The Number of Ants Worldwide Reaches Into the Quadrillions – Rebecca Dzombak – The New York Times

“Right now, ants are scurrying around every continent except Antarctica, doing the hard work of engineering ecosystems. They spread seeds, churn up soil and speed up decomposition. They forage and hunt and get eaten. You may not know how much you rely on them.

“Ants are the movers and shakers of ecosystems,” said Nate Sanders, an ecologist at the University of Michigan. “Knowing anything about them helps us understand how ecosystems are put together and how they work.”

“I would argue most ecosystems would simply collapse without ants,” said Patrick Schultheiss, an ecologist at the University of Hong Kong. As some naturalists worry about an insect apocalypse, scientists are racing to keep track of what’s at stake. But they didn’t know how many ants there are or where they live.”

David Lindsay: This article about estimating ant populations worldwide, reminds me to ask anyone reading this, one of my new research questions.
Edward O Wilson, the famous entomologist, wrote that if we do wipe out 50% of non-human species, as we are on trajectory to do, humans will not survive, because of the complex dependencies of species in ecosystems. I am looking for research on this topic. What research is this conclusion or hypothesis based on?  My email is daljr37at gmail dot com.

Margaret Renkl | Monarch Butterflies Are In Decline. I Wanted to Help. – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — After all my blue false indigo was killed by a late frost, I went down to the garden center at the farmer’s market looking for more. Blue false indigo is a host plant of the clouded sulphur butterfly, and clouded sulphurs are the most reliable guests in my pollinator patch. I would hate to be caught short-handed when they returned in all their yellow glory. There have been so few butterflies lately.

Naturally I had to walk around the rest of the garden center, too, looking for other perennials that feed native pollinators, but the only ones on offer that day were flowers I already have in abundance. When I came upon a few pots of swamp milkweed tucked into a corner, I turned to leave. Milkweed is the host plant of the monarch butterfly, but I have plenty of milkweed.

As I was turning, something striped caught my eye. I looked closer. Monarch caterpillars were munching away on the leaves.

Reader, I screamed.”

A Complete Guide to Tick Identification and Prevention – The New York Times

The Ticks That Can Make You Sick

“Only two types of ticks — blacklegged ticks (sometimes called deer ticks) and Western blacklegged ticks — can transmit Lyme-causing bacteria. But these and other types of ticks can harbor other diseases that can cause illness, so it’s important to know how to identify them if you get bitten.

Here are six of the most common ticks you might come across in the United States, including those that are most likely to bite you, and what they look like in three of their life stages: larva, nymph and adult. For most species, adult female ticks are the most likely to feed on humans, but many nymphs can bite and cause illness too.”