The Wild Life of Chimpanzee Nests

We share a lot with you, dear readers. Some might say too much (ahem, the plight of our own armpit bacteria, for example). Yet believe it or not, we don’t share quite everything. Sometimes we’re working behind the scenes, out of the public eye, cooking up a new project, developing a nugget of an idea or cultivating a collaboration. Sometimes it takes awhile to get these new things organized, to gather all the ingredients, to slowly bring the collaboration or project to a boil, to get an idea to a stage where it’s ready for public consumption. It may take some time, but rest assured, when it’s ready, [...]

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    Delayed Gratification, Citizen Science and Why You Might Not Have Received an Email about Your Sample Yet

Delayed Gratification, Citizen Science and Why You Might Not Have Received an Email about Your Sample Yet

But, If You Are So Willing, You’ll Receive Emails and Updates for the Next 10 Years. Also, Did I Tell You about the Cats?

I do not have any particular predilection for delayed gratification. I can’t watch YouTube videos because I don’t like not being able to control the pace and see where I am going. I don’t like departmental seminars because almost inevitably one can read the paper faster (and get to the good parts) than one can listen to the talk. Actually, this is too meek of a statement. I actually hate departmental seminars. My wife is patient. My wife can sit by a riverbank and wait for [...]

A Little Love Puzzle

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 goal: to provide students with stories of science – [...]

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 [...]

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

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 aren’t sure. Love? Food? Fulfillment?

We now need your help, [...]

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 motive. The odorous house ant is unquestionably odorous, but [...]

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 has been fun, big fun, ridiculous fun, the kind [...]

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

New Revelations about the Biodiversity of Belly Buttons

*This post first appeared on the Scientific American Guest Blog on September 9, 2013.*

When it comes to science, I have the patience of a rabid fox, trapped in a cage, in front of which a wounded rabbit is standing. My family, the folks in my lab and the need for sleep balance this nascent madness. But sometimes the caged fox of mania escapes; sometimes when everyone else sleeps I can’t resist the run.

Today was one of those days. We saw another glimpse into the life inside belly buttons. Belly buttons are ridiculous and yet the life we study in them is not; it includes both [...]

By |September 9th, 2013|Projects|0 Comments|

Back to Field Work in the Big Apple

Our Urban Ecology team has returned to New York City! Over the last week, Amy Savage and Shelby Anderson have been crisscrossing Manhattan, with aspirators (the small devices we use for sucking up ants) and stepladders in hand, studying the ants living in the medians of Broadway as well as in the adjacent New York City parks.

Amy and Shelby are investigating how the stresses of city-living and Superstorm Sandy affect ants and the breakdown of dead leaves and trash, an important ecological process that happens on the floors of both forests and street medians.

They’ve kindly shared a few photos of their field work-in-action – Enjoy!