shown to the greatest
advantage. But though we may admire them very much,
we know full well that they are not hung there to adorn
our gardens and excite our admiration, but are constructed
to serve a very important purpose in the life of the



Spinner and Weaver. For though we may pretend to
describe them as tapestry hangings, or even call them
webs, they are, after all, nothing more or less than nets-
wheel-shaped nets, with which the makers of them catch
the prey on which they live, and which is their natural
food. We should not look far before finding in the
centre of one of these nets the maker of it sitting
patiently awaiting its prey. If-the net is a particularly
large one, we may be sure that the spinner and weaver
of it is also large, and yet its size, in proportion to the
circumference of the net, is just as if some human weaver
had woven a round carpet or rug, whose measurement
across from one side to the other was twenty or even
thirty times the length of his own body ; and we may
remember, too, that the human weaver would be sure to
have a frame and some sort of machinery to weave his
web with, while our garden weaver has nothing but his
own limbs with which to measure and fasten the warp
and the woof of his web, and, moreover, has been the
spinner of the thread himself with which it is woven.
All this-together with the wonderful accuracy and regu-
larity of the workmanship, and other circumstances which
we shall have to relate, causes the Spinners and Weavers
who live in our gardens to be considered the very
cleverest of all the creatures who dwell there. They
have more of what looks like mind or reason, and some-
thing which seems to pass beyond what we are accus-
tomed to call the instinct of animals," and seems to
show that they can plan, and project, and measure, and


calculate in making their nets, and then end with
displaying great dexterity and cunning (as we shall see)
in capturing and securing their prey.
And now we must tell a story about the name of the
Spinner and Weaver, which was given to his ancestors
very long ago. There was, it is said, a young Greek
girl called Arachne, the daughter of a dyer who lived in
lonia, who was greatly renowned for her spinning and
weaving-her father very likely dyeing the wool and flax
and silk with bright colours, which his daughter after-
wards spun and wove. At last the renown which
Arachne gained for her workmanship made her very vain
and presumptuous, so that she at length ventured to
challenge the goddess Minerva to a trial of skill with her.
Now Minerva happened not only to be the goddess of
wisdom, but was also the patroness and inventress of all
sorts of needlework as well as of spinning and weaving,
and, as might be supposed, was very clever herself, so
that when she tried her skill with Arachne the latter was
beaten. So mortified and ashamed was then Arachne
at this defeat, that she went and hanged herself on a tree
in her despair, and the goddess in pity at her fate
changed her into a spider, in which form she was still to
go on spinning and weaving.
We thus see how it was that the Spinner and Weaver
of our gardens was first called Arachne by the Greeks,
and why his descendants are now called Arachnidce;
but it may be that this story was invented very long ago
to account for the cleverness of all the family in spinning
c 2



and weaving, and that the Greeks were so proud of the
skill of men, that when they saw a tiny creature able to
spin fine and delicate threads and weave them into beau-
tiful webs, they said in their pride that it could not hai e
been so clever if it had not once been a human being,
and thus they invented the story of Arachne.
But truth is much more wonderful than any stories,
and ought to be more interesting to us, so putting all
such aside, we will see how we can describe the wonder-
fully formed body and still more wonderful powers and
curious ways and manner of life of the spider, a creature
whom we all see so often without seeing well, and whom
instead of admiring for the patient industry with which it
exercises its skill for the gain of its livelihood and the
care of its offspring, are too apt to consider in the light
of a nuisance, all because of those webs of theirs. Do
they not hang them in the corners of our rooms where
they catch the dust and look most unseemly, and across
our window panes where they obstruct the view, and
from bush to bush in our gardens, so that they come
across our faces and get entangled in our hair as we pass
down our paths ? They plague and annoy us, and we
brush them away with impatience and disgust, and yet
when we observe these webs and their weavers more
carefully, and read and learn all that has been observed
and discovered about them by others, we find that we
might perhaps spend a life-time in watching and
examining them, and yet not be able to discover all that
is puzzling and difficult to understand in the webs them-


s lves, and in the live and ways of the creatures who
weave them.
And to begin with the curiously formed body of the
spider, all the parts of which can only be seen with the
help of powerful magnifying glasses and microscopes.
There are, of course, many kinds of spiders," but we will
confine our description to those we have the best oppor-
tanity of seeing, and more especially to the one who
generally lives in our gardens and is best known to us.
We all have seen its round body-round as a nut; its
head and eight slender, many-jointed legs, with which it
runs to and fro upon the threads of its web with the
grace and agility of a rope-dancer, and which perform
the part of arms as well as legs, as their owner weaves
its web and captures its prey. We must use the
microscope to find out the other parts of the body, such
as the eight eyes placed on the top of the head; the
strong pincers on each side of the mouth, which are not
unlike the claws of a lobster, and are used as weapons
in seizing and devouring its prey; and, lastly, the
spinnerets beneath the body-a number of small bags of
gluey matter, covered with thousands of minute hairs,
which are really little tubes, out of which the creature
squeezes the material for its thread, and which issuing
from its body like an exceedingly fine spray or shower
of liquid, becomes dry and firm and elastic on coming
in contact with the air, and unites together, forming
one fine thread, which we can just see without the
help of a magnifying glass. We know that thou-



sands of fine fibres of hemp make up a strong rope, and
that it is all the stronger for being made up of many such
fine threads or strands, and so it is with the spider's

transparent rope, which holds together so wonderfully as
long lines of it are hung from tree to tree and from
shrub to shrub, and when it is carried round and round
to form one of the wheel-like webs. The microscope

shews us the curious claws at the ends of its fore-legs,
with which it adjusts the thread as it spins it, and
which it uses to hold its prey as it binds it round with

2 Spinneret of Spider from a magnified Photograph.


bandages of web-thread to secure it. All these parts of
its body-the eyes, claws, pincers, flexible legs, and
spinnerets-supply the small creature with just the instru-
ments wanted for the exercise of its powers. The eight
eyes help it to see its prey, and escape from danger itself
in case any bird should attempt to capture it. The
spinnerets produce all that it wants when the curiou-
sense within it which we call instinct sets it to work to
spread its fly-nets, which hang in the corners of our
neglected rooms and among the shrubs and trees of our
garden. The strong pincers, called mandibles, at the
front of its head, which enable it to clasp its prey, are
also furnished with little reservoirs of poison, with which
it can stupify or kill a fly that is too strong for it to


We wonder at the regularity of the spider's web and at
the accuracy with which all the circular threads are kept

"Aperture by which the poison issues.



exactly the same distance apart, and if we watch it when
weaving we shall see that one fore-leg is employed to
guide the thread and keep it just the right distance from
the last thread woven, acting as one of the legs of a pair
of compasses and a lady's crotcket needle at the same
time. It is a curious fact about these spider's webs that
they are made of two kinds of thread, spun, it is sup-
posed, from different spinnerets. The thread used for
the spokes of the wheel, or -warp of the web, is a fine
elastic, glossy thread, dry to the touch, but the thread
with which the spider makes its circular woof comes from
the body sticky and gummy, little globules of gum being
visible (when magnified) along the thread like tiny beads
---- --- -*-.- ---*- .-.-- at intervals.
With this supply of gummy matter, the thread, when
laid along the spokes, adheres to them, and never seems
to get detached, and it is likely that the stickiness of it
helps also to catch and entangle the flies. The spider is very
careful to keep its web free from dust or dirt, and can be
seen going over it, very carefully dusting it with its hairy
feet, like a diligent housemaid. Should by any chance a
leaf or bit of straw, or chip of wood, fall upon its web)
and get entangled in its meshes, it will instantly issue
from its private apartment up in the corner, where it is
accustomed to sit as in a watch-tower, and coming down
to the intruding object, will carefully disentangle it from
the web, so as to let it fall to the ground, with ,at a single
thread being broken or displaced, while if we had tried


to extricate the same object, our clumsy fingers might
perhaps have caused a large rent in the web. Very cu-
rious, too, is the manner in which a spider, when a fly is
once caught, will pack its wings around it, and bandage
then- up with web thread, so as to quite prevent the
possibility of their being used for escaping. In every
case the spider, in capturing its prey, stupifies it with a
drop from its poison bag, and when thus rendered help-
less and insensible, it drags its victim behind it with a
short thread fastened to it, as a sailor would a boat with
a towing rope, and thus hauls it into its larder, which is
always some corner from which it can watch its web.
Even a butterfly, eight or nine times the captor's size,
will be rolled up in its own wings and rendered as shape-
less as an Egyptian mummy, in order to be portable and
compact enough for being stowed away for future con-
sumption. One thing is very certain, that a spider must
cat if it would keep up its stock of material for web
spinning, since that results from the digestion of its food,
as does the shell of the snail and the silk of the cater-
pillar. A good meal up in its larder is needed for
supplying its spinnerets with the matter which forms the
thread spun from them. The spider must feast one day
in order that on some future day, in case its web should
be destroyed by any accident, it may be able to begin its
work over again. We can easily see spiders catch and
dispose of their prey, but it is not so easy to detect all
their methods of web making, and especially how it is
that they are able to extend long lines of web-thread


from objects at considerable distances one from another.
It would seem as if spiders meant to keep some of their
doings a secret from us, since they usually construct their
webs and stretch out their long lines either late in the
evening or very early in the morning. If we pass down
a garden path after twilight has come on, we may find a
spider's line of web come across our face, where we had
met no such annoyance in the bright daylight, and as we
walk in the garden in the early morning we may observe
that many a line has been extended from bushes wide
apart from each other, and may puzzle ourselves to think
how these delicate suspension bridges have been formed.
We may even ask ourselves if the spider, when it wants
to have a line carried to some particular point at a
distance, can manage to make friends with some bee or
butterfly, and get him to carry it across for it as he flies;
but no! we may be certain that the creature has some
power of its own which enables it to overcome the diffi-
culty. Now all who have studied the ways of spiders are
agreed in saying that they have the power of ejecting
their web-thread from their spinnerets to a distance, and
have fancied that the lines of cobweb we find in our
gardens have been first sent out by the spiders, and then
floating on the air have caught to objects and have then
been used as bridges, and strengthened by additional
matter by the spiders as they passed along them. This
may sometimes be the case, but it is also certain that to
serve its purpose lines are often attached by the spider
intentionally to particular spots or objects at a distance,


