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a dozen of these ants are lodged. It is very difficult to preserve bird skins or other specimens of natural history where these ants abound, as they gnaw away the skin round the eyes and the base of the bill; and if a specimen is laid down for even half an hour in an unprotected place it will be ruined. I remember once entering a native house to rest and eat my lunch; and having a large tin collecting box full of rare butterflies and other insects, I laid it down on the bench by my side. On leaving the house I noticed some ants on it, and on opening the box found only a mass of detached wings and bodies, the latter in process of being devoured by hundreds of fire-ants. The celebrated Saúba ant of America (OEcodoma cephalotes) is allied to the preceding, but is even more destructive, though it seems to confine itself to vegetable products. It forms extensive underground galleries, and the earth brought up is deposited on the surface, forming huge mounds sometimes thirty or forty yards in circumference, and from one to three feet high. On first seeing these vast deposits of red or yellow earth in the woods near Para, it was hardly possible to believe they were not the work of man, or at least of some burrowing animal. In these underground caves the ants store up large quantities of leaves, which they obtain from living trees. They gnaw out circular pieces and carry them away along regular paths a few inches wide, forming a stream of apparently animated leaves. The great extent of the subterranean workings of these ants is no doubt due in part to their permanence in one spot, so that when portions of the galleries fall in or are otherwise rendered useless, they are extended in another direction. When in the island of Marajo, near Para, I noticed a path along which a stream of Saiibas were carrying leaves from a neighbouring thicket; and a relation of the proprietor assured me that he had known that identical path to be in constant use by the ants for twenty years. Thus we can account for the fact mentioned by Mr. Bates, that the underground galleries were traced by smoke for a distance of seventy yards in the Botanic Gardens at Para; and for the still more extraordinary fact related by the Rev. Hamlet Clark, that an allied species in Rio de Janeiro has excavated a tunnel under the bed of the river Parahyba, where it is about a quarter of a mile wide These ants seem to prefer introduced to native trees; and young plantations of orange, coffee, or mango trees are sometimes destroyed by them, so that where they abound cultivation of any kind becomes almost impossible. Mr. Belt ingeniously accounts for this preference, by supposing that for ages there has been a kind of struggle going on between the trees and the ants; those varieties of trees which were in any way distasteful or unsuitable escaping destruction, while the ants were becoming slowly adapted to attack new trees. . Thus in time the great majority of native trees have acquired some protection against the ants, while foreign trees, not having been so modified, are more likely to be suitable for their purposes. Mr. Belt carried on war against them for four years to protect his garden in Nicaragua, and found that carbolic acid and corrosive sublimate were most effectual in destroying or driving them away. The use to which the ants put the immense quantities of leaves they carry away has been a great puzzle, and
is, perhaps, not yet quite understood. Mr. Bates found that the Amazon species used them to thatch the domes of earth covering the entrances to their subterranean galleries, the pieces of leaf being carefully covered and kept in position by a thin layer of grains of earth. In Nicaragua Mr. Belt found the underground cells full of a brown flocculent matter, which he considers to be the gnawed leaves connected by a delicate fungus which ramifies through the mass and which serves as food for the larvae; and he believes that the leaves are really gathered as manure-heaps to favour the growth of this fungus ! When they enter houses, which they often do at night, the Saúbas are very destructive. Once, when travelling on the Rio Negro, I had bought about a peck of rice, which was tied up in a large cotton handkerchief and placed on a bench in a native house where we were spending the night. The next morning we found about half the rice on the floor, the remainder having been carried away by the ants; and the empty handkerchief was still on the bench, but with hundreds of neat cuts in it reducing it to a kind of sieve." The foraging ants of the genus Eciton are another remarkable group, especially abundant in the equatorial forests of America. They are true hunters, and seem to be continually roaming about the forests in great bands in search of insect prey. They especially devour maggots, caterpillars, white ants, cockroaches, and other soft insects; and their bands are always accompanied by flocks of insectivorous birds who prey upon the winged insects that are continually trying to escape from the ants. They even attack wasps' nests, which they cut to pieces and then drag out the larvae. They bite and sting severely, and the traveller who accidentally steps into a horde of them will soon be overrun, and must make his escape as quickly as possible. They do not confine themselves to the ground, but swarm up bushes and low trees, hunting every branch, and clearing them of all insect life. Sometimes a band will enter a house, like the driver ants in Africa, and clear it of cockroaches, spiders, centipedes, and other insects. They seem to have no permanent abode and to be ever wandering about in search of prey, but they make temporary habitations in hollow trees or other suitable places. Perhaps the most extraordinary of all ants are the blind species of Eciton discovered by Mr. Bates, which construct a covered way or tunnel as they march along. On coming near a rotten log, or any other favourable hunting ground, they pour into all its crevices in search of booty, their covered way serving as a protection to retire to in case of danger. These creatures, of which two species are known, are absolutely without eyes; and it seems almost impossible to imagine that the loss of so important a sense-organ can be otherwise than injurious to them. Yet on the theory of natural selection the successive variations by which the eyes were reduced and ultimately lost must all have been useful. It is true they do manage to exist without eyes; but that is probably because, as sight became more and more imperfect, new instincts or new protective modifications were developed to supply its place, and this does not in any way account for so wide-spread and invaluable a sense having become permanently lost, in creatures which still roam about and hunt for prey very much as do their fellows who can see. Special Relations between Ants and Vegetation.— Attention has recently been called to the very remarkable relations existing between some trees and shrubs and the ants which dwell upon them. In the Malay Islands are several curious shrubs belonging to the Cinchonaceae, which grow parasitically on other trees, and whose swollen stems are veritable ants' nests. When very young the stems are like small, irregular prickly tubers, in the hollows of which ants establish themselves; and these in time grow into irregular masses the size of large gourds, completely honeycombed with the cells of ants. In America there are some analagous cases occurring in several families of plants, one of the most remarkable being that of certain Melastomas which have a kind of pouch formed by an enlargement of the petiole of the leaf, and which is inhabited by a colony of small ants. The hollow stems of the Cecropias (curious trees with pale bark and large palmate leaves which are white beneath) are always tenanted by ants, which make small entrance holes through the bark; but here there seems no special adaptation to the wants of the insect. In a species of Acacia observed by Mr. Belt, the thorns are immensely large and hollow, and are always tenanted by ants. When young these thorns are soft and full of a sweetish pulpy substance, so that when the ants first take possession they find a store of food in their house. Afterwards they find a special provision of honey-glands on the leaf-stalks, and also small yellow fruit-like bodies
| For a full and most interesting description of the habits and instincts of this ant, see Bates' Naturalist on the Amazons, 2nd edit. pp. 11-18; and Belt's Naturalist in Nicaragua, pp. 71-84.