The Royal Society read and discussed the latter part of Letter 58 of 1687-09-09 about the generation of ants

Date: 
December 3, 1687
Document: 

Birch, History, vol IV, p. 553-54, 23 November 1687 (O.S.) in London:

The latter part of Mr. LEEWENHOECK's letter of September 9, 1687, concerning the generation of ants was read, wherein he concluded three things, 1. That the real eggs of ants are exceedingly small, and not bigger than ordinary grains of fand. 2. That out of these egs are worms produced, which being without any motion of their own and helpless are fed by the old ants; whence it comes to pass, that they are so busy in carrying food to their nests in summer, and not in order to lay up any magazine of provision against winter, as was vulgarly supposed: and 3. That those which, were rnost commonly called ants eggs, are either those worms or aureliae of young ants, or else a sort of webs, wherein one sort of ant-worms were observed by Mr. LEEWENHOECK to wrap themselves a little before their maturity. He took notice by the way of the manner of the stinging of ants, which he found not to be by biting, as some imagined, but by a real sting in the tail, which is all along on the back thereof grooved with a deep groove not unlike the scheit used by seamen to wet sails withal; by means of which groove the ant conveys to the point of her sting a small drop of venomous transparent liquor, which by its acrimony occasions the smart and swelling, that generally follows the sting of ants.

Sir JOHN HOSKYNs gave his opinion as to the reason, why the young ants should be found without motion, whilst they ard yet white; viz. because the bones, which in such ants are like shells on the out-side of their limbs, are not yet firm; whereby they want the necessary instruments of moving themselves.

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