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Books About Ants

Take a dive inside these good reads.

Inside an anthill, you’ll find high drama worthy of a royal court; and between colonies, high-stakes geopolitical intrigue is afoot. Just like us, ants grow crops, raise livestock, tend their young and infirm, and make vaccines. And, just like us, ants have a dark side: They wage war, despoil environments, and enslave rivals—but also rebel against their oppressors.

Recommended Reading

Ants of Southern Africa - Ants South Africa

Ants of Southern Africa The Ant Book for All

This is the first Field Guide to Southern African ants ever published. Lavishly illustrated with Philip Herbst’s fabulous macrophotographs, and the best of some fifty more observers from ‘iSpot’, the book details 225 of the most common species, with notes about another 400. Also included are comprehensive habitat and locality endpaper maps, index and bibliography.

Can you believe that all of the copies for this book are sold out here in South Africa?

If you are one of the lucky ones who has a copy, then keep it close.

I found two places that still have in stock and they are based in England:

1. Permberly Books

2. NHBS

Ants of Southern Africa has always served us well and we turn the pages often.

I spoke to Peter and he replied that they are thinking of doing a reprint for the book.

Peter, if you read this, we all would like a reprint, please.

Peter Slingsby not only studies Ants, but he is also a passionate Mapmaker residing in the Cape, you will find his awesome maps on his website here.

 

Adventures Among Ants

Intrepid international explorer, biologist, and photographer Mark W. Moffett, “the Indiana Jones of entomology,” takes us around the globe on a strange and colorful journey in search of the hidden world of ants. In tales from Nigeria, Indonesia, the Amazon, Australia, California, and elsewhere, Moffett recounts his entomological exploits and provides fascinating details on how ants live and how they dominate their ecosystems through strikingly human behaviors, yet at a different scale and a faster tempo. Moffett’s spectacular close-up photographs shrink us down to size, so that we can observe ants in familiar roles; warriors, builders, big-game hunters, and slave owners. We find them creating marketplaces and assembly lines and dealing with issues we think of as uniquely human—including hygiene, recycling, and warfare. Adventures among Ants introduces some of the world’s most awe-inspiring species and offers a startling new perspective on the limits of our own…

Seed Dispersal

Countless ants transport and deposit seeds and thereby influence the survival, death, and evolution of many plant species. In higher plants, seed dispersal by ants (myrmecochory) has appeared many times independently in different lineages. More than 3000 plant species are known to utilize ant assistance to be planted. Myrmecochory is a very interesting and rather enigmatic form of mutualistic ant-plant associations. This phenomenon is extremely complex, because there are hundreds of ant species connected with hundreds of plant species. This book effectively combines a thorough approach to investigating morphological and physiological adaptations of plants with elegant field experiments on the behaviour of ants. This monograph is a first attempt at collecting information about morphology, ecology and phenology of ants and plants from one ecosystem. The book gives readers a panoramic view of the hidden, poorly-known interrelations not only between pairs of ants and plant species, but also between species communities in the ecosystem. The authors have considered not just one aspect of animal-plant relationships, but have tried to show them in all their complexity. Some aspects of the ant-plant interactions described in the book may be of interest to botanists, others to zoologists or ecologists, but the entire work is an excellent example of the marriage of these biological disciplines.

Studying Animal Languages

The Author of this new volume on ant communication demonstrates that information theory is a valuable tool for studying the natural communication of animals. To do so, she pursues a fundamentally new approach to studying animal communication and “linguistic” capacities on the basis of measuring the rate of information transmission and the complexity of transmitted messages.

Animals’ communication systems and cognitive abilities have long since been a topic of particular interest to biologists, psychologists, linguists, and many others, including researchers in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence. The main difficulties in the analysis of animal language have to date been predominantly methodological in nature. Addressing this perennial problem, the elaborated experimental paradigm presented here has been applied to ants, and can be extended to other social species of animals that have the need to memorize and relay complex “messages”. Accordingly, the method opens exciting new dimensions in the study of natural communications in the wild.

