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.
The Lives of Ants