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39. On the wonderful Ingenuity of Wasps
40. Concluding Considerations on the wonderful
47. On Sound and the Sense of Hearing.
48. On Smell, Taste, and Touch
51. On the Aurora Borealis, and other Fiery Meteors 112
52. On Magnetism and the Mariner's Compass.. 120
54. On Volcanos and Subterraneous Fires....
55. Further Reflections on Volcanos; with a Refuta-
tion of some Objections, deduced from Volcanic
Phenomena, against the Truth of Revelation.. 148
57. On the Nature of the Tides
58. On various Phenomena of the Ocean
59. Further Reflections on the Ocean
60. Conclusion of Reflections on the Ocean
61. On the Decay and Fall of the Leaves
62. On the Chain of Beings in the Universe..
63. On the Principle of Association
64. On the Feathered Creation.....
66. Further Reflections on the Migration of Birds.... 251
67. On Migration in general....
69. The Force of Instinct exemplified in the natural
70. On the Habitation of Animals in general........ 290
71. On the Instinct of Affection in the Brute Creation 301
72. On the Artifices of various Kinds of Animals.... 309
73. On the Internal Structure of the Earth
75. On the Mineral Productions of the Earth
77. Further Observations on Mountains..
ON THE WONDERFUL INGENUITY OF
The laws of life, why need I call to mind,
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