« ZurückWeiter »
surprised by a shower of aphides, which fell in these parts. They who were walking the streets at that time, found themselves covered with these insects, which settled also on the trees and gardens, and blackened all the vegetables where they alighted. These armies, no doubt, were then in a state of emigration, and shifting their quarters ; and might, perhaps, come from the great hop plantations of Kent or Sussex, the wind being that day at north. They were observed at the same time at Farnham, and all along the Vale at Alton.
Ants.*—August 23.—Every ant-hill, about this time, is in a strange hurry and confusion; and all the winged ants, agitated by some violent impulse, are leaving their homes, and, bent on emigration, swarm by myriads in the air, to the great emolument of the hirudines, which fare luxuriously. Those that escape the swallows, return no more to their nests, but, looking out for fresh settlements, lay a foundation for future colonies. All the females at this time are pregnant; the males that escape being eaten, wander away and die.
October 2.–Flying ants, male and female, usually swarm and migrate on hot sunny days in August and September; but this day a vast emigration took place in my garden, and myriads came forth, in appearance, from the drain which goes under the fruit wall; filling the air and the adjoining trees and shrubs with their numbers. The females were full of eggs. This late swarming is probably owing to the backward wet season. The day following, not one flying ant was to be seen.
Horse ants travel home to their nests laden with flies, which they have caught, and the aurelie of smaller ants, which they seize by violence.
In my Naturalist's Calendar for the year 1777, on September 6th, I find the following note to the article, Flying Ants :
* Mr. White in his unpublished MSS., states that “a colony of black ants comes forth every Midsummer from under my staircase, which stands in the middle of my house ; and as soon as the males and females (which fill all the windows and rooms) are flown away, the workers retire under the stairs, and are seen no more. It does not appear how this nest can have any communication with the garden and yard; and if not, how can these ants subsist in perpetual darkness and confinement ?"-ED.
I saw a prodigious swarm of these ants flying about the top of some tall elm trees close by my house: some were continually dropping to the ground as if from the trees, and others rising up from the ground : many of them were joined together in copulation : and I imagine their life is but short; for as soon as produced from the egg by the heat of the sun, they propagate their species, and soon after perish. They were black, somewhat like the small black ant, and had four wings. I saw, also, at another place, a large sort, which were yellowish. On the 8th of September, 1785, I again observed the same circumstance of a vast number of these insects flying near the tops of the elms, and dropping to the ground.
On the 2nd of March, 1777, I saw great numbers of ants come out of the ground.
GLOW-WORMS. - By observing two glow-worms, which were brought from the field to the bank in the garden, it appeared to us that these little creatures put out their lamps between eleven and twelve, and shine no more for the rest of the night.
Male glow-worms, attracted by the light of the candles, come into the parlour.
EARTH-WORMS.-Earth-worms make their casts most in mild weather, about March and April; they do not lie torpid in winter, but come forth when there is no frost; they travel about in rainy nights, as appears from their sinuous tracks on the soft muddy soil, perhaps in search of food.
When earth-worms lie out a-nights on the turf, though they extend their bodies a great way, they do not quite leave their holes, but keep the ends of their tails fixed therein, so that, on the least alarm, they can retire with precipitation under the earth.* Whatever food falls within their reach
* I have observed the same fact with respect to eels in Windermere lake, Westmoreland. On a perfectly calm day, while in a boat, I have seen eels, with the ends of their tails remaining in their holes, slide back into them, like earth-wornis, on being disturbed.--Ed,
when thus extended, they seem to be content with,—such as blades of grass, straws, fallen leaves, the ends of which they often draw into their holes; even in copulation, their hinder parts never quit their holes : so that no two, except they lie within reach of each other's bodies, can have any commerce of that kind; but, as every individual is an hermaphrodite, there is no difficulty in meeting with a mate as would be the case were they of different sexes. WHITE.
SNAILS AND SLUGs.—The shell-less snails called slugs are in motion all the winter, in mild weather, and commit great depredations on garden plants, and much injure the green wheat, the loss of which is imputed to earth-worms; while the shelled snail, the pepeolkos, does not come forth at all till about April 10th, and not only lays itself up pretty early in autumn, in places secure from frost, but also throws out round the mouth of its shell a thick operculum formed from its own saliva; so that it is perfectly secured, and corked up, as it were, from all inclemencies. The cause why the slugs are able to endure the cold so much better than shell-snails is, that their bodies are covered with slime, as whales are with blubber.*
Snails copulate about midsummer; and soon after deposit their eggs in the mould, by running their heads and bodies under ground. Hence, the way to be rid of them is, to kill as many as possible before they begin to breed.
Large, gray, shell-less cellar snails lay themselves up about the same time with those that live abroad; hence, it is plain that a defect of warmth is not the only cause that influences their retreat.
There the snake throws her enameli'd skin.
SHAKSPEARE, Mids. Night's Dream. About the middle of this month (September) we found, in a field near a hedge, the slough of a large snake, which seemed to have been newly cast. From circumstances, it appeared as if turned wrong side outward, and as drawn off
* The slug is covered with a much thicker slime than the shelled snail.—ED.