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The Value of Art to Science—A story of rotting bodies, belly buttons and the music of symbiosis

In The Man Who Touched His Own Heart I tell the story of the artist Leonardo da Vinci’s discoveries inside bodies. Among the most astonishing of his efforts came late one afternoon in 1508 when…

“a Vinci was at the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence, a church hospital. He was not a doctor, but he already knew more about the human body than almost anyone else who had ever lived. He was talking with a very old man, a centenarian. The man, who is known to history simply as il vecchio, the old one, was kind and garrulous. He had lived […]

By |June 4th, 2015|Belly Button Biodiversity, Books, Hearts, Science Art, Video|3 Comments

The Arthropods of San Francisco (and beyond)

What’s that crawling under your bed… sitting in your light fixture… lurking in your cabinets? Perhaps it’s a new insect species! The Arthropods of Our Homes project has expanded beyond Raleigh — to San Francisco, and from there all seven continents will be sampled for the common arthropods in homes. Watch the video to see more about the arthropods found in San Francisco homes as well as some familiar faces (Matt Bertone and Michelle Trautwein).

“Other than a few pest species, we know very little. There’s still a lot to discover… You don’t have to be an […]

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Our Bodies Are a Habitat

Thanks to PBS Digital Studios and YouTuber Coma Niddy we can now add face mites to the list of subjects featured in a science parody music video!

“You might not think you have mites. But you do! So face it, our bodies are a habitat!”

Head on over to Coma Niddy’s original post to read more about his experience meeting his face mites!

By |February 16th, 2015|Education, Video, Your Mites|0 Comments
  • Kelsie

Engaging Students with eMammal

Check out this new video featuring Students Discover Kenan Fellow, Kelsie Armentrout, sharing her experiences about engaging students in science with eMammal camera traps! Inspired by her experience with the North Carolina Environmental Education program, she has continued to implement wildlife-based lessons in her classroom with eMammal. To find out more about becoming a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator, visit their website or watch the video below:

Video courtesy of North Carolina Environmental Education Certificate Program from North Carolina State Parks on Vimeo.

And if you’re a […]

By |December 9th, 2014|Education, Video|0 Comments
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Ants vs. Rats in NYC

Last year I got to take my first trip to New York City and spent most of my time in the medians of Broadway setting up field experiments with Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt and Dr. Amy Savage. Fast forward to this week when the paper resulting from their research is published:

Youngsteadt, E., Henderson, R. C., Savage, A. M., Ernst, A. F., Dunn, R. R. and Frank, S. D. (2014), Habitat and species identity, not diversity, predict the extent of refuse consumption by urban arthropods. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12791

Over at the EcoIPM blog, Elsa gives you […]

By |December 3rd, 2014|ants, News, Reading List, Urban Ecology, Video|0 Comments
  • SD Teachers and Mentors

Apply to be a 2015-2016 Kenan Fellow

The application process for the 2015-2016 cohort of Kenan Fellows is now open!

Watch this video to see what being a part of the Students Discover project meant to our first cohort of scientists and teacher-scientists. Learn how the Students Discover project directly relates to what you can do in your classroom and meet some of the scientists you’d be working with!

By |November 24th, 2014|Education, Jobs, Video|0 Comments
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June Beetle Boogie

Because I’m an Entomology graduate student, meeting people is often like this:

Me: Hi, my name is Emily.
New friend:
Hi Emily, what do you do?
Me: I study insects.
New friend: OMG, that’s so cool. So, I have these ____ on my _____  . Do you know what they are?**

(**I just realized doctors probably have similar conversations, but the blanks are filled with stuff I can’t fathom.)

These interactions usually leave me feeling like an imposter, because there are too many insects in the world, too many in our backyards even, to know them all. Plus, observation is the step of science I’m not […]

By |October 27th, 2014|Nature in Your Backyard, Urban Ecology, Video|1 Comment
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Humans vs. Ants

This past weekend was BugFest at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. The Your Wild Life team was on-location, chatting with visitors about our various arthropod-themed citizen science projects, including School of Ants, Camel Cricket Census and Meet Your Mites. As a special treat, Dr. Amy Savage led a version of the Ant Picnic experiment in the rain garden of the Nature Research Center.

In addition to showing off live insects and mites, we couldn’t resist asking festival attendees about their experiences with ants and how ant […]

By |September 23rd, 2014|ants, Events, Video|0 Comments
  • eastern hognose snake

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 a […]

By |June 30th, 2014|Nature in Your Backyard, Video|1 Comment
  • Rob at TEDx

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 can […]

  • UrbanizationStill

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
  • Staying Social_670

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!

  • Girl looking at ant with magnifying glass at science fair

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 and […]

By |September 10th, 2013|ants, Education, Video, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment
  • Photo credit: Holly Menninger

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

  • Magicicada septendecim

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 very […]