Identifies an ant described by CD and discusses the predatory habits of Formica sanguinea.
Describes some wasps' nests.
My dear Sir
Your ant with the bright red head is as you suspect the
F. sanguinea—the other is F. rufa.
Sanguinea may be known readily by examining the facial area which is
dull or semiopake— in F. rufa it is
< >sing & more angulated—
I should think it is rather too early for predatory attack, when I saw a foray of the
kind it was when the nest of F. nigra had pupæ of workers in
it— just now I suspect only larvas or pupas of
males & female are to be met with—you will have the best chance
Morng or Eveng
I have before me a comb of a Sps
believe me, yours f<aithf>ully | Fredk <Sm>ith
- f1 2226.f1CD may have visited Smith during his stay in London, 16–20 February (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 February ). Smith described the known species of British ants in F. Smith 1854 and revised this list in F. Smith 1857. Annotated copies of these works are bound together in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Formica rufa was the most common British ant, whereas F. sanguinea had been found only in certain areas of southern England (F. Smith 1854, pp. 101, 103).
- f2 2226.f2CD must have asked Smith about an appropriate time to watch out for ants making a ‘maurauding expedition’ to capture larvae of other species of ants to turn into ‘slaves’. CD described such expeditions in Natural selection, p. 513.
- f3 2226.f3CD's interest in the slave-making ant, F. sanguinea, had been stimulated by reading Smith's account of the subject (F. Smith 1854). In CD's copy of the work, Smith's description of a similar attack on a nest was marked (p. 99).
- f4 2226.f4Smith had exhibited the nests of a Brazilian species of the wasp Polistes at a meeting of the Entomological Society on 1 June 1857 (Transactions of the Entomological Society of London n.s. 4 (1856–8), Proceedings, p. 77). Smith believed that Polistes originally constructed a hexagonal cell, not, as George Robert Waterhouse suggested, cylinders that later became hexagons (see letter from G. R. Waterhouse, 13 February 1858). Smith subsequently expressed these views at a meeting of the Entomological Society on 7 July 1858 (Transactions of the Entomological Society of London n.s. 5 (1858–61), Proceedings, p. 35).
- f5 2226.f5At this point in the letter there is a diagram, which has not been reproduced because of the fragmentation of the manuscript.
- f6 2226.f6CD examined these nests, according to a note in DAR 48 (ser. 2): 21:
May /58/ Saw in Glass-case B. Mus. a Polistes nest, in which some of [‘combs’ del] cells produced with cylinders.— saw cylindrical base made by Bees, but F. Smith does not know of any [‘cylin’ del] spherical cells.— He showed me that outside cells of wasps nest had traces of angle & says this is so even in 3 first cells formed by female wasps.— Polybia makes cells either concave or quite flat on roof over previous comb.CD underlined twice in pencil the passage: ‘He showed me … traces of angle’.