Exploding Ants: Amazing Facts About How Animals Adapt


A wasp lays its eggs under a
caterpillar's skin so that its young can
eat the caterpillar's guts as they grow.
A young head louse makes its home
on a human hair and feasts on
human blood.
Frogs use their...

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Exploding Ants: Amazing Facts About How Animals Adapt

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A wasp lays its eggs under a
caterpillar's skin so that its young can
eat the caterpillar's guts as they grow.
A young head louse makes its home
on a human hair and feasts on
human blood.
Frogs use their eyeballs to help
swallow their food.

From small worms that live in a dog's nose mucus to exploding ants to regurgitating mother gulls, this book tells of the unusual ways animals find food, shelter, and safety in the natural world.
If animals all ate the same things and lived in the same places, it would be impossible for all of them to survive. So they specialize. Some animals eat the bits that others leave behind, such as skin and mucus. They find all kinds of unusual places to shelter, including the cracks and holes in another creature's skin or its internal organs. They use their own bodies to protect themselves from predators by imitating unsavory items such as bird droppings and even by blowing up.
These habits that may seem disgusting to us are wonderful adaptations that make it possible for a great variety of creatures to live and thrive on Earth. Read about them and marvel at the amazing ways animals adapt to the natural world.

Describes examples of animal behavior that may strike humans as disgusting, including the "gross" ways animals find food, shelter, and safety in the natural world.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-The subtitle for this book modestly describes what Settel delivers with panache. Among the creatures described are swallowtail butterflies (with slimy larvae), predatory fireflies, murderous cuckoos, parasitoid wasps, regurgitating birds, and a few bloodsuckers (ticks, lice, bats, and lampreys). Chapter headings such as "Dog Mucus and Other Tasty Treats," and lovely lurid prose describing the brainwashing behavior of fluke parasites will definitely hook the book's intended prey. Vivid comparisons make the astounding facts comprehensible to young readers: "Some ticks take in so much blood, they swell to nearly four times their normal size. That's like an adult human expanding to the height of a two-story building!" The format differs from that in Theresa Greenaway's Really Fearsome Blood-loving Vampire Bats (1996) and the rest of "The Really Horrible Guides" (all DK) due to its emphasis on text over illustration, but the small, full-color photos are clear. A useful glossary defines the italicized scientific terms sprinkled throughout the text. This offering is another strike against the undeserved reputation of science books as dry, dusty tomes of little interest to children.-Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO
From The Critics
Yikes! is the best way to describe this interesting book by Joanne Settel, who does a commendable job of explaining some of the not-so-pleasant ways animals use to exist in their world. While a number of the examples are probably familiar to many kids, several passages, such as that describing worms altering ants' brains or owls upchucking a ball of body parts, should amaze the young reader. After reading the story about the worms that live inside dogs' noses, kids may look at their family pet a little differently. Not all of the stories are of parasitism; some discuss how animals live in a symbiotic relationship with each other. Each article succinctly explains the activity presented and is accompanied by color photographs. For those readers fascinated by such stuff, a list of additional readings provides more in-depth information on the activities. Nature, like life, is often a struggle for survival, and this little book aptly illustrates how some species respond to that struggle. On second thought, nature is life! Highly Recommended, Grades 3-6. REVIEWER: Dr. Michael V. Mellinger
Kirkus Reviews
Fans of all things gross, revolting, and disgusting will find plenty to applaud in this round-up of animal behaviors and habits for survival in the natural world. Eating, egg-laying, sheltering, tricking, and defending are all common comportment in the wide universe of animals, birds, insects, and parasites. A swallowtail butterfly larva mimics the shape of a bird dropping, a braconid wasp feasts on caterpillar guts, a honey ant regurgitates nectar for its colony, a tongue worm sets up house in the mucus of a dog's nose. Exploding soldier ants, ticks bursting with blood, vomiting vampire bats—the characters described here are not for the faint of heart or feeble of stomach. If there's a misstep, it's that the plain presentation—predominant text against a stark white background, interspersed with a few full-color photographs—undersells the high-interest subject matter suggested by such jazzy chapter headings as "Ballooning Birds," "Gulping Eyeballs," and "Underwater Bloodsucker." To aid readers, scientific terms are accentuated in italic typeface, defined in a glossary, and located with use of an index. (Nonfiction. 7-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689817397
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 622,269
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Joanne Settel is a professor of biology at Baltimore City Community College. She makes her home in Columbia, Maryland, where she enjoys hiking, biking, and bird watching. Dr. Settel is the coauthor with Nancy Baggett of Why Does My Nose Run?, How Do Ants Know You Are Having a Picnic?, and Why Do a Cat's Eyes Glow in the Dark?, also published by Atheneum.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 22, 2010

    fascinating accounts of amazing animal adaptations

    My wife Karen purchased this book a few years ago for our younger son Jeremy to read as a science supplement. The basic premise of this book is that many animals do some pretty gross things to survive, and several examples are given, such as looking like bird droppings, regurgitating food for offspring to eat, sucking blood, and gulping down animals whole. The accounts are fascinating, but if you or your children have a slightly squeamish stomach, do not read this book right before or after eating! Even though the subtitle includes "How Animals Adapt," I could detect no evolutionary statements in the book. Adaptations, which can be observed, do not necessarily prove general evolution, which has never been observed nor demonstrated.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2000

    Exploding information for the young and old!

    I had the pleasure of puchasing this book for my 2 children and was drawn by the interesting facts I did not know. The pictures are awesome and give vivid details and explanation to the reading. I would recommend this book for children 8-years and older.

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