A Field Guide to the Ants of New England

Guess what came in the mail this week – my copy of A Field Guide to the Ants of New England by Aaron M. Ellison, Nicholas J. Gotelli Ph.D., Elizabeth J. Farnsworth, and Gary D. Alpert Ph.D.

Pardon while I gush about this book. If you are interested in ants, this book is a must have, pretty much no matter where you reside. People from outside of New England are likely to find at least a few ants in the book that also occur in their area. In the endpapers are drawings of the ant body parts that are univerally used to identify ants. The book also covers general information about collecting and has a chapter on ” Ant Basics:  Evolution, Ecology and Behavior.”

In addition to drawings and photographs of the ants themselves, the authors have included maps and photographs of the habitat where the ants are found. These are also helpful for narrowing down possibilities for identification.

I was pleased to see that the authors have come up with common names for every species of ant they list. Let’s face it, although common names can add confusion when there are multiple animals called the same common name, or when an organism has a dozen common names, it is much easier to converse with the interested layperson or children if you have a common name to use. Most of the common names in the guide are based on the scientific name. That said, a couple of the names are a bit of a stretch. “The Somewhat Hairy Fuzzy Ant” does not just roll off the tongue.

Speaking of names, I learned a new word looking through the extensive bibliography – “fewmet.” I will be looking up the reference, but will continue to use the entomologist’s standby, “frass,” instead.

A Field Guide to the Ants of New England is dedicated “To everyone who wants to learn more about the ants who share our planet.” I think the authors have met their goal.

Have you gotten your copy yet? What do you think?

NEAnts website

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2 Replies to “A Field Guide to the Ants of New England”

  1. I agree, including about the English names. Some are, as you say, a stretch, and others, in my opinion, are not merely not very catchy, but also not very good translations.

    This said, and way more important, this is a ground-breaking book that one hopes will lead to other regional guides like it.

  2. You are definitely right about the importance of regional guides. Although you can do a lot with the Internet, nothing beats a good field guide.

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