The Giant Wild Life of our Giant Backyards

Today we’re serving up an elephant double-feature. Click on over to Buzz Hoot Roar to get your second helping of pachyderms.

Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. After several unsuccessful attempts to rouse every animal and human in my house for company, I stared out the back window into my moonlit yard. There, creeping through the branches of our sycamore tree was a fat, wiry raccoon.

I caught my breath. He was beautiful. His fur silvery in the moonlight, [...]

Collaboration Yields Another Wasp Yeast Beer!

Wish you had the opportunity to taste a beer made from a unique wild yeast? A yeast so wild that it lives in a venomous wasp? A yeast so unique that it has never been used in commercial beer production? Well, thanks to a partnership between Your Wild Life and Gizmo Brew Works, you will soon have this opportunity!

On July 5, Gizmo will release a limited edition of their Palisade Wasp IPA – appropriately nicknamed “Wild Wasp” – as it was brewed with a strain of wild [...]

Yeast. Bugs. BEER!

Collaboration – when scientists come together to share knowledge and know-how in order to tackle complicated problems, answer tough questions and develop big new ideas – is one of my favorite parts of the scientific process.

When the outcome of a scientific collaboration is something DELICIOUS, that’s MAGICAL.

Over the last couple months, we’ve been part of a team that includes microbial ecologist Anne Madden (who will join us soon as a new postdoc), Anne’s undergraduate students, and John Sheppard (NC State’s resident beer scientist). Our challenge: find wild [...]

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    Fruit Flies Use Alcohol to Self-Medicate, but Feel Bad about it Afterwards

Fruit Flies Use Alcohol to Self-Medicate, but Feel Bad about it Afterwards

What If God Were a Maggot?

**Today, we’re reposting a story Rob wrote in late 2012, in praise of the decomposers that clean up our world, recycling waste back into life.

 As an added bonus, we’ve asked insect photographer and Your Wild Life contributor, Matt Bertone, to share photos of some of his favorite arthropods that take on the decomposer role in our daily lives, often times inside our homes. Click the photos below to expand.*

What If God Were a Maggot?

Brother of the blowfly… no one gets to heaven without going through you first.” –Yusef [...]
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    A Sip for the Ancestors: The True Story of Civilization’s Stumbling Debt to Beer and Fungus

A Sip for the Ancestors: The True Story of Civilization’s Stumbling Debt to Beer and Fungus

In preparation for the debut of our collaborative wasp yeast beer at the World Beer Festival in Raleigh on April 5, 2014, I’ve decided to revive the Science Miniseries: The Big Story of Alcohol, Civilization and a Little Fungus that I wrote  in 2012. A couple weeks ago, I set the stage with “He is a wise man who invented beer.” Below, I continue with Chapter One.

Solomon Katz is an anthropologist. He worked for years to understand humans. It is an endeavor that can inspire [...]

Lewis Thomas and the Ants of New York City

Lewis Thomas was a doctor who wrote articles so beautiful everyone forgot he was anything but a writer. Joyce Carol Oates used Thomas’s writing in her classes as general examples of the craft. Thomas was the kind of writer who left paragraphs that, on their own, might, with any luck, last centuries. They have already lasted decades. Here, for example, is one of which I am fond…

A gallery in New York exhibited a collection of 2 million live army ants, on loan from Central America, in a one-colony [...]

He is a wise man who invented beer

It has been a fun set of weeks in the lab. Two weeks ago I discovered ants from our lab had made their way to the space station.  Last week, we started to go through insect samples from chimpanzee nests (They are amazing! More on this soon.). Then this week, I tasted our beer.

The beer in question – one that we helped make – is delicious. It is also the result of a kind of symphony of science, a collaboration with Anne Madden (who will join us [...]

Coming Soon…

**NOTE 2/17/2014: Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of New York City is now LIVE — Download your copy of the interactive eBook or pdf today!**

Dr. Eleanor has set her sights on the ants of the Big Apple. Coming soon to Your Wild Life…

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Join our mailing list so we can notify you as soon as Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of New York City goes live and is ready to download.

Why your local fungus farmer might not be your friend

My fiancé Joe and I planted a mushroom garden last year, which is to say, we drilled hundreds of holes in logs, hammered spore plugs in the holes, and waited. I can’t speak for Joe, but I visited the logs every morning, excited for them to sprout. Sometimes I daydreamed about pastas and salads. But after four months, when it should have been producing mushrooms for weeks, our garden was a barren, woody wastelands, and we gave up (queue Charlie Brown theme song).

Lots of people grow mushrooms. All [...]