The Behavioral Ecology

This book is concerned with two problems: how eusociality, in which one individual forgoes reproduction to enhance the reproduction of a nestmate, could evolve under natural selection, and why it is found only in some insects-termites, ants and some bees and wasps. Although eusociality is apparently confined to insects, it has evolved a number of times in a single order of insects, the Hymenoptera. W. Hamilton’s hypothesis, that the unusual haplodiploid mechanism of sex determination in the Hymenoptera singled this order out, still seems to have great explanatory power in the study of social ants. We believe that the direction, indeed confinement, of social altruism to close kin is the mainspring of social life in an ant colony, and the alternative explanatory schemes of, for example, parental manipu­lation, should rightly be seen to operate within a system based on the selective support of kin. To control the flow of resources within their colony all its members resort to manipulations of their nestmates: parental manipulation of offspring is only one facet of a complex web of manipul­ation, exploitation, and competition for resources within the colony. The political intrigues extend outside the bounds of the colony, to insects and plants which have mutualistic relations with ants. In eusociality, some individuals (sterile workers) do not pass their genes to a new generation directly. Instead, they tend the offspring of a close relation (in the simplest case their mother).

Ants Of North America

Ants are among the most conspicuous and the most ecologically important of insects. This concise, easy-to-use, authoritative identification guide introduces the fascinating and diverse ant fauna of the United States and Canada. It features the first illustrated key to North American ant genera, discusses distribution patterns, explores ant ecology and natural history, and includes a list of all currently recognized ant species in this large region. * New keys to the 73 North American ant genera illustrated with 250 line drawings ensure accurate identification * 180 color images show the head and profile of each genus and important species groups * Includes a glossary of important terms

Ant Ecology

Comprising a substantial part of living biomass on earth, ants are integral to the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. More than 12,000 species have been described to date, and it is estimated that perhaps as many still await classification. Ant Ecology explores key ecological issues and new developments in myrmecology across a range of scales. The book begins with a global perspective on species diversity in time and space and explores interactions at the community level before describing the population ecology of these social insects. The final section covers the recent ecological phenomenon of invasive ants: how they move across the globe, invade, affect ecosystems, and are managed by humans. Each chapter links ant ecology to broader ecological principles, provides a succinct summary, and discusses future research directions. Practical aspects of myrmecology, applications of ant ecology, debates, and novel discoveries are highlighted in text boxes throughout the volume. The book concludes with a synthesis of the current state of the field and a look at exciting future research directions. The extensive reference list and full glossary are invaluable for researchers, and those new to the field.

The Superorganism

The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of The Ants render the extraordinary lives of the social insects in this visually spectacular volume. The Superorganism promises to be one of the most important scientific works published in this decade. Coming eighteen years after the publication of The Ants, this new volume expands our knowledge of the social insects (among them, ants, bees, wasps, and termites) and is based on remarkable research conducted mostly within the last two decades. These superorganisms—a tightly knit colony of individuals, formed by altruistic cooperation, complex communication, and division of labor—represent one of the basic stages of biological organization, midway between the organism and the entire species. The study of the superorganism, as the authors demonstrate, has led to important advances in our understanding of how the transitions between such levels have occurred in evolution and how life as a whole has progressed from simple to complex forms. Ultimately, this book provides a deep look into a part of the living world hitherto glimpsed by only a very few. 110 color, 100 black-and-white

Applied Myrmecology: A World Perspective

Ants have always fascinated the nature observer. Reports from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia indicate that ants interested humans long ago. Myrmecology as a science had its beginning in the last century with great naturalists like Andre, Darwin, Emery, Escherich, Fabre, Fields, Forel, Janet, Karawaiew, McCook, Mayr, Smith, Wasmann and Wheeler. They studied ants as an interesting biological phenomenon, with little thought of the possible beneficial or detrimental effects ants could have on human activities (see Wheeler 1910 as an example). When Europeans began colonizing the New World, serious ant problems occurred. The first reports of pest ants came from Spanish and Portuguese officials of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Trinidad, The West Indies, Central America and South America. Leaf-cutting ants were blamed for making agricultural development almost impossible in many areas. These ants, Atta and Acromyrmex species, are undoubtedly the first ants identified as pests and may be considered to have initiated interest and research in applied myrmecology (Mariconi 1970).

