‘Brilliant, Fantastic and Significant’ – Dr George McGavin
Ants are seemingly everywhere, and this familiarity has led to some contemptuous and less than helpful stereotypes. In this compelling insight into the natural and cultural history of ants, Richard Jones helps to unravel some of the myths and misunderstanding surrounding their remarkable behaviours. Ant aggregations in large (often mind-bogglingly huge) nests are a complex mix of genetics, chemistry, geography and higher social interaction. Their forage trails – usually to aphid colonies but occasionally into the larder – are maintained by a wondrous alchemy of molecular scents and markers. Their social colony structure confused natural philosophers of old and still taxes the modern biologist today.
Beginning the book with a straightforward look at ant morphology, Jones then explores the ant species found in the British Isles and parts of nearby mainland Europe, their foraging, nesting, navigating and battle instincts, how ants interact with the landscape, their evolution, and their place in our understanding of how life on earth works. Alongside this, he explores the complex relationship between humans and ants, and how ants went from being the subject of fables and moral storytelling to become popular research tools.
Drawing on up-to-date science and featuring striking colour photographs throughout, this book presents a convincing case for why ants are worth our greater recognition and respect.