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.