Students Discover: Ant Health Watch

**This is a guest post from postdoctoral researcher, Dr. DeAnna Beasley. Her research is NSF-funded by our Students Discover grant which partners scientists with educators to co-create citizen science projects and middle school lesson plans. The products of these partnerships can be found at StudentsDiscover.org.**

This past summer I worked with middle school teachers in the Kenan Fellows Program and undergraduate students from Shaw University and North Carolina State University at the beautiful North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Our goal was to develop a citizen science project that would engage middle school students in the classroom […]

By | September 21st, 2015|ants, Education|0 Comments

The Arthropods of San Francisco (and beyond)

What’s that crawling under your bed… sitting in your light fixture… lurking in your cabinets? Perhaps it’s a new insect species! The Arthropods of Our Homes project has expanded beyond Raleigh — to San Francisco, and from there all seven continents will be sampled for the common arthropods in homes. Watch the video to see more about the arthropods found in San Francisco homes as well as some familiar faces (Matt Bertone and Michelle Trautwein).

“Other than a few pest species, we know very little. There’s still a lot to discover… You don’t have to be an […]

Dr. Eleanor Dishes about Ants!

Looking for a new podcast to listen to while waiting for the next season of Serial? Check out Under The Microscope — available for free on iTunes — where you can even hear a friendly voice, Dr. Eleanor Spicer-Rice, discuss ants with Daniel Hill and Clint Bergeron.

Under the Microscope

Ants, with Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice — Episode 3 

Released Feb 01, 2015

Join us as we chat with Senior Science Editor Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice (who literally wrote the book on ants!) about an invasive ant species with a powerful sting that could be making a destructive path to […]

By | March 18th, 2015|ants, Audio, Q & A|0 Comments

ICYMI: Holiday Break Edition

Happy New Year! Classes are back in swing today here at NC State and we’re slowly but surely digging ourselves out from under the pile of emails that accumulated over the winter break.

A few exciting research developments and stories emerged while we were on our holiday hiatus, and we thought we should dedicate our first post in 2015 to catching you up those items you may have missed:

Meet the Cleanup Crew

Last week, you heard A LOT about the important role arthropods (particularly ants) play in removing food waste from the street medians and parks of New York City. Lead author of this new research study, Elsa Youngsteadt, even appeared on Science Friday to discuss the key findings.

We thought you might be interested in learning a little more about the ants who are doing the heavy lift on the food removal front. So this is a friendly little reminder that you can learn fun facts and natural history stories about the most common ants of Manhattan in a fabulous, […]

By | December 11th, 2014|ants, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Ants vs. Rats in NYC

Last year I got to take my first trip to New York City and spent most of my time in the medians of Broadway setting up field experiments with Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt and Dr. Amy Savage. Fast forward to this week when the paper resulting from their research is published:

Youngsteadt, E., Henderson, R. C., Savage, A. M., Ernst, A. F., Dunn, R. R. and Frank, S. D. (2014), Habitat and species identity, not diversity, predict the extent of refuse consumption by urban arthropods. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12791

Over at the EcoIPM blog, Elsa gives you […]

By | December 3rd, 2014|ants, News, Reading List, Urban Ecology, Video|0 Comments

Glowing Ants

Just in time for Halloween, MJ Epps and I have created glowing ants. Like mad scientists, we locked ourselves in our office last week with only the faint glow of a black light escaping under our door. With petri dishes scattered across our desks and our fingers stained with fluorescent dye, we finally ended up with a colony of ants that glowed.

Why glowing ants? We have been trying to figure out what ants eat. What seems like a simple question can be surprisingly difficult to answer for an animal the size of a grain of rice. For a large animal […]

By | October 31st, 2014|ants, Behind the Scenes|2 Comments

BioBlitz at the New York Botanical Gardens

How many plant, mammal or invertebrate species live in the New York Botanical Garden? While it seems like there should be a straightforward answer – it is a well-known, carefully maintained and studied garden, after all – the truth is, nobody really knows. Along with the plants and animals that are deliberately planted, maintained and tracked, there are a slew of other organisms, including other plants, insects, fungi, mammals and microbes that might take up residence without being noticed, even in such a well-visited garden.

