Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration

Bert Holldobler, Author, Bert Hlldobler, Author, Bert Halldobler, Author
Bert Holldobler, Author, Bert Hlldobler, Author, Bert Halldobler, Author Belknap Press $27.5 (304p) ISBN 978-0-674-48525-9
Reviewed on: 08/01/1994
Release date: 08/01/1994
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-674-48526-6
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In 1990, the authors won a Pulitzer Prize (science) for their monumental The Ants. Holldobler (Univ. of Wurzburg) and Wilson (Harvard), longtime collaborators, offer lay readers a fascinating glimpse into the world of ants as well as their own personal adventures in the study of these insects. We see weaver ants that live in tropical forest canopies, their nests made of leaves bound with silk. A colony of leafcutter ants raising fungi on pieces of fresh leaves consumes as much vegetation as a cow. Harvester ants alter the abundance and local distribution of flowering plants. The authors describe cooperation and communication; they found that ant species use 10 to 20 chemicals to convey attraction, alarm and other messages. They discuss ants' relations with butterflies, aphids and mealybugs (symbiosis), warfare (over food and territory) and exploitation. We learn that ants do not live at temperatures below 50 F. and that the greatest threat to them is drought. After reading Journey, we can only admire these insects and their remarkable social organization. Illustrations. (Oct.)
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