Digital Media Center
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Gate 61
920 Paul Bryant Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0370
(800) 654-4262

© 2023 Alabama Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WAPR is operating at limited power. Thank you for your patience while we look into the issue.

Alabama’s “ant scholar” E.O. Wilson Dies

The city of Mobile is mourning the loss of one of its favorite sons. Scientist E.O. Wilson died Sunday of undisclosed causes at the age of 92.

The graduate of the University of Alabama specialized in ants. He also was considered one of the world’s leading experts on the tiny insects.

Environmental journalist Ben Raines said he took the scientist on boat trips on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

“I ended up getting to take him quite a few times,” Raines said. “He believes he found a new species of ant on one of our trips. It was fun to see. He was in his early eighties.”

Wilson’s work earned him a reputation as a modern day Charles Darwin. He was credited with founding “myrmecology,” which is the scientific study of ants. Wilson also wrote two books that won Pulitzer Prizes.

Raines said the boat trips through the Mobile-Tensaw Delta were almost like a masters’ class in natural history.

“But, he was still spry—he could get around. And he was like a kid running through the swamps," Raines said. "He was so excited about everything we saw. He was calling out the Latin names of all sorts of things. People think he only knows ants.

Wilson was named one of the 25 most influential personalities in America by Time magazine. He won the National Medal of Science, and his portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. Wilson traveled the world researching ants. He discovered they communicate with smells and can walk underwater.

You can listen to Lynn Oldshue's feature on Wilson, and how a Mobile area artists created a mural in his honor on a downtown building, by clicking below.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
Related Content
  • An APR News FeatureWhen artists create a painting or sculpture to honor someone, the subject is often someone who’s famous. That may not be the case with…
  • E.O. Wilson's Advice for Future Scientists
    In his new book, Letters to a Young Scientist, biologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson aims to inspire a new generation of scientists. Among his observations and advice: Geniuses don't make the best scientists, and don't worry if you aren't good at math.
  • Biologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson has written a new book that is longlisted for the National Book Award.
News from Alabama Public Radio is a public service in association with the University of Alabama. We depend on your help to keep our programming on the air and online. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.