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Catalogue of British fossorial Hymenoptera, Formicidæ, and Vespidæ, in the collection of the British museum online

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THIS Catalogue contains descriptions of all the known
species of Eossorial Hymenoptera, Formicidse, and Ves-
pidae, which have been discovered in Great Britain. The
habits of the genera and the peculiar oeconomy of indi-
vidual species are given, as far as the observations of
several years have enabled the Author to record them.
Great attention has been paid to the synonymy, in the
hope of rendering it as perfect as possible ; and almost
every species has been carefully compared with conti-
nental specimens obtained from the best authorities.


Dec. 15th, 1858.





Tribe I. HETEROGYNA, Latr.

The economy of this tribe is greatly varied : some are excava-
tors, which tunnel and burrow in the ground, while others do so
in decaying trees or timber; a considerable number construct
nests suspended in trees. All the societies consist of males, fe-
males, and workers ; the latter are by some considered to be
abortive females. The males are always winged, the females
temporarily so.

Amongst the solitary species, the females are apterous.


The species social or solitary ; the social communities con-
sisting of males, females, and workers ; the latter individuals are

Females : their antennae 12-jointed ; their abdomen consisting
of six segments, and furnished with a sting. Males : their an-


tennae 13-jointed ; their abdomen composed of seven segments,
not furnished with a sting. Males, females and workers having
four wings, which are always traversed by nervures, forming cells.
Larva apodal ; fed by the workers in social species, and upon
food stored up by the female in solitary ones. Some of the
solitary species parasitic.

Pam. 1. Pormicidse, Leach.


This family consists of the various species of Ants, with the
number of which we are probably but slightly acquainted,
although we have recorded 690 species. The metropolis of the
group undoubtedly lies in the tropics ; and when we reflect upon
the observation of Mr. Bates, who has collected for some years in
Brazil " I think," says that observant naturalist, " the num-
ber in the valley of the Amazons alone cannot be less than 400
species " if this prove to be the case, how limited must our
present knowledge of the group be ! The imagination is unable
even to guess at the probable amount of species, when we re-
member that Mr. Bates is speaking of a single valley in Brazil ;
and were the vast expanse of South America, North America,
Africa, Australia and its adjacent islands, India, and the other
parts of Asia, searched by diligent naturalists, there can be little
doubt that the Formicida would equal in number, if not exceed,
that of any other tribe of insects.

The economy of the Ants, imperfectly as it is now recorded,
has furnished some of the most interesting and wonderful histo-
ries to be met with in the natural history of insects. The in-
dustry of the ant is a household proverb : when their habita-
tions are by any means injured or destroyed, no time is lost in
useless despair one spirit animates each individual simulta-
neously they set to work to repair their misfortune unceasingly
they labour nothing damps their ardour or abates their in-
dustry until, as if by a magic hand, their habitation again rises
to its former height and beauty, and all trace of ruin has disap-

It is not our province here to enter upon the wide field of
economy as displayed in the exotic species of ants ; but it appears
necessary to mention one or two particular accounts, in order to
give some faint idea of the important part which these creatures
perform in the great scheme of nature. We may mention the
" Driver or Visiting Ants of Africa : " these ants march in vast


armies, and their approach is welcomed by the negroes, who
quit their dwellings for a time, the ants entering and destroying
every species of vermin with which they may be infested, thus
rendering incalculable service to the inhabitants.

The number of species at present discovered in this country
is twenty-five, and as new ones are still being occasionally
added, there is no doubt that the number will yet be consider-
ably increased. With two exceptions, F. rufa and F. congerens,
all the British species belong to the division of Mining Ants one,
F. fuliginosa, usually selecting decaying trunks of trees, posts,
&c. : but this insect will in rare instances be found mining in
banks or mud- walls ; such occurrences are, however, seldom ob-
served. The F.flava appears to differ in one point of its eco-
nomy from all our native species the last brood of workers are
carried down into the deepest recesses of their subterranean
dwelling, and there pass the winter months in a state of tor-
pidity. I have found numbers in this situation in the depth of
winter ; and such larvae are much more pubescent than we find
them during the summer months. We have frequently inspected
the dwellings of other species, F. nigra, fusca, and cunicularia,
in winter, but never found either eggs or larvae. The males and
females of F. flava in a winged state are also found in the nest
much later than any other species ; we have found males as late
as the 5th of November.

