Exposing Our Belly Buttons in the Name of Public Science

Oh man, you’re thinking, WHAT are those wacky Your Wild Life folks up to NOW? (Sometimes, when we have a sec to pause and catch our breaths, we find ourselves asking that very same question.)

Last week, you read about our first published findings from the Belly Button Biodiversity project. We reported that the 60 belly buttons we studied were a veritable jungle of microbial biodiversity. In those navels we found more than 2300 species; eight of those species – we called them oligarchs – were quite frequent […]

By | November 16th, 2012|Belly Button Biodiversity, Participate, Projects|4 Comments

Putting the SCIENCE back into science fair projects

Every year, millions of children participate in science fairs. There are many values to science fairs, but one of them is the potential for students to do real science and, in doing so, make actual discoveries. We want the baking soda volcano to become a thing of the past.

We know real scientific discoveries are possible. Many examples exist. For instance, it was a science fair student named Sarah who discovered that Sahara dust ends up, some years, in Texas. E. O. Wilson and Merlin Tuttle both discovered new species (of […]

By | November 13th, 2012|Education, Events, Participate, Your Wild Life Team|6 Comments

For the Love of Bugs

35,000+ people ÜBER-EXCITED about insects: That’s our kind of party.

Your Wild Life was thrilled to partake in festivities for Bugfest 2012, the annual entomological extravaganza hosted by the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.

We chatted up visitors passing through the Earth Observation & Biodiversity Lab (on the second floor of the Nature Research Center) about insects they might encounter in their homes, backyards and neighborhoods.

We shared opportunities for young and old, fearless and squeamish, EVERYONE to get involved in doing science with Your Wild Life.

Here’s a highlight reel of the fun times had by all – […]

Amateur Scientists Discover Asian Needle Ant Has Expanded its Range by Thousands of Miles, Unnoticed

I will try to keep this simple. Out among the leaves and rotten logs of North America lives the Asian needle ant (Pachycondyla chinensis). This ant is native to Japan 1. It was first recorded in the U.S. in North Carolina, my state, where it was largely ignored and described as being innocuous. That was a mistake; it was not.

Work by Benoit Guenard, Eleanor Rice and others has revealed this ant to now be among the most common ant species in large parts of North Carolina and South Carolina. […]

By | August 20th, 2012|News, Participate|7 Comments

Citizen Science Rodeo

You may have noticed that we’ve been a little quiet on the blog and Twitters lately. That’s because we spent the better part of the week in Portland, Oregon, for the Conference on Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR for short), held in conjunction with the Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting.

I’ll be writing more in the next couple weeks about the fascinating research I heard about at ESA – neat work on indoor ecology and the bacteria and fungus-amongus, diamondback terrapins crossing the runway at JFK airport, and the consequences of artificial light at night […]

By | August 10th, 2012|Events, Participate, Projects, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

On Location with the Arthropods of Our Homes Team

This morning I had the opportunity to head to “the field” – that’s what we biologist-types say when we leave the comforts of our offices and labs to do research in the wild.

In this case, “the field” was a local Raleigh area home. I accompanied the Arthropods of Our Homes team on what has become their now daily mission to catalog and uncover the diversity of insects and relatives that cohabitate with us.

Armed with headlamps, forceps, collecting vials, aspirators (essentially a soda-straw like contraption for […]

By | June 26th, 2012|Arthropods, News, Participate, Projects|3 Comments

What exoskeletons are hiding in your closet?

Several months ago, Rob Dunn issued a challenge – inspired by his late night observations of a carabid beetle scurrying with prey-in-mandibles across the floor of his basement office. He urged us to find the missing scenes of nature in our midst, to contemplate and observe how the web of life plays out in the spaces bounded by walls, roofs and basements.

So many of you responded to this challenge, uploading images of the wild life in your homes to our Flickr group and submitting reports from the field.

And wow! Our homes are teeming with arthropods of […]

By | June 12th, 2012|Participate, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

Ants: Those ubiquitous little creatures that seem to know exactly where you set-up your picnic blanket

**A guest post by Lauren Nichols about the School of Ants project**

Though you might hear about fungus farming ants and rampaging army ants in the wild jungles of the tropics, they are a far cry from the simple critters living around your house, right?  Think again!

If you’re willing to look, you can find the most amazing ants –with some incredibly ingenious and astounding life strategies – living right in your neighborhood.  In cities and forests along the East Coast we have army […]

By | May 8th, 2012|ants, Participate, Projects, Your Wild Life Team|6 Comments

Cats Do Not Drink Milk (Except When They Do)

Here is the problem. Adult mammals do not drink milk, ever. They can’t digest it. They lack the enzyme, lactase, required to break down the lactose in the milk and so consuming milk causes great quantities of lactose to be left over in the gut, which are either turned to gas by microbes or just exit the colon, unceremoniously. Some adult humans can drink milk because their ancestors evolved one of several versions of genes for digesting milk as adults. Maybe you are a milk drinker, but you are […]

By | May 1st, 2012|Cat Tracker, Participate, Stories of Your Wild Life|7 Comments

A Wild Life Valentine

For some, the sight of a 6, 8, or 1000-legged creature crawling across the floor or  *gasp* the shower curtain evokes panic, sometimes a scream and more often than not, a swift SWAT.

Yet, there are a handful of souls who embrace the rich biota with whom they share their homes: the flies, the spiders, the camel crickets, the millipedes, the lizards, the mice. These keen observers have heard our plea for help and remain diligently on alert in their basements and closets with curious eyes. They dutifully file reports from the field and share their photos via our […]

By | February 13th, 2012|Participate|0 Comments

Biologist finds aliens in his house, admits to it in public and then asks for help

This post is also cross-posted at our friend Alex Wild’s blog, Myrmecos. Check it out to see more stunning photos of camel crickets by Rob’s graduate school office mate Piotr Naskrecki, AKA Piotr the Great.

I have to be quiet so they don’t hear me. This will be short. We know so little. I have said this before. We know so little. We know so little that you can send out a survey and when you get the responses realize you have accidentally discovered that aliens are living all around you.

[styled_image image=” http://www.yourwildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/IMG_8162s.jpg” w=”450″ h=”300″ align=”right” lightbox=”yes” alt=”In Piotr’s […]

NRC 24-Hour Grand Opening April 20-21, 2012

Mark Your Calendars! You are invited to the 24-hour grand opening celebration of the new Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The 80,000-square-foot wing will bring research scientists and their work into the public eye as well as engage and inspire a new generation of young scientists. The Your Wild Life Team will be joining in on the fun during the 24-hour public event, from 5 pm on Friday, April 20, through 5 pm on Saturday, April 21, 2012. See you there!

By | January 25th, 2012|Events, Participate|0 Comments