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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 167

black one, moving with a well-extended front. These ants, sometimes called army-ants, like the driver-ants of Africa, move in big bodies and destroy or make prey of every living thing that is unable or unwilling to get out of their path in time. They run fast, and everything runs away from their advance. Insects form their chief prey; and the most dangerous and aggressive lower-life creatures make astonishingly little resistance to them. Miller’s attention was first attracted to this army of ants by noticing a big centiped, nine or ten inches long, trying to flee before them. A number of ants were biting it, and it writhed at each bite, but did not try to use its long curved jaws against its assailants. On other occasions he saw big scorpions and big hairy spiders trying to escape in the same way, and showing the same helpless inability to injure their ravenous foes, or to defend themselves. The ants climb trees to a great height, much higher than most birds’ nests, and at once kill and tear to pieces any fledglings in the nests they reach. But they are not as common as some writers seem to imagine; days may elapse before their armies are encountered, and doubtless most nests are never visited or threatened by them. In some instances it seems likely that the birds save themselves and their young in other ways. Some nests are inaccessible. From others it is probable that the parents remove the young. Miller once, in Guiana, had been watching for some days a nest of ant-wrens which contained young. Going thither one morning, he found the tree, and the nest itself, swarming with foraging ants. He at first thought that the fledglings had been devoured, but he soon saw the parents, only about