The Formicidce may be divided into two great sections those
possessing a single scale or node at the base of the abdomen, and
those in which the petiole is divided into two nodes. Of the
former group only a single species, Ponera contract^ is fur-
nished with a sting ; whilst in the latter division the females and
workers all possess that organ. This mode of subdivision, it
must be remembered, is only applicable to the British species.
As regards the species armed with stings, amongst the exotic
group, several other genera having a single node in the petiole,
are aculeate ; and amongst the division possessing two nodes,
the exotic genera (Ecodoma, Cryptocerus, and some others, are

Genus 1. FORMICA.

Formica, pt., Linn. Faun. Suec. p. 426 (1761).
Lasius, pt., Fabr. Syst. Piez. p. 415 (1804).

The maxillary palpi 6-jointed ; the labial palpi 4-jointed. An-
tennae geniculated, 12-jointed in the females and workers,
1 3- jointed in the males. Ocelli three, placed in a triangle on
the vertex; the eyes lateral and ovate. The superior wings

B 2


with one marginal, two subinarginal, and one discoidal cell.
The scale of the petiole flattened, forming a semicircular plate,
varying in form. The pupae enclosed in silken cocoons.

SUBDIVISION 1. Males only slightly smaller than the females.

1. Formica rufa.

Fcemina. Rufo-ferruginea ; fronte cum occipite, mesothorace
supra, scutello, post-scutello, et abdomine supra fusco-nigris ;
clypei medio, palpis, antennis, mesothorace, tibiis tarsisque
fuscescentibus ; area frontali nitida ; squama lata, subtriangu-
lariter fere rotundata, margine supero insequali; alis fusco-
hyalinis, apicis subhyalinis.

Operaria. Testaceo- vel rufo-ferruginea, nuda, Isevissime cine-
reo-micans ; fronte cum occipite et abdomine fusco-nigris ;
tibiis tarsisque fuscescentibus ; squama, abdominis basi et ano

Mas. Nigro-fuscus, opacus, sparse pubescens ; pedibus rufes-
centibus ; area frontali nitida ; squama subquadrata, humili,
crassa, supra vix vel parum concaviuscula ; valvula ventrali
pilosula, saepe rufescente.

Formica rufa, Linn. Faun. Suec. no. 1721 ; Syst. Nat. i. 962. 3.

Fabr. Syst. Ent. 391. 4 ; Ent. Syst. ii. 351. 8 ; Syst. Piez. 398.

SchranJc, Ins. Austr. no. 834.

Rossi, Faun. Etrusc. ii. 113. 836.

Don. Brit. Ins. xiv. 76. pi. 496 ? .

Olio. Enc. Me'th. vi. 493. 14.

Latr. Hist. Nat. Fourm. p. 143, pi. 5. f. 28 <J ? $ .

St. Farg. Hym. i. 201. 3.

Curtis, Brit. Ent. xvi. t. 752 < $

Zett. Ins. Lapp. 449. 5.

BruUe, Exped. Sc. de Moree, iii. 327. 727.

Ratz. Forst. Ins. iii. 34. 1. 1. 4. f. 10.

Nyl. Adno. Mon. Form. Bor. 902. 5 ; Form. Fr. et d'Alger.
60. 14.

Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form. p. 13. 3.

Schenck, Beschr. Nass. Ameis. 25.

Smith, Brit. Form. Trans. Ent. Soc. Lond. iii. n.s. 100. 1 ;
Cat. Form. p. 2.

Mayr. Form. Austr. p. 56. 9 ; Ungar. Ameis. 9. 9.
Formica dorsata, Panz. Faun. Germ. 54. 1 $ .
Formica obsoleta, Zett. Ins. Lapp. 449. 5 $ .


Formica lugubris, Zett. Ins. Lapp. 449. 6 $ .
Formica truncicola, Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form, 21.
Formica polyctena, Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form. p. 15. 4.

Scttenck, Beschr. Nass. Ameis. p. 28.
Formica piniphila, Schenck, Beschr. Nass. Ameis. p. 28.

