Insecticide and other tales
"Adventures Among Ants"
(University of California Press, $29.95)
The most deadly border war in California kills 30 million a year -- 30 million Argentine ants, that is. The ongoing battle takes place in Escondido, just north of San Diego, and is fought by members of the Lake Hodges Colony and the Very Large Colony. The Very Large Colony covers 1,000 kilometers and contains about a trillion ants that police every centimeter of their territory and have "an almost unlimited capacity for bloodshed." This is just one of many fascinating anecdotes from Smithsonian entomologist Mark W. Moffett's new book, a tour of ant behavior across the United States, Nigeria, Indonesia, Australia and more. The big, glossy volume includes dozens of close-up photographs taken by the author.
-- Rachel Saslow