Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions

Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions

by Mark W. Moffett

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Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
Mark Moffett is as much a wonder as is his topic of this particular book ADVENTURES AMONG ANTS: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions. Not only is he an intrepid biologist/entomologist, an explorer who knows no fear, and a true Naturalist (comfortably in the company of Muir, Audubon, Thoreau, and Darwin!), but he is also a writer of great skill and a photographer par excellence. In this endlessly fascinating a thorough book Moffett invites us to join him on a global journey that spans from California to Nigeria, from the Amazon to Australia, from Indonesia to India, Borneo, Botswana, and Madagascar, and as his pupils we not only learn a lot about these destinations (and many others), but his guiding core is studying the ant. One could very easily be satisfied with simply surveying the many full color photographs of ants at work and learn from those. But that is not Moffett's purpose. Writing with a sense of awe and amazement that is contagious, he explores the highly organized civilizations that ants create. Here are chapters that read like small novels explaining weaver ants and the complex manner in which they create canopy empires, the 'sisterhood' concept of colonies, the divisions of labor in these highly integrated cultures of ants, and the manner in which ants take slaves, fight invaders, stage wars and invade distant lands. The similarities between ant civilizations and human civilizations are presented in a matter of fact, untainted manner - a factor that makes Moffett's wring inviting instead of accusatory. Yes, there is much to learn from his close scrutiny of ant colonies and behavior, but in other writers' (and thinkers') hands the result would not have the immediate impact of sharing secrets of the world we cannot readily see. Moffett provides enormous binoculars through which we can get a closer at the aspects of our planet we know and understand so little. A brilliant book, this. Grady Harp
pikarun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderful tour into the world of ants. They are an extraordinary species with breathtaking variety. Wish he avoided the comparisons to human societies, though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never guessed ants could be so interesting, i have gained so much admiration for these brilliant tiny creatures from reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book even though I never read it before
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
all his journeys and research make you fall in love with this book.
jhmJM More than 1 year ago
The author spends way too much time on how uncomfortable he was as he traveled the world looking at ants. One assumes that crawling around a rain forest is not very pleasant. I didn't need to be reminded about it every few pages. He also has a condescending attitude about the locals, at one point describing his guide as "my kinky haired guide Asab". This book could stand some serious editing. I'm glad I borrowed this one from a library, and didn't waste my money on it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had read some excerpts in a previous book regarding ants and wanted to explore the subject further. This book had been rated very highly so I purchased it. The first seventy pages reads like a thesis paper and the author gets "in the weeds" with regard to ant behavior. It is not so much of an "adventure" as it is an exercise in staying awake. If you are looking for a reference for your college entomology paper...enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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SAHARATEA More than 1 year ago
A Global Safari with a cast of Trillions Flat out, this is the most fascinating non-fiction title I've read this year. Ants are seldom seen as fascinating, more like a nuisance! However, this book makes me almost wish for an ant invasion, just to try and observe some of the details the Moffett describes in his worldwide studies on ants. The text contains lots of surprises as it covers various species of ants, and I can't scratch the surface of all the funny and also disquieting details about these creatures. He first discusses marauder ants, who can be classified in three sizes: the largest is 50 times larger than the smallest, and often serves as a 'bus' to carry smaller ants to new locations. Most ants are female, they can live upwards of two years, and their behavior as workers for the colony is altruistic. The worker ants do not reproduce, and thus do not compete for food. In fact, he describes the male ants (that resemble wasps) as 'socially useless', and confined to being sperm donors. Their travel in columns is well-known, but how they find food and relay the information to the workers is unique. They emit a "recruitment" pheromone that immediately tells ants in the vicinity that food is near, and within seconds a full swarm goes into attack mode, retrieving the food and taking it back for storage. But what is more fascinating is the Pharoah ant that also has a "don't bother" pheromone that it emits when the food is gone, so that no ants waste their time. The paths that ants use are actually ant roads, they reuse them as needed, rather than just randomly traveling over earth (as it would appear). Some ants have coordinated group attacks that allow them to overcome much larger prey simply by virtue of their large numbers rather than a stinger Army ants are useful in some ways because they clear out vermin, such as roaches and mice, from the vicinity. Driver ants can overtake a monkey corpse and reduce it to bone in just a few days. More interesting is that driver ants can play dead, for sufficiently long periods of time to allow them to escape. Weaver ants were possibly the most fascinating to me, as they literally sew leaves together (see photo at right). The ants grab a leaf as a team, and another ant picks up a larva (basically a baby ant) that exudes silk and uses the silk as thread to create nests that can last for years. Argentine ants are battling a dangerous war in Southern California, as the colonies actually raise and "herd" aphids. Aphids in oversized numbers then attack local plants. This leads to the death of important indigenous plants that serve to provide pollen to the region, and upwards through the food chain different species are affected by the invasive species. The writing style is witty and fast-paced. The author's enthusiasm is contagious, and the details never get too cumbersome or so overly scientific that you end up bored. Great photographs that enlarge the ants to a bigger size make the details that much more fascinating.