Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/87

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79
THE HERDS OF THE YELLOW ANT.

elude them every now and then, and to lodge her fatal eggs on some of the tender young aphides.

Another implacable foe of these creatures is the larva of a neuropterous insect which in its perfect or mature form resembles the dragon fly. It is technically known as an aphis-lion, and differs very widely in habits from the common and well-known ant-lions. The last-mentioned grubs dig pits, at the bottoms of which they lie in wait for and seize their prey whenever it falls therein; the aphidian lion is, on the contrary, a bold and skillful hunter, and takes its prey wherever it may find it. It is an ugly, heavy, slothful-looking grub, yet it is remarkably agile. When darting upon its quarry (and it hunts the winged aphides only), its thick, clumsy-looking legs move with such rapidity that they can scarcely be seen.

PSM V54 D087 A colony of aphides.png
A Colony of Aphides.

Its movements as well as its shape are decidedly lacertilian; in fact, when it is seen coursing over the grape leaves in pursuit of its prey, it reminds one irresistibly of the brilliant little lizards which are to be observed running here and there over stone walls, fences, and sunny woodland paths. This creature stalks its prey like the lycosids or hunting spiders, and fairly bounds upon it when it arrives within grasping distance. Its catlike movements when creeping up on its quarry are wonderful to behold, and indicate a very high degree of intelligence.

In color it is jet black; in fact, in certain lights it glistens like a jet jewel. It is about half an inch long and one sixteenth of an inch broad. On the mar-gins of its body, from its head to its tail, are rows of thornlike spines. Its masticatory organs, as well as its viscera,

are much more highly developed than are those of ant-lions. It is a brave little creature, and only succumbs to the ants (which make war on it wherever they find it, thus showing that they are fully aware of the fact that it is inimical to their herds) when life