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 it is devoured by their hungry brood. They are the ultimate social hunters, and an excellent way to study 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 larger society.
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.
1. Discovery of the Main Protagonists, and the Mystery of a Lost Type
2. Army Ant Ancestry
3. Mass Raiding
5. Colony Fission
6. The Traveling Circus
Daniel J. C. Kronauer is Stanley S. and Sydney R. Shuman Associate Professor and head of the Laboratory of Social Evolution and Behavior at Rockefeller University. He is the recipient of numerous research awards, and his insect photography was recognized in the 2019 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
"Never before have I read such a comprehensive, engaging history of the exploration and discovery of army ants. Wonderfully written, with superb photographs, Army Ants is a joy to read."
– Bert Hölldobler, coauthor of The Ants and Journey to the Ants
"Ants are famously 'the little things that run the world.' Army ants, with their million-strong colonies, showcase what happens when little things think big. As the world's leading authority on these supremely social insects, Daniel Kronauer gives us a stunning tour of their extraordinary world."
– Naomi E. Pierce, Hessel Professor of Biology and Curator of Lepidoptera, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
"Army ants are one of nature's most spectacular hunters and are cornerstones for many ecological communities. This fascinating and informative book is a must-have for anyone interested in the complex behaviors of social animals."
– Corrie Moreau, Director and Curator, Cornell University Insect Collection
"A rare treat. Army Ants is a modern natural history, with personal stories of tropical fieldwork that reflect the excitement of new discoveries about these spectacular insects."
– Mary Jane West-Eberhard, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
"This book will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about army ants. You will be mesmerized and intrigued as you read this passionate ode to the army ants and their researchers, linger over the stunning photographs, and reflect on what you have learned."
– Raghavendra Gadagkar, author of Survival Strategies: Cooperation and Conflict in Animal Societies