THE POISON OF THE BEE





I have discussed elsewhere the stings administered by the Wasps to

their prey. Now chemistry comes and puts a spoke in the wheel of our

arguments, telling us that the poison of the Bees is not the same as

that of the Wasps. The Bees' is complex and formed of two elements,

acid and alkaline. The Wasps' possess only the acid element; and it

is to this very acidity and not to the 'so-called' skill of the

operators that the preservation of the provisions is due. (The

author's numerous essays on the Wasps will form the contents of later

works. In the meantime, cf. "Insect Life," by J.H. Fabre, translated

by the author of "Mademoiselle Mori": chapters 4 to 12, and 14 to 18;

and "The Life and Love of the Insect," by J. Henri Fabre, translated

by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos: chapters 11, 12 and 17.--

Translator's Note.)



Admitting that there is a difference in the nature of the venom, I

fail to see that this has any bearing on the problem in hand. I can

inoculate with various liquids--acids, weak nitric acid, alkalis,

ammonia, neutral bodies, spirits of wine, essence of turpentine--and

obtain conditions similar to those of the victims of the predatory

insects, that is to say, inertia with the persistence of a dull

vitality betrayed by the movements of the mouth-parts and antennae. I

am not, of course, invariably successful, for there is neither

delicacy nor precision in my poisoned needle and the wound which it

makes does not bear comparison with the tiny puncture of the unerring

natural sting; but, after all, it is repeated often enough to put the

object of my experiment beyond doubt. I should add that, to achieve

success, we must have a subject with a concentrated ganglionic

column, such as the Weevil, the Buprestis, the Dung-beetle and

others. Paralysis is then obtained with but a single prick, made at

the point which the Cerceris has revealed to us, the point at which

the corselet joins the rest of the thorax. In that case, the least

possible quantity of the acrid liquid is instilled, a quantity too

small to endanger the patient's life. With scattered nervous centres,

each requiring a separate operation, this method is impracticable:

the victim would die of the excess of corrosive fluid. I am quite

ashamed to have to recall these old experiments. Had they been

resumed and carried on by others of greater authority than I, we

should have escaped the objections of chemistry.



When light is so easy to obtain, why go in search of scientific

obscurity? Why talk of acid or alkaline reactions, which prove

nothing, when it is so simple to have recourse to facts, which prove

everything? Before declaring that the hunting insects' poison has

preservative properties merely because of its acid qualities, it

would have been well to enquire if the sting of a Bee, with its acid

and its alkali, could not perchance produce the same effects as that

of the paralyser, whose skill is categorically denied. The chemists

never gave this a thought. Simplicity is not always welcome in our

laboratories. It is my duty to repair that little omission. I propose

to enquire if the poison of the Bee, the chief of the Apidae, is

suitable for a surgery that paralyses without killing.



The enquiry bristles with difficulties, though this is no reason for

abandoning it. First and foremost, I cannot possibly operate with the

Bee just as I catch her. Time after time I make the attempt, without

once succeeding; and patience becomes exhausted. The sting has to

penetrate at a definite point, exactly where the Wasp's sting would

have entered. My intractable captive tosses about angrily and stings

at random, never where I wish. My fingers get hurt even oftener than

the patient. I have only one means of gaining a little control over

the indomitable dart; and that is to cut off the Bee's abdomen with

my scissors, to seize the stump instantly with a fine forceps and to

apply the tip at the spot where the sting is to enter.



Everybody knows that the Bee's abdomen needs no orders from the head

to go on drawing its weapon for a few instants longer and to avenge

the deceased before being itself overcome with death's inertia. This

vindictive persistency serves me to perfection. There is another

circumstance in my favour: the barbed sting remains where it is,

which enables me to ascertain the exact spot pierced. A needle

withdrawn as soon as inserted would leave me doubtful. I can also,

when the transparency of the tissues permits, perceive the direction

of the weapon, whether perpendicular and favourable to my plans, or

slanting and therefore valueless. Those are the advantages.



The disadvantages are these: the amputated abdomen, though more

tractable than the entire Bee, is still far from satisfying my

wishes. It gives capricious starts and unexpected pricks. I want it

to sting here. No, it balks my forceps and goes and stings elsewhere:

not very far away, I admit; but it takes so little to miss the nerve-

centre which we wish to get at. I want it to go in perpendicularly.