and that it means to have them fastened there and no-
where else, so that we are obliged to suppose that a
spider can send forth a line of web with such force from
its body that it will adhere to a distant object, or that,
trusting itself to be supported and carried by a current
of air, it can dart across to some spot, after first fastening
a line to the place from which it starts, and then length-
ening and spinning it out as it goes.
We have seen both these feats performed by some tiny
house spiders which we had only just extricated from the
cocoon in which they were hatched. They had been
laid on a book and then placed on a mantel-piece; and
before many minutes had elapsed after their entrance
upon life, they sent up lines of the finest web from their
spinnerets to the edge of a vase about ten inches high,
which happened to be near them-first ejecting the line,
and then travelling up it and carrying a second line with
them, and coming back with a third, and so on; up and
down the little creatures working, until a beautiful band
of silvery web was formed between the book and vase,
and then they seemed to rest from their labours and wait
for prey. There were, however, no flies to be caught, so
that by-and-by, when the door of the room was opened
and a current of air set in towards the fire-place, the
spiders one after another moored themselves to the edge
of the vase, and launching themselves forth into the air
like little kites, and lengthening their lines as they went,
mounted to the ceiling. There it was they knew they
must weave their webs if they meant to catch flies.



These new-born spiders were only one-tenth of an inch
in length, and the length of the web-lines sent up to the
edge of the vase being quite ten inches long, it proved
their power of ejecting lines ioo times the length of
their own bodies, and of fastening them where they wish.
In every case a spider glues the end of a line that he
attaches to an object by pressing its spinneret against
it, and such fastenings when they are magnified show us
the numerous finer threads of which the lines are com-

After we have explained as much as we can about the
methods of spiders in forming their webs, there is much
to be discovered by any who may observe them carefully
at their work, and it is when we make observations for
ourselves in the ways of such creatures as the usually
despised spider, that they become to us a source of in-
terest and pleasure. We therefore recommend our readers
to try to get a sight of a spider in the act of weaving its
web some damp early morning in autumn, when it is
about to hang it in an angle of a garden wall, or across
the corner of a doorway, or between two shrubs. In
every instance it will be found that an angle is wanted,
within which the wheel is constructed, so that in the case
of hanging a web between two shrubs, two long lines are
first ejected, forming an angle and serving as a frame for


it. They may then find out for themselves how the
spinner and weaver manages to get these spokes of his
wheel cross so exactly in the centre, and be stretched
from point to point so firmly and yet so lightly, and sec
how cleverly as he runs round with his line he manages
to keep it at such accurate distances apart, by letting it
pass over the claw at the end of an outstretched leg, and
how each time the circular line crosses one of the spokes
it adheres to it-all this and much more may be seen by
those who give sufficient attention to the ways and doings
of spiders, and pay respect to the wonderful powers with
which their Creator has gifted them. When we cease to
think of a spider only as an annoyance or a nuisance,
perhaps then the clever creature will allow us to dis-
cover some of its hitherto undivulged secrets.
Some of the ingenious methods of the female spider
for preserving her offspring have already been discovered,
and are most curious. The time comes in her life
when she wants to lay her eggs, and of these she lays an
immense quantity, so that her race may be kept up, in
spite of the numbers eaten by birds and other larger
creatures, and for this reason the eggs are to be taken
great care of, until the germ of life in each shall be ready
to unfold itself into a young spider-or, in other words,
we may say that the mother spider takes care to place
her eggs in a place of safety until they are hatched. Will
it be thought that we are inventing, when we say that the
careful creature contrives to provide an egg-cup for holding
her eggs in before she lays them, and that her body is



furnished with a tiny egg-spoon, with which she places
each egg in its place ? Such, however, is the fact. We
know that at all times the spider has within her body an
abundant supply of the material for spinning her fine
elastic thread, so that when she requires a nice little cup
or basket for her eggs she has only to spin thread and then
to weave it. Choosing some sheltered nook for her opera-
tions, she begins the construction of her nest by weaving
the bottom just as a bird constructs first of all the bottom
of his nest, and the basket-maker the bottom of his
basket. The spider, while sending out the silken thread
from her spinnerets, has only to move her body round
and round, and a nice little mat is formed of the sticky
web-thread, and then making her round body serve as a
kind of mould for the nest, she goes on spinning and
turning round as she spins until sides to the cup are
raised high enough to hold safely a number of eggs.
This done, the eggs are laid, each one being carefully
placed with the help of the kind of spatula, or flat spoon,
which is attached to the end of her body. This instru-
ment is often called an ovi-positor or egg-placer, and in
some insects is very long, but the spider does not want
a long one. When the cup is even full to the brim with
eggs, she still goes on piling them up until as many are
above the edge as are within the cup, and then com-
mences the weaving of a cover to the egg-cup, and lastly
she encloses the whole in an envelope of fine web closely
woven around it, until it becomes like a soft ball of
silken floss, of a pale yellow, within which the numerous


eggs are kept dry and warm through the winter. In such
cocoons may be seen in spring the young spiders already
hatched at one end and the empty egg shells at the
other, the former waiting perhaps for suitable weather
for coming forth and entering on the business of spider
life; and when not larger than a mustard seed young
garden spiders will set about weaving tiny wheel-shaped
webs for the capture of flies still smaller than themselves.
After laying their eggs, some species of mother spiders
have no more to do with their young; but others seem
never to lose sight of their ball of eggs until the young
ones are hatched, and if they have to change their place
of abode will carry it about with them; and some others
seem to take care of and'feed their young ones after they
are hatched, and will let them climb on their backs to
escape from danger.
The manner, too, in which some species of garden
spiders entrap and capture their prey is quite different
from the one which makes a wheel-shaped web, or from
the house spider who hangs its gauzy web across the
corners of our rooms, which are invisible to us until the
dust settling on them makes them look like dirty bits of
rag. Some, who are dwellers in our garden, construct
for themselves long tubes of close-woven web among
bushy shrubs, spread out wide at the top like a trumpet,
and carefully secured bylines to the leaves and twigs.
At the bottom of this, the spider lives watching and
waiting until some unhappy fly gets entangled up above.
A sort of vibration passes down the long passage from



the struggles of the fly to escape, when quicker than a
railway train can dash through a tunnel, the spider darts
"up to seize its prisoners. Other kinds of spiders in our
gardens live in holes and crannies in walls and trees,
which they line with web, and only dart out on their
prey when they come near the mouths of their dens.
These creatures, called Tegenaria, are very fierce, and
have very long legs in proportion to the size of their
bodies, so that one of the kind goes by the name of
Daddy-long-legs, and is known to most of us by those
long and graceful legs. It is sometimes said that spiders
will kill and eat each other, but we like to believe that
in such cases the victims are captured in honourable
warfare. A spider, for instance, has been seen to invade
the web of another, and seat himself in the centre, try-
ing to appropriate it to his own use, and the real owner
has come out-as if in the defence of his castle-fight
and wrestle with the intruder, and after killing him, eat
him up as if he were a fly. It is also said that the female
spider will sometimes kill and eat a male spider when
she does not take a fancy to him-the female being
much larger and stronger than the male-but we are not
sure of the truth of such stories, though we are afraid
that our clever Spinner and Weaver has after all a good
deal of the nature of a beast of prey. In tropical
countries species of spiders are found which are nearly
as large as small birds. The bodies of some are covered
with soft and glossy brown fur, like the sealskin we use
for jackets and gloves. Some of them live in holes in


the ground, which they line with web and protect with
a trap door, which opens and shuts with a hinge ; others,
such as the great Mygale spider, which is not unlike a
hairy crab, makes its nest in the cavities in the trunks of
trees, and is said by travellers to prey on newly-hatched
birds, and even to capture and eat the lovely humming-
birds which flit among the leaves and blossoms, and are
scarcely larger than itself. Spiders are so often called
insects that we are apt to forget that they cannot be
classed with bees, butterflies, and beetles for several
reasons, but form quite a separate race of creatures.
The structure of their bodies is unlike in many important
particulars, and they do not pass through the same
changes as do all insects, as we shall describe in our next
chapter. A spider is, in fact, a nearer relation to crabs
and lobsters than to bees and butterflies. As the spider
grows larger and larger, it casts its skin many times, and
each time a new one is ready formed beneath. From
being at first scarcely so large as a grain of mustard
seed, the maker of the wheel-shaped webs in our gardens
sometimes grows to be as large as a small nut. It has
had the grand name of 'Epeira diadema' given to it, and
a grand creature it really seems when grown to its full
size, as it sits in the centre of its splendid web and
allows us to examine its form. We see that its back is
most curiously mottled and spotted with white and
black, and that it has something like a white cross on
the top of the back. With an ordinary hand magnifying
glass we can see the eight bright eyes which form a



kind of diadem upon the head, and which have given
the creature its second name. We may also contrive to
see under its body the bunch of spinne-
1 rets, from which comes forth the web
material through the fine hair-like tubes
which are called spinnerules, and can just detect the
claws at the ends of the legs, which are such useful
implements in the adjustment of the circular lines of the
web, or in hauling itself up again after having dropped
down from a height. Seeing thus its curious body, and
having learned something of the wonderful powers which
have been bestowed upon them, we can surely never
look upon the Spinner and Weaver of our gardens with
either dislike or contempt, for according to the life that
was meant to be his, are after all, his seemingly cruel
ways, as well as his clever works



I i, <


.. ... .

