CHAPTER VIII. INSTINCT.
5. SLAVE-MAKING INSTINCT.
This remarkable instinct was first discovered in the Formica (Polyerges)
rufescens by Pierre Huber, a better observer even than his celebrated
father. This ant is absolutely dependent on its slaves; without their aid,
the species would certainly become extinct in a single year. The males and
fertile females do no work of any kind, and the workers or sterile females,
though most energetic and courageous in capturing slaves, do no other work.
They are incapable of making their own nests, or of feeding their own
larvae. When the old nest is found inconvenient, and they have to migrate,
it is the slaves which determine the migration, and actually carry their
masters in their jaws. So utterly helpless are the masters, that when
Huber shut up thirty of them without a slave, but with plenty of the food
which they like best, and with their larvae and pupae to stimulate them to
work, they did nothing; they could not even feed themselves, and many
perished of hunger. Huber then introduced a single slave (F. fusca), and
she instantly set to work, fed and saved the survivors; made some cells and
tended the larvae, and put all to rights. What can be more extraordinary
than these well-ascertained facts? If we had not known of any other
slave-making ant, it would have been hopeless to speculate how so wonderful
an instinct could have been perfected.