The Hidden World of Ants

Slideshow May 6, 2010

Mark Moffett travels around the world taking stunning close-up photographs that capture the fascinating lives of ants.

In his new book, Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions, explorer, biologist, and photographer Mark W. Moffett chronicles his journey around the globe—from Argentina to the Amazon—to the homes of some of nature’s most industrious insects. In the slides shown here, 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. Adventures among Ants will be published May 25, by University of California Press. For more information, visit ucpress.edu.


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Argentine Ant

Argentine ants, shown here in Argentina, move continuously between nests within a colony, a fluid lifestyle that constantly mixes the population.

Credit: Mark W. Moffett/Minden Pictures


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African Army Ant

The knife-blade mandibles of these trail guards of the driver ant Dorylus nigricans in Ghana can slice through vertebrate flesh.

Credit: Mark W. Moffett/Minden Pictures


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Carpenter Ant

This carpenter ant in Borneo nests in the curling base of the pitcher of a carnivorous pitcher plant—an example of a plant species that provides food and housing for a specialized defensive squads of ants.  In this case, the carpenter ant turns out to be the world’s only free-diving ant species:  the workers swim in the pool of liquid within the pitcher and remove the prey that the plant captures that are too large for the plant to digest.

Credit: Mark W. Moffett/Minden Pictures


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Harvester Ant

The hardworking ant described by King Solomon was likely a solitary-foraging seed harvester ant such as this Messor barbarus from the Kerman region of Iran.

Credit: Mark W. Moffett/Minden Pictures


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Leafcutter Ant

A leafcutter ant, Acromyrmex octospinosus, slicing a leaf in Guadeloupe.

Credit: Mark W. Moffett/Minden Pictures


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Maurader Ant

A scanning electron micrograph of the marauder ant Pheidologeton diversus depicting the normal behavior of a minor worker riding on the head of a major. There’s a 500-fold difference in body weight between these two workers.

Credit: Mark W. Moffett/Minden Pictures


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Amazon Ant

Amazon ants returning to their home nest at the conclusion of a slave raid near Lake Tahoe, California. One of their grave slaves aids them by carrying a pupa.

Credit: Mark W. Moffett/Minden Pictures


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Weaver Ant

Weaver ant workers in peninsular Malaysia pulling together the foliage that will form their nest.

Credit: Mark W. Moffett/Minden Pictures


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Adventures among Ants

Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions will be published May 25, by University of California Press. For more information, visit ucpress.edu.

Look out for Adventures among Ants in Seed’s June book picks.


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