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My Favorite Actor

I’ve seen some incredible organisms over the years, but one of my favorite critters is the eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos), a stocky snake found throughout the open woods and dry fields of the eastern US.

One reason that the hognose really captures my attention is its elaborate series of anti-predator displays. First they inflate their bodies and hiss loudly. If still annoyed, they may spread the nape of their neck creating a ‘hood’, much like a cobra. At this point they might also gape their mouths widely and make lunging strikes at the attacker. If these fail to deter […]

By |June 30th, 2014|Nature in Your Backyard, Video|1 Comment

The Future of Discovery

In March 2014, Rob spoke at TEDxSantaCruz, explaining how much we don’t know about the species living on us, in us and around us – the life, large and small, inhabiting our belly buttons, our foreheads, our homes, our backyards.

He shared the approach we’re taking at Your Wild Life (and in our new Students Discover education initiative) to harness the power of the public – via citizen science – to make real discoveries about these species with whom we share our daily lives.

To quote his final thought in the talk, “We can see more together than we […]

Big City Social Life

As urbanization spreads and city structures replace many social insect colonies’ natural habitats, these insects still manage to survive—and even thrive. The secret to their success? A fluid colony structure, which guards against big-city dangers. Here’s to social insect longevity!

 

By |February 25th, 2014|ants, Explainer, Global Change, Urban Ecology, Video|0 Comments

How Staying Social Can Save You in Winter

Winter can be deadly for many of our insect friends, yet, rarely for honeybees. How do they survive winter’s perilously cold temperatures? By staying social!

By |January 13th, 2014|Explainer, Global Change, Nature in Your Backyard, Video|1 Comment

Ant Questions Answered!

Over the last couple years, we’ve worked with outstanding K-12 educators on a number of projects, including Belly Button Biodiversity and School of Ants. We enjoy collaborating with teachers on curriculum modules, and then actually visiting students in classrooms when we can. Last week, Lauren Nichols, De Anna Beasley, and Mack Pridgen of Tar Heel Ants joined me on a visit to to the bustling second-grade classroom at the Central Park School for Children in Durham, North Carolina.

Prior to our visit, these curious students submitted some hard-hitting, dare I say philosophical, questions about ants […]

By |September 10th, 2013|ants, Education, Video, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

A Beetle Buffet

On Sunday evening, I was taking a stroll around my Raleigh neighborhood, enjoying the entomological sounds (Katydids! Crickets!) and sights (Fireflies!) of summer.

Along the walk, I noticed an occasional wood roach or two cross my path on the sidewalk. And then I rounded the corner. Oh boy, there were a lot of big roaches milling about. My eyes instinctively followed a few scurrying across the pavement towards a nearby white oak tree. Up the scaly bark, they climbed to an oozing wound on the tree’s trunk — and then my eyes beheld THIS:

When I told […]

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 […]

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

What do planthoppers and armpits have in common?

Did you know that today (May 22) is the International Day for Biological Diversity? To celebrate this holiday, we’re sharing a recent conversation we had with Dr. Julie Urban, our friend, collaborator and assistant director of the Genomics & Microbiology Lab at the Nature Research Center at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Julie studies the diversity of not one, but two of our favorite types of organisms: insects and bacteria!

I sat down with Julie right before she jetted off on a research trip to French Guiana. We chatted about her love for bacteria in […]

By |May 22nd, 2013|Education, Q & A, Video|2 Comments

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.

In January 2013, […]

By |May 17th, 2013|Events, Participate, Projects, Video, Your Mites|8 Comments

So easy everyone can do it: How we’re like cave men and ants

**Today, we have a guest post from graduate student, Emily Meineke — Enjoy!**

There was a time when people weren’t so connected. It was a big deal 500 years ago to cross the Atlantic, much less the Pacific. Nowadays you could be in Japan in less than 24 hours with a martini in your hand.

Recently, there have been a lot of new stories about humans being more connected than ever before, but maybe the coolest I’ve heard—I’m an entomologist, get ready—is that being more connected makes us more like ants. The way that we connect to one another through […]

By |January 25th, 2013|Explainer, Student Features, Video, Your Wild Life Team|3 Comments