The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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82
STORIES ABOUT ANTS
If any one will watch an ant-hill on a fine day in April, he will see the little inhabitants begin to rouse them­selves from their winter's sleep, which lasts from the month of October, with the red ant at all events. Groups of them come out to the top of the ant-hill to warm and thaw themselves in the rays of the sun. Some, more active and robust, run in and out, waking up the lazy, hurrying the laggards, and rousing all the little commu­nity to begin their summer habits. But this activity does not last long; they are as yet only half awake, and still numb and torpid from the winter's cold, and the little throng increases or diminishes as the sun shines or dis­appears behind a cloud. As two, half-past two, and three o'clock arrive, they have nearly all disappeared inside the ant-heap, leaving only a few warriors, of a larger make and tried courage, to watch over the well-being of the little republic and to close up all openings with tiny chips of wood, dry leaves, and shreds of moss, so as to hide the en­trances from human eye. Two or three sentinels wander round to see that all is secure. And then they enter, and all is still.
If we come back again in about a week, we shall find the ants in the middle of their regular migration to their summer quarters, not far from their winter ones. This takes place, with the red ant, at all events, with great regularity every April and October. The red ant is beyond doubt a slave-owner; the slaves may be easily recognised from their masters by being of a smaller make and light yellow colour. As soon as the masters
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