Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/724

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sugar or honey. These ants apparently prefer elevated situations, but doubt is thrown over this by their having been mentioned as seen at Matamoras, which is but little above the level of the sea. Their nests are built on the tops of the ridges, and are marked externally by small moundlets of gravel six or seven inches in diameter, and two or three inches high; internally they present ramifications of galleries and enlarged chambers in several stories, within which the honey-bearers exist, clinging to the roof of the vault. The honey is gathered by another class of workers from the galls of a species of oak, where Dr. McCook found it in the shape of globules which had been exuded from the gall, and is conveyed to the honey-bearers by regurgitation. It is "very pleasant, with a peculiar aromatic flavor, suggestive of bee-honey, and quite agreeable." Dr. Loew also describes it as having an agreeable 'taste, slightly acid in summer from a trace of formic acid, but perfectly neutral in autumn and winter. The sirup extracted from the ants had an odor like that of the sirup of squills, and dried, when heated, into a gummy mass, which quickly became soft by the absorption of water from the atmosphere, and the alcoholic solution of which had the smell of perfumed bay-rum. The honey is gathered by the Mexicans and Indians, is eaten freely and regarded as a dainty morsel, and is fermented into an alcoholic product. It can never be got in large enough quantities to make it of economical value, even if that were desirable. The ants, showing the same traits as all other species that have been observed, take most excellent routine care of the honey-bearers and of the larva?, but seem wholly indifferent to occasions calling for care or sympathy which happen to be out of the regular line. Their chambers are constructed with the architectural skill that is shown by their making the floors perfectly smooth, so that their progress and work shall be facilitated as much as possible, and by their making or leaving the roofs rough, so that the honey-bearers may cling more securely to them. The Occident ant is the most numerous species of animal on the Western Plains, and, after the prairie-dog, affords the most prominent marks of its presence everywhere on their surface; yet Dr. McCook's memoir, forming the second half of this volume, is the first that has been published about them. Their habits are similar to those of the harvesting ant of Florida, the agricultural ant of Texas, and some harvesting ants that have been observed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They have been found from Brookville, Kansas, to Keno, Nevada, through twenty-one degrees of longitude, and range probably from 32° to 45° north latitude. They build their nests, which are marked by elliptical cones sometimes ten inches or a foot high, in slopes and flats, avoiding the ridges. The mounds are surrounded by cleared spaces which are sometimes ten feet or more in diameter, and appear to have been purposely stripped of vegetation, while the surrounding grass is penetrated by paths leading out. All of the mounds are covered with pebbles of the nature of the gravelly soil in which they stand, which appear to be collected by the ants and brought to the spot, if necessary. One of the insects was observed to carry a stone of six times its weight over a space of three hundred times its length and up inclines. These ants are evidently harvesters, gathering seeds and storing them in their nests, which are chambered under-ground, sometimes to a depth of eight or nine feet, and are not essentially different in their interior construction from those of the honey ant. Dr. McCook observed them gathering seeds of the sunflower, of a euphorbia, of an amaranthus, of the gramma-grass of the country, and of other plants. Their nests are infested by six or seven species of parasitic ants, toward which they show no liking, but no particular hostility, of two of which, the erratic ants and the fetid ants, an interesting account is given. Dr. McCook confines himself to relating and illustrating the facts he has observed, leaving inferences to be drawn by others; and he has made a valuable addition to the literature of a subject that engages the attention of the most distinguished naturalists.

Suicide: Studies on its Philosophy, Causes, and Prevention. By James J. O'Dea, M. D. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1882. Pp. 322. Price, $1.16.

The author defines suicide as the intentional destruction of one's own life, and excludes from the category deaths from acts