Archives for October, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Braconid wasps attacking caterpillar – pumpkin by Lorenzo Rodriguez Urbana, Illinois

Blogging Break

My main blogging computer has gone down again.  So, light posting the next few days. I’m trying to decide whether to fix my 3-year old PC desktop, or just suck it up and drop the money for a new Mac.  Windows Vista- which I’ve been using in the lab- is terrible and I can’t see…

The Inimitable Princess Peppercloud

I could spend hours looking at Princess Peppercloud’s playful, stylistic take on the lives of ants.  Do yourself a big happy favor and pay the princess a visit.

Worldwide Distribution of the Ghost Ant

Jim Wetterer has a paper out in Myrmecological News detailing the global spread of the ghost ant Tapinoma melanocephalum. This diminutive dolichoderine is quite possibly the most widely distributed ant in the world, a hitchhiker on human globalization, thriving in the wake of human-wrought ecological destruction.  Their cosmopolitan dominance reflects our own. Oddly enough, we…

Fruit flies are a family, Tephritidae, containing about 5,000 species of often strikingly colored insects.  As the name implies, these flies are frugivores.  Many, such as the mediterranean fruit fly, are agricultural pests. Drosophila melanogaster, the insect that has been so important in genetic research, is not a true fruit fly.  Drosophila is a member…

Coming Soon: The Super-Organism

Out November 10

Chrysochus auratus – Dogbane Leaf Beetle New York At first glance one might mistake the dogbane leaf beetle for a creature of the tropical jungle, an exotic jewel sought after by the most discerning of collectors.  But no.  It’s a rather common beetle in northeastern North America, where it feeds on plants in the Dogbane…

Dracula Ants at

Adetomyrma sp. “mad-01”, larvae and adults Madagascar With a name like “dracula ant” you’d think these waspy little Adetomyrma might suddenly lunge for your jugular.  But they are shy creatures, drinking not the blood of hapless victims but sparingly from the hemolymph of their own larvae.  It’s an odd behavior, yet one that makes a…

Spider 1, Bird 0

Take that, vertebrate scum! Incidentally, my wife used to have one of these Nephila spiders nesting in the high ceiling of her living room when she was living in Queensland.  I guess she used it to dissuade potential suitors, but somehow I made it through.

Phylogeny of Linepithema

Three years after finishing my Ph.D., I have finally published the last bit of work from my dissertation.  It’s a multi-locus molecular phylogeny of the ant genus Linepithema, a group of mostly obscure Neotropical ants that would be overlooked if they didn’t happen to contain the infamous Argentine Ant.  In less jargony language, what I’ve…