,is- .*- *



,i--e 1





'. *.>




i( IFE THE FIRST.-This life begins
When a little worm furnished with
sixteen legs comes forth from an egg
Just large enough to hold it, and the
Whole life is spent in feeding on
r the leaves of the plant upon which

that egg was laid. From being scarcely visible when
first hatched, the small creature, as it eats, grows so
rapidly that in twenty-four hours it has increased to
four times its size when it first left the egg, and it is
soon large enough for us to see its form and parts. We
can see that six of its legs are for crawling with, and are






placed under the fore part of the body, while the other
ten are only for clasping the leaf on which it feeds, or
the stems of the plant on which it crawls. It has a
horny covering on its head, jaws for biting, eyes for
seeing, and spiracles, or breathing holes, down each side
D 2


of its body. Its skin is soft, and adorned with delicate
stripes or spots-sometimes it has fleshy spines, sometimes
it is hairy, and sometimes the whole body is covered with
dark brown fur. As it eats and grows larger and larger, it
requires a new skin to fit its increased size, the old one
shrivelling up, and the new one appearing beneath.
Many times in the course of its life is this done, and
then, having grown to its full size, and as if tired of this
mode of life, it crawls down the stem of the plant on
which it has fed, makes its way to some wall, or paling,
or tree-trunk, and climbs up it to some sheltered cranny
or corner, there to await a complete change in its form
and life. At this time the creature begins to exercise in
a new way the power it has always had of producing
from its body a silken thread, by which it could let itself
down from a leaf or twig at will. It now spins fine
cables of this silk with which to fasten itself in safety to
the resting-place it has chosen. Unlike the spider, this
silken thread is spun from its head, and managing
to pass a belt of it round its body, it fastens the ends of it
to the wall or paling, or to some twig in a sheltered place,
so that it cannot be blown off, and with another thread
suspends itself head downwards. Other creatures of
its race fasten themselves to the stem, or roll themselves
up in a leaf of the plants on which they feed, by means
of these silken threads, so as to make a little cradle or
nest ; others weave together some of the smaller leaves
of their native plants, and make a sort of cage with web,
in which they suspend themselves. Others will fasten


together the ends of some blades of grass, so as to form
a little tent, in the middle of which they hang themselves
by a silken thread-all these preparations being made for
the creature passing through a change in its form and
nature, and ceasing to be what we call a caterpillar.

LIFE THE SECOND.-During this life the soft
body has acquired a hard skin or case. It is mostly
dark or shapeless. It no longer eats or moves from its
place. It has neither eyes nor mouth, for it has no need
of either, nor has it any feet or claws,
and the only sign of life it gives is that
of being able to bend slightly its horny
case or shell, which at the tail is jointed
like that of a lobster. It is mostly brown
or bronze colour, but it has sometimes golden stripes
upon it, or is wholly gold coloured. Now the Greek
word for gold is chrusos, and from this it has come that
the name of chrysalis has been given to this stage
of the creature's life, which when it crawled about
and ate, was called a caterpillar. A pitiable sort
of life would it be if chrysalis-life were all-but better
times await it. We have said that the chrysalis is
shapeless, but if we examine it more closely we shall find
that in the curious angular body slight traces of parts are
visible. They show that there is something carefully
packed and folded up within the case-something which
is soon to be unpacked and unfolded. Only a little more
time and a little more warmth, and the changes which



are going on within the brown or golden case are com-
pleted, and another form of life begins.

LIFE THE THIRD.--The summer's hot sun shines
day after day on the little mummies upon the garden
wall or paling, or which hang in the tents or little bowers
formed of the tender leaves or twigs of plants. It has
ripened, and brought to its most perfect form the life
now about to begin. The hard and brittle case which
was its second form splits open like a ripe seed vessel,
and from it comes out the bright and graceful creature

we call a butterfly. A creature gifted with eyes to see
with, antenna to feel with, proboscis to feed itself with,
legs to crawl with, and four light and lovely wings to fly
with. When first it comes forth from the coffin-like case
which held it, the delicate wings are crumpled up and
shapeless, covered with the damp of its late tomb ; but
no sooner is it in the soft warm air and free, than the
life-juices begin to circulate in its veins, and gradually
the wings are straightened out and spread. From time
to time a sort of shiver seems to run through the frame
as this comes about. The long trunk which lay along
the under part of the body is drawn up, and gently coiled


into the place for it under the head. It seems but a fine
thread this proboscis, but it is really a tube, for hence-
forth the life of the creature is to be supported, not by
eating the leaves of plants, but by sucking up through
that long tube the honey of flowers. At last the wings
are expanded to their full size and form. Their delicate
veinings and pretty markings are to be seen. White or
yellow, with black spots and veins-red bands-orange
tips-patches of brown velvet-borders of brilliant blue
-scolloped edges and slender points and angles-all
the beautiful varieties of pattern, colour, and outline,
according to their kind, are visible. A gentle trembling
seems to shake the wings, as if the creature were im-
patient for flight; and then a flutter, and at last it
suddenly mounts into the air, and is gone gone to
enjoy the warm sunshine, the soft air, the enticing flower
scents, and delicious and delicately-flavoured nectar, now
out of this flower and now out of that-honeysuckle,
rose, jasmine-through the live-long day.
The coming forth of the bright winged butterfly from
the seemingly lifeless chrysalis has often been looked
upon as a likeness to the spirit of a human being leaving
the body at the moment of death; but though the
manner in which the life of this and every other insect
passes through such curious changes, is most wonderful
and most mysterious to us, it does not really help to
strengthen our hope of an immortal life, since the chry-
salis is not dead, and the butterfly only lives to lay its
eggs and then die. The ancient Greeks, however, looked



"upon the butterfly as a type or emblem of the soul, and
gave it the name of Psyche, which was the Greek word
for soul or spirit, and at last the emblem of the soul came
to be represented by them, in painting and sculpture, as
a beautiful young female with the wings of a butterfly.


Among the many butterflies which flit about our
gardens during spring, summer, and autumn, there is not
one which is so sure to be a dweller there as the species
whose common English name is the 'Cabbage Butter-
fly.' Few gardens are there which do not grow cabbages,
and this creature may be said to be born and bred upon
cabbage leaves. The strange foreknowledge which we
call instinct, led the parent butterfly to deposit her eggs
on the large and succulent cabbage leaves, which, when
they are hatched, are sure to afford ample food for the
caterpillar through the whole of its life. It need never
leave the plant. When one leaf is eaten up all but the


veins, it has only to move to another, and then go on
munching again with its horny jaws, which, for the con-
venience of leaf eating, do not move up and down, but
backwards and forwards sideways, like pincers or shears.
The egg out of which the caterpillar
comes is seen when highly magnified
to be of a most beautiful form, some-
what like a flask or bottle, delicately
carved with ribs and furrows and
fretwork. The caterpillar when full-
grown is a blueish grey colour, with yellow stripes on
each side, and the whole body is spotted with minute
black dots, with a white hair in each dot. When we see the
devastation which can be done to our cabbage plants by
these caterpillars, and when we hear of the number of eggs
sometimes laid by one butterfly on a single leaf, we may
wonder that any cabbages at all are left for human beings
to eat, but this is easily explained, for caterpillars are the
chief food of many young birds. When a sparrow, for
instance, has a nest full of young fledglings crying out
and gaping for food, it has only to repair to the cabbage




plants in our own or a neighbour's garden, and can at
ease pick off all it wants of the soft savoury creatures
that its young require for their nourishment. It is said
that a parent sparrow will sometimes carry home to its
nest as many as two thousand caterpillars in one week.
Insects, too, prey on them, as the ichneumon fly, which
will lay its eggs in their bodies, and the eggs being
hatched there, the larva, or fly-grub, will gradually eat


up the body of the caterpillar, who still goes on eating
until nearly the last spark of life is left-the grub itself
taking care to avoid the more vital parts of the cater-
pillar, so that its own food supply may be continued as
long as possible. When the caterpillar by chance
escapes being captured by a bird or being preyed on by
the ichneumon fly, it hangs itself up, head downwards,
to the garden wall or paling, or to the branch of some
fruit-tree, and turns to an angular black-spotted chrysalis,
fastened round the body with a belt of silk.


The Cabbage Butterfly of our garden, however, is a
very common and homely looking insect, compared to
others which live on the honey of our flowers. We have
there, flitting about in the sunshine through many months
of the year, first one and then another of some beautiful
sister butterflies, having the same family name of Va-
nessa, but who are distinguished one from another by
second names, such as 'Io,' 'Atalanta,' 'Cardui,' etc.,
and by the English common names of Peacock,' Red
Admiral,' Painted Lady,' and 'Tortoiseshell,' etc.
Most lovely in form and colour are these sisters; their
wings being not only very elegant in outline, but adorned
with spots and stripes of blue, black, and white, and with
bands of red on a velvety ground of rich brown, all three
somewhat alike and yet very different and easy to be dis-
tinguished one from another. We cannot claim all these
as natives of our garden, though they are so often seen
there, for, strange to say, these gay creatures, who are so
bright and delicate, and might be supposed to have been
born and bred among our choicest flowers, are really
natives of some neighboring bit of common-land or
waste ground by the road side. There the caterpillars
have been hatched from eggs which were laid on the
leaves of the nettles and thistles which grow in such
places, and after the caterpillar has fed on these leaves
until it is ready to take the chrysalis form, they still
remain on the plant. Constructing themselves little cages
or tents, partly of the stinging and prickly leaves of the
plants, and partly of silken webs and threads which draw



them together, they there undergo the curious change. A
few weeks is sufficient time for them to pass from the newly-
hatched caterpillar state to that of the perfect butterfly.