Army Ants: Nature’s Ultimate Social Hunters

A swarm raid is one of nature’s great spectacles. In tropical rainforests around the world, army ants march in groups by the thousands to overwhelm large solitary invertebrates, along with nests of termites, wasps, and other ants. They kill and dismember their prey and carry it back to their nest, where their hungry brood devours it. They are the ultimate social hunters, demonstrating the most fascinating collective behavior.

In Army Ants we see how these insects play a crucial role in promoting and sustaining the biodiversity of tropical ecosystems. The ants help keep prey communities in check while also providing nutrition for other animals. Many species depend on army ants for survival, including a multitude of social parasites, swarm-following birds, and flies. And while their hunting behavior, and the rules that govern it, are clearly impressive, army ants display collective behavior in other ways that are no less dazzling. They build living nests, called bivouacs, using their bodies to protect the queen and larvae. The ants can even construct bridges over open space or obstacles by linking to one another using their feet. These incredible feats happen without central coordination. They are the result of local interactions―self-organization that benefits the society at large.

Through observations, stories, and stunning images, Daniel Kronauer brings these fascinating creatures to life. Army ants may be small, but their collective intelligence and impact on their environment are anything but.

Desert Navigator: The Journey of an Ant

A world-renowned researcher of animal behavior reveals the extraordinary orienteering skills of desert ants, offering a thrilling account of the sophisticated ways insects function in their natural environments.
Cataglyphis desert ants are agile ultrarunners who can tolerate near-lethal temperatures when they forage in the hot midday sun. But it is their remarkable navigational abilities that make these ants so fascinating to study. Whether in the Sahara or its ecological equivalents in the Namib Desert and Australian Outback, the Cataglyphis navigators can set out foraging across vast expanses of desert terrain in search of prey, and then find the shortest way home. For almost half a century, Rüdiger Wehner and his collaborators have devised elegant experiments to unmask how they do it.
Through a lively and lucid narrative, Desert Navigator offers a firsthand look at the extraordinary navigational skills of these charismatic desert dwellers and the experiments that revealed how they strategize and solve complex problems. Wehner and his team discovered that these insect navigators use visual cues in the sky that humans are unable to see, the Earth’s magnetic field, wind direction, a step counter, and panoramic “snapshots” of landmarks, among other resources. The ants combine all of this information to steer an optimal course. At any given time during their long journey, they know exactly where to go. It is no wonder these nimble and versatile creatures have become models in the study of animal navigation.
Desert Navigator brings to light the marvelous capacity and complexity found in these remarkable insects and shows us how mini brains can solve mega tasks.

Empire of the Ants

Here is the stunning international bestseller in the tradition of Watership Down but with a dark, original twist. Unique, daring, and unforgettable, it tells the story of an ordinary family who accidentally threatens the security of a hidden civilization as intelligent as our own–a colony of ants determined to survive at any cost… Jonathan Wells and his young family have come to the Paris flat at 3, rue des Sybarites through the bequest of his eccentric late uncle Edmond. Inheriting the dusty apartment, the Wells family is left with only one warning: Never go down into the cellar. But when the family dog disappears down the basement steps, Jonathan follows–and soon his wife, his son, and various would-be rescuers vanish into its mysterious depths. Meanwhile, in a pine stump in a nearby park, a vast civilization is in turmoil. Here a young female from the russet ant nation of Bel-o-kan learns that a strange new weapon has been killing off her comrades. To find out why she enlists the help of a warrior ant, and the two set off on separate journeys into a harsh and violent world. It is a world where death takes many forms–savage birds and voracious lizards, warlike dwarf ants and rapacious termites, poisonous beetles, and, most bizarre of all, the swift, murderous, giant guardians of the edge of the world: cars. Yet the end of the female’s desperate quest will be the eerie secret in the cellar at 3, rue des Sybarites–a mystery she must solve in order to fulfill her special destiny as the new queen of her own great empire. But to do so she must first make unthinkable communion with the most barbaric creatures of all. Empire of the Ants is a brilliant evocation of a hidden civilization as complex as our own and far more ancient. It is a fascinating realm where boats are built of leaves and greenflies are domesticated and milked like cows, where citizens lock antennae in “absolute communication” and fight wars with precisely coordinated armies using sprays of glue and acids that can dissolve a snail. Not since Watership Down has a novel so vividly captured the lives and struggles of a fellow species and the valuable lessons they have to teach us.

