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CHAP. 24. (21.)—WASPS AND HORNETS: ANIMALS WHICH APPRO- PRIVATE WHAT BELONGS TO OTHERS.

Wasps build their nests of mud in lofty places,1 and make wax therein: hornets, on the other hand, build in holes or under ground. With these two kinds the cells are also hexagonal, but, in other respects, though made of the bark of trees, they strongly resemble the substance of a spider's web. Their young also are found at irregular intervals, and are of unshapely appearance; while one is able to fly, another is still a mere pupa, and a third only in the maggot state. It is in the autumn, too, and not in the spring, that all their young are produced; and they grow during the full moon more particularly. The wasp which is known as the ichneumon,2 a smaller kind than the others, kills one kind of spider in particular, known as the phalangium; after which it carries the body to its nest, covers it over with a sort of gluey substance, and then sits and hatches from it its young.3 In addition to this, they are all of them carnivorous, while on the other hand bees will touch no animal substance whatever. Wasps more particularly pursue the larger flies, and after catching them cut off the head and carry away the remaining portion of the body.

Wild hornets live in the holes of trees, and in winter, like other insects, keep themselves concealed; their life does not exceed two years in length. It is not unfrequently that their sting is productive of an attack of fever, and there are authors who say that thrice nine stings will suffice to kill a man. Of the other hornets, which seem not to be so noxious, there are two kinds; the working ones, which are smaller in size and die in the winter; and the parent hornets, which live two years; these last, indeed, are quite harmless.4 In spring they build their nests, which have generally four entrances, and here it is that the working hornets are produced: after these have been hatched they form other nests of larger size, in which to bring forth the parents of the future generation. From this time the working hornets begin to follow their vocation, and apply themselves to supplying the others with food. The parent hornets are of larger size than the others, and it is very doubtful whether they have a sting, as it is never to be seen protruded. These races, too, have their drones. Some persons are of opinion that all these insects lose their stings in the winter. Neither hornets nor wasps have a king, nor do they ever congregate in swarms; but their numbers are recruited by fresh offspring from time to time.

1 Under roofs, and sometimes in the ground: hornets build in the hollows of trees.

2 Called " Sphæx " by Linnæus.

3 The true version is, that after killing the insect they bury it with their eggs as food for their future young.

4 Cuvier says that it is the males, and not the females, that have no sting.

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