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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/411

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LUBBOCK ON INSECT CONSERVATISM.

suggestions not fitting easily into the established grooves. The ant, it is evident, does not, like Lord Beaconsfield, believe mainly in race, but, on the contrary, like the English squire, "acred up to his lips, consoled up to his chin," believes chiefly in family, and, we must add, has shown much more amazing instincts than any English squire in discriminating the progeny of one group of families from the progeny of another. That a strange ant, though of the same species, put into any nest, will be at once attacked and killed. Sir John Lubbock has proved again and again. Like the English rustic who, on assuring himself that a man is a stranger to the district, immediately proposes to "'eave' alf a brick at him," the ants pay no regard to species at all, if they find an ant who can not trace his descent to their own nest intruding upon it. They make a principle of hostility to aliens, drawing no distinction between aliens of their own species and aliens of another species. But the remarkable thing appears to be their special instinct for identifying the descendants of their own tribe. Sir John Lubbock separated into two parts, in February, 1879, a nest of ants which contained two queens, giving about the same number of ants and one queen to each. In February the nest contains neither young nor eggs, so that the division was made before the earliest stage of being for the next generation began. In April both queens began to lay eggs. In July, Sir John Lubbock took a lot of pupæ from each division, and placed each lot on a separate glass, with attendants from the same division of the nest. At the end of August he took four previously marked ants from the pupæ bred in one division and put them into the second division, and one previously marked ant from the pupae bred in the second division and put it into the first; in both cases the ants, which could never have been seen in any stage of their life by any of the ants in that division, were welcomed as friends, cleared of Sir John's paint, and accepted as members of the family. The same thing happened again and again. But whenever a stranger was introduced after the same fashion, it was immediately attacked and destroyed. This confirmed still more remarkably a series of less crucial experiments formerly made by Sir John Lubbock on the same subject. By some inscrutable sense or other, the ants, it is clear, know the descendants—at least in the first degree—of those which have once belonged to their own nest, even though they were neither born nor thought of when their parents left the nest. So much for the profound instinct of consanguinity in the ant, as well as for the unconquerable hostility they show to those ants who are not connected with them, within recognizable degrees at least, by blood.

But now as to the intense political conservatism which this bigoted sort of family feeling produces. Sir John Lubbock has discovered, it appears, that once let an ants' nest get accustomed to living without a queen—once let it organize democratic institutions—and nothing will induce it to admit a queen for the future. Queens introduced into