The Leafcutter Ants, (Civilization by Instinct) – Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson   1 comment


Philips’ Book Reviews

The Leafcutter Ants, (Civilization by Instinct) – Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson

If ever you want to know anything about ants you would read books by Bert Holldobler and/or Edward O. Wilson.  These two most learned of gentleman have spent their lives studying these amazing creatures and their social organization and nest structures.  They were even awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the 1990 tome simply entitled “Ants”.

A more recent publication – The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance and Strangeness of Insect Societies, (2009), provided an overview of the complex organizational world within the world of eusocial insects.

When I am out on a tour through a rainforest with a group of people I spent some time waxing lyrical about ants.  Many people arrive at Bosque with, if not the expectation, then at least the hope of seeing a large cat.  The lucky few are presented with that opportunity.  But so many visitors once they learn about the lives of such small and often overlooked insects that are ants now leave Bosque having had their prejudices refocused and now want to go away a read more about ants and their fascinating lives, forget cats.

Leafcutter Ants are the pinnacle of present insect society order and structure.  Here in this book is all that extra information that I don’t have time to cover, laid clearly before you.  This small volume could well have been subtitled “Everything you wanted to know about Leafcutter Ants and more”.

The authors have taken one chapter from The Superorganism and expanded it.  You can now read, in a very easy and compelling way about every aspect of a Leafcutter Ant colony from their evolution, distribution, life cycle and caste system.  You will learn why they cut leaves and what the subsequently do with them.  Interactions between the ants and the fungus that sustains them as well as how parasitic invaders are held at bay are all explained in an eminently lucid fashion.

The book is illustrated with amazing macro photography and graphics that help bring the world of the ants to life.

At 127 pages, I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone, whether they have been out on tour with me or not, as an insight to a world unseen and previously ignored by the majority of people.

http://www.amazon.com/Leafcutter-Ants-Civilization-Instinct/dp/0393338681/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327016145&sr=8-1

Philip is a biologist, writer and photographer as well as the onsite naturalist guide at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

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One response to “The Leafcutter Ants, (Civilization by Instinct) – Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson

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  1. Hi Philip, thanks for this book recommendation! I am about half way through reading it and learned a lot about what I saw at the Osa in January. I was down there with Nick and Pam Fucci. I just wrote a post on my blog about Leafcutter Ants, illustrated by a few of the photos that I captured last month.

    http://davecarlsonphotography.com/2012/02/leafcutter-ants/

    Like

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