Did you know that for every human on earth, there are about one million ants? They are among the longest-lived insects – with some ant queens passing the thirty-year mark – as well as some of the strongest. Fans of both the city and countryside alike, ants decompose dead wood, turn over soil (in some places more than earthworms), and even help plant forests by distributing seeds. But while fewer than thirty of the nearly one thousand ant species living in North America are true pests, we cringe when we see them marching across our kitchen floors.
No longer! In this witty, accessible, and beautifully illustrated guide, Eleanor Spicer Rice, Alex Wild, and Rob Dunn metamorphose creepy-crawly revulsion into myrmecological wonder. Emerging from Dunn's ambitious citizen science project Your Wild Life (an initiative based at North Carolina State University), Dr. Eleanor's Book of Common Ants provides an eye-opening entomological overview of the natural history of species most noted by project participants – and even offers tips on keeping ant farms in your home. Exploring species from the spreading red imported fire ant to the pavement ant, and featuring Wild's stunning photography, Dr. Eleanor's Book of Common Ants will be a tremendous resource for teachers, students, and scientists alike. But more than this, it will transform the way we perceive the environment around us by deepening our understanding of its littlest inhabitants, inspiring everyone to find their inner naturalist, get outside, and crawl across the dirt – magnifying glass in hand.
"An elegant little book. Spicer Rice's style is clear, fluid, and engaging. (I'm fond of the way she described winnow ants as 'rusty ballerinas.') What makes it especially lovely is the abundance of photographs by Alex Wild, the Ansel Adams of arthropods. I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to appreciate the miniature beauty and complexity of ants. And I hope that Dr. Eleanor's Book of Common Ants inspires other citizen science projects."
– Carl Zimmer, National Geographic's The Loom
"Ant genetics and reproduction are complex topics, but Spicer Rice makes it easy to understand with minimal jargon. The species descriptions seem like stories about eccentric and entertaining relatives, rather than ants."
– Gwen Pearson, WIRED
"Really cool [...] With incredible pics from Alex Wild [...] Definitely worth checking out."
– Jonathan Eisen, University of California, Davis, Tree of Life
Chapter 1: Carpenter Ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus)
Chapter 2: Pavement Ant (Tetramorium sp.)
Chapter 3: Odorous House Ant (Tapinoma sessile)
Chapter 4: Winter Ant (Prenolepis imparis)
Chapter 5: Asian Needle Ant (Brachyponera chinensis)
Chapter 6: Winnow Ant (Aphaenogaster rudis)
Chapter 7: Big Headed Ant (Pheidole spp.)
Chapter 8: Southern Fire Ant (Solenopsis xyloni)
Chapter 9: Little Black Ant (Monomorium minimum)
Chapter 10: Thief Ant (Solenopsis molesta)
Chapter 11: High Noon Ant (Forelius pruinosus)
Chapter 12: Lasius Ant (Lasius spp.)
Chapter 13: Field Ant (Formica spp.)
Chapter 14: Argentine Ant (Linepithema humile)
Chapter 15: Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta)
Chapter 16: Crazy Ant (Nylanderia spp.)
Chapter 17: Trap-jaw Ant (Strumigenys spp.)
Chapter 18: Acrobat Ant (Crematogaster spp.)
Chapter 19: Frequently Asked Questions
Chapter 20: How to Keep Ants at Home
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Eleanor Spicer Rice is an entomologist and writer. Alex Wild is a wildlife photographer and curator of entomology at the University of Texas, Austin.
Rob Dunn is a biologist and writer at North Carolina State University. He is the author of Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys, The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today, and The Man Who Touched His Own Heart: True Tales of Science, Surgery, and Mystery.