Empire of Ants: The Hidden Worlds and Extraordinary Lives of Earth’s Tiny Conquerors

Ants number in the ten quadrillions, and they have been here since the Jurassic era. 

Engineered by nature to fulfill their particular roles, ants flawlessly perform a complex symphony of tasks to sustain their colony—seemingly without a conductor—from fearsome army ants, who stage twelve-hour hunting raids where they devour thousands, to gentle leafcutters cooperatively gardening in their peaceful underground kingdoms.

Acclaimed biologist Susanne Foitzik has traveled the globe to study these master architects of Earth. Joined by journalist Olaf Fritsche, Foitzik invites readers deep into her world—in the field and in the lab. (How do you observe the behavior of ants just millimeters long—or dissect a brain the width of a needle?) Richly illustrated and photographed in full color, Empire of Ants will inspire new respect for ants as a global superpower—and raise new questions about the very meaning of “civilization.”

Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration

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 yet immense civilization at our feet. [description from GoodReads]

Mutualism: Ants and their Insect Partners

Mutualism is an interaction between individuals of two different species of organism in which both benefit from the association. With a focus on mutualisms between ants and aphids, coccids, membracids, and lycaenids, this volume provides a detailed account of the many different facets of mutualisms. Mutualistic interactions not only affect the two partners but can also have consequences for higher levels of the organization. By linking theory to case studies, the authors present an integrated account of processes and patterns of mutualistic interactions at different levels of the organization, from individuals to communities to ecosystems. Interactions between ants and their insect partners and their outcomes are explained from a resource-based, cost-benefit perspective. Covering a fascinating and growing subject in modern ecology, this book will be of interest to the community and evolutionary ecologists and entomologists, at both research and graduate student level.

Secret Lives of Ants

In the great naturalist tradition of E. O. Wilson, Jae Choe takes readers into a miniature world dominated by six-legged organisms. This is the world of the ant, an insect that humans, as well as most other life forms, depend upon for their very survival.

Easily one of the most important animals on earth, ants seem to mirror the actions, emotions, and industries of the human population, often more effectively than humans do themselves. They developed ranching and farming long before humans, and their division of labor resembles the assembly lines of automobile factories and multinational enterprises. Self-sacrifice and a finely tuned chemical language are the foundations of their monarchical society, which is capable of waging large-scale warfare and taking slaves. Tales of their massacres and atrocities, as well as struggles for power, are all too reminiscent of our own. The reality of ant society is more fascinating than even the most creative minds could imagine. Choe combines expert scientific knowledge with a real passion for these miniscule marvels. His vivid descriptions are paired with captivating illustrations and photographs to introduce readers to the economics, culture, and intrigue of the ant world. All of nature is revealed through the secret lives of the amazing ants. In the words of the author, “Once you get to know them, you’ll love them.”

