Cover Image

Larger ImageView Larger

Adventures among Ants

A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions

Mark W. Moffett (Author)

Available worldwide
READ AN EXCERPT

Hardcover, 288 pages
ISBN: 9780520261990
May 2010
$63.00, £43.95
Other Formats Available:
Intrepid international explorer, biologist, and photographer Mark W. Moffett, “the Indiana Jones of entomology,” takes us around the globe on a strange and colorful journey in search of the hidden world of ants. In tales from Nigeria, Indonesia, the Amazon, Australia, California, and elsewhere, Moffett recounts his entomological exploits and provides fascinating details on how ants live and how they dominate their ecosystems through strikingly human behaviors, yet at a different scale and a faster tempo. Moffett’s spectacular close-up photographs shrink us down to size, so that we can observe ants in familiar roles; warriors, builders, big-game hunters, and slave owners. We find them creating marketplaces and assembly lines and dealing with issues we think of as uniquely human—including hygiene, recycling, and warfare. Adventures among Ants introduces some of the world’s most awe-inspiring species and offers a startling new perspective on the limits of our own perception.

• Ants are world-class road builders, handling traffic problems on thoroughfares that dwarf our highway systems in their complexity

• Ants with the largest societies often deploy complicated military tactics

• Some ants have evolved from hunter-gatherers into farmers, domesticating other insects and growing crops for food
Mark W. Moffett, Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution, is the author of The High Frontier: Exploring the Tropical Rainforest Canopy and Face to Face with Frogs. Moffett has received the Explorers Club’s Lowell Thomas Award, the Distinguished Explorer Award from the Roy Chapman Andrews Society, Yale University’s Poynter Fellowship for Journalism, Harvard’s Bowdoin Prize for writing, and many international photography awards.
“Writes with an entertainer’s instinct for hooking a restless audience. . . . Mr. Moffett’s guide can be read before taking a trip to Brazil or around the backyard. His sympathetic profiles of his fellow researchers around the world suggest that, like this vital but often invisible player in the ecosystem, they don’t command the respect they deserve. Along with honoring the interdependence of life forms and offering provocative thoughts on the meaning of individuality within a rigid but highly intelligent mass-minded hierarchy, the author heightens awareness of the mundane, deadly struggles for survival that go on every day beneath our feet.”—New York Times
"[Adventures among Ants] is hefty, yet aerodynamic. It’s really good for killing ants."—The Colbert Report
“Take a look at daring eco-adventurer Mark Moffett's spectacular new ant book.”—Margaret Atwood New York Review Of Books
“This superb book by a first-class writer with an unsurpassed feel for ants begins at the ground level as we come face to face with the creatures, move into their minds, and begin to understand what makes them tick.”—Library Journal
“Adventures Among Ants may reach a broader audience than other recent publications and therefore stimulate interest in ants among a new generation.”—Philip Newey Bioscience
“Serfdom, war and dying for the tribe: It reads like a page out of a Russian novel. In fact, we're talking about ant life. . . . The sci-fi-looking cover signals the journey to be found inside.”—Los Angeles Times
“The text is part travelogue: Moffett describes his work during relentless rain in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, or how he lost about 20 pounds while living on a diet of rice and caramels in India. But the ants occupy center stage, and he shows readers how they mate and breed, how they search for food or grow their own crops, how they attack and how they defend. He offers a rich account of ant natural history and biology designed to appeal to the general reader. The chapters are arranged geographically, so that as readers move through the book, they linger for a time with the ants of Africa, and later with Argentine ants, and so on, absorbing not only natural history but a sense of the people and places where the ants live. “The book itself is a fine specimen, packed with full-color photographs of ants taken by Moffett, whose expertise with the camera must match his expertise on ant biology—the pictures are stunning.”—National Wildlife
“Moffett's ants are always sleek, polished and doing something spectacular.”—Nature
“Adventure Among Ants offers exotic tales of places you will probably never go, and glimpses of beautiful ants performing marvelous feats.”—Deborah M. Gordon Nature
“These insects, which farm, make ware, market, and clean up, provide new insight into the commonalities that exist among living creatures.”—Foreword
“Moffett’s brilliant photography reveals, in striking detail, not only the peculiar beauty of these creatures, but the unique ways in which they build homes, forage for food, and co-exist within the fascinating microscopic world that lies hidden before us.”—Seed Magazine
“Let me start with the obvious. Adventures among Ants is the most visually stunning ant book ever published. . . . . After we’re done drooling over the photographs, the book is something we can hand to all those people who ask ‘Ants? Why study ants?’ If someone can’t pick up Mark Moffett’s enthusiasm for our little formicid friends, they are almost certainly hopeless.”—Myrmecological News
“Addictive.”—New York Post
“Rich with anecdotes and personal stories, the book goes the way of a Cousteau documentary, here talking about its main subject, the ants, and there presenting the richness of field observations with unpredictable encounters, joys, and deceptions. . . . If in a few years, we observe a bloom of new students interested in the study of ants, I have little doubt that this book will have contributed to their interest.”—Sicb Journal (Soc For Integrative & Comp Biol)
“Rarely does a book like this come along. . . . An intimate account of an exceptionally inquisitive naturalist and his experiences with the miniature world of the most abundant animal on Earth -- the ant.”—Choice
“Absolutely fascinating.”—Southcoasttoday.com
“Beautifully presented and accessible.”—The Weekend Australian Newspaper
“WEAVER ants, marauder ants, army ants and slave-makers - Mark Moffett has studied, been bitten by and photographed them all. Moffett examines the idea of ants as superorganisms and looks at ways in which their colonies resemble, yet differ from, human societies.”—Jonathan Beard New Scientist
“What I found compelling about this book is the author’s penetrating observations. Even though he is mostly talking about insects that appear in huge swarms, he can add about smaller colonies, ‘Just as with students in a small classroom, I can quickly identify the slackers and the over-achievers.’”—Buffalo News
Moffett, an explorer, biologist and photographer, brings an expert's eye and a writer's touch to this book -- and the photos are intriguing and then some.—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Mixes a memoir of his far flung journeys with the fascinating complexity and variety of ants; his passion for his subject isn’t merely palpable, it’s infectious. If his goal is to make you pause and appreciate the next time an ant crawls on your kitchen counter, he has succeeded mightily.”—Sacramento Book Rev / 1776 Prod
“Many fascinating anecdotes.”—Washington Post
“An adventure book full of glorious color photographs that shrink us down to ant-size so we can see the ants in their roles as leaders, warriors, hunters even slave owners. . . . The stories are fascinating and educating — and yes, he delivers on some gore as well.”—Cnbc/Bullish On Books
“A good read - part personal memoir, part rousing adventure story. Moffett. . . is a keen interpreter of the intricate choreography of this insect world.”—Colloquy
“More than a natural history book, although it is an excellent one at that. It is the journey of a remarkable man with the mind of a scientist and the excitement of a boy doing what we all dream of - running to the most exotic places in the world chasing the unbelievable. The tales spread throughout the book will make you want to follow him, and give you a new appreciation for the world's most overlooked inhabitants.”—Psychology Today Blog
“Who would have thought that a book about ants could be so arresting?”—Australian Financial Review
"Mark Moffett has been described as 'the Jane Goodall of ants.' Certainly Adventures among Ants, with its detailed account of his fieldwork, makes an invaluable contribution to our scientific knowledge of these creatures. But it does more. It is so well written and captures his excitement so wonderfully that it will bring this wealth of information to a far wider audience. I was fascinated by ants when I was a child—how I wish this book had been available to me then!"—Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace

