#kidlit How to Walk an Ant

I’ve had this children’s picture book on my shelf for nearly a year and decided it was finally time to review it. Perhaps it took me that long to figure out what to say. Yes, it is that different.

How To Walk An Ant by Cindy Derby is quirky fiction that features our favorite creatures: ants.

My name is Amariyah,
and I am an Expert Walker.
No, I don’t mean I walk perfect,
I mean I walk things.

If that quote makes you laugh — or at least grin — then continue on. If not, then this book probably isn’t for you.

The main part of the book is a “nine-step guide” to walking an ant. After explaining how to find the ant and gain its trust, she says you must attach the leash.

Tie the smallest  bow in the universe then secure the leash between the ant’s thorax and head.

Things go downhill, or possibly uphill, from there. In fact, the humor can be dark at times and Appendix 1 explains how to carry out an ant funeral. Appendix 2 gives young readers some actual ant facts (although the ant anatomy part will probably make you wince).

Cindy Derby is an artist and her illustrations are wildly creative. You can take a peek inside the book at the publisher’s website.

Overall, How To Walk An Ant is likely to  appeal to budding myrmecologists and artists alike. It will certainly give you a lot to smile about, think about, and discuss after reading. Investigate a copy today!

Related:

 

Grade Level : Preschool – 3
ISBN-10 : 1250162629
ISBN-13 : 978-1250162625
Publisher : Roaring Brook Press (March 26, 2019)

 

Have you seen this book? What did you think of it?

Ant Course 2020 is On!

In addition to the Ants of the Southwest Class, the California Academy of Sciences’ Ant Course is another great way to learn about ants.

This year it is being offered August 3 – 18, 2020 in Cameroon: Bouamir Field station, Dja Reserve. It costs $450 and is limited to 17 students.

Sponsored by California Academy of Sciences, US National Science Foundation, Congo Basin Institute, IITA-Cameroon, the Ant Course is intended to help both professionals and interested amateurs learn about identification, behavior, and ecology of ants. The website has more details.

It isn’t offered every year and the last time was in 2015 (although it looks like there are plans for 2021 and 2022). You can see previous faculty and students by visiting the Ant Course yearbook.

If you’d like to go, you will need to complete the application by April 1, 2020. Look for the “Apply Now” button near the top of the page.

Sounds like an awesome adventure. Let us know if you get to go.

 

 

 

Ants Collecting Feathers: More of the Story Revealed

Back in 2015, we asked why ants collect feathers. We suggested food, moisture, or that feathers are left behind by anting birds.

Photograph by (Bob) Ricardo Solar at Flickr, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Now a recent article in Scientific American has another answer. Brazilian scientist Inácio Gomes, of the Federal University of Viçosa,  suggests Pheidole oxyops surround their nests with feathers to lure other insects to the area, where they fall in. Thus, the decorated ant nests serve as pitfall traps.

Gomes discounted the moisture idea by adding wet cotton balls. The added source of water apparently did not change the ants’ behavior.

This is cool, but since ants also drag the feathers into  the nest, it is likely there is still more to learn.

The original study was published in Ecological Entomology in Feb. 2019.