To try to tackle this question, more than 400 Macaulay Honors College students and […]

By | October 13th, 2014|ants, Behind the Scenes, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Behind the Science: Ants and Ecologists on Broadway

When contemplating all the picky eaters of the world, I bet ants probably aren’t the first organisms that come to your mind. And yet ants and their food preferences are exactly what post-doctoral researchers Amy Savage and Clint Penick set out to study in New York City. Next time you’re in a big city like New York, take a break from looking up at the skyscrapers and look down at the ground. You’ll see what city ants encounter on a daily basis — an abundance of human food scraps: bits of hot dogs, chunks of pizza crust, candy […]

By | October 1st, 2014|ants, Behind the Scenes, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Ant Picnic in Pennsylvania

**This is a guest post written by NC State undergraduate, Ryan Pileski. Ryan collaborated with Lea Shell to adapt the Ant Picnic lesson plan, an investigation of ant diet, nutrition and diversity, for implementation at a summer camp serving students with social disorders. Their goal was to modify the lesson plan to allow success for students with attention issues and social concerns in a summer camp scenario.**

Students attending Summit Camp in Pennsylvania participated in Ant Picnic over a two week period this summer. The campers, ages 10-21, come from all over the United States and have a […]

By | September 29th, 2014|ants, Education|1 Comment

Humans vs. Ants

This past weekend was BugFest at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. The Your Wild Life team was on-location, chatting with visitors about our various arthropod-themed citizen science projects, including School of Ants, Camel Cricket Census and Meet Your Mites. As a special treat, Dr. Amy Savage led a version of the Ant Picnic experiment in the rain garden of the Nature Research Center.

In addition to showing off live insects and mites, we couldn’t resist asking festival attendees about their experiences with ants and how ant […]

By | September 23rd, 2014|ants, Events, Video|0 Comments

NC State University Found to be the Most Bio-Diverse College Campus in North America

Several years ago, we started paying more attention in our lab to what was going on biologically near at hand. This transition would eventually lead us into backyards, then houses, then colons, but it stared with North Carolina State University’s campus.

The campus is at what was once the western edge of the city of Raleigh, a city whose location was chosen by its originators as a function of its nearness to a bar. And yet despite this idiosyncratic origin, Raleigh has proven to be an auspicious ecological locale for a city and a campus, at least […]

By | September 8th, 2014|ants, Global Change, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Junior Scientists Take on Invasive Ants in New York City

Two junior researchers, Stephen Coyle (a rising college sophomore, top) and Kevin Catalan (a high school student, bottom), have been hard at work at Fordham University in New York City looking at how different colonies of invasive ants have been affected by Superstorm Sandy. I sat down with them virtually to discuss their exciting research in the lab of our collaborator, Dr. Sergios-Orestis Kolokotronis.

Kevin, I’ll start with you. Maybe you can tell me a little bit about yourself and what is it that you do?

Kevin: I’m a student at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.  I’m a rising […]

By | August 26th, 2014|ants, Q & A, Student Features, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Behind the Science: Painting ants and cracking acorns

Stepping into the lab last week, you would have no idea that the summer — for our undergraduates, at least — is winding to an end and that the academic school year is about to start. Last Tuesday I found Joe Karlik and Hanna Moxley, both rising seniors, busy running research trials and starting new experiments in the lab.

Joe Karlik has been trying to figure out why Temnothorax curvispinosus (also known as acorn ants) often stick their larvae and pupae, known as “brood,” to the roof of the acorns nuts in which they live. Why hang […]

By | August 19th, 2014|ants, Behind the Scenes, Student Features|0 Comments

Mapping the ants of the world

Several years ago, Benoit Guénard decided that he was interested in knowing where one kind of ant could be found. Another ant biologist asked. Benoit didn’t know. The other ant biologist didn’t know. Benoit is not the sort of person to let a question go unresolved. Questions boil in his brain sometimes and this was one of those kinds of questions.

And so Benoit set about to understand where ants of the genus Formica could be found. But the problem was he did not seem to be able to find an answer and so he set out to systematically go […]

By | August 13th, 2014|ants, Explainer, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments