The School of Ants project is a citizen-scientist driven study of the ants that live in urban areas, particularly around homes and schools. Collection kits are available to anyone interested in participating. Teachers, students, parents, kids, junior-scientists, senior citizens and enthusiasts of all stripes are involved in collecting ants in schoolyards and backyards using a standardized protocol so that we can make detailed maps of the wildlife that lives just outside our doorsteps. The maps that we create with these data are telling us quite a lot about native and introduced ants in cities, not just here in North Carolina, but across the United States and, as this project grows, about the ants of the world!
Follow the link above to find out how you can participate and help inspire your students to become the next E.O. Wilson!
Earlier today, I heard a wonderful NPR story by Robert Krulwich that provides a more extended and experimental discussion of bee swarming behavior that I blogged on a few weeks ago.
His story is called “Nature’s Secret: Why Honey Bees are Better Politicians than Humans.” It’s only 7 minutes in length and really provides interesting insight on this beehavior.
An Animal Behavior Challenge!
Earlier this week, Jim, a previous neighbor of mine, called to inform me of an interesting “natural event” that was taking place in a shrub next to his driveway.
Here is a video of that event up close. He had been out performing yard work in the past days and was sure that these bees had shown up over a short period of time.
I an effort to find out what exactly was happening and what he could do, Jim called his mother, who called her neighbor (who happened to be a master gardener), who then contacted Jarrett Mullenbruch (pictured below) who happens to be a sculpter with an interest in ecology, and who is currently working on an installation that integrates live bees.
Once Jarrett arrived, he proceeded to talk to us about his Deep Ecology Project and then collected the bees for his installation. To view a pdf slideshow of the images that I took, click on the image above. You can view a collection of videos documenting the collection of the bees below.
Thanks for letting me in on the experience Jarrett and Jim!
Now for the Behavioral Challenge…
- How many bees would you estimate are in this swarm?
- Can you explain why the bees are engaged in this behavior in the first place?
- Why is a bee hanging around the container full of bees in the third video?
I imagine that students could generate numerous questions that would stimulate quality discussions of this interesting animal behavior…
Providing some interesting links to resources or websites that could help students uncover the details of this natural event would be welcome as well.
While surfing around for ways to modify and expand my freshman classification project (i.e. insect collection), I happened upon the Lost Ladybug Project. The introductory paragraph at the site sums up their inspiration for the project:
Over the past twenty years several native ladybug species that were once very common have become extremely rare (see details on the nine spotted ladybug pictured left and the two spotted too). During this same time several species of ladybugs from other places have greatly increased both their numbers and range. Besides being incredibly cool and charismatic ladybugs are also essential predators in both farms and forests that keep us from being overrun with pests (like aphids and mealybugs). In many areas the native ladybugs are being replaced by exotic ones. This has happened very quickly and we don’t know how this shift happened, what impact it will have (e.g. will the exotic species be able to control pests as well as our familiar native ones always have) and how we can prevent more native species from becoming so rare.
Continue reading “Lost Ladybugs Project – Cornell Entomology”