Tales from the Ant World

Liveright. Aug. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781631495564. $26.95. NAT HIST
The father of sociobiology focuses on his first love in his latest title. Wilson (emeritus, Harvard Univ. Ctr. for the Environment) has spent most of his 90 years studying ants, from discovering fire ants in the United States to becoming the world’s foremost myrmecologist. He has written many books and articles, including two Pulitzer Prize winners, The Ants and On Human Nature. But in this work, Wilson wants to inspire both adults and children to see the adventurous side of studying ants, how they communicate with one another, and how we communicate with them. He offers ideas of how to run experiments in one’s kitchen and tells of some of the fiercest ants he’s encountered and how to handle them. Wilson takes a meandering look at his own explorations, as he writes about his travels around the world in search of these tiny creatures, including their thousands of diverse species, from frigid mountain tops to the depths of dark caves.
VERDICT Readers seeking an accessible natural history on an often-misunderstood insect will appreciate Wilson’s modest, conversational tone in this brief look at his lifetime of appreciating nature’s small wonders, whether found in the backyard
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