sexta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2009

Amazing results of fire ants venom

Impressive. The imported fire ant has apparently five times as much venom protein as the other "less severe" Brazilian native species. ...and, I reckon, they are the exactly same proteins!

This ought to have unfathomable implications. Once I confirm this, my papers will speak for themselves. 


sexta-feira, 28 de agosto de 2009

Links to my articles

In case anyone wants to read my papers, I will be adding links to .pdf versions of them. I will try to have this list updated as soon as I get free access links to post.

Larvae of Paratrechina longicornis (crazy) ants:

Larvae of Paratrechina longicornis (crazy) ants (Erratum):

Red-legged spiders causing havoc in artificial ant colonies:

Larvae of Ampulex compressa, a gourgeous cockroach-hunting wasp:

Functional response of the ensign wasp, a predator of cockroach eggs:

Temperature thresholds for rearing cockroaches in the laboratory and related parasites:

Temperature thresholds for rearing a wasp parasite of urban cockroaches:

Larvae of the Brazilian weaver ant Camponotus textor:

Larvae of the house mega-colony-building ant Monomorium floricola:

Venom gland morphology of the Fire Ant Solenopsis saevissima (first in the fire ant line!!):

Larvae of the Argentine ant Linepithema humile

Biological curiosities on the cockroach-zombifying emerald wasp

Last-instar larva of Paratrechina fulva (Cuiabana) ants:

Larval description of the pest ant Monomorium floricola:

Links to articles -- preparations

In case anyone wants to read my papers, I will be adding links to .pdf versions of them. I will try to have this list updated as soon as I get free access links to post. I would appreaciate any comments to my papers here should anyone around have the patience of perusing them.

Using 4shared seems to be the easiest solution for disponibilising articles online. Oh, if every scientist did something like that, science could advance so much faster... 

quarta-feira, 26 de agosto de 2009

Bits of new interesting information

While I type onto this thing, I keep remembering something Stephen J. Gould (Opus 100) said about how scientists feel so excited about having found or predicted something and not having anyone around to tell of it, for nobody else would care. "Oh, overlapping snail populations in this pond? HOW cockingly thrilling INDEED!"

Well anyway, we like the sensation and doing this job is worth it.

Back to my little ants, it seems that venom proteins of the (not very much) different fire ants are not very much different in the end! I will have a closer look into that, as I am being able to extract venom material enough for chromatographic analysis. 

And the inquilines of fire ant nests are apparently also rich in new species of Collembola... More interesting (collembola?? INDEED...) work to be done...

terça-feira, 4 de agosto de 2009

Good, the protein profile of our extracted venom agrees with the pure fire ant venom protein we bought from Vespa Labs. They wouldnt tell me how they extracted the damn thing.

The insect pictured on the last post that looks like a flea actually is a phorid fly; apparently we found a totally new species. Some specimens were sent to England to be analysed and described if so. They seem to be fairly common inside fire ant mounds in Brazil, but are hard to catch.

Today I am going to cut some mounds in half and take a few pictures from the exposed structure; will post some of those later.


sexta-feira, 31 de julho de 2009


Came back from the Sao Paulo Museum of Zoology (MZUSP). After discussing with my fellas there we have concluded that the fire ant inquilines are as interesting as they can be. New species abound and the biological relationships therein are totally unexplored. A few examples of organisms to be found in fire ant mounds are shown below.

segunda-feira, 27 de julho de 2009

Back from the field

Absolutely grand. I am tired to death, but very happy. I came back with much venom to be analysed and lots of fire ants' "guest" arthropods. It became clear to me the more you dig and inspect the mounds, the more interesting things you can find... Flies, anoplurans, beetles, other ants... Of course also the more you are stung. I was stung over a 100 times during the last three days. Were I allergic, I would have been killed many times over. But I feel nothing. Some of the stings develop into ugly pimples, but I get no other side effects. That kindda makes me the man for this job. 

I be back with further results.

quinta-feira, 23 de julho de 2009

Preparations to the field and external links

This will be a long tiresome day. Tonight I leave to the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, after fire ant venom (truckloads of, actually) and many weird insect 'inquilines' that were found there on other past inspections. The trip is bound to yield great results.  And whats best, I can spend merry days with aunt Sandra and among the dust-covered old stuff of my English relatives. Yet getting there will be hell.

I also shall take the opportunity to post here links to some informal publications of my work.,,MUL1037079-5603,00-VESPA+QUE+TRANSFORMA+BARATA+EM+ZUMBI+FAZ+PLANEJAMENTO+FAMILIAR+DIZ+ESTUDO.html

quarta-feira, 22 de julho de 2009

More finds... and hopefully some pictures

OK, I do not know if the insect models I decided to study are particularly loaded with interesting things waiting to be unraveled or if there's a bit of a third eye in me that enables me to see new stuff.

After much thinking, discussion and fiddling with the bloody fire ants I have found some ways of making them deliver their venom. The picture shows me using a capillary tube to collect exuding venom from an excised gaster. It goes on stinging automatically, dripping with pure precious venom. Not as simple as I would like it to be, but effective enough. Sometimes I wonder about the harmful nature of the substances I have been playing with. Yet, I am not awfully eager to try and inject myself with crude venom to see the outcome. I am positive of great agony and possibly death within minutes. Creepy, but thats how science goes.

The other day I bumped into a fire ant nest just in front of my lab, and was surprised to find it was severely infested with the social parasite Solenopsis daguerrei. There's much to be done with this rather rare species, now its just 'hands on'. Bingo. The same nest contained inquiline beetles and even Pagaeus bugs -- both new to science. This illustrates to my dear entomologist reader that his next groundbreking article is very likely very near to him, just waiting to be seen. And not on the work of others or inside his email inbox.


segunda-feira, 8 de junho de 2009

Nothing much happening... as always.

Ive been in the field Saturday collecting additional specimens of a new species of termite belonging to a new genus. Unbelievable how our megadiversity in Brazil is mainly untouched by our scietists. They probably spend too much time checking emails and posting in blogs.

I will try to talk our specilialist and collaborator into describing that thing asap... "Too many in the line" she said. Ive got no pictures of the animals to post here... yet. Maybe later.

quinta-feira, 4 de junho de 2009

Great, but next time Ill be able to  upload the pic WITH my post, hopefully. Newbie newbie...

Isnt it cute? I wonder how I can insert watermarks on this image before some of my fraudster friends snatch them for mischievous ends... Photoshop will probably help.

OK Lets really get this thing going.

Alright, I must stop being such a slug and start posting some stuff as often as I can.

Right now I am working at break-neck speed on describing the larvae of my long-date friend, the wicked ensign wasp. What a great animal to work with, and nobody even cares. The larvae are the easiest ones I ever laid hands on; no special remarks, no intricate structures, no variation between specimens (theres actually not much to vary), no hairs, nothing much. And yet, so interesting-looking. I will try to post some picture of them.

See you tomorrow...


domingo, 1 de fevereiro de 2009