Adventures among ants A global safari with a cast of trillions

Mark W. Moffett

Book - 2010

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Subjects
Published
Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press c2010.
Language
English
Physical Description
280 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 27 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780520261990
0520261992
Main Author
Mark W. Moffett (-)
  • Strength in numbers
  • The perfect swarm
  • Division of labor
  • Infrastructure
  • Group transport
  • Big game hunters
  • Clash of the titans
  • Notes from underground
  • Canopy empires
  • Fortified forests
  • Negotiating the physical world
  • Slaves of Sagehen Creek
  • Abduction in the afternoon
  • A fungus farmer's life
  • The origins of agriculture
  • Armies of the earth
  • The immortal society.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Are ants exciting? You bet they are! Entomologist Moffett, who has been described as the "Indiana Jones of entomology," takes the reader along as he travels the world in search of ants. Ants are found on every continent except Antarctica and in virtually every climate. They are masters at exploiting an abundant niche—the cracks, crevices, gaps, hollows, and other interstices of the environment. As a small child Moffett was enraptured by ants, and, after reading the exploits of the early explorer-naturalists, he wanted to be a field biologist. Studying ants has led him to India and the marauder ant, which has workers of three sizes, the largest being 500 times the size of the smallest—the smallest, however, are those that start the hunt. In Nigeria, he watches army ants on raids, observing how individual prey species fight back. Weaver ants in Australia, Asia, and Africa use their larvae's ability to spin silk to bind leaves together to make a nest. In Brunei, the author observed ants diving into pitcher plants to retrieve drowned insects. California reveals the slaver Amazon ants, who steal pupae from other ant species to do all of their work for them. In South America, Moffett digs up colonies of leaf-cutting ants, who grow their fungus food in gardens based on leaves they cut. Illustrated throughout with the author's exquisite closeup photos, photos that bring the actions of these tiny protagonists to a size we can appreciate, Moffett's work will make ant appreciators of even the most phobic. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

Rarely does a book like this come along. Moffett (Smithsonian; The High Frontier, 1993) is a fearless explorer and one of the great photographers of the day. This reviewer was aware of the author's excellent writing from his articles in National Geographic but was unaware of his fascination with ants. In the introduction, Moffett relates his early experiences with entomology and with E. O. Wilson, the definitive "ant man" and director of Moffett's graduate work. What follows is an intimate account of an exceptionally inquisitive naturalist and his experiences with the miniature world of the most abundant animal on Earth--the ant. There is no plot. In successive chapters, Moffett entertains with amazing tales of marauder ants, army ants, weaver ants, Amazon ants, leaf-cutter ants and, finally, Argentine ants (what a serious nuisance they will become!). As interesting as the text is, written from the generalist's standpoint, the photographs are breathtaking and alone are well worth the price of the book. Any library with entomological holdings will own this book; all other libraries should. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels of readership. Copyright 2010 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

People are fascinated by the things they fear—spiders, insects, snakes—perhaps because the key to taming fears is knowledge. The enormous success of such books as Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson's The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies attests to that. This superb book by a first-class writer with an unsurpassed feel for ants begins at the ground level as we come face to face with the creatures, move into their minds, and begin to understand what makes them tick. Moffett organizes his text around six ant lifestyles, each represented by an insect that dominates its habitat: Indian Marauder ants, African army ants, African Weaver ants, Amazon slavemaking ants, Neotropical leaf cutter ants, and the Argentine ant, a global invader. The final chapter, "Four Ways of Looking at an Ant," explores the concepts of ants as individuals and an ant colony as a society, an organism, or a mind. VERDICT This marvelous volume illustrated with the author's close-up photographs will delight biologists, naturalists, and general readers with a natural history bent.—Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst., Panama [Page 88]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Provides an intimate look at the lives of ants around the world discussing how they dominate their ecosystems and have characteristics eerily similar to humans.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Intrepid international explorer, biologist, and photographer Mark W. Moffett, “the Indiana Jones of entomology,” takes us around the globe on a strange and colorful journey in search of the hidden world of ants. In tales from Nigeria, Indonesia, the Amazon, Australia, California, and elsewhere, Moffett recounts his entomological exploits and provides fascinating details on how ants live and how they dominate their ecosystems through strikingly human behaviors, yet at a different scale and a faster tempo. Moffett’s spectacular close-up photographs shrink us down to size, so that we can observe ants in familiar roles; warriors, builders, big-game hunters, and slave owners. We find them creating marketplaces and assembly lines and dealing with issues we think of as uniquely human—including hygiene, recycling, and warfare. Adventures among Ants introduces some of the world’s most awe-inspiring species and offers a startling new perspective on the limits of our own perception.• Ants are world-class road builders, handling traffic problems on thoroughfares that dwarf our highway systems in their complexity• Ants with the largest societies often deploy complicated military tactics• Some ants have evolved from hunter-gatherers into farmers, domesticating other insects and growing crops for food