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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Ant Books: Upcoming and Older

Found any good ant books lately?

Coming out in November (2012) is a new ant book from Yale University Press:  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.

The first author, Aaron M. Ellison, is senior research fellow in ecology at Harvard University’s Harvard Forest and also an adjunct research professor of biology and environmental conservation at the University of Massachusetts.

Ellison talks about the “warm ants” project in this video. He also briefly discusses the importance of ants.

If you’d like to learn more, Yale Press has a summary of the book and Harvard Forest has an information page.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press (November 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0300169302
ISBN-13: 978-0300169300

Coming out in paperback this month is Rick P Overson’s May 2011 Arizona State University thesis, Causes and Consequences of Queen-Number Variation in the California Harvester Ant Pogonomyrmex californicus.

Paperback: 118 pages
Publisher: ProQuest, UMI Dissertation Publishing (July 17, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1249043700
ISBN-13: 978-1249043706

(Note:  if you would like a free .pdf copy, google the title for a link).

Wild Bees, Wasps and Ants and Other Stinging Insects by Edward Saunders is an older book that is now available for free on Kindle. It is also available in a variety of formats at Gutenberg.

Do you know of any new ant books coming out or have you found any good older books? I’d love to hear about them.