Category Archives: Insects

Don’t kill the ants in the lounge!

Leave some sugar out and there will be ants. Sugar ants, tramp ants, crazy ants, fire ants, you name it, we do not live in sterile environments and ants find food. If you bring in a plant, you may well … Continue reading

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Houston suffers its second wave of unicolonial ants in 30 years: the crazy rasberry ants have arrived

Today, that song means something else to me, for there are organisms on the planet living this particular dream, or at least one stanza of it: Imagine there’s no country It isn’t hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion, too Imagine all the people Living life in peace The unicolonial ants do this. … This means that mutations that reduce worker expertise will not cause their bearers to fail, so ultimately, unicoloniality is a short-lived strategy that crops up, spreads wildly, and then fails as ants with better workers take over. Continue reading

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Are fire ants killing our Texas birds? Ask Alejandro Calixto and his team!

Besides the project leader, Alejandro Calixto, the team on that day included a local researcher, Gus Fowler, and two assistants based at Texas A & M entomology, my son, Daniel Mueller, and Joe Fihe. … Along with Alejandro (far right) are my son, Dan Mueller, Gus Fowler, and Joe Fihe, left to right. IMG_8655.JPG The coastal prairies, once adorned with Attwater’s prairie chicken leks. IMG_8628.JPGIMG_8643.JPG IMG_8646.JPG Alejandro Calixto, team leader, checking a location with his GPS. IMG_8662.jpgIMG_8666.JPG This illustrates the question. Continue reading

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Hidden Nature 1: the flight of Atta texana, our own fungus-growing ants

It happens in May, and the combination of a full moon, a good rain, and the best month of the year is attended to by all the colonies in an area, so the amorous can find one another. … It is hard to look on the ground for something that happens in the air, but Atta texana mounds about to fly are covered in ants, workers, and the inch-long queens and males. Continue reading

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Christmas bird count on the Katy Prairie – the measure of a day outside

IMG_2176 Dawn over Hebert Reservoir on the Katy Prairie. IMG_2179 We saw thousands of snow geese, and many Canada geese, and long-billed curlews. IMG_2189 Our group counted every bird we saw, writing down species, number, and location using our eyes, binoculars, and a spotting scope. IMG_2200 The reservoir was dry, so all the gar had died. IMG_2231 Bob Honig was our leader, and he wrote everything down and could identify all the birds. IMG_2288 Our group was a lot of fun! IMG_2186 Sometimes we just waited, looking hard, particularly after the wind picked up, sending the birds to cover. IMG_2264 Deciduous yaupon is not common in Houston, but it shines brilliantly on the Katy Prairie. IMG_2233 This is what Bob’s notes looked like, a page for each location. IMG_2249 The lichens were rich in the unpolluted Katy Prairie air. IMG_2268 Something was killing the turtles in the pond and something was dragging them onto the levee.

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