When once escaped, however, from the little angular
mummy-case suspended among the thistle and nettle
leaves, with their wings ready for flight, and their long
trunks ready for suction-then it is that the Vanessa sisters

>7 /



become ours. The road-side nettle has no food that
will suit their newly-acquired taste for honey, nor has the
thistle, with its closely packed tuft-like flowers, so they
come over our garden walls to us. They depend upon
our flowers, and flitting from one to another, poise upon
their expanded corollas, and gracefully unfolding their
coiled-up sucking tubes, dip them down to the nectaries
of the flower cups and bells. They can get at honey
which the short proboscis of the bee cannot reach, as
well as at that which is at the bottom of flower tubes
too narrow for the entrance of the bee's body. Only
when the time comes for providing for the continuance
of their beautiful race, do they go back to the nettles of
the road-side, or the thistles of the common, in order to
deposit their eggs on the same sort of leaves that in the
caterpillar form had served for their own nourishment.
Does some curious remembrance of what their former
life was, among those nettles and thistles, guide them
back to them; or do they know that there, among the
stinging and prickly leaves, their eggs will be safe from
the disturbance of human hands ? Does some fairy
whisper to them that there their offspring will be safer
than among the buds and blossoms that those human
fingers are so apt to meddle with ? We only fancy this,
for we know that they are but led by the unerring instinct
which seems sometimes to guide these small creatures
more safely and surely than human beings are always
guided by the reason of which they are so proud. And
these eggs, which to our unassisted eyes would appear



only like tiny round beads, when highly magnified are
found to have most curious and beautiful forms.
Some of the Vanessa family, however, have still more
to do with our gardens, since one of these, Vanessa
comma'-so called because of a little mark on the under
side of its wings like a comma or letter C-will stay with
us altogether, and lay its eggs on the leaves of a currant-

BUTTERFLY'S EGGS, highly magnified.

bush or hop-plant, so that we may thus have it through
all its forms of life when these eggs are hatched. The
'Vanessa urtica,' too, though her second name does
mean 'of the nettle,' will at times, when a caterpillar
come and hang herself by a silken thread beneath the
coping-stone of a garden wall for the sake of its shelter;
and 'Vanessa cardui,' or of the thistle,' if she find out
that we have artichokes in our kitchen gardens, will lay
her eggs upon its spiked leaves, and the caterpillar, after


feeding on these, will, when it comes to the time for
changing into a chrysalis, construct a little tent of them,
drawing together the smaller leaves with silken cords, so
as to make a safe shelter, and thus causing the entrance
into life of the beautiful 'Painted Lady' to be within
the confines of our garden walls.
Butterflies are not only very beautiful, but are also very
curious creatures; as we find when we help ourselves
with the microscope in order to examine them more care-
fully, and from the moment that the caterpillar has left
the egg there are to be found traces in their structure of
what we may call a preparation for the perfect form of
the butterfly, which is little by little arrived at as it grows
and passes through its first two stages of life. It is no
wonder that the caterpillar should feed so ravenously,
since it is nourishing itself in order to provide material
for the other forms into which its life is to pass. Careful
naturalists who have dissected and magnified very highly
the insides of caterpillars have discovered in their bodies
signs and tokens of what was to be aftenvards the
butterfly's wings. In the chrysalis they can see it still
more plainly. But we need not so much wonder at this,
because it is what we find in all animal and vegetable
life and growth. All the forms of life have small be-
ginnings, hid as it were in other forms. From an egg
the size of a cocoa-nut comes the great ostrich-from the
small acorn the mighty oak, with its wide-spread branches,
its solid trunk, and millions of leaves. Something in the
egg becomes the future bird, and something in the seed



becomes the future tree or plant; and in the same way,
something in the caterpillar becomes the future butterfly.
Even if we cannot see them, we may be sure that such
parts as the delicate feelers with the knobs at the end,
which are probably the organs of scent, as well as the
long proboscis, are in preparation from the first, though
neither caterpillar nor chrysalis has need of them; and
the lovely wings which make the butterfly such a different
creature to the soft and crawling worm or the shapeless
chrysalis, are also there, hidden in the caterpillar. Only
one thing is alike in each of the three forms, since in all
are found the spiracles, or small breathing-holes, down
each side of the body, through which the air is inhaled
which is essential to the continuance of life.
Like many other insects, butterflies have two large
eyes on each side of the head, which are fixed and im-
movable-not turning in every direction like our own
eyes in search of those objects we want to see, nor like
our eyes in admitting light by one aperture, but composed
of innumerable little eye-leds, or facets, which perhaps
reflect objects like tiny mirrors. Such eyes are called
compound eyes, and no doubt perfectly suit the purposes
of the butterfly during its short life, when a few flowers
holding a drop of nectar, and a leaf or two of the right
sort to lay its eggs on, are all that it has to look out for.
We must all have noticed that if we attempt to hold a
butterfly after we have captured it, a fine flaky powder
comes off on our fingers, which we have perhaps been
told as children was the feathers of the butterfly's wings.



But this is scarcely the fact, for when highly magnified,
it is found to be composed of coloured scales, rather
than feathers. In each variety of butterfly, these scales
somewhat differ in form or texture, and are found to be
placed on a gauze-like frame-work, one lying on another
like tiles on the roof of a house. Those on the under
side of the wing being often different in form to those on
the upper side.

SCAL.ES OF BUTTERFLY'S \lNi;s, highly magnified.

The motion in the wings of butterflies is very different
from that of birds, from their not moving both wings at
the same time. They do not rest in the air, nor szoop,
but flutter up and down in a zig-zag, which manner of

flight is perhaps a safeguard in some respects from cap-
ture by birds, and enables them to elude their pursuit.


The slender antennae, or feelers, which every butterfly
has on its head, are found to be jointed or movable, so
that they can be bent slightly; but whether asleep or
awake, they are always erect, and not like those of the
moth when asleep, bent back over or under the body.



showing the two feelers, the large compound eye, and the pro-
boscis unfiurld.

The structure of the proboscis, or trunk of the butterfly,
is very curious. When the perfect insect first comes out
from the chrysalis's case, it is extended along the
stomach, and while the wings are being gradually ex-
panded into their full form and size, it is disengaged and
rolled up into a spiral coil. It is formed of two long
blades, each hollowed out in a furrow, and after first one


is drawn up and then the other, the two portions are put
together, and form a double tube most delicately jointed,
so that when wanted by the creature, it can be gracefully
uncoiled, and dipped down into a flower, no matter how
deep its tube or bell may be; and in this respect the
butterfly has an advantage over the bee, since it is
enabled, as we have seen, to take possession of honey
which the short proboscis of the latter has not been able


to reach, or which lay at the bottom of flower-bells and
tubes that his body could not get into in order to rifle.
The six or four slender and jointed legs of the butterfly
are very different to those of the caterpillar, in whom the
six fore-feet are furnished with pointed claws, which assist
it in weaving and adjusting the silken thread which
comes from its head. After letting itself down by a line,
to break its fall or escape from capture by birds, it uses
V 2



these to haul itself up again. The other ten legs are
called claspers, their use being to enable the caterpillar
to cling tightly to the leaf or stem of the plant on which
it feeds, and when magnified are found to be like suckers,
which adhere by means of the air being excluded beneath
them; and as the fly can walk on the ceiling by means
of such suckers at the end of its legs, so can the cater-
pillar hold itself on to the under side of a leaf. When
it is spinning the silk thread which comes from its head,
or weaving a web with it, or passing a belt round its
body when about to change to a chrysalis, these claspers
hold it securely fixed to some object.
The casting off of the skin several times in the course
of the caterpillar's life is very curious, and during the
operation, the creature leaves off eating and looks sick
and ill, and the old skin shrivels up. When gradually it is
wriggled off, the new skin beneath appears smoother in
texture and brighter in colour than the last, and the
caterpillar seems altogether larger, as if the new garment
were not put on before it was wanted. The change of
skin of the caterpillar is like the moulting of birds, and
the growth of fresh hair over the bodies of quadrupeds.
It would seem that in some respects the different
species of butterflies often differ from each other in
habits, although belonging to the same family. This is
especially seen in regard to the manner in which they
pass the winter, or hybernate. In order that the race of
each should be continued from year to year, one of the
forms of their life must last through the cold of our


winters, and in spite of their love of warmth and sun-
shine, and seeming dependence on flowers, we find that
it is often the butterfly which survives. When the
cold days of autumn come on the butterfly will fold up
its wings one against the other, slip into some crack or
cranny in a wall, or paling, or tree trunk, and there in a
state of lethargy or sleep await the return of spring. A
very fine warm day, even as late as the end of November,
or beginning of December, will waken up some of them

from their winter sleep, and entice them out to see if
such a thing as a honey-holding flower-cup is yet to be
found. With other species it will be the chrysalis which
lasts through the winter-the butterfly coming forth from
it with the earliest sunshine of spring, while some very
few eggs of the caterpillars will remain on withered
leaves, or on the stems of plants, and be hatched in
spring by the same warmth which has brought out the
young leaves they require for their food.



