Gary Skinner began a degree in chemistry but soon decided to swap to biology and obtained a degree in 1972. He then went on to study the wood ant Formica rufa for his PhD. After this he went on to a career in teaching until his retirement in 2008. In the 80s whilst on a trip to Skomer he saw a little book on British buttercups and thought 'I could do one on ants'. That was published in 1987 and its success led him to think about a Naturalists’ Handbook, which came out in 1996. Teaching in a boarding school was very demanding but he managed to fit in some ant observing, especially in the 90s when he undertook survey work in the Northwest of England during a sabbatical term. He has written extensively across the biological sciences and was editor of the magazine Catalyst for 10 years until 2017. In retirement he has continued to write and mark GCSE and A level examinations.