Bumble Beer Science

I’ve always had a hard time taking bumblebees seriously. While wasps dance through the air, and honeybees zoom from one flowering bud to another, bumblebees seem to … well … bumble along. I think they look more like moldy strawberries who found themselves shocked at the capability of flight, rather than an insect which natural selection has carefully sculpted for million of years. However, looks can be deceiving.

When I look at a bumblebee visiting a flower, I see a bee zealously trying to lift off while still hanging onto the flower, angrily vibrating it from the inside. Such behaviors […]

By |August 15th, 2014|Events, Nature in Your Backyard, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Behind the Science: A Meeting of Scientists and their Mites at Evolution 2014

Once a year, thousands of evolutionary biologists, students, and educators from all around the world converge on a single city for the annual Evolution meeting. The Evolution meeting is jointly hosted by three professional scientific societies: the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB), and the American Society of Naturalists (ASN). Scientific meetings like Evolution provide an opportunity for the scientific community to come together to share ideas and research findings — formally through talks and poster presentations and informally at evening socials and in pubs and restaurants, where these scientific ideas […]

By |July 2nd, 2014|Behind the Scenes, Events, Your Mites|0 Comments

Meet Your Muddy Microbes!

Check out this exciting citizen science opportunity coming up at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences on June 5!

Have you ever wondered what gives dirt its distinctive smell? Or what that fuzzy stuff growing in the soil of your houseplant is? Come see (and smell) for yourself in this special opportunity for citizen scientists on Thursday, June 5, from 5-9p at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences!

You’ll get to work alongside Dr. Julie Urban and Dr. Julia Stevens in the Museum’s Instrumentation Lab to grow the microbes from your own backyard.

We’ll be opening the doors to the […]

By |May 28th, 2014|Education, Events, Nature in Your Backyard|0 Comments

Wowing Washington with Wild Life!

Last weekend (April 25-27, 2014), we took our wild brand of citizen science on the road to Washington, DC, to participate in the USA Science and Engineering Festival, the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and math in the country.

We enjoyed meeting and engaging 325,000 students, teachers, parents and enthusiastic science enthusiasts in conversations about the biodiversity in their daily lives — from camel crickets in their basements to the ants in their backyards. Drs. Roland Kays and Stephanie Schuttler added some “backbone” to our exhibit by sharing awesome camera trap photos of […]

Your Wild Life Heads to Washington!

This weekend (April 25-27, 2014), hundreds of thousands of students and science enthusiasts will swarm the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the Nation’s Capital for the USA Science & Engineering Festival.

Your Wild Life will join over 700 other exhibitors for 3-days of non-stop science awesomeness that include thousands of hands-on activities and over a hundred different stage shows (including performances by our friend, Science Comedian Brian Malow).

Come find us in the NSF & Friends Pavilion (Exhibit Hall A, Booth 423) – Meet and greet the ants and camel crickets that call your backyard […]

By |April 23rd, 2014|ants, Camel Crickets, Education, Events, Participate, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Serving Up Beer (and Science!)

Generally speaking, any time we get to leave the confines of our labs and offices to engage the public in the science of their daily lives, we’re pretty stoked.

When that public engagement has something to do with BEER, well, that’s just AWESOME.

So was the case Saturday when Your Wild Life, in partnership with the NC Science Festival and the NC State Brewing Lab, set up shop in the Science of Beer Tent at the World Beer Festival in downtown Raleigh.

We served up samples of three beers, inviting Festival guests to participate in an experimental taste experience, […]

By |April 7th, 2014|Belly Button Biodiversity, Events, Your Wild Life Team|2 Comments

Yeast. Bugs. BEER!

Collaboration – when scientists come together to share knowledge and know-how in order to tackle complicated problems, answer tough questions and develop big new ideas – is one of my favorite parts of the scientific process.

When the outcome of a scientific collaboration is something DELICIOUS, that’s MAGICAL.

Over the last couple months, we’ve been part of a team that includes microbial ecologist Anne Madden (who will join us soon as a new postdoc), Anne’s undergraduate students, and John Sheppard (NC State’s resident beer scientist). Our challenge: find wild yeast, more specifically insect-associated yeast, that could be used to […]

By |April 1st, 2014|Events, Stories of Your Wild Life, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

The Odor of the Odorous House Ant

This past weekend at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences annual BugFest, we convinced a couple hundred people to sniff ants. We started off light, with a bouquet of lemon and citrus from the citronella ant, Lasius claviger. Then we plowed ahead, shoving an angry carpenter ant under the nose of anyone who would take it to demonstrate the acrid, vinegar smell of formic acid. If the participant was still with us, we moved onto our main quarry: the odorous house ant.

First, I have to admit that through this entire exercise I had an […]

By |September 26th, 2013|ants, Events, Participate, Projects|7 Comments

You haven’t forgotten, have you?

Back in February, we issued a call for help. As Dr. Eleanor had keenly observed while researching species for her Book of Common Ants, Forelius pruinosus, a very common North American ant with a big personality, had NO common name. Unacceptable! Especially given that so many other common ants have interesting and descriptive monikers: big-headed ant, carpenter ant, thief ant, and the like.

We solicited your suggestions on our blog and in-person during outreach events at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. And WOW! The suggestions really rolled in — We were so […]

By |July 19th, 2013|ants, Events, Participate, Projects|1 Comment

Countdown to Indoor Evolution Meeting

We’re getting REALLY excited about the upcoming meeting on the Evolution of the Indoor Biome. Thirty scholars representing many disciplines  – from art and anthropology to epidemiology, and entomology — will convene June 10-13 in Durham, NC, at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Their charge: To develop concepts and a suite of preliminary hypotheses to frame our understanding of the evolution of the species we spend the most time alongside in the domestic environment (whether those species be microbes or fungi, arthropods, vertebrates or plants).

Over the last few weeks we’ve tried to pique your interest in the […]

By |June 6th, 2013|Events, Indoor Evolution, Reading List|0 Comments