No, in the great majority of cases it enters obliquely and passes

only through the epidermis. This is enough to show how many failures

are needed to make one success.



Nor is this all. I shall be telling nobody anything new when I recall

the fact that the Bee's sting is very painful. That of the hunting

insects, on the contrary, is in most cases insignificant. My skin,

which is no less sensitive than another's, pays no attention to it: I

handle Sphex, Ammophilae and Scoliae without heeding their lancet-

pricks. I have said this before; I remind the reader of it because of

the matter in hand. In the absence of well-known chemical or other

properties, we have really but one means of comparing the two

respective poisons; and that is the amount of pain produced. All the

rest is mystery. Besides, no poison, not even that of the

Rattlesnake, has hitherto revealed the cause of its dread effects.



Acting, therefore, under the instruction of that one guide, pain, I

place the Bee's sting far above that of the predatory insects as an

offensive weapon. A single one of its thrusts must equal and often

surpass in efficaciousness the repeated wounds of the other. For all

these reasons--an excessive display of energy; the variable quantity

of the virus inoculated by a wriggling abdomen which no longer

measures the emission by doses; a sting which I cannot direct as I

please; a wound which may be deep or superficial, the weapon entering

perpendicularly or obliquely, touching the nerve-centres or affecting

only the surrounding tissues--my experiments ought to produce the

most varied results.



I obtain, in fact, every possible kind of disorder: ataxy, temporary

disablement, permanent disablement, complete paralysis, partial

paralysis. Some of my stricken victims recover; others die after a

brief interval. It would be an unnecessary waste of space to record

in this volume my hundred and one attempts. The details would form

tedious reading and be of very little advantage, as in this sort of

study it is impossible to marshal one's facts with any regularity. I

will, therefore, sum them up in a few examples.



A colossal member of the Grasshopper tribe, the most powerful in my

district, Decticus verrucivorus (This Decticus has received its

specific name of verrucivorus, or Wart-eating, because it is employed

by the peasants in Sweden and elsewhere to bite off the warts on

their fingers.--Translator's Note.), is pricked at the base of the

neck, on the line of the fore-legs, at the median point. The prick

goes straight down. The spot is the same as that pierced by the sting

of the slayer of Crickets and Ephippigers. (A species of Green

Grasshopper. The Sphex paralyses Crickets and Grasshoppers to provide

food for her grubs. Cf. "Insect Life": chapters 6 to 12.--

Translator's Note.) The giantess, as soon as stung, kicks furiously,

flounders about, falls on her side and is unable to get up again. The

fore-legs are paralysed; the others are capable of moving. Lying

sideways, if not interfered with, the insect in a few moments gives

no signs of life beyond a fluttering of the antennae and palpi, a

pulsation of the abdomen and a convulsive uplifting of the

ovipositor; but, if irritated with a slight touch, it stirs its four

hind-legs, especially the third pair, those with the big thighs,

which kick vigorously. Next day, the condition is much the same, with

an aggravation of the paralysis, which has now attacked the middle-

legs. On the day after that, the legs do not move, but the antennae,

the palpi and the ovipositor continue to flutter actively. This is

the condition of the Ephippiger stabbed three times in the thorax by

the Languedocian Sphex. One point alone is missing, a most important

point: the long persistence of a remnant of life. In fact, on the

fourth day, the Decticus is dead; her dark colour tells me so.



There are two conclusions to be drawn from this experiment and it is

well to emphasise them. First, the Bee's poison is so active that a

single dagger-thrust aimed at a nervous centre kills in four days one

of the largest of the Orthoptera (An order of insects including the

Grasshoppers, Locusts, Cockroaches, Mantes and Earwigs, in addition

to the Stick- and Leaf-insects, Termites, Dragon-flies, May-flies,

Book-lice and others.--Translator's Note.), though an insect of

powerful constitution. Secondly, the paralysis at first affects only

the legs whose ganglion is attacked; next, it spreads slowly to the

second pair; lastly, it reaches the third. The local effect is

diffused. This diffusion, which might well take place in the victims

of the predatory insects, plays no part in the latters' method of

operation. The egg, which will be laid immediately afterwards,

demands the complete inertia of the prey from the outset. Hence all

the nerve-centres that govern locomotion must be numbed

instantaneously by the virus.



