Let Me Introduce You to Your Tiny Neighbors

**Today we have a guest post from the one and only, Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice, author of the NEW eBook, Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants.**

As a myrmecologist, I’m always intrigued by people’s reactions to ants. From total disinterest to full-on flailing freakout, many people feel an ant is an ant is an ant.

While the faces of these six-legged picnic ruiners might blend together from our giant’s height, the ants surrounding us are incredibly diverse. More than 20,000 ant species crawl around the earth. In North America, nearly 1,000 […]

By | April 15th, 2013|Books, Feature, Projects, Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

Seeing the Future in the Trees

Over on the EcoIPM blog, Your Wild Life team member, Emily Meineke, has a new blog post describing her research on scale insects, small pest insects that spend most of their lives sucking the juices from willow oaks. Emily, a PhD student working with Steve Frank and Rob Dunn, is the lead author of new research published today in the journal PLOS ONE – their research showed that urban warming causes scale insects living on willow oak to become more abundant in the hot parts of the cities. Check out her post, embedded below:

That man is feeding a starling a banana! (and other tales from NYC)

This is a first in a series of dispatches from our team on-the-ground in New York City. Elsa Youngsteadt and Lea Shell are spending the next two weeks in the Big Apple looking at urban street trees and ants in medians and city parks – they’re assessing damage from Superstorm Sandy and installing equipment and sensors to measure the consequences of the storm on urban arthropods communities and ecosystem processes. They’re live-tweeting their work at @YourWild_Life. ~HM

When people hear that this is my first trip to New York City, there is a […]

Dr. Eleanor is on a roll!

Our Dr. Eleanor has been very busy these last few weeks. She’s written several new profiles for the Book of Common Ants. She had the brilliant idea to crowdsource a common name for the common ant Forelius pruinosus. AND she published a new research paper about the invasive Argentine ant losing ground to another invasive species, the Asian needle ant. In fact, that work was just featured in today’s Science Times.

We thought it would be fun to follow-up with Dr. Eleanor about this new research:

Based on your Book of Common Ants, we know you […]

By | February 26th, 2013|ants, Q & A, Stories of Your Wild Life, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

Scientists seeking mites in their dorm rooms

Amy Savage vacuums up dust mites with a shopvac in a Raleigh apartment.

“If you give me a ride to the museum, can I come vacuum your floors?” Amy Savage inquired as she popped her head into my office. My office-mate, Clint Penick, was shocked when I said,

“Yes, please!”

At this point Clint was thinking that we had some sort of strange ride-for-chores arrangement going on between the two of us… quickly imagining a “you sort through my insect samples, I’ll wash your dishes” scenario. Amy saved Clint from pondering […]

By | February 4th, 2013|Stories of Your Wild Life, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Stories from the Home [Arthropod] Front

I have now finished sorting and identifying critters from 21 of the 50 homes sampled during the Arthropods of Our Homes project. I have seen some extremely interesting specimens, some of which I have never seen out in nature, let alone anticipated finding in homes. Not only did we collect many interesting arthropods, but also some homes have had an extremely diverse fauna – one in particular had over 70 FAMILIES of arthropods in a single common area (including the living room, dining room, hallway, etc.)! Who knows how many species there were? Well, I hope we will […]

Invisible names

Maybe it has something to do with the excessive amounts of matching and memory games I played as a tot. Or why flash cards have always been a go-to study aid (even for remembering the names of students in lab sections I taught in grad school).

I like knowing names. I like using names. Whether it’s a wildflower I spot on a nature walk or a person I bump into at a Science Café. And it kills me when I know a name, but can’t recall it. Or worse yet, when I use the wrong name.

It could also just be a […]

By | January 9th, 2013|News, Reading List, Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments

Holiday Hitchhikers

As our Arthropods of Our Homes team can attest, your home is a wonderland of arthropod biodiversity. Preliminary analysis of the first 50 homes they sampled in the Raleigh area this summer suggest there are on average 100 species of arthropods per home… More on that to come!

Some of the arthropods one may encounter in the home aren’t really specialists of indoor habitats – they most likely hitchhiked on something brought into the house. For example, aphids often ride along on cut flowers.

And ‘tis no different with the live Christmas tree. Our pal, entomologist Steve Frank, gives […]

Fire Ants: A prize-winning graphic novella

A few months ago, our School of Ants team challenged students of myrmecology (translation: the study of ants) to write essays about the coolest things they’ve seen, read or studied about ants. The goal? Inspire the next generation of kids to look more closely at ants, to understand them and appreciate the richness of life around us.

And WOW! We received a huge number of submissions from an impressive bunch of writers, artists, dreamers, ant enthusiasts, and of course scientists!

We’ll be sharing these essays and artwork over the coming […]

By | November 29th, 2012|ants, News, Projects, Stories of Your Wild Life|1 Comment

Scaredy Cats

For the last 100,000 years, big critters have been hunting (and haunting) our human ancestors. Think saber-tooth cats, giant kangaroos and big snakes.

This evolutionary legacy of predation has stuck with us into modern times in the form of anxiety and the fight-or-flight response.

Halloween may have come and gone, yet the fear lingers on. Rob shares his thoughts about why we’re scared:

WBEZ 91.5 Afternoon Shift (October 31, 2012):

Slate: What Are You So Scared Of? (October 15, 2012)

Halloween Horrors in the Front Yard

A spooky guest post, courtesy of Dr. Arthropods-in-Your-Home, Matt Bertone.

Just in time for that horrific (and surprise-filled) time of year, here’s a dracula ant (Amblyoponinae: Stigmatomma pallipes) I found slowly wandering around under a log in my front yard.

These ants are specialist predators on soil arthropods (specifically centipedes) that also sometimes feed on the body fluids (hemolymph) of their own larvae. You read that right…they drink the blood of their babies! This isn’t for evil pleasure, but helps feed the ants (especially queens) when prey is scarce. This type […]

By | October 30th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|1 Comment

Little (Science) Monsters

I saw this tweet this morning about a new research finding, and it made me laugh out loud:

Believe-you-me, it’s not just Duke scientists who dig Lady Gaga (more on the Duke connection to Gaga in a moment).

My friend Becky, a neurobiologist and ornithologist, had Gaga blaring from her Volkswagen’s cd player for TWO WHOLE YEARS during graduate school. She never flipped from CD to the FM. […]

By | October 24th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 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 – […]

Introducing Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants

Meet our friend, Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice. Dr. Eleanor is an entomologist, writer, and gen-u-ine nature nut.

One thing you need to know about Dr. Eleanor: She LOVES ants. This isn’t a recent crush — ants have long held a special place in Eleanor’s heart. Seriously, how else could you explain this little anecdote, here in Dr. Eleanor’s own words?

When I was little, I took my breakfast crumbs out to the front yard to feed the black carpenter ants living in the willow oak trees. I built little piles of bacon […]

The future is the place where the rivers all sound like washing machines

My latest on the Scientific American Guest blog:

Some experiences stick to you even when you try to wash them off. For me, the experience was a field course I taught many years ago in the Dominican Republic. It was a course composed of city-dwelling students from Columbia University. When I met these students, many of whom had never seen an animal larger than a rat in the wild, I felt as though I had entered a foreign realm. I have written elsewhere about the course and the […]

By | July 9th, 2012|Stories of Your Wild Life|0 Comments