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has well observed, to the fact that all the superficial signs of change in the organization are exaggerated, by their affecting the size, shape, and colour, of the wings, and the distribution of the ribs or veins which form their framework. The minute scales or feathers with which the wings are clothed are coloured in regular patterns, which vary in accordance with the slightest change in the conditions to which the species are exposed. These scales are sometimes absent in spots or patches, and sometimes over the greater part of the wings, which then become transparent, relieved only by the dark veins and by delicate shades or small spots of vivid colour, producing a special form of delicate beauty characteristic of many South American butterflies. The following remark by Mr. Bates will fitly conclude our sketch of these lovely insects :-“It may be said, therefore, that on these expanded membranes Nature writes, as on a tablet, the story of the modifications of species, so truly do all the changes of the organization register themselves thereon. And as the laws of Nature must be the same for all beings, the conclusions furnished by this group of insects must be applicable to the whole organic world; therefore the study of butterflies-creatures selected as the types of airiness and frivolity-instead of being despised, will some day be valued as one of the most important branches of biological science.”
Next after the butterflies in importance, as giving an air of life and interest to tropical nature, we must place the birds ; but to avoid unnecessary passage, to and fro, among unrelated groups, it will be best to follow on
" Bates, The Naturalist on the Amazons, 2nd edit. p. 413.
with a sketch of such other groups of insects as from their numbers, variety, habits, or other important features, attract the attention of the traveller from colder climates. We begin then with a group, which owing to their small size and obscure colours would attract little attention, but which nevertheless, by the universality of their presence,
their curious habits, and the annoyance they often cause to man, are sure to force themselves upon the attention of every one who visits the tropics.
Ants, Wasps, and Bees.— The hymenopterous insects of the tropics are, next to the butterflies, those which come most prominently before the traveller, as they love the sunshine, frequent gardens, houses, and roadways as well as the forest shades, never seek concealment, and are many of them remarkable for their size or form, or are adorned with beautiful colours and conspicuous markings. Although ants are, perhaps, on the whole the smallest and the least attractive in appearance of all tropical insects, yet, owing to their being excessively abundant and almost omnipresent, as well as on account of their curious habits and the necessity of being ever on the watch against their destructive powers, they deserve our first notice.
Ants are found everywhere. They abound in houses, some living underground, others in the thatched roof on the under surface of which they make their nests, while covered ways of carth are often constructed upon the posts and doors.
In the forests they live on the ground, under leaves, on the branches of trees, or under rotten bark ; while others actually dwell in living plants, which seem to be specially modified so as to accommodate them. Some sting severely, others only bite ; some are quite
harmless, others exceedingly destructive. The number of different kinds is very great.
In India and the Malay Archipelago nearly 500 different species have been found, and other tropical countries are no doubt cqually rich. I will first give some account of the various species observed in the Malay Islands, and afterwards describe some of the more interesting South American groups, which have been so carefully observed by Mr. Bates on the Amazon and by Mr. Belt in Nicaragua.
Among the very commonest ants in all parts of the world are the species of thic family Formicidæ, which do not sting, and are most of them quite barmless. Some make delicate papery nests, others live under stones or among grass. Several of them accompany Aphides to feed upon the sweet secretions from their bodies. They vary in size from the large Formier gigas, more than an inch long, to minute species so small as to be hardly visible. Those of the genus Polyrachis, which are plentiful in all Eastern forests, are remarkable for the extraordinary hooks and spines with which their bodies are armed, and they are also in many cases beautifully sculptured or furrowed. They are not numerous individually, and are almost all arborcal, crawling about bark and foliage. One species has processes on its back just like fish-hooks, others are armed with long, straight spines. They generally form papery nests on leaves, and when disturbed they rush out and strike their bodies against the nest so as to produce a loud rattling noise ; but the nest of every species differs from those of all others either in size, shape, or position. As they all live in rather small communities in exposed situations, are not very active, and are rather large and
conspicuous, they must be very much exposed to the attacks of insectivorous birds and other creatures; and, having no sting or powerful jaws with which to defend themselves, they would be liable to extermination without some special protection. This protection they no doubt obtain by their hard smooth bodies, and by the curious hooks, spines, points and bristles with which they are armed, which must render them unpalatable morsels, very liable to stick in the jaws or throats of their captors.
A curious and very common species in the Malay Islands is the green ant (@cophylla smaragdina), a rather large, long-legged, active, and intelligent-looking creature, which lives in large nests formed by glueing together the edges of leaves, especially of Zingiberaceous plants. When the nest is touched a number of the ants rush out, apparently in a great rage, stand erect, and make a loud rattling noise by tapping against the leaves. This no doubt frightens away many enemies, and is their only protection ; for though they attempt to bite, their jaws are blunt and feeble, and they do not cause any pain.
Coming now to the stinging groups, we have first a number of solitary ants of the great genus Odontomachus, which are seen wandering about the forest, and are conspicuous by their enormously long and slender hooked jaws. These are not powerful, but serve admirably to hold on by while they sting, which they do pretty severely. The Poncridæ are another group of largesized ants which sting acutely. They are very varied in species but are not abundant individually. The Ponera clavata of Guiana, is one of the worst stinging ants
known. It is a large species frequenting the forests on the ground, and is much dreaded by the natives, as its sting produces intense pain and illness. I was myself stung by this or an allied species when walking barefoot in the forest on the Upper Rio Negro. It caused such pain and swelling of the leg that I had some difficulty in reaching home, and was confined to my room for two days. Sir Robert Schomburgh suffered more ; for he fainted with the pain, and had an attack of fever in consequence.
We now come to the Myrmeciulæ, which may be called the destroying ants from their immense abundance and destructive propensities. Many of them sting most acutely, causing a pain like that of a sudden burn, whence they are often called “fire-ants.” They often swarm in houses and devour everything catable. Isolation by water is the only security, and even this does not always succeed, as a little dust on the surface will enable the smaller species to get across.
Oil is, however, an effectual protection, and after many losses of valuable insect specimens, for which ants have a special affection, I always used it. One species of this group, a small black Crematogaster, took possession of my house in New Guinca, building nests in the roof and making covered ways down the posts and across the floor. They also occupied the setting boards I used for pinning out my butterflies, filling up the grooves with cells and storing them with small spiders. They were in constant motion, running over my table, in my bed, and all over my body. Luckily, they were diurnal, so that on sweeping out my bed at night I could get on pretty well; but during the day I could always feel some of them