I can now understand why the poison of the predatory Wasps is

comparatively painless in its effects. If it possessed the strength

of that of the Bee, a single stab would impair the vitality of the

prey, while leaving it for some days capable of violent movements

that would be very dangerous to the huntress and especially to the

egg. More moderate in its action, it is instilled at the different

nervous centres, as is the case more particularly with the

caterpillars. (Caterpillars are the prey of the Ammophila, which

administers a separate stab to each of the several ganglia.--

Translator's Note.) In this way, the requisite immobility is obtained

at once; and, notwithstanding the number of wounds, the victim is not

a speedy corpse. To the marvels of the paralysers' talent we must add

one more: their wonderful poison, the strength of which is regulated

by delicate doses. The Bee revenging herself intensifies the

virulence of her poison; the Sphex putting her grubs' provender to

sleep weakens it, reduces it to what is strictly necessary.



One more instance of nearly the same kind. I prefer to take my

subjects from among the Orthoptera, which, owing to their imposing

size and the thinness of their skin at the points to be attacked,

lend themselves better than other insects to my delicate

manipulations. The armour of a Buprestis, the fat blubber of a

Rosechafer-grub, the contortions of a caterpillar present almost

insuperable obstacles to the success of a sting which it is not in my

power to direct. The insect which I now offer to the Bee's lancet is

the Great Green Grasshopper (Locusta viridissima), the adult female.

The prick is given in the median line of the fore-legs.



The effect is overwhelming. For two or three seconds the insect

writhes in convulsions and then falls on its side, motionless

throughout, save in the ovipositor and the antennae. Nothing stirs so

long as the creature is left alone; but, if I tickle it with a hair-

pencil, the four hind-legs move sharply and grip the point. As for

the fore-legs, smitten in their nerve-centre, they are quite

lifeless. The same condition is maintained for three days longer. On

the fifth day, the creeping paralysis leaves nothing free but the

antennae waving to and fro and the abdomen throbbing and lifting up

the ovipositor. On the sixth, the Grasshopper begins to turn brown;

she is dead. Except that the vestige of life is more persistent, the

case is the same as that of the Decticus. If we can prolong the

duration, we shall have the victim of the Sphex.



But first let us look into the effect of a prick administered

elsewhere than opposite the thoracic ganglia. I cause a female

Ephippiger to be stung in the abdomen, about the middle of the lower

surface. The patient does not seem to trouble greatly about her

wound: she clambers gallantly up the sides of the bell-jar under

which I have placed her; she goes on hopping as before. Better still,

she sets about browsing the vine-leaf which I have given her for her

consolation. A few hours pass and the whole thing is forgotten. She

has made a rapid and complete recovery.



A second is wounded in three places on the abdomen: in the middle and

on either side. On the first day, the insect seems to have felt

nothing; I see no sign of stiffness in its movements. No doubt it is

suffering acutely; but these stoics keep their troubles to

themselves. Next day, the Ephippiger drags her legs a little and

walks somewhat slowly. Two days more; and, when laid on her back, she

is unable to turn over. On the fifth day, she succumbs. This time, I

have exceeded the dose; the shock of receiving three stabs was too

much for her.



And so with the others, down to the sensitive Cricket, who, pricked

once in the abdomen, recovers in one day from the painful experience

and goes back to her lettuce-leaf. But, if the wound is repeated a

few times, death ensues within a more or less short period. I make an

exception, among those who pay tribute to my cruel curiosity, of the

Rosechafer-grubs, who defy three and four needle-thrusts. They will

collapse suddenly and lie outstretched, flabby and lifeless; and,

just when I am thinking them dead or paralysed, the hardy creatures

will recover consciousness, move along on their backs (This is the

usual mode of progression of the Cetonia- or Rosechafer-grub. Cf.



"The Life and Love of the Insect": chapter 11.--Translator's Note.),

bury themselves in the mould. I can obtain no precise information

from them. True, their thinly scattered cilia and their breastplate

of fat form a palisade and a rampart against the sting, which nearly

always enters only a little way and that obliquely.



Let us leave these unmanageable ones and keep to the Orthoperon,

which is more amenable to experiment. A dagger-thrust, we were

saying, kills it if directed upon the ganglia of the thorax; it

throws it into a transient state of discomfort if directed upon

another point. It is, therefore, by its direct action upon the

nervous centres that the poison reveals its formidable properties.



