Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/547

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531
THE PHILADELPHIA ACADEMY.

become heated with every day of sunshine, and thus the ants find all the conditions necessary for the rapid development of their pupae.

Of equal importance is the fact that an abundant supply of food is ready at hand in their hunting-grounds—food already slaughtered for them—so that they are saved the time and trouble of overcoming and destroying their prey. Not only are they certain to secure the caterpillars, worms, and a variety of insects which are crushed by passing feet, but also the crumbs dropped by children, or swept from the houses, as well as the banana- and orange-peel, peach- and cherry-stones, and the like, which often litter the sidewalk. Here, then, is a variety of food to supply their tastes, and, when not otherwise engaged, they may be seen tearing off the fruit-fibers from some cherry-stone or apple-core, or tugging away busily at some maimed or crushed insect or caterpillar. In selecting proper places to build their nests, they choose, if possible, those which are neither damp nor liable to inundation. If the sidewalk, they secure a level territory from which the rain runs away as fast as it falls. With all these favorable conditions they manage to survive and flourish, despite the frequent choking up of their passage-ways, and the many deaths, by crushing, of their workers.

Thus it is that what seems to us a very precarious and unfavorable region in which to live, the ants continue to occupy from year to year, and to increase in numbers. The struggle for existence is well illustrated by this example, and it would be interesting to know just how many footsteps a day they can endure and yet survive. A densely traveled thoroughfare will be found to support but very few ants' nests, and these are upon its borders, while one less traveled, if it is comparatively dry and not heavily shaded by trees, will be found infested with them.

The mud-wasp which plasters its cells under the roofs of barns, garrets, and sheds in Northern New England, parallels the eaves-swallow which constructs its mud-nests beneath the eaves of barns. Here the brighter individuals show great judgment in selecting places removed from leaks in the roofs. We have observed many remarkable selections of building-sites among these insects, and doubtless numerous interesting facts await the patient study of these curious animals.

 

THE PHILADELPHIA ACADEMY.
By J. S. KINGSLEY.

IN a Canadian journal devoted to science there appeared, not long ago, an article entitled "The First and most Profound of Savants," and old Father Adam was intended by this superlative title, for did he not give to every animal a name? What a pity it is that these Adam-