cover image Tales from the Ant World

Tales from the Ant World

Edward O. Wilson. Liveright, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-63149-556-4

Wilson (Genesis: On the Deep Origin of Societies), a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Harvard emeritus professor of entomology, delivers an illuminating work filled with insights into his specialty subject: ants. Hoping to “reach students—even 10 years old is not too young—interested in the prospect of a scientific career,” Wilson presents his lifelong fascination with these insects, an interest that has taken him on research trips all over the globe, as an “adventure story.” He explains how, in 1942, at the age of 13, he determined that the vacant lot next to his home in Mobile, Ala., held four species of ants; how in 1958, as a faculty member at Harvard, he set out to “learn the pheromone language” of fire ants; and how in 2011 he visited New Caledonia in search of the extremely rare New Caledonian bull ant, to perform one of the first “studies of rarity and extinction” involving an invertebrate. He also describes the fastest ants, the slowest ants, ants that are gardeners, and ants that are ranchers, always placing his findings in an evolutionary context. Wilson’s passion for his subject, for the scientific method, and for the natural world comes through clearly in this enjoyable survey. Agent: John Taylor Williams, Kneerim & Williams. (Aug.)