The Sting with its appendages, (annexed Wood-Cut) lies close to the last stomach, and, like the proboscis, may seem to the naked eye a simple instrument, while it is, in fact, no less complex in its structure than the former apparatus. Instead of being a simple sharp-pointed weapon, like a fine needle, it is composed of two branches or darts, a a, applied to each other longitudinally, and lodged in one sheath, b b. One of these darts is somewhat longer than the other; they penetrate alternately, taking hold of the flesh, till the whole sting is completely buried. The sheath is formed by two horny scales, (themselves inclosed within two fleshy sheaths, c c, along the groove of which, when the sting is extruded, flows the poison from a bag or reservoir d, in the body of the insect near the root of the sting. The darts composing this weapon, are each furnished with five teeth or barbs, set obliquely on their outer side, which give the instrument the appearance of an arrow, and by which it is retained in the wound it has made, till the poison has been injected; and though it is said the insect has the power of raising or depressing them at pleasure, it often happens that when suddenly driven away, it is unable to extricate itself without leaving behind it the whole apparatus, and even part of its intestines; death is the inevitable consequence. Though detached from the animal, this formidable weapon still retains, by means of the strong muscles by which it is impelled, the power of forcing itself still deeper. On the subject
Page:Jardine Naturalist's library Bees.djvu/43
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