The opportunities to participate in citizen science projects are growing by leaps and bounds. The Network for Citizen Science has a good sampling of the projects, some of which you might find interesting. Projects range from beespotting to banding oystercatchers, and you can devote as little or as much time as you have available.
Of course we had to use the Project Finder on the website to find projects under the keyword “ants.” I found two projects that are both child/family friendly.
The first to come up was a survey of ants around the San Francisco Bay area, sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences. I had already mentioned this one in my post about the Ants at the California Academy of Sciences. This is a great project to take part in if you live in California.
This new project involves gathering samples of ants from urban areas throughout the United States and is open to virtually everyone. To participate you simply need to visit the website and order an ant sampling kit. The kit will contain vials with a cookie bait inside. Place the vials outside as instructed and then after an hour, send back any ants you have captured. The ants will be identified and recorded on a map. The good news is that the project is supposed to be carried out worldwide eventually, although I’m not sure how they are getting the samples through customs.
Looks like some of the members of the group, based at North Carolina State University, have already made some interesting discoveries.
I’d love to hear from you if you decide to participate, and be sure to let me know what you find out.