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The larvae of ants belong to the vermiform type, being without legs, or eyes. They are helpless white or yellowish grubs, entirely dependent on the queens and workers. Larva are usually pear-shaped, or sack-like, being broadest posteriorly,but in a few cases they are broadest in the middle.

The head is small, but distinct ; the neck is narrow and often bent downwards over the ventral surface, considerably more so in some species than in others.

The body, exclusive of the head, usually consists of thirteen segments, three belonging to the thorax and ten to the abdomen, the segmentation being well marked in some species, but considerably less so in others, especially towards the posterior end.

Ten pairs of tracheal openings are present, a pair each to the meso- and meta-thorax, and the remaining pairs to the eight anterior abdominal segments.

The mouth parts are rarely well developed consist of a pair of mandibles, a pair of maxillae, and a labium. Usually only the mandibles are more strongly chitinized. The maxillae are furnished on their outer sides with a short blunt chitinous tooth, as is also the labium, and on the latter, two ringlike spots may be seen in some species, being the larval structure which will become the labial palpi of the imago.

The spinning glands open on the tip of the labium, and are present as well in those species whose larvae do not spin cocoons as in those which do.

The antennae are nearly always absent in ant-larvae. I have observed certain rings on the heads (similar to those on the labium before mentioned) of Myrmica larvae, which are situated in exactly the same position as the rudimentary antennae and these rings no doubt represent antennae of a still more vestigial character.

The larvae of ants are very seldom naked, being furnished with hairs of various kinds, spines, tubercles, etc. The hairs may be long, or short, simple, serrate, bifurcate, orrifurcate, branched, hooked, or anchor-tipped and several kinds of hairs may occur on the same larva. The spines serve to protect the larva against the attacks by other larva as A hungry larva will sometimes devour another

Ants chiefly feed their larvae with liquid food which is regurgitated into their mouths, but they also supply them with bits of insects, larvae, eggs, etc with the more solid food being placed by the workers on the bodies of their nurslings or actually held to their mouths that they may feed upon it. Great attention is paid by the nurses to their charges, as they not only feed them, but also continually clean and lick them, and carry them about.

Larvae which hatch from parthenogenetic eggs, take longer to develop than do those from fertile ones.

Tags: Morphology & Physiology

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