Six Legs Better: A Cultural History of Myrmecology (Animals, History, Culture)

Ants long have fascinated linguists, human sociologists, and even cyberneticians. At the end of the nineteenth century, ants seemed to be admirable models for human life and were praised for their work ethic, communitarianism, and apparent empathy. They provided a natural-theological lesson on the relative importance of humans within creation and inspired psychologists to investigate the question of instinct and its place in the life of higher animals and humans. By the 1930s, however, ants came to symbolize one of modernity’s deepest fears: the loss of selfhood. Researchers then viewed the ant colony as an unthinking mass, easily ruled and slavishly organized.In this volume, Charlotte Sleigh uses specific representations of ants within the field of entomology from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries to explore the broader role of metaphors in science and their often unpredictable translations. Marking the centenary of the coining of “myrmecology” to describe the study of ants, Six Legs Better demonstrates the remarkable historical role played by ants as a node where notions of animal, human, and automaton intersect. (2007)

The Ants

From the Arctic to South Africa – one finds them everywhere: Ants. Making up nearly 15% of the entire terrestrial animal biomass, ants are impressive not only in quantitative terms, they also fascinate by their highly organized and complex social system. Their caste system, the division of labor, the origin of altruistic behavior and the complex forms of chemical communication makes them the most interesting group of social organisms and the main subject for sociobiologists. Not least is their ecological importance: Ants are the premier soil turners, channelers of energy and dominatrices of the insect fauna.

The Ecology and Evolution of Ant-Plant Interactions

More than twenty years after Beattie’s masterpiece (1985) (The Evolutionary Ecology of Ant-Plant Mutualisms (Cambridge Studies in Ecology)), a considerable amount of data has been accumulated on this topic. A new review was then necessary, and this book fills perfectly this gap. Moreover, authors developed an original perspective by placing ant-plant interactions in Thompson’s conceptual framework, i.e. in a continuum between antagonism and mutualism, opening exciting perspectives Interaction and Coevolution, The Coevolutionary Process, The Geographic Mosaic of Coevolution (Interspecific Interactions).

The leafcutter ants: civilization by instinct

The Leafcutter Ants is the most detailed and authoritative description of any ant species ever produced. With a text suitable for both a lay and a scientific audience, the book provides an unforgettable tour of Earth’s most evolved animal societies. Each colony of leafcutters contains as many as five million workers, all the daughters of a single queen that can live over a decade. A gigantic nest can stretch thirty feet across, rise five feet or more above the ground, and consist of hundreds of chambers that reach twenty-five feet below the ground surface. Indeed, the leafcutters have parlayed their instinctive civilization into virtual domination of forest, grassland, and cropland―from Louisiana to Patagonia. Inspired by a section of the authors’ acclaimed The Superorganism, this brilliantly illustrated work provides the ultimate explanation of what a social order with a half-billion years of animal evolution has achieved. Four-color throughout, 56 photographs

The Lives of Ants

Since time immemorial, human beings have been fascinated by ants, amazed by them, intrigued and captivated by them. With numerous black-and-white images and eight pages of color plates, The Lives of Ants provides a state-of-the-art look at what we now know about these fascinating creatures, portraying a world that is rich and full of surprises, one which, even after decades of observation, is still full of unsolved mysteries. The authors illuminate the world of the ant, shedding light on such topics as the ant’s impressive abilities in direction finding and quite amazing ingenuity when it comes to building their nests, finding supplies, or exploiting other members of the animal kingdom. They show, too, that they are capable of aggression and violence, which can disturb the apparent peace of their colonies and embroil them in fratricidal or matricidal strife. Even their sexual arrangements are at times quite strange. In this area, as in many others, they display marked originality. Readers also discover that ants are walking bundles of secretory glands (they have about forty of them), which enable them to emit between ten and twenty different pheromones, each of which has its own “meaning.” Some are produced by workers for recruiting their sisters or for alerting them to danger. Others are used for marking territory, for identifying members of their colony or conversely for detecting foreigners, and for indicating the location of food. In addition, ants can also emit sound signals, made of a high-pitched squeak, and they can even dance, though not as intricately or as well as bees. The Lives of Ants combines natural history with molecular biology, genetics, and even the latest developments in robotics, to explore the remarkable societies of ants, revealing the secrets of their mysterious lives.

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