About Eleanor Spicer Rice

Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice loves all insects, but is particularly fascinated by ants. She studied the behavior and interactions of two invasive ant species, the Argentine ant and the Asian needle ant, to earn her Ph.D. in Entomology from North Carolina State University. Ever since she was a little girl exploring the swamps and woods around her hometown of Goldsboro, NC, Eleanor has had a boundless curiosity for the natural world. When she’s not turning over logs and or poking at the cob-webby corners of her basement in pursuit of a six-legged critter, Dr. Eleanor is sharing her passion about entomology through her writing. She’s the author of Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants and is the “Roar” in the science-art blog Buzz Hoot Roar. Follow her on Twitter at @verdanteleanor.

The Giant Wild Life of our Giant Backyards

Today we’re serving up an elephant double-feature. Click on over to Buzz Hoot Roar to get your second helping of pachyderms.

Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. After several unsuccessful attempts to rouse every animal and human in my house for company, I stared out the back window into my moonlit yard. There, creeping through the branches of our sycamore tree was a fat, wiry raccoon.

I caught my breath. He was beautiful. His fur silvery in the moonlight, he humped his bandit’s body from limb to trunk to limb, […]

I Am Mouse, Hear Me Roar

When Paul showed up at work with that coffee can full of mice babies, I knew I was perched on the zenith of the best day of my life. Okay, sure, it’s pretty sad that he’d accidentally killed their mother and found the orphaned pups living in his air conditioning unit a day or so later. But we’re talking mouse babies here. White-footed mouse babies at that! In a coffee can nest. I took one look at the heartbreakingly tiny, hungry, pink, blind, creatures with those impossibly teensy handfeet and confiscated the coffee can for my keeping.

I rehydrated them and […]

Big City Social Life

As urbanization spreads and city structures replace many social insect colonies’ natural habitats, these insects still manage to survive—and even thrive. The secret to their success? A fluid colony structure, which guards against big-city dangers. Here’s to social insect longevity!


By | February 25th, 2014|ants, Explainer, Global Change, Urban Ecology, Video|0 Comments

Amy Savage’s Take on Ants in the Big City

New York City: “the City of Ants.” Most of us wouldn’t describe the Big Apple that way. But Amy Savage has news for you.

For the last two years, Amy has crawled through New York City’s nooks and crannies, peering behind garbage cans and between sidewalk cracks, combing through the city parks’ grasses and checking out trees, getting an “ant’s-eye view” of the most peopled city in the United States. She found that right in New York City lies a metropolis of ants, with its own networks and freeways, apartments and giant buildings.

Here, Amy gives us the scoop on the secret […]

By | February 20th, 2014|ants, Urban Ecology, Your Wild Life Team|2 Comments

How to Beat Flooding, Ant-style

With unpredictable weather patterns resulting in monsoon-like storms and as warming seas swell, swallowing shorelines, more and more folks find themselves underwater or sinking fast. We’re not the first animals to find ourselves suddenly living the life aquatic. Unlike us, ants have been dealing with flooding for thousands of years, and they’ve evolved a few behaviors to help them stay high and dry. Here are the top five techniques ants use to keep the water out.

ESR-ant-survival-2-divide-and-conquer-low-res5. Divide and conquer. In Argentinean flood plains, anybody who wants to stick around needs to […]

By | February 19th, 2014|ants, Global Change|0 Comments

How Do Animals in the City Beat the Polar Vortex?

Earlier this week, when the polar vortex’s cold eye was taking a deep look south, I wondered how the city-dwelling animals are holding up. Where are those gray squirrels we see shaking Central Park’s trees on warmer days? Do pigeons have Snuggies?  And what about my ants?  How can something so tiny survive in weather that will freeze a drop of water five times its size in less than five seconds?

When I asked my New York City friends to tell me the top five animals that come to mind when they think of who shares the city with […]

By | January 9th, 2014|ants, Stories of Your Wild Life, Urban Ecology|3 Comments