ASU Social Insect Expo

Despite the rain, the ASU Social Insect Expo held at the Desert Botanical Garden was the place to be last night. The room was packed with people of all ages interested in learning more about ants, honey bees and other insects.


The exhibits included some metallic casts of ant nests. This is a fire ant mound.  The casts are produced by pouring liquid aluminum or zinc into actual nests, and then after the metal hardens, digging them out. My husband and I think these would make great sculptures.


Live colonies of numerous species of ants were on display. Although I had no control over the lighting and shot through Plexiglas in some cases, I was able to get some okay photographs. These are two castes of the big-headed ant, Pheidole rhea. I’ll be using some of the others (honey pot ants, leafcutters, and acorn ants) in upcoming posts.

Along with a honey bee demo hive, were exhibits of worker honey bees trained using Pavlov’s conditioning techniques.

Something I hadn’t seen before were videos of live insects under Synchrotron x-ray imaging. Very cool tool!

Overall, it was a lot of fun and good information. Given the obvious success of this event, hopefully there will be more Social Insect Expos in the future.

See more about the x-ray imaging at:

Argonne, University scientists reveal insect respiratory function with X-rays

Mark W. Westneat, Oliver Betz, Richard W. Blob,  Kamel Fezzaa, W. James Cooper, Wah-Keat Lee. Tracheal Respiration in Insects Visualized with Synchrotron X-ray Imaging. Science 24 January 2003: Vol. 299. no. 5606, pp. 558 – 560.

Mark W. Westneat, John J. Socha, and Wah-Keat Lee. (2008). Advances in Biological Structure, Function, and Physiology Using Synchrotron X-Ray Imaging. Annual Review of Physiology. Vol. 70: 119-142.

ASU Social Insect Expo

If you are going to be in Arizona this month, and youfils_expo_poster_thumbnail are interested in social insects, plan a trip to the Social Insect Expo at the Desert Botanical Garden on February 20, 2010. According to the program, there will be live colonies of leafcutter ants, honey bees, harvester ants, trap-jaw ants, and more. The expo will also feature a presentation by Ray Mendez, who has worked with insects in movies and design. The event begins 6 p.m., with a talk at 7:30 p.m. The admission is free and the public is invited.

This is the concluding event for the Social Biomimicry: Insect Societies and Human Design conference, which is being held February 18-20, 2010 at the Arizona State University Memorial Union, Tempe Campus. Unfortunately, registration is already closed for the conference.

With Mark Moffett coming in March and this Social Insect Expo in February, Arizona is abuzz with awesome events. Hope to see you there!

Blog Was Down, Comments Lost

If you tried to get on any of my blogs yesterday, you probably noticed that they were not available. Our hosting server had a major crash. I lost a couple of posts and some comments. If you left comments on late Monday or Tuesday, they are gone, sorry.

I’ll be doing some restoration work today and hopefully everything will be running smoothly again soon.