Arthropod Photo Shoot… in Belize!

Lauren Nichols recently attended the BugShot Insect Photography Course in Belize this past September and came home with some spectacular photographs (and stories).  She was shooting photos of arthropods non-stop over the course of a week – even, as you’ll read below, at the airport! Expect to see more of Lauren’s work featured on the blog in coming days, joining that of our other photographer superstars, Alex Wild and Matt Bertone.

How many insects can you find and photograph in a median strip outside the Belizean airport in 20 minutes?

This was the spur-of-the-moment challenge I issued myself when I unexpectedly discovered I had a half hour to [...]

Are there bark beetles in your backyard?

This past week we reconnected with Jiri Hulcr, resident Forest Entomologist at the University of Florida (and Dunn lab alum) who has just recently launched Backyard Bark Beetles – a new citizen science project that you can participate in now!  

The Backyard Bark Beetles project initially underwent some trials in Florida and Missouri over the summer and is now ready to roll-out to the rest of the country! The concept is familiar (if you’ve participated in the School of Ants); the citizen scientist creates a low-cost insect trap out of household materials, collects insects, registers a log-in ID, mails in insects and [...]

Meet the Worker Bees: Mack Pridgen of Tar Heel Ants

Our lab has a wonderful habit of keeping people around that like to keep their noses down… and we mean this in a good way! Usually the noses in question are pointed squarely at the ground, trying to get a closer look at what may be crawling about.

Mack Pridgen holds one of his ant nests.Mack Pridgen’s curiosity of ants started young; and when his daughter was two years old she was intrigued by them as well. It’s hard to miss the telltale signs of a curious toddler: knelt down, stick in hand, poking at the dirt. This behavior is the kind [...]

Meet the Worker Bees: Q & A with Mary Vincent

Our lab has been buzzing with research activity this summer. We thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of the worker bees — undergraduates, high school interns, and research technicians — to ask them some questions and learn more about their work.

Name: Mary Vincent Undergraduate Mary Vincent sorts ants collected from the field for placement into the Phytotron, Dunn Lab, NCSU

Degree: Major in Zoology, Minor in Environmental Sciences

Year in School: Junior

Career Goal: Graduate School, M.S. Genetics

How long have you been working in our lab? 5 months, since March 2013

Describe your project/research: I am working for ant [...]

How Many Ants Live in New York City?

by Rob Dunn

Every so often for the last ten years, one of my collaborators, students or I could be seen standing in a median on Broadway, bending over, looking at ants. We looked at the ants, and the people of New York, as is the custom, tried hard to avoid looking at us.  Every so often someone, perhaps an immigrant new to the city and unfamiliar with the rules about eye contact, would give in to temptation and ask, “What are you doing?” We would usually say, “studying ants,” though I will confess that sometimes it was just easier [...]

Meet the Worker Bees: Q & A with Shelby Anderson

Our lab has been buzzing with research activity this summer. We thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of the worker bees — undergraduates, high school interns, and research technicians — to ask them some questions and learn more about their work.

Name: Shelby Anderson Shelby Anderson at microscope

Degree: International Relations and French

Year in school: Post-Baccalaureate

Career goal: Physician

How long have you been working in our lab? 7 months

Describe your project/research: I am currently sorting and identifying arthropods that were collected in New York City, from the medians of Broadway to Central Park. We are currently trying [...]

Nature in Your Backyard: Five-lined skinks!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the nature that we observe in our basements, backyards, and neighborhoods.

It started with a poem from Anna Zuiker, a local middle school student, who so kindly let us share her poem about the ecology of her backyard on the blog.

Then a couple weeks ago I posted a short video that I shot while strolling my neighborhood one evening: a beetle (and cockroach) feeding frenzy at an oozing oak tree!

And yesterday, my colleague Jenny Weston in the NC State College of Engineering emailed me a fun series of photos her fiancé took in their backyard garden.

Jenny is on the NCSU Turtle Rescue [...]

#KidsDoScience reprise

School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be thinking about next year’s science fair project.

Today, Adam Hochberg reported on the new science of science fairs, a topic we feel pretty passionate about.  Have a listen — you’ll hear a familiar voice or two in his piece ;)

You may recall that last November, we convened a group of scientists, educators and Twitterati to brainstorm a list of project ideas and experiments where kids had the potential to make real scientific discoveries.

Rather than asking students to demonstrate something we already know (ie, baking soda + vinegar = [...]

The secret (and ancient) lives of houseplants

Today we have a guest post by Laura Jane Martin, a participant in the upcoming meeting on indoor evolution at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in June. Laura is a writer and PhD candidate at Cornell University, where she researches the ecology and conservation of wetland plants. Follow her new blog:

My local coffee shop is populated with potted plants. The four closest to my favorite table are Zanzibar gem, bamboo palm, jade, and pothos – species from eastern Africa, Madagascar, South Africa, and China.

People have grown plants in pots for centuries, but it’s only recently that houseplants proliferated. The story of how plants moved [...]

Let Me Introduce You to Your Tiny Neighbors

**Today we have a guest post from the one and only, Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice, author of the NEW eBook, Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants.**

As a myrmecologist, I’m always intrigued by people’s reactions to ants. From total disinterest to full-on flailing freakout, many people feel an ant is an ant is an ant.

While the faces of these six-legged picnic ruiners might blend together from our giant’s height, the ants surrounding us are incredibly diverse. More than 20,000 ant species crawl around the earth. In North America, nearly 1,000 species creep between blades of grass in our back [...]