To generalize and say that death is always near at hand when the

sting is administered in the thoracic ganglia would be going too far:

it occurs frequently, but there are a good many exceptions, resulting

from circumstances impossible to define. I cannot control the

direction of the sting, the depth attained, the quantity of poison

shed; and the stump of the Bee is very far from making up for my

shortcomings. We have here not the cunning sword-play of the

predatory insect, but a casual blow, ill-placed and ill-regulated.

Any accident is possible, therefore, from the gravest to the mildest.

Let us mention some of the more interesting.



An adult Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa, so-called because the

toothed fore-legs, in which it catches and kills its prey, adopt,

when folded, an attitude resembling that of prayer.--Translator's

Note.) is pricked level with the attachment of the predatory legs.

Had the wound been in the centre, I should have witnessed an

occurrence which, although I have seen it many times, still arouses

my liveliest emotion and surprise. This is the sudden paralysis of

the warrior's savage harpoons. No machinery stops more abruptly when

the mainspring breaks. As a rule, the inertia of the predatory legs

attacks the others in the course of a day or two; and the palsied one

dies in less than a week. But the present sting is not in the exact

centre. The dart has entered near the base of the right leg, at less

than a millimetre (.039 inch.--Translator's Note.) from the median

point. That leg is paralysed at once; the other is not; and the

insect employs it to the detriment of my unsuspecting fingers, which

are pricked to bleeding-point by the spike at the tip. Not until to-

morrow is the leg which wounded me to-day rendered motionless. This

time, the paralysis goes no farther. The Mantis moves along quite

well, with her corselet proudly raised, in her usual attitude; but

the predatory fore-arms, instead of being folded against the chest,

ready for attack, hang lifeless and open. I keep the cripple for

twelve days longer, during which she refuses all nourishment, being

incapable of using her tongs to seize the prey and lift it to her

mouth. The prolonged abstinence kills her.



Some suffer from locomotor ataxy. My notes recall an Ephippiger who,

pricked in the prothorax away from the median line, retained the use

of her six limbs without being able to walk or climb for lack of co-

ordination in her movements. A singular awkwardness left her wavering

between going back and going forward, between turning to the right

and turning to the left.



Some are smitten with semiparalysis. A Cetonia-grub, pricked away

from the centre on a level with the fore-legs, has her right side

flaccid, spread out, incapable of contracting, while the left side

swells, wrinkles and contracts. Since the left half no longer

receives the symmetrical cooperation of the right half, the grub,

instead of curling into the normal volute, closes its spiral on one

side and leaves it wide open on the other. The concentration of the

nervous apparatus, poisoned by the venom down one side of the body

only, a longitudinal half, explains this condition, which is the most

remarkable of all.



There is nothing to be gained by multiplying these examples. We have

seen pretty clearly the great variety of results produced by the

haphazard sting of a Bee's abdomen; let us now come to the crux of

the matter. Can the Bee's poison reduce the prey to the condition

required by the predatory Wasp? Yes, I have proved it by experiment;

but the proof calls for so much patience that it seemed to me to

suffice when obtained once for each species. In such difficult

conditions, with a poison of excessive strength, a single success is

conclusive proof; the thing is possible so long as it occurs once.



A female Ephippiger is stung at the median point, just a little in

front of the fore-legs. Convulsive movements lasting for a few

seconds are followed by a fall to one side, with pulsations of the

abdomen, flutterings of the antennae and a few feeble movements of

the legs. The tarsi cling firmly to the hair-pencil which I hold out

to them. I place the insect on its back. It lies motionless. Its

state is absolutely the same as that to which the Languedocian Sphex

(Cf. "Insect Life": chapter 10.--Translator's Note.) reduces her

Ephippigers. For three weeks on end, I see repeated in all its

details the spectacle to which I have been accustomed in the victims

extracted from the burrows or taken from the huntress: the wide-open

mandibles, the quivering palpi and tarsi, the ovipositor shuddering

convulsively, the abdomen throbbing at long intervals, the spark of

life rekindled at the touch of a pencil. In the fourth week, these

signs of life, which have gradually weakened, disappear, but the

insect still remains irreproachably fresh. At last a month passes;

and the paralysed creature begins to turn brown. It is over; death

has come.



