The Ants’ Secret Wars



Garden & Nature

Illlustrated Albums

Cleo Bertelsmeier

Éditions Favre

Language of origin

Infos :

15 X 23.5CM
216 pages
Full color
Soft cover

Sex, Murders and Territorial Invasions

“Sprayed with acid, she turns and looks for her sisters. She does not have much time to live. In a desperate attempt to inflict a serious injury to the soldiers, she exposes her sharp weapon and thrusts it into the enemy’s abdomen to inject poison, among the deadliest on Earth.”

No, this is not a war scene, at least not a war between humans. The author of the book, a young researcher in biology, organizes fights in duel, in arenas of a few dozen centimeters, between seven species of invasive ants harvested in South and North Korea, or the Arizona Desert. Her purpose is to elucidate the war strategies of these fighters without equals, introduced by man all over the world, who are likely to colonize new regions in the future by eliminating many local species on their way.

Simulated death, beheading, bites with the effect of an electrical discharge, acid squirts, suicide bombings, they will do anything to eliminate the opponent.

The key to their fantastic success lies not only in their fascinating war strategies, but in the cooperation between individuals, when altruism makes the death of one of these amazons irrelevant, if it can be useful to her sisters. Perpetuating since the era of dinosaurs, ant colonies have become more complex and have developed into social structures that can be paralleled to the human species. Childminders, garbage collectors, scouts, warriors, builders: they all actively cooperate in the anthill, without any central command. The division of work in multiple activities, where career development is possible but regulated by age and dominance hierarchy, is so elaborate that it translates, in some societies, into the practice of agriculture or livestock farming, which were believed to be human-specific. And yet these ants are not “like us”; in fact, they are much more surprising. Not only in terms of their sexuality, when one finds that males do not have fathers and females may have fathers who died thirty years before their birth; but also on the behavioral level, or the sophistication of their communicational modes.

Cleo Bertelsmeier

Born in Frankfurt in 1987, Cleo Bertelsmeier studied biology at Oxford University and did a Ph. D. on the impact of climate change on ants invasions at the University Paris Sud. She continues her research on ants at the University of Lausanne, and is particularly passionate about the role played by man in the dispersal of ants worldwide. An expert in mathematical modeling of biological processes, she also conducts laboratory ant behavior experiments, focusing on their conflicts, collective strategies and faculty of space exploration and resource exploitation.
Agence Schweiger

Agence Schweiger