We cannot attempt to tell of all the lovely butterflies
which, during the summer months, will from time to time
pay visits to our gardens, from their different native
places-all of them being so free to rove, that no wonder
they venture sometimes on a little foreign travel. They
conm to us front sweet meadows starred over with butter-
cups and ox-eye daisies, and reddened with spikes of
flowering sorrel-from banks where dog-violets hold up
their blue flowers to the sun, and primroses nestle


among their leaves. They come from fields of clover
and beans-fromn river banks, where reeds and rushes,
and willow-herb grow so tall, and are all alive with insect
life. Others come from shady woods and copses-others
from heaths covered with ling and purple heather, and
golden broom; and from commons where the luscious-
scented gorse is flowering, and others from chalky downs
where the tiny eye-bright and milk-wort and dwarf bed-
straws grow among the short grass. When we happen to


know where they come from, they remind us of these
sweet native homes of theirs, where they have lived their
two former lives. They give life and colour to our
gardens, and cause us pleasant surprises as we find the
pretty phantoms there among our flowers, and though we
do not always remember it, they form one of the charms
of our summer days. We do not quarrel with them, as
with the snail and spider, because they so please our

CIRYSALIS OF ORANGE-TIP-placed on bough so as to look like
part of it.

eyes 4 but somehow we hold them a little in contempt. We
think of them as frivolous and thoughtless of the future,
and consider them unworthy to be compared to the
careful and provident bee or ant, just when they are lead-
ing the life they were created to live, and doing as
their natures prompt them to do. Ought we not rather
to remind ourselves of the tender forethought which
leads them to lay their eggs only where the right kind of
food will be supplied to the young caterpillar the. mo-



ment it is hatched; and more than this seems to de-
termine many of them in the laying of their eggs. The
care shown by one butterfly alone, for instance-the
'Colias Hyale,' or 'Pale-yellow-clouded' Butterfly-ought
to redeem the whole race from the charge of frivolity.
Instinct leads her when the time for depositing her eggs
comes in the early summer, to lay them on the delicate
leaves of the clover or trefoil. The egg is hatched, and
the small caterpillar not only feeds on the leaves, but
finds in them a protection from cold and damp. Each
leaflet of the trefoil has a way of folding itself up-one-
half of the leaflet against the other half, when night falls.
The little caterpillar has, therefore, only to stretch itself
along the mid-rib of the leaf when the sun has set, and then
the leaf folding itself up, and its toothed edges clasping
closely together, the tender body of the caterpillar is en-
closed within a soft cradle during the hours of dampness
and cold; and when the sun again rises and expands the
clover leaf it may begin to eat its couch for its morning
meal! We like to give the 'Colias Hyale' some credit
for obeying so carefully the promptings of her nature;
but we must also remind ourselves of the Beneficence and
Love which has given to her nature that forethought
which is so tenderly to secure the preservation of a little
caterpillar's life. To each creature has been given, by
its Creator, either a desire to provide beforehand for its
young, food and safety, or the means of protecting it
when born; and at the same time there is given to it the


sort of knowledge which is needed to satisfy the desire,
as well as for the employment of the means of pro-

VANESS ('of the thistl)- PA D

V4NESSA CARDUI ('of the thistle')-PAINTED LADY.





'L OST curious and yet most true is
the story we have to tell of how
while we walk about our gardens,
"'' treading our gravel paths and cross-
ing our grass pots and lawns, there is living and working
beneath our very feet a race of small creatures whom we
may describe as a people who dwell in large communities
underground, and who inhabit cities formed of caves
instead of houseF. At times we see very little of the
inhabitants of these cave-cities above ground, but in the
early part of the year, a portion of them being employed
in forming fresh underground dwellings for the use of
their increasing population, we can perceive the situation
and extent of their operations by the piles of earth which
are thrown up to the surface of the ground, and which also
enable us to judge of the great works going on beneath.
When we consider the proportion that these earth-works
bear to the workers, we may well call their labours most
wonderful, especially as they are performed without the help
of machinery or even tools. At the beginning of summer
we may find thrown up on our lawns piles of earth which


are as enormous when compared to the size of the work-
people, as were the great pyramids of Egypt to the men
who constructed them, and even on our paths are to be
seen piles of gravel like small craters around the openings
of the shafts, or passages which lead down to the excava-
tions underground, which are as high when compared to
the excavators as are our houses to their inhabitants.
Now if we watch how these mounds of gravel are raised, we
shall see that there are two streams of busy workers con-
stantly going up and down the shafts; one stream con-
sisting of workers who come up with small loads of earth
which they carry to a short distance from the entrance to
the shaft, and another stream of those who are returning to
fetch more; and if we examine with a magnifying glass
these tiny loads of earth or gravel, so small to our eyes,
but yet a heavy load no doubt to the creature who
carries it, we shall find that it is a rounded ball of soil
which has been slightly kneaded together before it was
brought up; and should we attempt to count these small
loads of earth, we shall find it impossible to number
even those which are around the entrance of a single
shaft, and yet each of them represents the toilsome
journey of a worker from beneath to the surface-
hundreds of thousands of small grains, telling of
hundreds of thousands of journeys up and down; and
when we observe all these signs of labour we may be
sure that at such times is going on, the construction or
enlargement of one of the cave-cities of the Underground



Let us, however, see what is the form of the little
workers, and what are their powers; and again using
the magnifying glass, we now perceive that they have
curious long bodies divided into three parts, that they
have six legs, and two long feelers in front. The head,
the chest or thorax, and the stomach or abdomen, form
the three parts, and it is this division of the body which
causes the creature to be called an insect, and we know
that this particular kind of insect is called an ant. We
all get some notion of the busy bustling fussy ways of
ants from what we see of them above ground, but it is
by no means so easy to find out all that relates to their
lives beneath the ground. Curious mistakes have been
made about them and their habits, and after all the close
observations of a great many naturalists who have made
them their study, we have yet much to learn about them,
while the more we know of the tiny creatures, the more
wonderful their doings appear to us. Of course there
are many kinds of ants, and the habits of each kind
differ somewhat from one another, but in some respects
all English ants are alike in their mode of life; and
when we have learnt all that there is to tell about our
garden ants, we shall find that the whole life of the
greater number of them-just those whom we see bustling
about here and there, and journeying up and down, is spent
in labours that have a very important purpose.
In each ant city there are three kinds of inhabitants,
and on all three kinds the good of the whole community
depends. There is no such thing as an ant living


or working for itself, providing for its own wants or those
of its young, as with most other creatures. All ants
live and work together for the benefit of the whole
population in each community. In each of the latter,
there are males, females, and working ants. The males
and females have to produce the young, and so supply
inhabitants for the city, while the working ants have to
work for, and feed, and take care of the males and
females, and young, and construct the cave-cities, and it
is these indefatigable little creatures with which we are
best acquainted from seeing them above ground when
they come up on matters of business. On them depends,
in fact, the well-being and lives of all. It is they, as we
have shown, who are so busy when the fine weather sets
in, in hollowing out the caves or cells, which will be
wanted for future progeny, and which they connect
together with galleries and passages, so that all are
communicable one with another. Some of the caves
are for the reception of the females who are to become
the mothers of a future generation, others are for the
males, and others are destined for the eggs which pro-
duce the grubs or larvae, and others for the cocoons
from which the perfect ants are to be hatched. The
female ants being much larger than either the males or
workers, larger cells are wanted for them of an oval form
suited to the shape of their bodies, and where they are
waited upon and tended with great care and respect,
since on them depends the keeping up of the population,
which seems to be the great aim of all ant labour and


industry; and when we consider how a constant diminu-
tion of their numbers must be going on from the fact
that many species of birds make them their food, we
can understand how necessary this strong instinct is in
the nature of the little creatures, if the ant race is not
to die out and become extinct. The greatest care, and
exactness, and skill is shewn in the formation of the
little cave cells. The walls of them are built up of grains
of earth, fitted into each other with great precision, and
then it would seem they are covered over with some
kind of cement which the creature has the power of
secreting from its body, and when the whole is done, the
small mason will carefully pass his feelers over his work to
see that all is smooth, compact, and firm, just as a human
mason will measure his work with his rule to satisfy
himself that his bricks are all level, and his wall
During the winter, ants spend their time in a torpid
state in their underground caves, and at this time
the hive is filled perhaps only with workers, and the
cocoons ready for hatching when warm weather comes,
and it is to prepare for the fresh populations that new
works, and additions to their cities are made in spring,
and when these are once finished the whole character
and employment of the working ant undergoes a cnm-
plete change. The same anxiety for the good of the
whole community, the same devotion to the interests of
their race and city shew themselves, and the same self-
denial and unwearied industry goes on, but they are now


no longer miners or masons, no longer navviess', but
become most tender and careful nurses.' From the
time that the city is supplied with new abodes, and that
the warmth of the sun is felt even beneath the earth,
the wonderful transformation begins within the ant-
cocoon which is to change its contents into a living
creature. Just when the mother bird is sitting on her
eggs in her snug nest, so as to give the warmth needed
for their change into young birds, the ant nurses begin
their loving attentions to the cocoons in their caves,

ANT highly magnified, carrying Cocoon.

which also require heat for their change into living ants.
More eager bustling begins among them, which we cannot
always see, since it goes on beneath ground. When the
sun shines out bright and warm, the cocoons in the cells
deep down below in the hive, must be carried up to nearer
the surface, where the warmth will reach them, and to
effect this the whole army of nurses is in commotion:
and if we can manage to catch sight of them at such
times we shall see each little worker with a white oblong
cocoon-not very unlike a baby in swaddling clothes-



held by the end in her* jaws or mandibles which she
carries before her, and which forms a load almost as
large as her own body, or even larger if it be the cocoon
of a future male or female. But the cocoons have
perhaps not long been placed in the warmer cells, or
laid in some passage or gallery near the opening of a
shaft, when the sun becomes obscured and a shower
begins to fall. Now although the white covering of
the cocoons is a tolerably tough and strong material, yet
it would not do for them to be exposed to both cold and
damp, and the careful nurses have to set to work to carry
their charges all back to the lowermost cells where the
rain will not reach them-to bring them up again, it may
be, before the day is over, in case the sun should re-appear.
No end is there in fact to the tender care, and in-
defatigable attention of the nurses. It has been no
doubt this running about with the white cocoons in their
mandibles, or the finding of them in their nests in the
winter, which has led to the mistake of supposing that
ants stored up grains of corn and other seeds, which is
certainly not the case with any ants known in England,
who pass the winter in a dormant state. Naturalists have
however lately become aware that a peculiar species of
ant found in some other countries, does lay up a store
of food such as corn and rice, and have named them
'harvesting ants.' It may have been of such, that King
Solomon speaks, who was so knowing about plants and

