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Printed by I: Davison, Lombard-street, Whitefriars, Londom

THE

CONTEMPLATIVE PHILOSOPHER.

No. XXXIX.

ON THE WONDERFUL INGENUITY OF

WASPS.

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.

JENYNS.

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, sume of which unite into societies,

VOL. II.

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 de fend 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 transforination 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

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