This Ant Colony Simulator Looks Great and You Can Back It

Empires of the Undergrowth: Rise of the Colony is a simulation-style strategy game giving you the possibility to control an ant colony. Finally a good looking ant-based game is being developed and you can back it now on Kickstarter. While the £10,000 goal is reached, you can still pledge in order to help the developers reach their £12000 stretch goal, which will result in an unlockable ant species being included in the game. You can even vote which species you’d like to see as the unlockable species: the dracula ant (Adetomyrma venatrix) or the bullet ant (Paraponera clavata).

Empires of the undergrowth
© Slug Disco Studios – Source

Both a Steam and a DRM free version of the game will available. To me, the game looks rather realistic, so I think it will please me and other ant enthousiasts.

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The Best Ant Documentaries out There

Despite their incredibly interesting behaviour, ants have been the subject of fewer documentaries than they should have. Ocassionally whole episodes are devoted to ants, but most of the time they pop up a few minutes in a documentary about insects. Fortunately there are some awesome documentaries out there completely devoted to ants, and in this post the best three ant documentaries are listed for your convenience. These documentaries have succesfully brought the wonderful world of ants to a broader audience.

Ants – Nature’s Secret Power

Bert Hölldobler, the ant guru himself, takes you into the life of many different species, thereby introducing you to the incredible world of ants. This documentary also includes the famous scene – probably known to many of those interested in ants – of a huge ant nest casted in concrete.

Empire of the Desert Ants

This BBC documentary narrows down the subject by focusing on one species, the wonderful honeypot ant (Myrmecocystus mimicus), which is known for having specialized workers with swollen gasters filled with food. Packed with splendid views inside the ants’ nests, “Empire of the Desert Ants “will not fail to amaze you.

Planet Ant – Life Inside the Colony

BBC’s “Life Inside the Colony” is my personal favorite. It’s about one of the most interesting and beautiful ants, the leafcutter ants. In this documentary, a huge colony of leafcutter ants is transported into a laboratory setup in order to study them. This gives the viewer an insight inside the colony as never seen before. Some other species are featured as well, like fire ants.

Enjoy! If you happen to know more interesting documentaries, please share with us in the comments.

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AntMaps.org Is The World’s First Interactive Ant Map

AntMaps.org is the world’s first interactive ant map and it’s awesome. It shows information about the geographic habitat of around 15,000 ant species. By clicking on a country or region on the map, a pop-up shows you a list of all native species of that country or region. Colors indicate the species-richness of a region (showing 0 native species for Greenland, and around 1,500 native species for Queensland). It’s even possible to select a subfamily or genus to see where they occur. But that’s not all. I would suggest playing with the map to see for yourself what its possibilities are.

The map uses the Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics (GABI) database, a project led by the same two people responsible for AntMaps.org. The GABI database is funded by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology and the University of Hong Kong.

Just like AntWiki.org and AntWeb.org, AntMaps.org is a very useful website for myrmecologists, but also for hobbyists and ant keepers who are interested in ant diversity. Therefore I will add it to the links in the sidebar.

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Finally Got Myself a Copy of The Ants!

I finally got myself a copy of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Ants (1990), written by Hölldobler and Wilson, the myrmecologists who contributed greatly to the knowledge of ant biology. From Google Books:

This landmark work, the distillation of a lifetime of research by the world’s leading myrmecologists, is a thoroughgoing survey of one of the largest and most diverse groups of animals on the planet. Hölldobler and Wilson review in exhaustive detail virtually all topics in the anatomy, physiology, social organization, ecology, and natural history of the ants. In large format, with almost a thousand line drawings, photographs, and paintings, it is one of the most visually rich and all-encompassing views of any group of organisms on earth. It will be welcomed both as an introduction to the subject and as an encyclopedia reference for researchers in entomology, ecology, and sociobiology.

The more than 700 page counting book is aimed at academics, and therefore Hölldobler and Wilson have summarized their most interesting findings in the popularized Journey to the Ants (1994). I recommend to start with that book like I did and to continue with The Ants if you’re still not satisfied afterwards.

Hölldobler and Wilson
My Hölldobler and Wilson collection

The Leafcutter Ants by the same writers is also a great book, full of great photos in color by, among others, one of my favorite ant photographers Alexander Wild.

I also have some Dutch books, which are unfortunately not available in English. For everyone who can read Dutch, Mieren van de Benelux (“Ants of the Benelux”) by Peter Boer is a great book on how to identify North-European ant species, containing photos from AntWeb.

If you can recommend any other must-read books about ants, please leave a comment!

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