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History of Animals   


can we speak with certainty, as from observation, as to the age
attained by the mother-wasp or by the wild wasps, or as to any other
similar phenomenon. The mother-wasp is broad and heavy, fatter and
larger than the ordinary wasp, and from its weight not very strong
on the wing; these wasps cannot fly far, and for this reason they
always rest inside the nest, building and managing its indoor
arrangements. The so-called mother-wasps are found in most of the
nests; it is a matter of doubt whether or no they are provided with
stings; in all probability, like the king-bees, they have stings,
but never protrude them for offence. Of the ordinary wasps some are
destitute of stings, like the drone-bees, and some are provided with
them. Those unprovided therewith are smaller and less spirited and
never fight, while the others are big and courageous; and these
latter, by some, are called males, and the stingless, females. At
the approach of winter many of the wasps that have stings appear to
lose them; but we have never met an eyewitness of this phenomenon.
Wasps are more abundant in times of drought and in wild localities.
They live underground; their combs they mould out of chips and
earth, each comb from a single origin, like a kind of root. They
feed on certain flowers and fruits, but for the most part on animal
food. Some of the tame wasps have been observed when sexually
united, but it was not determined whether both, or neither, had
stings, or whether one had a sting and the other had not; wild wasps
have been seen under similar circumstances, when one was seen to
have a sting but the case of the other was left undetermined. The
wasp-grub does not appear to come into existence by parturition, for
at the outset the grub is too big to be the offspring of a wasp. If
you take a wasp by the feet and let him buzz with the vibration of his
wings, wasps that have no stings will fly toward it, and wasps that
have stings will not; from which fact it is inferred by some that
one set are males and the other females. In holes in the ground in
winter-time wasps are found, some with stings, and some without.
Some build cells, small and few in number; others build many and large
ones. The so-called mothers are caught at the change of season, mostly
on elm-trees, while gathering a substance sticky and gumlike. A
large number of mother-wasps are found when in the previous year wasps
have been numerous and the weather rainy; they are captured in
precipitous places, or in vertical clefts in the ground, and they
all appear to be furnished with stings.
42

So much for the habits of wasps.
Anthrenae do not subsist by culling from flowers as bees do, but
for the most part on animal food: for this reason they hover about
dung; for they chase the large flies, and after catching them lop
off their heads and fly away with the rest of the carcases; they are
furthermore fond of sweet fruits. Such is their food. They have also
kings or leaders like bees and wasps; and their leaders are larger
in proportion to themselves than are wasp-kings to wasps or
bee-kings to bees. The anthrena-king, like the wasp-king, lives
indoors. Anthrenae build their nests underground, scraping out the
soil like ants; for neither anthrenae nor wasps go off in swarms as
bees do, but successive layers of young anthrenae keep to the same
habitat, and go on enlarging their nest by scraping out more and
more of soil. The nest accordingly attains a great size; in fact, from
a particularly prosperous nest have been removed three and even four
baskets full of combs. They do not, like bees, store up food, but pass
the winter in a torpid condition; the greater part of them die in
the winter, but it is uncertain whether that can be said of them
all, In the hives of bees several kings are found and they lead off
detachments in swarms, but in the anthrena's nest only one king is
found. When individual anthrenae have strayed from their nest, they
cluster on a tree and construct combs, as may be often seen
above-ground, and in this nest they produce a king; when the king is

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