"*We may say her, since it has been discovered that the working
ants are really females, though imperfectly formed ones, so that
they do not produce eggs.


animals, where in his proverbs he describes the ant as
" providing her meat in summer and getting her food in
the harvest," while in another way his knowledge was
also most correct, since he speaks of the ant as having
no guide, overseer, or ruler," for it is certain that all the
operations of the working ant, all her busy industry and
anxiety for the good of the community to which she
belongs, arises from an impulse within the little creature
forming part of her nature, which is very like the love
of duty in a human being. It does not surprise us to
find other animals taking tender care of their young, and
we admire the devotion and self-denial which they
often show towards them, but with the ant-nurses it is
the young of others whom they tend, and the good of
the whole of their fellow-citizens, which is the aim of
their labour. They seem to have the feeling which we
call love of our country, or national honour and pride.
They are not slaves by any means, for no one orders or
exercises authority over them-they are rather willing
and devoted servants to the general good. The powers,
feelings, and affections of ants being so many and so
curious, it has been said that the brain of an ant, perhaps
no larger than a fine grain of sand, must be the most
wonderful particle of matter in the world.
But though our ants do not store up food, nor eat in the
winter, it has at other times a good appetite, and within our
garden walls an abundant supply of food is found, suited
to the taste and fitted for the nourishment of the ant
colonies. They like most kinds of fruits, sweet roots,



and even the flesh of slugs and snails. A dead mouse
or sparrow is soon attacked and their bones picked clean
by hungry ants. We know too well how a fallen pear
or apple is often found to be hollowed out by ants, and
how our peaches and nectarines are attacked by them
and riddled with holes. Nothing in fact that is sweet
comes amiss to them, and portions of food are at all
times carried down by the workers to the grubs or larve
hatched from the eggs, or to the young ants which have
just left the cocoons. Their strong jaws or mandibles
enable them to bite solid food and carry it in their
mouths, while they have also a kind of hollow tongue
like a scoop which can be used for lapping up liquids,
and is perhaps employed for taking home some of
the sweet juices of fruit. We know how wonderful
is sometimes the persistent industry and determination
of the little creatures, in getting at the kinds of food they
like best. To an ant-city at one side of our garden, for
instance, there is carried somehow in August the perfume
of the ripening peaches on the wall at the opposite side.
We cannot detect the fragrant odour so far off ourselves,
but the sensitive nerves of the tiny ants must discover it
in the air. It may, to be sure, be possible that some
adventurous ant traveller has penetrated across the vast
(to them) extent of land which stretches between their
hive and the wall where hang the downy peaches that
are getting softer and sweeter every day, and that he has
journeyed back to tell his fellow citizens what he has
discovered, and has induced a large party to set off and


make a causeway across the paths and beds, and form
tunnels under the turf borders, to where the peaches can
be reached by climbing the wall. We can easily see
that a long procession of them is constantly doing this,
though we know not exactly how they have first been
induced to undertake such a distant exploration. But
there can be no doubt that ants have wonderful ways of
communicating with each other, nor that they have
something like a language of their own. If we watch a
party going to and fro across a path, we soon observe
that they occasionally stop as they pass each other,
touch one another with their feelers or antennae, and then
continue their route, much as we do ourselves when we
meet a friend and have a chat with him in the street.
Naturalists who have observed the ways of ants very
carefully and constantly, have seen that when any
calamity has occurred in the colony, the workers will
run about and tell the news to those at a distance, with
a touch of their feelers, and that then all who are so
warned will hurry to the scene of the disaster in order to
set about repairing it. Perhaps even sounds are emitted
by ants, and many other insects, which are too fine and
high pitched for our ears to hear, as the elephant who
hears the deep notes of an organ or drum, cannot hear
the high and shrill notes of a pipe or flute. There have
been cases where ants seem to have got scent of some
store of honey, or treacle, or sweet preserve within a
house, and have journeyed a long distance in great num-
bers to reach it, even making their way down chimneys
F 2



to get to the luscious store, but our garden ants are
generally contented with what they can find without
Nothing, too, is more certainly true in the ways of
ants, than that they supply their keen craving for
sweet liquid food by having recourse to the honey dew
which is secreted from the bodies of the little green aphis

highly magnified.

or plant louse, which lives upon the sap of our rose trees,
and of which other kinds are to be found on our larger
trees, such as the poplar, oak, lime, and apple tree.
The rose aphides have even been called the 'cattle of the
ants,' and the latter are said to milk them like cows for
their sweet juices, and even to capture them and keep
them in their hives for this purpose. Watching the
stem of a rose which happens to be covered with these
delicate little creatures in thick clusters, we shall not be
long before we perceive some ants among them, and
with a magnifying glass may detect one touching an
aphis with its feelers, striking with a rapid motion like


the beating of two drum-sticks just where two little
projections stand out from the back of the aphis like a
double tail. These are the teats of the ant's cow, and
soon there can be seen oozing out from them drops of
the sweet syrup which the ant eagerly laps up. The
life of the aphis is one long process of sucking up the sap
of the rose stem, first piercing it with the sharp proboscis
beneath its head, which penetrates the outer green bark
and acts also as a sucker. The sap of the plant, which at
first is not sweet, as it circulates in the rose stem, becomes
converted into a kind of honey in the body of the aphis,
as the nectar of flowers is changed into honey in the
body of the bee. And there can be no doubt that as
the bee carries home within its body to the hive the
juices of flowers, so the ant carries to the male and
female ants, or young ones at home, some of the sweet
honey dew it has lapped up. So fond are ants of this
kind of food that they will even excavate long under-
ground passages like railway tunnels, to the foot of the
trees or shrubs where are to be found the different
species of aphis or plant lice, in order that they may
make their way easily backward and forward from the
hive during the season when the honey dew is being
produced by the aphides.
And now we must return to the history of the cocoons,
which the nursing ants take so much care of, and carry
up and down according as they want extra warmth for
them to bring them to maturity-the shifting and
carrying about of the little white oblong cocoons in their



jaws going on for some weeks of spring, and then, from
some tokens best known to the watchful nurses, they find
that the young ant has come to perfection within the
cocoon, and is ready to come out and enter upon
ant life and be fed; and not waiting until the little
insect has made its own way out of its envelope, as the
young bird contrives to do from its enveloping shell, the
workers have been seen to bite the ends of the cocoons,
and making an aperture, help the young ants to extricate
themselves from them. Sometimes this matter is not so
easily managed, and two workers have been seen pulling
at the little creature to disentangle it from the cocoon.
The ant once launched into life, it makes all the differ-
ence in its value and importance to its native city,
whether it has proved to be a male or female, or merely
an ordinary worker like those who assisted at its birth,
and since the two former are much larger than the
workers, it follows that the cocoons are also larger, and
have been from the first placed in larger cells prepared
especially for them, so that even from the time of the egg
being laid by the mother ant it has been the most care-
fully preserved and tended. The females are much the
largest of the three kinds of ants, and are at all times
treated with the greatest honour and respect, and get the
choicest food and the most abundant supply of it, since
they are to become the mothers of the future generation
which is to keep up the numbers of the ant colony.
Ants do not, like bees, make a queen of one particular
mother ant, but are glad to have among them as many


mothers as possible. When they emerge from the co-
coons, both males and females are furnished with gauzy
wings, destined to be used when the time comes for their
leaving the hive and pairing, until which time they re-
main in their cells, waited on by their attendant nurses.
Perhaps it would not be very incorrect to say that these
latter again change their characters at this period, and
take upon themselves the office of jailers, while they
watch most carefully to prevent the escape of the females
from the hive. What can those silvery wings be for if
not for flying with, in the air and sunshine above ground,
and when once the mother ants are gone, who can tell
if ever they will return again ?
At length the time comes when all the watchful-
ness of the workers and all attempts to retain the
female ants become useless. The summer is suffi-
ciently advanced, and the wings must be expanded
and used for the purpose for which they were intended,.
and on some particularly warm day, the males first
making their way out of the hive, they are followed by
the females in spite of all the opposition of their
guardians, and take flight into the soft air and bright
sunshine. In terrible concern and dismay, the workers
swarm up to the surface of the ground. The constant
objects of their care, whether as nurses or jailers, are
gone, and need them no longer. Thousands of ant-
lengths high up above them, they are sporting in the air,
among all the other winged creatures-birds, butterflies,
bees, wasps, and gnats. What a change from the cold,



dark, underground cells, in the old ant city The male
ants never return to it again, and we know not what
becomes of them. They fall a prey perhaps to fly-
catching birds, or perish with the cold of evening and its
damp dews, or are captured in spiders' webs. The
females, however, seem to have an instinct which brings
them back to the neighbourhood of their native home,
around which workers place themselves as scouts, at
considerable distances, on the look-out for them. No
sooner is a female ant described than she is surrounded
by a number of her old jailers, and led back to the
underground city again in triumph, in order that in one
of the cells prepared for her she may in due time deposit
her eggs. A few female ants so captured are sufficient
to secure the continuance of a numerous population,
and they again become the objects of most obsequious
devotion on the part of the workers until this is accom-
plished. A group of attendants constantly surrounds
them, and their presence seems always a cause of joy
and exultation. The workers have a way of skipping and
leaping around them, and perform many kinds of frolics,
to congratulate each other when a female is captured.
"Some of them gently walk over her," says an ob-
server of ants ; others dance over her, to show their
loyalty and affection." No sooner, however, has a
female ant laid any eggs in a cell than the at-
tendants immediately make these the objects of
their care and attention, instead of herself, and the ant
mother will wander away and deposit eggs in another


