The Earth Dwellers: Adventures in the Land of Ants

Overview

Uninvited guests at the world's picnics, ants inhabit a world all their own, a world that is fantastic, alien, yet at times oddly familiar. They plant underground gardens and harvest crops, raise other insects as livestock, build their own roadways and bridges, and communicate using a complex system of chemical and tactile messages. They also make war, stage bizarre tournaments, and display such feats of altruism and loyalty to their mates that when Darwin learned of ant behavior he thought his theory of ...
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Overview

Uninvited guests at the world's picnics, ants inhabit a world all their own, a world that is fantastic, alien, yet at times oddly familiar. They plant underground gardens and harvest crops, raise other insects as livestock, build their own roadways and bridges, and communicate using a complex system of chemical and tactile messages. They also make war, stage bizarre tournaments, and display such feats of altruism and loyalty to their mates that when Darwin learned of ant behavior he thought his theory of evolution by natural selection was in trouble. In The Earth Dwellers, Erich Hoyt invites us to enter this world and to see it in a unique way - from the ant's point of view. Hoyt takes us along as two of the world's most renowned field biologists, Edward O. Wilson and William L. Brown, Jr., embark on their first expedition together in thirty years to go "ant treasure-hunting" in the tropical jungle. Set in the nature reserve of La Selva in Costa Rica, The Earth Dwellers illuminates the lives of individual ants, allowing them to lead us into their vivid and complex world. There is the leafcutter scout whose daily journeys we follow until she sacrifices her life for the virgin leafcutter queen; the big swarm raider male ant who persuades an alien group of ants to accept him, through his scent, thereby granting him access to their queen; the giant bullet ant worker, who leads her sister to a food source only to die alone, high up in the rain forest canopy; and the little fire ants, washed out to sea on a log and carried thousands of miles on their mission to conquer the world. These stories alternative with Wilson and Brown's adventures as they identify new species of ants, pursue their quest for the rarely seen "miracle" ant, and share two lifetimes of wonder at their tiny subjects.

Uninvited guests at the world's picnics, ants are among the most facinating creatures on Earth. They plant underground gardens, raise other insects as livestock, and communicate via a complex system of chemical and tactile messages. Earth Dwellers covers the work of world-renowned entomologists E.O. Wilson and William Brown, Jr., as they explore these amazing creatures in a nature reserve in Costa Rica. Illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica's tropical rain forest, two eminent myrmecologists, E. O. Wilson and William Brown Jr., are searching for new species of ants. Hoyt (Seasons of the Whale) joins them to explore the world of the ant. He has written an informative and entertaining account of ant societies and the scientists who study them. The author follows three generations of a leaf-eater colony, a complex society that cultivates a fungus garden underground. We meet two colonies of Aztec ants, battling for control of a single crecopia tree. There are little fire ants, swarm-raiders and army ants. Hoyt describes nuptial flights, warfare and natural disasters (floods), noting that ant behavior can change dramatically according to ecological conditions. There are stories of deception, cooperation and slavery. Readers who enjoyed Journey to the Ants (Bert Holldobler and E. O. Wilson) will find this book a valuable complement. Illustrations. (Mar.)
Library Journal
The publication in 1990 of Burt Hlldobler and Edward O. Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Ants (Belknap: Harvard Univ.) sparked a revival of interest in the intricate world of ants and the myrmecologists who study them. That book's success set the stage for several popular books on ants, including Journey to the Ants (LJ 9/1/94) by the same authors. The latter blends autobiography with a fascinating overview of ant diversity and will be complemented nicely by the present work by Hoyt, which reveals in more detail the everyday lives of selected ant species and explains why biologists regard ant colonies as superorganisms. Here we follow individual colonies of ants from their initiation through growth and expansion. We observe the relationships among colony members and their communication system, as well as the interactions between them and the unrelated creatures that follow and/or live with them. We witness the ants' encounters with other ant species and with field biologists whose own life stories are skillfully woven into the account. Recommended for most public libraries.-Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst., Panama
School Library Journal
YA-A description of the life cycles of several species of ants found at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica is combined with biographical sketches of myrmecologists William L. Brown of Cornell and Edward O. Wilson of Harvard (author of the classic The Ants). The portrait of Wilson is particularly informative and interesting, presenting a realistic view of a talented scientist's professional progress. The book includes a glossary, an index to the Latin and common names of the insects (as well as their families), a chronology of the development of the ant species and human study of them, and a list of professional societies. This book will appeal to YAs with a keen interest in science or nature.-Clodagh Lee, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Booknews
Ant's-eye-view stories of scouts, workers, queens, and warriors alternate with an account of an expedition by renowned field biologists Edward O. Wilson and William L. Brown, Jr., in a nature reserve in Costa Rica. Includes a chronology of ants and humans in evolutionary and recent times, a glossary, a guide to Latin and common names, and a list of societies for the conservation and study of insects, plus b&w illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684830452
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 3/21/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 0.72 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue 15
1 Workers' Paradise 20
2 The Miracle Ant 38
3 Superorganism 66
4 Amber Tales 101
5 Coming of Age 117
6 The Flood 137
7 Nuptial Flight 162
8 Ant Wars 196
9 Back to the Lab 237
10 Revisited 255
Appendix 1 A Chronology of Ants and Humans in Evolutionary and Recent Times 273
Appendix 2 Societies for the Conservation and Study of Insects 280
Glossary 282
Guide to the Latin and Common Names of Ant Species, Genera, Tribes, and Subfamilies Used in This Book 289
Bibliography 295
Acknowledgments 298
Index 301
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