Science Cafe Tonight: Urban ants clean up the food we drop

Our Research Associate Elsa Youngsteadt will host a Science Cafe tonight titled “Urban Ants and What They Do For You” at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, Nature Research Center. Elsa and many members of the Frank and Dunn labs spent a ton of time and effort collecting data in NY on the effects of Hurricane Sandy on urban arthropods. In this presentation she will discuss this work in relation to how urban ants help clean up all the crumbs that fall from our mouths as we walk, eat, and talk on the phone at the same time. Turns out ants provide a great service by cleaning up food waste in cities. The Science Cafe starts at 7pm so come early for dinner and beers.

Heres a synopsis of Elsa’s talk. Cities are designed for people, not animals. But some creatures, from pavement ants to house sparrows, enjoy the urban lifestyle, too. As cities grow and invest in parks and gardens, we need to know how these features affect our animal neighbors. Does the design of green spaces shape how animals use them—and whether they use them in ways that we find helpful? In this Science Café, NC State entomologist Elsa Youngsteadt will share her research on ants and other insects in New York City. Find out what happens when you drop a bite of hot dog from your food-truck lunch in a park or a traffic island, and see how urban insects fared during the catastrophic flooding of Hurricane Sandy.

This research was funded by an NSF grant #1318655 “Consequences of extreme weather events for urban arthropod communities: Effects of Hurricane Sandy on ecosystem processes and the spread of exotic species in New York City