Female. Length 4J-5 lines. Head and thorax rufo-ferruginous ;
the antennae, the head above their insertion, the middle of the
clypeus, more or less, and the mesothorax, fuscous and sub-
opake ; the scutellum and abdomen shining black ; the tibiae,
tarsi, and tips of the femora rufo-fuscous ; the femora, scale of
the petiole and base of the abdomen rufo-ferruginous; the
wings white-hyaline, more or less tinted with brown towards
their base.

Worker major. Length 3| lines. Rufo-ferruginous; the an-
tennae, the head above their insertion, the pro- and mesothorax
more or less above, the legs and abdomen, nigro-fuscous and
subopake ; the frontal area shining ; the articulations of the
legs usually ferruginous ; the scale of the petiole subrotundate,
slightly notched above, or sometimes obtusely emarginate.

Worker minor. Length 2-2| lines. Frequently of a darker
hue than the large worker, but sometimes of the same colour.

Male. Length 4i lines. Nigro-fuscous, with the legs rufous ;
the base of the femora, the tibiae and tarsi more or less fuscous ;
wings as in the female.

This species, which is known popularly as the Wood-ant, the
Horse-ant, and Hill-ant, is found in all parts of the country ; it
sometimes avails itself of the hollow trunk of a tree, in which
it constructs its heaped-up nest. In some colonies individuals
are to be found with the head and thorax blood-red ; these are, no
doubt, recently developed specimens, but they so closely resemble
examples of F. sanguined, that, without careful examination, they
might be mistaken for that species. The nests of F. rufa are
resorted to by numerous species of Coleoptera, some of which,
belonging to the Brachelytra, may be in some way conducive to
the welfare of the communities in all probability yielding secre-
tions which serve as food to the young brood. I have not de-
tected Aphides in the nests of this species, but the workers may
be commonly observed in constant attendance upon them, on
plants and shrubs in woods near to their habitations. Aphides
are frequently met with in the nests of F. flava. In the nests
of F. rufa may also occasionally be found communities of the
allied genus Myrmica : M. nitidula has been taken on several
occasions ; and I have met with M. Icevinodis living in perfect
harmony with F. rufa in the heart of the nest.


2, Formica congerens.

F&mina. Rufo-ferruginea, cinereo-micans ; capite supra, meso-
thorace dorso et abdomine fuscescentibus ; antennis, tibiis
tarsisque fusco-nigris ; area frontali nitida ; oculis parce pi-

Mas. Nigro-fuscus, parum cinereo-micans; capite thoraceque

Formica congerens, Nyl. Adno. Mon. Form. 906. 7 ; Addit. Alter.
Mon. Form. p. 30 ; Form. Fr. et d'Alger. 61. 15.
Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form. 17. 5.
Schenck, Beschr. Nass. Ameis. p. 30.
Mayr. Form. Austr. 60. 10 ; Ungar. Ameis. 10. 10.
Smithy Trans. Ent. Soc. Lond. n. s. iv. pt. 7.

Female. Length 4^-5 lines. Rufo-ferruginous, and with a fine
thin shining cinereous pile ; the head above the antennae, the
mesothorax, scutellum and post-scutellum dark fuscous, nearly
black ; the abdomen dark mscous, with the base ferruginous ;
the tibiae and tarsi dark rufo- fuscous ; the frontal area shining ;
the eyes slightly pilose ; the scale of the petiole slightly emar-
ginate above.

Worker major and minor. The same size and colour as F. rufa,
but distinguished by the cinereous pilosity which covers the
entire insect ; and the abdomen is not shining, as in F. rufa.

Male. The same size and colour as F. rufa, but readily distin-
guished by its pilose head and thorax ; the eyes are also pu-

This insect so closely resembles the Wood-ant, that it has no
doubt been overlooked by entomologists as a distinct species ;
it was taken at Loch Rannoch in Perthshire by a working col-
lector. Dr. Nylander says it forms similar nests to F. rufa.
It will probably prove to be a generally distributed species, if the
attention of entomologists could be directed to the observation
of these interesting insects.

3. Formica sanguinea.

F&mina. Rufo-ferruginea, Isevissime cinereo-micans; fronte cum
vertice et abdomine nigro-fuscis ; squama subtriangulariter
rotundata, margine supera rotundata vel leviter emarginata ;
alis a basi ad medium pallide rufescentibus.