cell. Should she die before she has laid any eggs, the
attendants will stay with the body for several days,
brushing and licking her in token of affection, or in
hopes of restoring her to life.
Before the mother ants begin to lay their eggs, however,
a most singular operation has to be gone through, which
is unlike anything done by any other creature.
Their silvery wings, which enabled them to enjoy
such a pleasant time in the open air, being no
longer wanted for flying abroad, are to be cast aside as
useless appendages, and the female, by biting the joints
where they are attached to her body, and by bending
them backwards and forwards over her back and head,
gradually works them off. Henceforth she has only the
task to perform of laying her eggs; the eggs in due time
are hatched, and the young grubs or larvae, after being
carefully fed by the workers, whom we may again call
nurses, weave a covering around themselves, pass through
the change undergone by all insects within their white
cocoons, until they become perfect ants.
There are several very distinct species of ants to be
met with in our woods and fields, somewhat different in
their habits to those we have described, some of whom
raise high hillocks of earth above the surface of the
ground, in which they have different storeys of cells and
galleries, used in warm weather, while other underground
apartments are inhabited in winter time. In our gardens
we may also distinguish two kinds of ant-the Brown
Ant, or 'Formica brunnea,' and the Red Ant, Formica



rufa.' These two species of ant, though they are often
near neighbours, would seem to be natural enemies, and
each is perceived to guard most jealously their cities or
colonies from being invaded by the other. 1 he Red Ant
is of a fiercer nature than the Brown Ant, and observers
tell of most obstinately fought battles between them and
their brown neighbours, in which numbers of the com-
batants will be slaughtered and left dead upon the battle-
field. In some instances these wars have been supposed
to arise from parties of red ants wanting to carry off a
supply of female cocoons from the brown ant colony,
and in other cases from the brown ants wanting to get
the services of some red workers for their own hive; but
such supposed origins for the battles seem less likely
than that the two races were disputing for possession of
some supply of favourite food. We have, however, watched
a long-continued single combat between a red and a brown
ant, which has been so obstinately carried on and so often
renewed that we are ready to believe at all events in their
enmity and disposition to fight. Other observers have no-
ticed ants at play, trying to bite each other, and chasing
each other like frolicsome children. Very many curious
observations have of late years been made on the ways of
ants by naturalists, who have constructed glass cases, in
which they have managed to establish ant communities,
by putting into them ants of the three kinds-workers,
males, and females-with a supply of earth for mining
and cell-making, and food to their liking. By this means
have been observed more plainly their wonderful per-


severance and unfailing industry, while it has also been
seen that ants are a very cleanly and tidy race, and in all
their building and rearing of young take care never to
leave any refuse material about, but give themselves the
greatest trouble to carry such matter away.
The good qualities in ants have caused them to
be held up as an example to human beings in all
ages, and we may conclude our history of these little
creatures by telling how the perseverance of a single
ant served to restore the courage and perseverance of
a single man. A story is related of the Tartar prince
and hero Timour, or Tamerlane, who at one time being
discouraged and cast down by the defeat of his troops
in some warlike excursion, was lying in his tent, and
happened to notice an ant trying to crawl up its hang-
ings. Striking it down with the end of a straw, the
insect again and again renewed its attempts to climb
up the curtain, and each time the warrior interrupted its
ascent by striking it down. The prince was curious to
see how long it would persist in its efforts, and eighty
times the little creature renewed its attempts, and was
eighty times knocked down, until at length it conquered,
the hero himself becoming tired of the contest, while
full of admiration for his small conqueror, and he said
to himself, I will imitate this ant, and in like manner I
too will conquer;" and renewing his efforts against his own
enemies, he became at last the conqueror of all India.
But though men have 'considered the ways' of the
ant, in order to be 'wise,' we may well ask our-



selves what the little creatures have ever gained from
us, and what sort of a notion they can have of us?
We have, of course, many powers and capabilities far
above the ants, but it is sad to reflect, that if they are
conscious at all of our presence in the world, it can only
be as of cruel monsters who often destroy their im-
portant works, and who, if they interfere with our com-
fort or invade our luxuries, will ruthlessly slaughter
millions of the innocent inhabitants of their under-
ground cities. Even if we would, we can scarcely
become their benefactors or protectors. We can but
admire them, learn all that concerns their lives, watch
their curious ways, and examine their wonderful works-.,
trying at least to leave these, our little fellow-creatures
their place in this great and beautiful world, in which
their lives and ours are placed and ordered.





HERE is a retired corner
in a certain garden which we
know of, where stand the bee-
thives, just where a privet
hedge shelters them from the
east, and a wall covered with
an apricot-tree screens them
from the north. On the other
-. side of the wall is the orchard,
where in spring, fruit trees are
sure to be blossoming-cherry, plum, pear, and apple
in succession; and beyond the hedge lies the kitchen
garden, where peas and beans, wall-fruit trees, and
currants, and gooseberries, have much to offer to the bees
before the summer flowers are fairly ready for them.
Behind the hives, the hedge is covered late in spring
with the little white spires of privet blossom, and a
tangled vine of honeysuckle which climbs among it, puts
forth thick clusters of its trumpet-shaped florets; while
before the hives are laid out beds of every variety of
flowers more or less honey-yielding, to tempt the bees
when they do not care to roam farther. Of all the



dwellers in our gardens, bees are the only ones for whom
we provide dwellings. How do we explain this kindness
to the little creatures? Why do we furnish them with
these snug straw dome-shaped hives, and take care that
they have about them all the flowers, and blossoms
possible which can supply them with food ?
We will answer these questions by pretending, after
the manner of fables, to have heard a conversation
between an old and a young bee, buzzed out one morning
early in spring.
Young Bee (taking one of his first flights from the
hive, and noticing the outside aspect of the home in
which he was born): "Dear me! what a beautiful large
house we live in! How grandly formed it is, and how
thick its walls are. That is the reason I suppose why
we are so snug and warm inside. Did you old bees
make it last season?"
Old Bee: "Bless me, no, young one-we only make
the combs inside it. These hives are made of twisted
stalks of corn which we have nothing to do with, and
never can get a drop of honey out of. Men make hives
-which are, as you say, very snug and warm, but not
after all so difficult to make, or requiring such great
precision as our combs inside them."
Young Bee: "Well! now I do think men are kind
to us bees. Why, they don't make homes like these
hives for the butterflies or beetles, or caterpillars-or
even for the wasps, do they?"
Old Bee (buzzing rather sulkily): "No! they do not


-but I can't say I see that that proves any great
kindness to us bees. In former days, and even now in
other countries, bees get on very well without these great
conical straw hives (Old Bee used this word conical
because he and his fellow bees are considered very
clever mathematicians by nature). They used to make
their nests, and form their combs in hollow trees, and
holes in rocks and banks; and it did very well-perhaps
better on some accounts than these hives, where we are
always cramped for room."
Young Bee: "Holes in rocks and hollow trees better
than these grand gold coloured domes! Well, I must
say I do not agree with you, old worker."
Old Bee: "Don't you, young bee; then all I can say
is, wait till the Autumn Wait till you, and I, and all the
rest of us, have toiled, and moiled, and gathered honey
from this blossom and that blossom, this flower and that
flower, from morn till night, and irom day to day the
whole summer long. Up, and out, and at work every
morning soon after sun-rise, and leaving off only at sun-
down-backwards and forwards to the hive with our
loads, through the long summer day, and only allowing
ourselves just a little sip of honey now and then for our
own food. Never thinking of anything but how we can
get enough to store up for the wants of our people at
home, while at other times we are labouring inside the
hive at cell-making, to stow it all in for the winter, and to
use as cradles for our young ones. And when summer
is over-then see what they do with us, and our beautiful



combs all brimful of golden honey Very kind of them
indeed to spare some of our lives (mine, for instance, last
autumn), so that we may be able to build more combs
and fill them with honey the next summer again. Why,
you inexperienced, silly young bee! When you're a
little older and wiser, you'll find that the hive-making,
and the sparing of our lives too, when the flower season
is over, is all in order that they may get every drop of
our honey that they want for their uses, uses-abuses,
abuses, buz, buz;" and thus ending his discourse, the
old bee flies away, anxious after all to get to business
again. The young bee, stunned at first with dismay
at the terrible revelation made to him by age and
experience, settles for a moment in sad contemplation
on the tip of a tulip bud, and then catching the scent
of some daffodils near at hand, flies off, and is soon
buried in the cup of one of them, lapping up the sweet
syrup at the bottom with his wonderful tongue, and by
the time he meets the old bee again on their return
home, with stomachs loaded with honey, he has forgotten
all about the knowledge imparted to him in the morning,
and both creep in very contentedly at the little entrance
to the hive, troubling themselves very little about the
selfishness of hive-making and honey-stealing men.
We human beings do keep bees, in order that we may
take possession of a good portion of their honey, but
we are glad also to have them as dwellers in our gardens,
because we like to observe their very curious ways and
works. We feel interested in the little creatures, because


