Mapping the ants of the world

Several years ago, Benoit Guénard decided that he was interested in knowing where one kind of ant could be found. Another ant biologist asked. Benoit didn’t know. The other ant biologist didn’t know. Benoit is not the sort of person to let a question go unresolved. Questions boil in his brain sometimes and this was one of those kinds of questions.

And so Benoit set about to understand where ants of the genus Formica could be found. But the problem was he did not seem to be able to find an answer and so he set out to systematically go […]

By |August 13th, 2014|ants, Explainer, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Behind the Science: Sorting out the murky affair between scale insects, ants, red maples and climate change

This week I followed researcher Elsa Youngsteadt and her undergrad assistant Danielle Schmidt, members of Steve Frank’s lab in the NC State Entomology Department, into the field. When I arrived at their field site, I found each holding a leaf and staring at it so intensely that I first thought they were under some sort of spell. As it turns out, they were focused on counting tiny scale insect nymphs.

Elsa and Danielle are studying how scale insects — a common pest on trees — might benefit from climate change.  Scale insects may do better under climate change simply […]

Wowing Washington with Wild Life!

Last weekend (April 25-27, 2014), we took our wild brand of citizen science on the road to Washington, DC, to participate in the USA Science and Engineering Festival, the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and math in the country.

We enjoyed meeting and engaging 325,000 students, teachers, parents and enthusiastic science enthusiasts in conversations about the biodiversity in their daily lives — from camel crickets in their basements to the ants in their backyards. Drs. Roland Kays and Stephanie Schuttler added some “backbone” to our exhibit by sharing awesome camera trap photos of backyard […]

Your Wild Life Heads to Washington!

This weekend (April 25-27, 2014), hundreds of thousands of students and science enthusiasts will swarm the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the Nation’s Capital for the USA Science & Engineering Festival.

Your Wild Life will join over 700 other exhibitors for 3-days of non-stop science awesomeness that include thousands of hands-on activities and over a hundred different stage shows (including performances by our friend, Science Comedian Brian Malow).

Come find us in the NSF & Friends Pavilion (Exhibit Hall A, Booth 423) – Meet and greet the ants and camel crickets that call your backyard and […]

Fifth Avenue and the Entangled Bank: Fashion in Field Biology

For his 1918 field season, ornithologist Edgar Chance made a gentleman’s bet. Like many scientists before him, Chance was, in fact, a gentleman. His family founded one of the largest glass companies in Britain. The same company that put the glass in Big Ben’s clock and the crystal in London’s Crystal Palace. But Chance was also an avid egg collector, and he bet that in one season he could collect more eggs from a single cuckoo than anyone had before.

The science behind the bet, though, is not what drew me to Chance’s story. I’ll get to that later. What drew […]

By |March 11th, 2014|ants, Urban Ecology, Your Wild Life Team|2 Comments

Amy Savage’s Take on Ants in the Big City

New York City: “the City of Ants.” Most of us wouldn’t describe the Big Apple that way. But Amy Savage has news for you.

For the last two years, Amy has crawled through New York City’s nooks and crannies, peering behind garbage cans and between sidewalk cracks, combing through the city parks’ grasses and checking out trees, getting an “ant’s-eye view” of the most peopled city in the United States. She found that right in New York City lies a metropolis of ants, with its own networks and freeways, apartments and giant buildings.

Here, Amy gives us the scoop on the secret […]

By |February 20th, 2014|ants, Urban Ecology, Your Wild Life Team|2 Comments

It’s HERE!

Today we are pleased to announce the publication of Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of New York City!

In this new FREE eBook, Dr. Eleanor delights readers young and old with tales of the Big Apple ants most commonly encountered by students participating in the School of Ants project. Her stories of the heroes and villains that tiptoe around the city are brought to life in this interactive new book featuring the vibrant photographs of Alex Wild.

