Summertime Science

For many of us, summer is the season where we can kick back and take a break – whether it’s on the beach or in the comforts of our own backyards (or, if you live in the swamp we call Raleigh, the air-conditioned bliss of your living room…). The kids are out of school and our gardens, parks and favorite wild places are buzzing with life.

Summer is also a FANTASTIC time for getting yourself, your friends and loved ones involved in doing some SCIENCE!

Over the last couple weeks you may have noticed that posting here on the Your Wild […]

By | July 3rd, 2013|Participate, Projects|0 Comments

Cicada Collection Pro-Tips

Today, the Your Wild Life team took a cicada safari to Greensboro to collect some dead cicadas for the Urban Buzz project. We figured we couldn’t ask you all to do the heavy lift, without contributing a few data points ourselves.

And in the process of collecting, we learned a few things:

  1.  As we noted on our first trip to Greensboro, dead cicadas are pretty easy to come by – We had good luck finding them near the edge of yards, close to curbs, and under “mother-lode” trees where emergence had been particularly intense (as evident by piles of […]
By | June 5th, 2013|Explainer, Participate, Projects, Urban Buzz|2 Comments

Buzzing about cicadas: Launching a new project!

Magicicada septendecim

Over the last few weeks, we’ve watched and envied reports and photos coming from those of you living within the emergence zone of Brood II 17-year periodical cicadas (from Georgia to Connecticut). We even traveled westward to witness the magical Magicicada spp. in action in Greensboro, North Carolina (as our own backyard in Raleigh is too far east of the emergence zone). We encouraged you to report your observations of emergence online to help out other cicada researchers.

And yet, we felt something […]

Going on a Cicada Hunt

Last Thursday, cicada expert Dr. Chris Simon dropped by the Daily Planet Theatre at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to talk about periodical cicadas. She had been working nearby in Greensboro, North Carolina, mapping the distribution of the East Coast Brood of periodical cicadas (Brood II) at its western and southern edges.

As you read earlier in the month and probably gathered by our recent tweets, I’m a bit of a periodical cicada fan. I was so inspired by the images and sound clips Dr. Simon shared that I headed over to Greensboro the very […]

By | May 28th, 2013|Participate, Urban Buzz, Video, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

Time to Meet Your Mites!

May we scrape your face for SCIENCE?

I imagine this is not a question one generally expects to be asked when visiting his or her friendly neighborhood natural history museum.

And yet it’s one we’ve asked on a fairly regular basis during public outreach events over the last few months at the Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

You would be AMAZED (I know I have been) at the number of enthusiastic volunteers who have stepped right up to participate, curious to learn a something about the tiny organisms that call their pores home.

By | May 17th, 2013|Events, Participate, Projects, Video, Your Mites|9 Comments

Carpe Cicada!

As a kid, I never could sleep well on Christmas Eve. The anticipation of Santa’s visit  (and the pile of wrapped presents he would leave behind) always had me so giddy that I could only doze off for a few minutes (or maybe an hour or so) at a time. I’d awake heart racing, eyes popped open wide, and check the clock. 2:23am. 3:42am. 4:15am. 5:08am. The hands of time seemed to click forward so slowly. FINALLY. 6:30a. I roused my siblings and bounded down the steps to […]

The Future of Domestic and Urban Evolution

Man, it totally happens.

Evolution happens everywhere at every moment. It happens in your refrigerator. It happens in your stomach. It is happening right now under your couch and in your eaves. Evolution gave us the marvels of the Galapagos Islands and also, of course, the terror of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Evolution happens independent of belief. It happens; but it happens some places more rapidly than others.

A number of things can speed up the rate of evolution. These include the availability of resources, how sharp and non-random death’s sickle is, and the fragmentation of populations. Make food ample, life hard and isolation […]

By | April 12th, 2013|Events, Homes, Indoor Evolution, Participate|7 Comments

Vote now to give a common ant a common name!

The polls are now open for you to vote on your favorite common name for the common ant, Forelius pruinosus!