I have the same success with a Cricket and also with a Praying

Mantis. In all three cases, from the point of view of long-maintained

freshness and of the signs of life proved by slight movements, the

resemblance between my victim and those of the predatory insects is

so great that no Sphex and no Tachytes would have disowned the

product of my devices. My Cricket, my Ephippiger, my Mantis had the

same freshness as theirs; they preserved it as theirs did for a

period amply sufficient to allow of the grubs' complete evolution.

They proved to me, in the most conclusive manner, they prove to all

whom it may interest, that the poison of the Bees, leaving its

hideous violence on one side, does not differ in its effects from the

poison of the predatory Wasps. Are they alkaline or acid? The

question is an idle one in this connection. Both of them intoxicate,

derange, torpify the nervous centres and thus produce either death or

paralysis, according to the method of inoculation. For the moment,

that is all. No one is yet able to say the last word on the actions

of those poisons, so terrible in infinitesimal doses. But on the

point under discussion we need no longer be ignorant: the Wasp owes

the preservation of her grub's provisions not to any special

qualities of her poison but to the extreme precision of her surgery.



A last and more plausible objection is that raised by Darwin when he

said that there were no fossil remains of instincts. And, if there

were, O master, what would they teach us? Not very much more than

what we learn from the instincts of to-day. Does not the geologist

make the erstwhile carcases live anew in our minds in the light of

the world as we see it? With nothing but analogy to guide them, he

describes how some saurian lived in the jurassic age; there are no

fossil remains of habits, but nevertheless he can tell us plenty

about them, things worthy of credence, because the present teaches

him the past. Let us do a little as he does.



I will suppose a precursor of the Calicurgi (The Calicurgus, or

Pompilus, is a Hunting Wasp, feeding her larvae on Spiders. Cf. "The

Life and Love of the Insect": chapter 12.--Translator's Note.)

dwelling in the prehistoric coal-forests. Her prey was some hideous

Scorpion, that first-born of the Arachnida. How did the Hymenopteron

master the terrible prey? Analogy tells us, by the methods of the

present slayer of Tarantulae. It disarmed the adversary; it paralysed

the venomous sting by a stroke administered at a point which we could

determine for certain by the animal's anatomy. Unless this was the

way it happened, the assailant must have perished, first stabbed and

then devoured by the prey. There is no getting away from it: either

the precursor of the Calicurgi, that slaughterer of Scorpions, knew

her trade thoroughly, or else the continuation of her race became

impossible, even as it would be impossible to keep up the race of the

Tarantula-killer without the dagger-thrust that paralyses the

Spider's poison-fangs. The first who, greatly daring, pinked the

Scorpion of the coal-seams was already an expert fencer; the first to

come to grips with the Tarantula had an unerring knowledge of her

dangerous surgery. The least hesitation, the slightest speculation;

and they were lost. The first teacher would also have been the last,

with no disciples to take up her work and perfect it.



But fossil instincts, they insist, would show us intermediary stages,

first, second and third rungs; they would show us the gradual passing

from the casual and very incorrect attempt to the perfect practice,

the fruit of the ages; with their accidental differences, they would

give us terms of comparison wherewith to trace matters from the

simple to the complex. Never mind about that, my masters: if you want

varied instincts in which to seek the source of the complex by means

of the simple, it is not necessary to search the foliations of the

coal-seams and the successive layers of the rocks, those archives of

the prehistoric world; the present day affords to contemplation an

inexhaustible treasury realizing perhaps everything that can emerge

from the limbo of possibility. In what will soon be half a century of

study, I have caught but a tiny glimpse of a very tiny corner of the

realm of instinct; and the harvest gathered overwhelms me with its

variety: I do not yet know two species of predatory Wasps whose

methods are exactly the same.



One gives a single stroke of the dagger, a second two, a third three,

a fourth nine or ten. One stabs here and the other there; and neither

is imitated by the next, who attacks elsewhere. This one injures the

cephalic centres and produces death; that one respects them and

produces paralysis. Some squeeze the cervical ganglia to obtain a

temporary torpor; others know nothing of the effects of compressing

the brain. A few make the prey disgorge, lest its honey should poison

the offspring; the majority do not resort to preventive

manipulations. Here are some that first disarm the foe, who carries

poisoned daggers; yonder are others and more numerous, who have no

precautions to take before murdering the unarmed prey. In the

preliminary struggle, I know some who grab their victims by the neck,

by the rostrum, by the antennae, by the caudal threads; I know some

who throw them on their backs, some who lift them breast to breast,

some who operate on them in the vertical position, some who attack

them lengthwise and crosswise, some who climb on their backs or on

their abdomens, some who press on their backs to force out a pectoral

fissure, some who open their desperately contracted coil, using the

tip of the abdomen as a wedge. And so I could go on indefinitely:

