Happy National Cat Day!

Apparently, cat fanciers love celebrating their feline friends with official holidays. A few months ago we were celebrating World Cat Day (August 8, 2014). And now today, just in case you missed the memo, is National Cat Day!

We thought we’d seize this opportunity to update you on our Cat Tracker project.

To date, we’ve had 350 cat-owners sign up their kitties for our GPS tracking study, including owners in nearly every US state!

We’re intensely recruiting cat-owners on Long Island so that we can better understand cat movement and behavior before and after coyotes colonize. Last week, we […]

By |October 29th, 2014|Cat Tracker, Participate|0 Comments

Belly Button Portraits – An Opportunity to Create Art through Science!

We’d like to think that over the course of the last few years, our Belly Button Biodiversity project has inspired quite a few things.

By |October 20th, 2014|Belly Button Biodiversity, Participate, Science Art|0 Comments

Wings of Change

You may have noticed a small white butterfly flittering through your garden, bouncing across your path while on your bike or spiraling around the side of the road. Chances are it was a small cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae). It’s probably the most widespread and abundant butterfly on the planet! Over the last 2,000 years it has spread across the world from its natural range in Europe, Asia and North Africa to every continent except Antarctica. How did it become so successful? Well, in part because it eats many of the foods growing in our gardens – particularly, those found […]

By |September 16th, 2014|Global Change, Nature in Your Backyard, Participate|0 Comments

The Secret Life of Roukus

A Yankee cat or southern kitty? Roukus calls Maine home for 3 months of the year and Florida for 9! Right now in Maine she enjoys trips through the woods and visiting neighbors but doesn’t take too well to the cool sands of Maine’s shores. Will she prefer the warmer beaches of the Sunshine State?

Roukus is just one of 73 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) participants enrolled in Cat Tracker. With your help, we’re trying to uncover the secret lives of indoor-outdoor cats using GPS technology. We welcome DIY participants from anywhere — follow these directions to […]

By |August 12th, 2014|Cat Tracker, Participate|3 Comments

The Secret Life of the American Tortoiseshell

In many ways having cats is similar to raising teenagers. They are the reason that we can’t own nice things (RIP leather couch, house plants and shoelaces). We give them all of our love, and in return they sometimes acknowledge us. They insist on their independence while depending on us for food and shelter.

And like teens, we may think we know what goes on when our cats leave the house, but once we send them into the world they could be up to anything. Cat Tracker — the newest project from Your Wild Life — uses GPS technology to […]

By |May 6th, 2014|Cat Tracker, Participate|1 Comment

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 backyard […]

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 and […]

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

Backyard Bees

**Entomology graduate student April Hamblin will be studying bees in backyards across Raleigh this summer, and she’s looking for folks to volunteer their yards as field sites. Read on to learn about her study and how you can get involved!**

One of my happiest childhood memories is sitting on the back porch at my grandmother’s house, enjoying a fresh slice of watermelon, slopping the seeds down my shirt, watching the birds pick blackberries from the bushes across the street. I didn’t know then that the birds and I relied on pollination for much of our food, but I did know that […]

Looking ahead to 2014 — We want to hear from YOU!

Time sure flies when we’re having fun, doesn’t it? With 2013 winding down, we think it’s a good time to pause and take stock of where we’ve been this last year.

A few highlights:

  • We’ve sent hundreds, nay thousands (!), of swabs off to Colorado for DNA sequencing to identify the tiny organisms living on the surfaces of homes. Noah Fierer recently shared an exciting update about those analyses:

We’re now […]

Introducing Myrmex: A Comic Ant-thology

Science and education are at their core acts of storytelling. Nature tells her story to scientists and scientists in turn share Nature’s stories with the world. Whether it is a tropical biologist trekking through a swamp-filled jungle or an astronomical physicist peering off at a faraway galaxy, scientist-storytellers allow us to feel the thrill of discovery and learn vicariously through their experiences.

page2 copy copyToday we are very excited to launch Myrmex: A Comic Ant-thology. Our team of educators, scientists, and illustrators, set out on this project to achieve one common […]

By |October 7th, 2013|ants, Education, News, Participate, Projects, Your Wild Life Team|3 Comments

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 […]

By |October 1st, 2013|Feature, Nature in Your Backyard, Participate, Projects, Q & A|1 Comment

Citizen Scientists Document the Spread of Giant Cricket, Basement to Basement

05camel cricketIt is an animal the size of a pinky finger. It hops wildly, blindly out of the dark.  And still, somehow, it has moved unstudied basement to basement across North America, the yeti in our midst. It is the Asian Camel Cricket (Diestrammena asynamora).

In previous work with citizens, we very accidentally discovered that this cricket had spread much more than we (or perhaps anyone) suspected. It appears to have spread primarily indoors, though it’s also being found outdoors as it hops away from houses to find, well, we […]

By |September 27th, 2013|Books, Camel Crickets, Participate, Projects|25 Comments

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 ulterior […]

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

Calling All Teachers!

Your Wild Life is excited to announce that we’re bringing our wild brand of science into classrooms! We’re embarking on a new five-year project to improve student outcomes and teacher enthusiasm around the world by creating opportunities for real scientific discovery.

We’ve spent the last three years doing science with the public. We have, in the process, discovered more fun things than we ever would have on our own. We have seen further into the truths of belly buttons, armpits, face mites, backyard ants, and even domestic cats than we ever imagined we might. It […]

By |September 17th, 2013|Education, Participate, Projects|1 Comment

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 […]