The Ant Collective

A non-fiction book about the Red Wood Ant (Formica rufa). It has 128 fully illustrated pages and measures 25,5 x 35 cm. I originally designed and illustrated the book for my master’s thesis in informative illustration. This is a refined version of it. The book illustrates the anatomy of the Red Wood Ant and the formation and organisation of a monogynous (single-queen) nest. The german edition with the title “Das Ameisenkollektiv – Entstehung und Organisation eines Waldameisenvolkes” was published by KOSMOS in 2020.


The book has 8 chapters. Each is divided in several parts. All chapters lead to the subsequent chapters and create a linear narrative structure: The first chapter introduces the topic and illustrates the anatomy of Wood Ants. It also shows the feeding of male and queen ants before swarming. The second chapter begins with the swarming and nuptial flight. It ends with the ant nests formation and the beginning construction of the ant hill. In the third chapter the nest is complete. Its architecture and changes during the seasons are explained.
The following chapters illustrate the most important aspects of ant nests: The foraging behavior, ant predators, visual and olfactory orientation, recruiting behavior, exploitation of food sources, the symbiotic relationship with lachnids, food distribution, the development of the brood, the division of labor and defensive behavior.

Example pages

The book is illustrated in a realistic and a schematic style. Each is devoted to visualize a specific aspect of ants.
Ants live in a very close relationship with the environment. The realistic illustrations show ants in interaction with the forest and other animals. They use branches and needles to construct their nest, react to certain lighting conditions, live in a symbiotic relationship with lachnids and react to animal attacks.
Another aspects are the social life and internal anatomy of ants. Both are closely related. The schematic illustrations visualize the internal organs and their functions, and the complex group behavior and self-organization in different situations.