every method of fencing is employed. What could I not also say about

the egg, slung pendulum-fashion by a thread from the ceiling, when

the live provisions are wriggling underneath; laid on a scanty

mouthful, a solitary opening dish, when the dead prey requires

renewing from day to-day; entrusted to the last joint stored away,

when the victuals are paralysed; fixed at a precise spot, entailing

the least danger to the consumer and the game, when the corpulent

prey has to be devoured with a special art that warrants its

freshness!



Well, how can this multitude of varied instincts teach us anything

about gradual transformation? Will the one and only dagger-thrust of

the Cerceris and the Scolia take us to the two thrusts of the

Calicurgus, to the three thrusts of the Sphex, to the manifold thrust

of the Ammophila? Yes, if we consider only numerical progression. One

and one are two; two and one are three: so run the figures. But is

this what we want to know? What has arithmetic to do with the case?

Is not the whole problem subordinate to a condition that cannot be

translated into cyphers? As the prey changes, the anatomy changes;

and the surgeon always operates with a complete understanding of his

subject. The single dagger-thrust is administered to ganglia

collected into a common cluster; the manifold thrusts are distributed

over the scattered ganglia; of the two thrusts of the Tarantula-

huntress, one disarms and the other paralyses. And so with the

others: that is to say, the instinct is directed each time by the

secrets of the nervous organism. There is a perfect harmony between

the operation and the patient's anatomy.



The single stroke of the Scolia is no less wonderful than the

repeated strokes of the Ammophila. Each has her appointed game and

each slays it by a method as rational as any that our own science

could invent. In the presence of this consummate knowledge, which

leaves us utterly confounded, what a poor argument is that of 1 + 1 =

2! And what is that progress by units to us? The universe is mirrored

in a drop of water; universal logic flashes into sight in a single

sting.



Besides, push on the pitiful argument. One leads to two, two lead to

three. Granted without dispute. And then? We will accept the Scolia

as the pioneer, the foundress of the first principles of the art.

The simplicity of her method justifies our supposition. She learns

her trade in some way or other, by accident; she knows supremely well

how to paralyse her Cetonia-grub with a single dagger-thrust driven

into the thorax. One day, through some fortuitous circumstance, or

rather by mistake, she takes it into her head to strike two blows. As

one is enough for the Cetonia, the repetition was of no value unless

there was a change of prey. What was the new victim submitted to the

butcher's knife? Apparently, a large Spider, since the Tarantula and

the Garden Spider call for two thrusts. And the prentice Scolia, who

used at first to sting under the throat, had the skill, at her first

attempt, to begin by disarming her adversary and then to go quite low

down, almost to the end of the thorax, to strike the vital point. I

am utterly incredulous as to her success. I see her eaten up if her

lancet swerves and hits the wrong spot. Let us look impossibility

boldly in the face and admit that she succeeds. I then see the



offspring, which have no recollection of the fortunate event save

through the belly--and then we are postulating that the digestion of

the carnivorous larva leaves a trace in the memory of the honey-

sipping insect--I see the offspring, I say, obliged to wait at long

intervals for that inspired double thrust and obliged to succeed each

time under pain of death for them and their descendants. To accept

this host of impossibilities exceeds all my faculties of belief. One

leads to two, no doubt; the Ssingle blow of the predatory Wasp will

never lead to the blow twice delivered.



In order to live, we all require the conditions that enable us to

live: this is a truth worthy of the famous axioms of La Palice.

(Jacques de Chabannes, Seigneur de La Palice (circa 1470-1525), was a

French captain killed at the battle of Pavia. His soldiers made up in

his honour a ballad, two lines of which, translated, run:



Fifteen minutes before he died,

He was still alive.



Hence the French expression, une verite de La Palice, meaning an

obvious truth.--Translator's Note.)



The predatory insects live by their talent. If they do not possess

it to perfection, their race is lost. Hidden in the murk of the past

ages, the argument based upon the non-existence of fossil instinct is

no better able than the others to withstand the light of living

realities; it crumbles under the stroke of fate; it vanishes before a

La Palice platitude.





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