Our Dr. Eleanor has been very busy these last few weeks. She’s written several new profiles for the Book of Common Ants. She had the brilliant idea to crowdsource a common name for the common ant Forelius pruinosus. AND she published a new research paper about the invasive Argentine ant losing ground to another invasive species, the Asian needle ant. In fact, that work was just featured in today’s Science Times.
We thought it would be fun to follow-up with Dr. Eleanor about this new research:
Based on your Book of Common Ants, we know you like to spend time poking around outdoors and observing ants.
We’re curious about your observations of Asian needle ants and Argentine ants. We read that you saw Asian needle ants “hanging around” the Argentine ant nests that you were studying in an office park complex. What exactly did you see on the ground? Why were you watching Argentine ant nests? What made you think there might be an interesting scientific story there?
I was supposed to be watching Argentine ant foraging patterns and the competition occurring between Argentine ants and native ants; I was helping out Alexei Rowles and John Brightwell, a post-doc and grad student, respectively, in Entomology at NC State. What I ended up mostly doing was following ants around, putting food out to see what they’d eat, poking around inside their nests, you know, the usual things one ends up doing when one is playing around with ants.