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Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions    by Mark W. Moffett Amazon.com order for
Adventures Among Ants
by Mark W. Moffett
Order:  USA  Can
University of California, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Because of his extensive fieldwork, Mark Moffett has been called the Jane Goodall of ants or, in a slightly lighter vein, the Indiana Jones of entomology. No matter the tag you wish to place on this remarkable naturalist, the fact is his work on ants has expanded our knowledge of these diminutive creatures.

Moffett has traveled from the Amazon, Borneo, India, and Madagascar to Nigeria and Botswana in pursuit of his favorite insect. Along the way he has snapped thousands of photos, collected hundreds of samples, and managed to survive encounters with deadly snakes, dart gun wielding drug lords and rampaging bull elephants.

An account of these exotic expeditions and their findings is presented in Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions. As he shares his entomological exploits, Moffett provides fascinating details on how ants live and how they dominate their ecosystems through strikingly human behaviors.

Why bother with a creature as small as an ant? They throng in the millions of billions, outnumber humans by a factor of a million, explains Moffett. Globally, ants weigh as much as all human beings. A single hectare in the Amazon basin contains more ants than the entire human population of New York City, and that's just counting the ants on the ground twice as many live in the tree tops.

Aside from being world-class road builders, ants often deploy complicated military tactics, and some of them have evolved from hunter-gatherers into farmers, domesticating other insects and growing crops for food.

After a short primer on ants, the author focuses on six different types of ant. The opening sections are on the Marauder Ant, the ultimate omnivore; African Army Ants, raiders on the swarm; and the Weaver Ant, empress of the air. The Amazon Ant, the slave maker; the Leafcutter, the constant gardener; and the Argentine Ant, the global invader, close out this investigation of these small creepy crawlies.

Over 60 stunning color photos showcase these ants in their natural habitats and the close-ups, in particular, detail the distinctive features and characteristics of the various species of ants discussed.

Highly readable, this book shines a spotlight on a parallel universe where the sheer number of its inhabitants is mind boggling and their antics are fascinating.

Not surprisingly, Adventures Among Ants will find an appreciative audience outside the scientific community because Mark Moffett's enthusiasm for sharing the lives of his little friends is so infectious that even the layman won't mind anteing up nearly $30 for this book!

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