Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
, 1994 - Science
- 228 pages
Hailed as "a masterpiece" by Scientific American and as "the greatest of all entomology books" by Science, Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson's monumental treatise The Ants also was praised in the popular press and won a Pulitzer Prize. This overwhelming success attests to a fact long known and deeply felt by the authors: the infinite fascination of their tiny subjects. This fascination finds its full expression in Journey to the Ants, an overview of myrmecology that is also an eloquent tale of the authors' pursuit of these astonishing insects. Richly illustrated and delightfully written, Journey to the Ants combines autobiography and scientific lore to convey the excitement and pleasure the study of ants can offer. The authors interweave their personal adventures with the social lives of ants, building, from the first minute observations of childhood, a remarkable account of these abundant insects' evolutionary achievement. Accompanying Holldobler and Wilson, we peer into the colony to see how ants cooperate and make war, how they reproduce and bury their dead, how they use propaganda and surveillance, and how they exhibit a startlingly familiar ambivalence between allegiance and self-aggrandizement. This exotic tour of the entire range of formicid biodiversity - from social parasites to army ants, nomadic hunters, camouflaged huntresses, and energetic builders of temperature-controlled skyscrapers - opens out increasingly into natural history, intimating the relevance of ant life to human existence. A window on the world of ants as well as those who study them, this book will be a rich source of knowledge and pleasure for anyone who has ever stopped to wonder about the miniature yetimmense civilization at our feet.