Operaria. Capite, thorace pedibusque sanguineis; clypei mar-


gine leviter emarginata ; area frontal! opaca ; abdomine

Mas. Fusco-niger ; pedibus pallide rufescentibus ; clypeo obso-
lete emarginato; squama supra crassa, transversim subrect-
angulari, supra Integra vel late subemarginata ; area frontali

Formica sanguinea, Latr. Hist. Nat. Fourm. p. 150. pi. 5. f. 29 5 .

Jurine, Hym. p. 272.

St. Farg. Hym. i. 203. 4 <J ? g .

Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form. p. 20. 6.

Schenck, Beschr. Nass. Ameis. p. 36.

Smith, Brit. Form. 101. 2.

Mayr. Form,Austr. p. 64. 12; Unyar. Ameis. p. 10. 12.

Ny'l Form. Fr. et d'Alger. p. 62. 16.
Formica dominula, Nyl. Adno. Mon. Form. Bor. p. 905. 6.

Female. Length 4-4 lines. Blood-red, and covered with a
fine cinereous pile ; the face above the insertion of the antennae,
the vertex, and the abdomen, black, with more or less of a red-
dish tinge ; the anterior margin of the clypeus distinctly emar-
ginate ; the thorax with usually two or sometimes three indi-
stinct fuscous stripes, but frequently immaculate ; the wings
more or less brown towards their base ; the superior margin of
the scale of the petiole rounded, or sometimes slightly emar-

Worker. Length 3-4 lines. Blood-red, with the abdomen
black and covered with cinereous pile. The worker minor has
usually the crown of the head, the disk of the thorax, and the
legs slightly fuscous ; the scale of the petiole and the anterior
margin of the clypeus emarginate.

Male. Length 4 lines. Very like the male of F. rufa, but with
the legs entirely red and the flagellum fusco-ferruginous ; the
clypeus obsoletely emarginate ; the mandibles longitudinally
rugose ; the scale of the petiole emarginate above, its entire

This species has not occurred in the immediate vicinity of
London, but is very plentiful in many localities ; it has been
taken at Weybridge ; Hawley, Hants ; New Forest, &c. This
insect plunders the nests of other species, carrying off their pupae,
which, being developed in their nests, become the slaves of F.
sanguinea. I have found workers of F. fuse a, F. cunicularia, and
F.flava in their nests, also a few workers ofMyrmica scabrinodis.
This species constructs its galleries in banks ; its large workers
are a bold and courageous race, attacking with great fury.


4. Formica ctoiicularia.

F&mina. Rufo-ferruginea, cinereo-micans ; palpis, antennaruni
flagellis abdomineque fusco-nigris ; mesothorace maculis tri-
bus longitudinalibus, prima antica mediana, duabusque alteris
lateralibus, scutello, post-scutello, mesosterno, tarsorum api-
cibus fuscis; squama lata, subcordata vel supra truncata, tantum
leviter insequali ; alls hyalinis, basi parum fumatis ; nervis et
stigmate fusco-ferrugineis.

Operaria. Rufo-ferruginea, cinereo-raicans ; capite supra, fla-
gellis et abdomine fusco-nigris.

Mas. Niger, cinereo-micans; pedibus rufo-testaceis ; oculis
nudis ; squama supra late coricava ; disco fere toto subrotun-
dato, plane impressiusculo.

Formica cunicularia, Latr.Hist. Nat. Fourm. p. 151.

Hub. Rech. Fourm. t. 2. f. 11-13.

Losana, Form. Piem. 316. 10.

St. Farg. Hym. i. 203. 5.

Nyland. Adno. Mon. Form. 913. 11 ; Form. Fr. et d'Alger.
64. 18.

Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form. 25. 9.

Smith, Brit. Form. p. 103.
Formica stenoptera, Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form. 26. 10.