Back in February, we made an open call for suggestions – recall, that Dr. Eleanor found it unacceptable that this charismatic, common ant did not have a snazzy common name to go with its big personality.

Readers, museum visitors, tweeps, elementary school students – SO MANY OF YOU – responded with SO MANY great ideas — 185 of them, in fact! We compiled your unique suggestions along with your reasoning […]

By | April 11th, 2013|ants, Events, Participate, Projects|1 Comment

Forelius naming contest update!

Tagul Word cloud in the shape of an ant of all ant name submissions


Wow! When I sat down to compile a complete list of all of our submissions for our ant naming contest, I had no idea how many creative, hilarious and thoughtful suggestions there would be from our citizen scientists! We had so many wonderful submissions from scientists, Darwin Day museum visitors, blog commenters, entire elementary school classrooms and teachers. It has been entirely too much fun to sift through all of the names and reasons for giving Forelius […]

By | February 28th, 2013|ants, Events, News, Participate, Projects|2 Comments

If you give an ant a cookie

**Today we have a guest post from Lauren Nichols about the School of Ants project. Enjoy!**

When you start a large-scale project to map the diversity of ants across the United States, there is a certain amount of uncertainty involved.  Will anyone send us ant samples?  Will we manage to collect ants from across a variety of cities?  Will a sampling scheme as simple as putting out cookie crumbs and collecting whatever shows up for a mid-afternoon snack actually allow us to collect a diversity of ant species?

I must admit, I’m a bit of a skeptic.

Fortunately, immediately after the launch of […]

By | February 21st, 2013|ants, Participate, Projects, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

For real? Forelius pruinosus doesn’t have a common name?

Today, we have a new challenge for you. It’s rather a fun one. If you don’t think so, then you can blame Dr. Eleanor (of the Common Book of Ants fame).

You see, as Dr. Eleanor was writing a new chapter about the ant, Forelius pruinosus, she took note that this very common, dare we say ubiquitous, ant had no common name. It lacked a snazzy moniker to set it apart from all the other common ants with interesting and descriptive names – ants like the big-headed ant, the carpenter ant, or the thief ant.

And while, […]

By | February 15th, 2013|ants, Events, News, Participate, Projects|72 Comments

A love note to our citizen scientists

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share our love and appreciation for YOU, our citizen scientists!

Over the last year:

By | February 13th, 2013|Participate, Projects, Your Wild Life Team|3 Comments

Hitting the science wall

Hey Everybody! Meet Lea Shell, our new Research Assistant, who recently joined the Your Wild Life team. Lea will be taking charge of the Camel Cricket Project, working on School of Ants, and translating the science we do in the lab into science we can do in a classroom. Below is Lea’s first post on the YWL Blog – Please welcome her! ~ Holly

Jinshanling Great Wall (18Aug2011); Image credit: whitecat sg | Flickr

Take a look around you right now. Are you in a room with any windows? […]

By | January 8th, 2013|Participate, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Evolutionary Biology of the Built Environment Working Group: Call for Participants

The Basics: We need your help. We are organizing the first working group aimed at understanding the evolutionary biology of the built environment—our bedrooms, our houses, our backyards and our cities. This working group will occur June 10 – 14, 2013, in Durham, North Carolina. We are now inviting applications for participants in the working group.

Why: As recently as one hundred thousand years ago the indoor environment did not exist. Yet, this is now where most humans spend the majority of their life. One might imagine that in its relatively short history the built environment might have had […]

By | January 8th, 2013|Events, News, Participate|1 Comment

Got Questions for EO Wilson? Ask away!

On Thursday, December 13, the world-renowned biologist (and ant guru), Dr. Edward O. Wilson, will be dropping by our neighborhood here in Raleigh, NC.

At 1pm EST in the Daily Planet Theater in the Nature Research Center at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Dr. Wilson will lead a Global Town Hall about biodiversity. He’ll share stunning photos and stories from his remarkable scientific career to inspire students — the next generation of scientists, explorers, and conservationists – to study, protect, and maintain the biodiversity of our planet.

Not local? […]

By | December 10th, 2012|Events, Participate, Student Features|2 Comments