"Mark Moffett is in the front rank of present-day explorer naturalists. He has been in many of the most remote parts of the world, and has thorough scientific knowledge of his subject. His photographs are superb, the best ever taken."—Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Future of Life and The Ants

"I love the book. Mark's excitement and joy will affect anyone willing to take a dive into a bizarre world. I will never intentionally step on another ant—perhaps out of a new love, respect or fear. The book truly grows on you rather then swarming up your leg."—Kary Mullis, Author of Dancing Naked in the Mind Field and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

"Mark Moffett's alluring stories show the extraordinary behavior of a world still on the edge of discovery. From swarm raiders to empire builders, Adventures among Ants combines brilliant portraits of six species with thought-provoking lessons about the nature of social evolution."—Richard Wrangham, Author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

"Think you know all about ants? Think again, and take it from Mark W. Moffett, who has traveled all over the world to study them. The world of ants seems to be a parallel universe to our own. It's rife with warfare, terrorism, traffic jams and highway infrastructure. There is freedom and servitude, disease and hygiene, tool use and teamwork. A stimulating read, with stunning photography."—Bernd Heinrich, author of The Mind of the Raven

"Mark Moffett is second to none as a naturalist storyteller. His big book of ant adventures is resplendent in detail, information, and theory, with that inimitable personal touch."—Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, columnist for Scientific American

"This book will return you to the magic you knew as a child, when you watched a tiny parade of creatures and understood: Here, too, is life. Here you will find a parallel universe of mysterious, alien creatures silently emerging from and returning to their dark and magical queendoms."—Dale Peterson, author of Elephant Reflections

"Mark Moffett's Adventures among Ants is a complete celebration of the fascinations of ants that is accessible to the general reader. Happily the book has much to offer professional biologists too. Here academics can acquire novel perspectives on issues associated with ant social biology, ranging from the foraging tactics of army ants to the evolution of the extraordinary invasive ant species now conquering the Northern Hemisphere to the utility of the term 'superorganism.' Admire the photographs but do not neglect the text."—John Alcock, author of Animal Behavior

2010 PROSE Award in Popular Science & Popular Mathematics, Association of American Publishers, Inc.

Outstanding Academic Title in Zoology, Choice, a publication of the American Library Association

Winner of the Nature and the Environment Category, National Outdoor Book Awards

Loading the player ...
Play audio
Interview with the author, Mark W. Moffett
Leaf Cutter Ant (Mark Moffett/Minden Pictures) Harvester Ant (Mark Moffett/Minden Pictures) Carpenter Ant (Mark Moffett/Minden Pictures)

Save 20%

Add source code 14W0162 to get your discount at checkout.
Cannot be combined with any other offers.

Join UC Press


Members receive 20-40% discounts on book purchases. Find out more