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The laws of life, why need I call to mind,
Obeyed by insects too of every kind?
Of these, none uncontrolled and lawless rove,
But to some destined end spontaneous move:
Led by that instinct Heav'n itself inspires,
Or so much reason as their state requires:
See all with skill acquire their daily food,
All use those arms which Nature has bestowed;
Produce their tender progeny, and feed
With care parental, while that care they need :
In these loved offices completely blest,
No hopes beyond them, nor vain fears molest.


THE wonders of Nature in the insect tribes are not confined to what is observable in the operations of bees. The labours of wasps, though not beneficial to mankind, are not less ingenious and worthy of admiration.-Wasps, like the bees, associate in great numbers, and construct a common habitation with much dexterity and skill. There are many species of wasps, some of which unite into societies,



and others spend their lives in perfect solitude. But I shall confine my attention to the operations of the common associating wasp, an insect so well known, even to children, that it requires no description. Though bees, as well as wasps, are armed with a sting, yet the former may be regarded as a placid and harmless race. Bees are continually occupied with their own labours. Their chief care is to defend themselves; and they never take nourishment at the expense of any other animal. Wasps, on the contrary, are ferocious animals, that live entirely on rapine and destruction. They kill and devour every insect that is inferior to them in strength. But, though warlike and rapacious in their general manners, they are polished and peaceable among themselves. To their young they discover the greatest tenderness and affection. For their protection and conveniency no labour is spared; and the habitations they construct do honour to their patience, their address, and sagacity. Their architecture, like that of the honey-bee, is singular, and worthy of admiration; but the materials employed furnish neither honey nor wax. Impelled by an instinctive love of posterity, with great labour, skill, and assiduity, they construct combs, which are composed of hexagonal or six-sided cells. Though these cells are not made of wax, they are equally proper for the reception of eggs, and for affording convenient habitations to the worms which proceed from them, till their transformation into wasps.

In general, the cells of the wasps are formed of a kind of paper, which, with great dexterity, is fabricated by the animals themselves. The number of combs and cells in a wasp's nest is always proportioned to the number of individuals associated. Different species choose different situations for building their nests. Some expose their habitations to all the injuries of the air; others prefer the trunks of de

cayed trees; and others, as the common kind, conceal their nests under ground. The hole which leads to a wasp's nest is about an inch in diameter. This hole is a kind of gallery mined by the wasps, is seldom in a straight line, and varies in length from half a foot to two feet, according to the distance of the nest from the surface of the ground. When exposed to view, the whole nest appears to be of a roundish form, and sometimes above twelve inches in diameter. It is strongly fortified all round with walls or layers of paper, the surface of which is rough and irregular. In these walls, or rather in this external covering, two holes are left for passages to the combs. The wasps uniformly enter the nest by one hole, and go out by the other, which prevents any confusion or interruption to their common labours.

This subterraneous city, though small, is extremely populous. Upon removing the external covering, we perceive that the whole interior part consists of several stories or floors of combs, which are parallel to each other, and nearly in a horizontal position. Every story is composed of a numerous assemblage of hexagonal cells, very regularly constructed with a matter resembling ash-coloured paper. These cells contain neither wax nor honey, but are solely destined for containing the eggs, the worms which are hatched from them, the nymphs, and the young wasps till they are able to fly. Wasps' nests are not always composed of an equal number of combs. They sometimes consist of fifteen, and sometimes of eleven only. The combs are of various diameters. The first, or uppermost, is often only two inches in diameter, while those of the middle sometimes exceed a foot: the lowest are also much smaller than the middle ones. All these combs, ranged like so many parallel floors or stories above each other, afford lodging to prodigious numbers of inhabitants. Reau

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