Female. Length 4 lines. The anterior margin of the clypeus
angulated, the middle subcarinated, with the sides oblique, the
anterior margin rounded ; the clypeus, sides of the face, man-
dibles, and base of the flagellum, rufo-ferruginous ; thorax fre-
quently entirely fuscous above, but sometimes with three fuscous
stripes ; the legs ferruginous, with the apical joints of the tarsi
fuscous. Abdomen : the base and apex usually more or less

Worker. Length 3-31 lines. Resembles small dark specimens
of F. rufa ; but the antennae are more slender, as well as the
legs ; the facial area is not shining ; the thorax above, and the
tibiae and tarsi above, more or less fuscous ; the apical margins
of the segments of the abdomen are more or less distinctly
rufo-piceous, the extreme apex pale ferruginous.

Male. Length 3 lines. Very closely resembles that of F.fusca,
but has the scale of the abdomen transverse, and emarginate
above its entire width, the angles of the emargination obtuse ;
the antennae are more slender, the scape longer, and the face
rather less produced before the eyes than in F.fusca.


Very closely resembles the male of F. fusca ; but the form of
the scale of the petiole is different, being transverse, with its
upper margin emarginate its entire width, the lateral angles ob-
lique, and the sides straight.

Not so generally distributed as F. fusca, but occurring in the
vicinity of the metropolis not uncommonly, particularly in the
neighbourhoods of Highgate and Hampstead. It is found at
Southend, Deal, Dover, Weybridge, Isle of Wight, &c. All the
sexes may be found in the nests during the month of August.

5. Formica fusca.

Fwmina. Fusco-nigra,nitida,cinereo-micans,parce pilosa ; man-
dibulis rufescentibus ; scapis antennarum pedibusque rufo-
testaceis ; alis hyalinis, nervis et stigmate fuscis ; squama lata,
subtriangulariter subrotundata ; abdomine ovato, subnudo.

Operaria. Nigra vel fusco-nigra, cinereo-micans ; mandibulis,
antennarum scapis, flagellorum basi et pedibus rufo-piceis;
squama triangulariter subrotundata.

Mas. Fusco-niger, nitidus, cinereo-micans; antennis pedibus-
que pallide rufescentibus ; squama subrotundata, margine
supra leviter emarginata.

Formica fusca, Linn. Faun. Suec. 226. no. 1722; Syst. Nat. i.
963. 4.

Fair. Ent. Syst. ii. 352. 11 ; Syst. Piez. 399. 13.

Latr. Hist. Nat. Fourm. p. 156. t. 6. f. 32 $ ? .

Huber, Reck. Fourm. t. 2. f. 8 , 9 $ , 10 <? .

Zett. Ins. Lapp. p. 448.

BruUe, Hist. Nat. II. Canar. iii. 84. 3.

Losana, Form. Piem. p. 317. 12.

St. Farg. Hym. i. 205. 6.

Nyl. Adno. Mon. Form. Bor. p. 919. 15 ; Addit. Alter. 30 ;
Form. Fr. et d'Alger. 65. 20.

Schenck, Beschr. Nass. Ameis. 43.

Smith, Brit. Form. p. 104. 4.

Mayr. Form. Austr. 74. 17.
Formica glebaria, Nyl. Adno. Mon. Form. Bor. 917. 14.

Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form. 31. 13.

Female. Length 3 lines. Black or blackish brown, with a
thin shining cinereous pile, which gives the insect an olive
tinge; the mandibles, antennae and legs obscure rufo-testa-
ceous, the tibiae and tarsi palest ; the legs altogether paie in
very fresh specimens ; the anterior margin of the clypeus en-
tire ; the frontal area not shining ; the wings hyaline arid iri-

B 5


descent, with the nervures and stigma fusco-testaceous ; abdo-
men ovate, with the apical margins of the segments narrowly
and obscurely rufo-piceous, the upper margin of the scale
rounded and entire.

Worker. Length 2 3i lines. Of the same nigro -aeneous colour
as the female ; the clypeus obsoletely carinated in the middle ;
the scale of the petiole, in the large worker, sometimes slightly
emarginate. The small worker has the legs and antennae
usually paler than in the larger individuals.

Male. Length 3^-4 lines. Black and shining, with an aeneous
tinge ; the legs and apex of the abdomen pale rufo-testaceous ;
the scale thickened, subrotundate and widely emarginate above.

A very abundant species, found in banks, preferring those
which have a southern aspect, in which it constructs beautiful
and intricate galleries and passages. The nests of this species
frequently contain some of the rarest of our Myrmecophilous

SUBDIVISION II. The males much smaller than the females.