although they differ so greatly from us in size and form,
they are like us in some of their qualities, and in many
of their doings. Bees have skill and industry, and fore-
thought like men. They are clever in providing for
their present wants, and have a strange knowledge of
what awaits them in the future, as if, like men, they learnt
it from their parents or from books. They know, for
instance, or seem to know, quite as well as men, that
flowers do not last all through the year, and out of their
mysterious consciousness of this fact, arises all their
industry and the exercise of much of their skill. They
feel somehow that they have no time to lose-that they
must waste no hour of the sunshine which opens the
flowers, and they seem aware that in the coming flower-
less season they would starve unless they had a store
of honey for their use. They act just like men who
work for their own support and that of their families,
and who save up, and invent and plan in order to provide
for the future; and they are even better than men in so
doing, because it is for their fellow citizens and neighbours
that they exercise their powers-while like men they live
together in large communities, working together peace-
fully, and seem to be obedient to the laws which keep
them in order, and enable them to carry out plans
successfully. They divide their labours and help one
another, some doing one thing, and some another, like
the workmen in large factories, all performing a certain
amount of work suited to them, which they perform most
accurately and perfectly, and yet not so very mechanically,


but that on some occasions they appear to think about
it, and when they meet with obstacles adopt means of
overcoming them. For all these reasons, we like to
observe and to learn all we can of their curious natures.
Thousands of years ago, in the grand old times of
Greece and Rome, when there were great thinkers and
poets, and naturalists among the people, there were those
who observed and wrote about bees, and considered
them most worthy of study. The Greeks called them
by a name which meant "flower-loving," and the
Romans by one which meant "honey-bearing." In the
ancient books of the Jewish people, which form the
Old Testament, we know how frequently bees and honey
are mentioned, and how their country was described
as a land "flowing with milk and honey," which meant
that plenty of cattle were upon the hills, and plenty of
bees in the valleys; and from our being told in the New
Testament, that John the Baptist lived in the desert
on "locusts and wild honey," it would seem that in
those days people in towns and villages kept bees in
their gardens as we do at this time.
The interest and curiosity felt in the ways and doings
of bees, have led some persons in modern times, to
devote a large portion of their lives to the study and
observation of them, and from time to time they have
got at the truth about the little creatures, so as to set
aside many wrong notions entertained formerly. Glass
bee-hives, and wooden hives with glass windows to them
covered with shutters, have been invented in order


that they may be watched at their work inside, and
especially when in the act of constructing combs, but
although these have helped us to learn a good deal
about them, it is still difficult to detect all their secrets,
and to find out some of their doings from the great
crowd of bees engaged upon their work, just when we
want most to observe them. In a large and well stocked
hive there will sometimes be as many as fifteen thousand
bees, so that the separate movements and performances
of a single bee at work can scarcely ever be detected,
though what is done and produced by the whole
community is very well known.
In every nest or hive of what are called "honey or
hive bees," to distinguish them from other bees who
do not store up honey, and who live solitary lives (like
the humble bees which we often see in our gardens), there
are three kinds-the males (or drones), the females, and


the workers, and it is these last who are the honey-
gatherers, the cell-builders, and those who best deserve



the title of "busy bees." These workers used to be
called neuters, and were supposed to be neither males
nor females, but are now known to be imperfect females
-stunted in their growth, and incapable of laying eggs.
They seem, however, quite capable of constant labour for
the good of others, and take upon themselves the care of
the whole bee family; and it is they who have all the
peculiar bee talents and skill. The males do nothing in
the way of work, and are treated with little respect, while
it only matters to the hive that there should be one
female bee, who is to become the mother of a future
"generation of bees. She is called the Queen, because
from the devotion and reverence paid to her it used to be
fancied that somehow she governed the rest of the popu-
lation; but this was a wrong notion, and it is very certain
that she issues no commands and exacts no obedience,
but is only valued very highly by all the rest, and is taken
great care of, because she is to be the sole mother of the
future race. As for the males or drones, we need hardly
say that they are a very idle set; not even going out to
gather honey for themselves, but waiting to be fed at
home, and only taking a little flight occasionally from the
hive for their health or pleasure, like lazy gentlemen. It
has been thought by some people that they act as water-
carriers to the hive, and by others that they sat on the
eggs to hatch them ; but all we are sure of is that they
mostly stay at home, and may help to keep up the heat
of the hive when the workers are away, and that from
among them the queen chooses the husband who be-


comes the father of her future progeny. The drones
have broad bodies and blunt tails, while the bodies of the
female bees or queens are much longer and more slender,
and their wings somewhat shorter than those of the
workers. These last are the smallest of the three kinds
of bee in a hive, and it is these whom we see gathering
honey and pollen from flowers, and who at home pro-
duce the wax and build the cells for the reception of the
eggs and for the storing of the honey, and who, when the
eggs are hatched, take charge of the young larve or grubs,
and feed and tend them most carefully. In each hive or
nest of bees there are usually ten times as many working
bees as there are males or drones.
As there are three kinds of bees in a hive, so are there
three kinds of material gathered by them to supply the
wants of the hive-the nectar of flowers, which becomes
honey; the farina, or pollen, of flowers; and another
substance which they get from trees, called propolis, or
bee-glue. The two first of these substances are found in
most flowers, but in some is obtained more nectar, and in
others more pollen. If we pull a single flower to pieces,
we can mostly detect the little nectary at the base of the
style in which the sweet syrup is found which is lapped
up by the bee, as well as the little oblong bag at the end
of the stamens called the anther, which when a flower is
fully blown splits open and sheds its contents-a white,
yellow, red, or brown powder on the style or bunch of
styles in the centre. This pollen the bee is as careful to
collect as honey. It is not swallowed like the nectar, but



is taken home in little hollow pouches which are in the
hind-legs of the workers, and which serve them as
baskets, while the hairy ends of their legs help them to
brush up and collect the powder. Sometimes when a
flower is very full of pollen, like that of the mallow or
hollyhock, the little creatures will quite roll themselves in
it, and go home to the hive covered with the powder,
which they are relieved of by other workers at home, who
knead it into bee-bread for the hungry grubs in the cells,
of which it forms the sole food. The substance called
propolis, or bee-glue, is found on different kinds of trees,
such as the poplar, the fir tree, and the' horse-chesnut,
from which oozes out a sticky kind of resin to protect the
young buds. Bees use this as a sort of cement to stop
up crevices and cracks of the hive, and to varnish the
cell-work of the combs when filled and closed up, and
they have it ready also to cover up and embalm as it
were any noxious body which may happen to get within
the hive. Many other creatures, such as moths, wasps,
snails, and ants, attracted perhaps by the smell of honey,
will get into a hive, and soon fall victims to their bold-
ness; and after stinging the intruder to death, if they
are too large to be removed, the bees will cover them
over with propolis, as if to embalm them, and have been
known even to take a snail prisoner who was about to
enter a hive, by glueing down the edge of the shell to
the hive stand, and thus converting his house into his
It may now be asked-where do bees obtain the wax


with which they construct their cells, and which when
the combs are emptied of honey, becomes such a useful
substance to us for candles and many other purposes?
The answer must be, that wax is honey which has been
digested in the stomach of the bees, and which is
secreted from it in little scales which ooze out from
between the overlapping plates which cover the stomach
or abdomen outside, like a little coat of mail. When
this substance is wanted for cell building, the bees do
not get rid of the honey with which their stomachs are
filled, but hang themselves up in clusters-the fore-legs
of one holding to the hind-legs of another, and so
making a.number of loops of bees, all hanging together
still and quiet, until the contents of their stomachs are
quite digested, and the little wax scales are formed. Other
workers then come and take these from them, and carry
them to the wax-workers and cell-builders, who knead
them together for use, just as masons make a mass of
mortar before they begin to build walls.
There seems to be always a careful division of
labour among the working bees in a hive, so that
while one party goes forth to gather materials another
party stays at home to build cells or attend to the
young. Some observers think that certain workers are
always wax-workers, and others always nurse-bees, but
it is not certain if this be the case, though it is very
certain that while the wax-workers are busy over cell-
making, and cannot attend to their own wants, they
are most carefully supplied with honey by their fellow-


labourers who have brought home a supply of honey.
It is perhaps most natural to fancy that those bees
who are engaged in cell-building must have a particular
talent for the work which the others do not possess. It
is one thing for a bee to be able to discover in each
flower-cup or bell, the part which holds the sweet syrup
he wants to get at, and to be able to pack up pollen in
the little pair of panniers which his thighs are furnished
with, and take it all home; and quite another thing to
be able to form the little six-sided cells, so wonder-
fully accurate in size and shape, which are used for
storing up the honey, and as cradles for the young-
the walls of each exactly the right shape for taking up the
least material and occupying the least space. It is said
that someone once asked a clever mathematician to find
out what was the best form for taking the least room and
using the least material when a number of small chambers
had to be built close together, and he calculated and
measured, and then decided that there was no form so
advantageous as the six-sided, or hexagonal form, which
is adopted by bees for their cells all over the world.
The combs formed in a hive are composed of two
layers of these six-sided cells, placed end to end,
and these ends being each like a little pyramid formed
of three sides, they fit in to one another with no
space between, and as each bee makes his own cell
complete the sides and ends of each cell are double.
It has been thought by some naturalists that each
bee only tries to make a tube-shaped cell, with round


end like a very long and narrow thimble, and that it
is the pressure of all the little workers one against
the other, and the soft nature of the wax, which
causes the walls and ends of each cell to be angular,
since each bee works with six neighbours around him
and three at the end. Even if this notion should be
the correct explanation, it still leaves the art of bees
most wonderful in the exactness with which they work
at the same distance apart from each other, and
in the many expedients they adopt to suit their work
to their purposes.

how the cells are placed
end to end, forming the
thickness of the comb.

When bees are employed in building up a comb,
they work so fast and in such great numbers that a
piece of comb containing four thousand cells has
been found to be completed in twenty-four hours
by its industrious architects-that number perhaps
being employed upon it. The outer ends of all the
cells are at first left open. Those which are intended
as storehouses for the honey have to be gradually filled