THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF ANTS: A Microview of Earth's Most Ingenious Insect by

THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF ANTS: A Microview of Earth's Most Ingenious Insect

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It's a relief to read an ant book without a thinking, emoting hero, and Mason establishes early on that ants don't reason (though they can learn) but merely follow nature's commands. However this is not an investigation of ant intelligence or of anything else but simply a close up description of their behavior, with naturalists' field observations and uncomplicated experiments eased in. Mason devotes a chapter each to the leaf cutters who cultivate their fungus gardens while the tiny minim, riding the leaves they gather, protects them from the phorid fly. . .the Amazon slavers whose mandibles are suited only for war and who must therefore kidnap pupae whose jaws are designed for work to feed them. . .the ""continent leaping"" Argentine, and others. Also observed are an immense battle between black and red ants over a pile of granulated sugar and, in another instance, the accommodation of two different species, housed together by the experimenter, whose reactions to the mix progressed from confusion to combat to uneasy truce to cooperation (even building nests in a ""compromise"" architectural style) and subsequent harmony. The book is never dense but packed with details (readers are not only warned that carpenter ants will sting but informed of the placement, size, content and mode of attack of their poison glands), which makes for absorbing reading throughout.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1975
Publisher: McKay -- dist. by Walck