6. Formica fuliginosa.
Fcemina. Nigra, nitidissima ; mandibulis, antennis pedibusque

rufescentibus ; tarsis, pedum articulis pallide rufescentibus ;

capite subcordato; squama parva, subovata; alis hyalinis,

basi ad medium brunnescentibus, nervis et stigmate obscuris.
Operaria. Nigra, nitidissima ; mandibulis, antennarum flagellis

rufescentibus, tarsis pallide runs ; capite magno, subcordato ;

ocellis minutis ; clypeo subcarinato ; squama parva, subovata,

marginibus lateralibus parallelis.
Mas. Piceo-niger, nitidus; flagellis, pedum articulis et tarsis

pallescentibus ; squama parva, subquadrata, parum rotundata ;

alis sicut in fcemina.

Formica fuliginosa, Latr. Hist. Nat. Fourm. p. 140. pi. 5. f. 27,


Losana, Form. Piem. p. 315. 9.
St. Farg. Hym. L 200. 2.
Schill. Bemerk. Schles. 55.

Nyl. Adno. Mon. Form. Bor. p. 915. 12 ; Form. Fr. et d'Alger.
66. 23.


Myrmica fuliginosa, Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form. 28. 17.
Schenck, Beschr. Nass. Ameis. 45.
Smith, Brit. Form. p. 105. 5.
Mayr. Form. Austr. 79. 19.

Female. Length 2| lines. Shining black, or sometimes nigro-
piceous ; the mandibles, antennae and legs obscure ferruginous,
with the flagellum beneath, the tarsi and articulations of the
legs pale rufo-testaceous ; the head emarginate behind; the
wings hyaline, with the basal half smoky ; the scale of the petiole
small, oblong, rounded and ciliated above. Abdomen oblong-
ovate, as long as the thorax, slightly pubescent, the extreme
apex testaceous.

This species is at once recognized by its jet-black colour. Its
usual habitat is the vicinity of a decaying tree or an old post ;
its movements are extremely slow as compared with any other
species : numbers may frequently be observed, congregated in
masses in the vicinity of the nest, apparently sunning themselves
not, like other species, incessantly at work. I have once
or twice found colonies of this ant formed in a hard sand-bank,
but such occurrences are unusual. The males and females may
be found about the end of June. There is scarcely any perceptible
difference in the size of the workers, and the females are very
little larger than the working ants ; the latter in other respects
exactly resemble the females.

7. Formica brunnea.
F&mina. Fusco-nigra, cinereo-micans ; antennis . pedibusque

pallide testaceis, flagellis et femoribus paullo obscurioribus ;

capite thoracis latitudine ; scapis et tibiis denudatis ; squama

leviter emarginata.
Operaria. Pallide vel cinerascenti-rufa ; abdomine fusco ; sulco

frontali elongate.
Mas. Fusco-niger; antennarum flagellis, pedura articulis tar-

sisque testaceis ; oculis nudis ; squama emarginata ; alis hya-

linis, basi ad medium infuscatis.

Formica brunnea, Lair. Hist. Nat. Fourm. p. 169. pi. 6. f. 35 $ .

Losana, Form. Piem. p. 319. 13.

Nyl Form. Fr. et d'Alger. 68. 27.

Mayr. Ungar. Ameis. p. 13.21.
Formica timida, Foerst. Hym. Stud. Form, 35. 15.

Schenck, Beschr. Nass. Ameis. 53.

Mayr. Form. Austr. 89. 23 ?


Female. Length 3 lines. Brown-black ; the mandibles, antennae
and legs pale ferruginous ; the flagellum, tibise and tarsi darkest ;
the antennae and legs destitute of pubescence ; the head as wide
as the thorax and slightly emarginate behind ; wings hyaline,
with the basal half fuscous.

Worker. Length 1J-2 lines. Rufo-testaceous ; the vertex
brownish ; the front with a conspicuously impressed line.

Male. Length 2 lines. Nigro-fuscous or brownish black ; the
antennae and legs pale fusco-testaceous ; a deeply impressed
line in front of the anterior ocellus ; the scale notched above,
the basal half brownish.

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

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