Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/257

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But all the foregoing is no more than a proem to the real " Romance of the Insect-World."

—By far the most startling discovery in relation to this astonishing civilization is that of the suppression of sex. In certain advanced forms of ant-life sex totally disappears in the majority of individuals;—in nearly all the higher ant-societies sex-life appears to exist only to the extent absolutely needed for the continuance of the species. But the biological fact in itself is much less startling than the ethical suggestion which it offers;—for this practical suppression, or regulation, of sex-faculty appears to be voluntary! Voluntary, at least, so far as the species is concerned. It is now believed that these wonderful creatures have learned how to develop, or to arrest the development, of sex in their young,—by some particular mode of nutrition. They have succeeded in placing under perfect control what is commonly supposed to be the most powerful and unmanageable of instincts. And this rigid restraint of sex-life to within the limits necessary to provide against extinction is but one (though the most amazing) of many vital economies effected by the race. Every capacity for egoistic pleasure—in the