Because, so far from ants storing up corn for winter provision, no species of them even eat grain, or feed in the winter upon any thing. Again, wood-ants, when within reach of a corn-field, often pick up grains of wheat, barley, or oats, and carry them to the nest as building materials, and not for food, as was believed by the ancients, who also mistook their eggs, larvae, and pupae for hoarded grain. Such is the care with which they guard and attend their pupae, that a working ant has been known to drag ten pupae into a place of security, after the posterior of its body had been cut off. - Blumenbach.
Mr. Carpenter happening once to beat down a number of aphides out of a stunted oak-tree, at the foot of which there was an ant's nest, soon afterwards saw the ants carrying up the aphides, and carefully replacing them upon the leaves of the tree.
Because they make, defend, and repair their dwellings, provide their food, watch and attend to the female, and take care of her eggs; they likewise acquire and defend aphides and cocci, which bear to them the same relation that cattle do to man, and which are fed by them with so much care, and the milk of which forms so important a part of their food; they also make predatory excursions to carry off pupae, which they bring up as slaves. - Sir H. Davy.
Black or jet ants occasionally appear in incalculable swarms and singular form, like columns ascending and descending, twenty of which may sometimes be seen together, and at a distance appear almost like an Aurora Borealis. - Blumenbach.
Because they are furnished with an acid for softening wood, the odour of which is extremely pungent. They prefer the wood nearest to the bark, which they are careful not to injure, as it affords them protection. - Latreille.
Because they hollow out wood with such nicety, that they leave the surface whole, after having eaten away the inside. A shelf or plank, thus attacked, looks solid to the eye, when, if weighed, it will not outbalance two sheets of pasteboard of the same dimensions. In this manner, too, they hollow out large decaying or fallen trees, leaving little more than the bark.
Because they are conically shaped, built of clay, generally with several points, arched internally, often ten or twelve feet high, and in great numbers. In time, these ant-hills become overgrown with grass, and so firm as to bear the weight of several men, although the walls are perforated by large wide passages, sometimes more than a foot in diameter. The cells of the king and queen, in each hill, are concealed in its remotest parts. Next to these are the habitations of the workers; then follow the egg-cells for the young brood, and close to them the magazine. The queen can lay 80,000 eggs within twenty-four hours.
Mr. Carpenter once turned the destroying powers of a termesto account in making some delicate dissections for the microscope. Having placed one in a pill-box, with the heads of three dead flies, he found sometime after, that they had completely cleared the interior of some of the eyes from all the blood-vessels, leaving the lenses in the cornea most beautifully transparent.
Because the termites there rear such stupendous fabrics, as certainly might be supposed to be the work of a much larger animal than their real architect. Were our houses built according to the same proportions, they would be twelve or fifteen times higher than the London monument, and four or five times higher than the pyramids of Egypt, with corresponding dimensions in the basements of the edifices.