NYC_ants_TOC

What are you waiting for? Download Dr. Eleanor’s Book […]

By |February 17th, 2014|ants, Books, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

A Little Love Puzzle

[…]

The Art and Science of Life After Chernobyl

At first glance, the insect paintings by Cornelia Hesse-Honegger look no different than the images in a Peterson field guide. The subjects are set against a white background and copied in exact detail. Stare at them long enough, and something seems off. A rumpled wing, or a misplaced antenna. The insects are not merely damaged, claims the artist, but have been mutated by chronic exposure to radiation. For the last 30 years, Hesse-Honegger has been collecting and documenting insects that live in and around Chernobyl, the site of the world’s largest nuclear disaster.

I have admired Hesse-Honegger’s paintings for […]

By |January 6th, 2014|Explainer, Q & A, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Spricket Sketch

Our citizen scientists are really the best around, hands down. You are such a thoughtful and creative bunch.

We so appreciate the love notes, holiday mix CDs and other special prizes that have accompanied your sample submissions and observations about the biodiversity in your daily life.

Most recently, we were delighted and surprised while reviewing the latest batch of camel cricket observations.

Rather than uploading a photo, visual artist Suzanne Stryk of southwestern Virginia submitted the lovely sketch above.

She reports:

I’ve seen these crickets in our basement since we moved in this house in 1987.  I rather like them, […]

By |December 24th, 2013|Camel Crickets, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Looking ahead to 2014 — We want to hear from YOU!

Time sure flies when we’re having fun, doesn’t it? With 2013 winding down, we think it’s a good time to pause and take stock of where we’ve been this last year.

A few highlights:

  • We’ve sent hundreds, nay thousands (!), of swabs off to Colorado for DNA sequencing to identify the tiny organisms living on the surfaces of homes. Noah Fierer recently shared an exciting update about those analyses:

We’re now […]

Before They Were Scientists: Nyeema Harris

Nyeema Harris first went to Africa when she was a young teenager. She traveled with the Philadelphia Zoo to an animal rehabilitation center in Kenya. While she had extreme enthusiasm for animals, she wasn’t aware of her possible career options; she thought she could only choose between being a zookeeper or a veterinarian. All Nyeema had to go on was her desire to “spend as much time learning about wildlife, viewing them in the wild, and helping to make sure nature places existed for them in the future.” And her willingness to jump in and get her hands dirty.

By |December 16th, 2013|Before They Were Scientists, Education, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: An Introduction

Middle school is a strange time for many (most?!) students – think back and unblock those memories. We’ve all been there. Remember feeling self-conscious to try new things all the while dealing with the surge of hormones taking over your mind, body and T-zone?

In addition to being the time when you were at the peak of personal awkwardness, middle school was quite likely the time when – especially if you are now a scientist or engineer or science teacher or science enthusiast – your interest in science was piqued.

Middle school is an important stepping off point in science education. It’s […]

By |December 16th, 2013|Before They Were Scientists, Education, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

Say hello to my little friend

Today’s installment of Nature in Your Backyard is from our friendly neighborhood spider enthusiast, Christine Brown, a graduate student at NC State.

Look who stopped by to say “Happy Birthday!”

So exclaimed my friend Lauren Nichols as she burst through my office door Monday, holding a small jar with a large spider inside. You probably know Lauren as the School of Ants guru and Your Wild Life’s latest and greatest nature photographer. Monday was her birthday and Nature presented her with an awesome little gift while she sat on a bench outside our building at NC State: the […]

By |November 20th, 2013|Nature in Your Backyard, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

Geeking Out Over Arthropods

This past week, over 3500 scientists who study insects and other arthropods gathered in Austin, Texas, for the Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting. Scientific meetings like this one are important events where scientists share research results, catch up with colleagues, forge collaborations, and learn about new tools and techniques.

Your Wild Life researchers were out IN FORCE at the meeting, talking about our exciting arthropod research in cities and homesClint Penick presented work comparing nutritional differences among ants that live in highly urban habitats like road medians versus wooded areas in parks within New […]

By |November 14th, 2013|Arthropods, Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments