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Exoskeletons in my freezer

Today's bike commute haiku is:

Bike-powered science
Pedaling my ant samples
...'tis no Sperm Bike, though.

Quaxing by the little park

After I graduated from ASU, on successive trips back to Arizona, I rounded up all of the ant samples from my final experiment and brought them back with me to Texas for further processing. Specifically, I dissected all of the ants, eggs, larvae, and pupae out of the fungus gardens, to count and weigh them. Then I stuck everything back into the lab freezer for a while, because I was busy with other projects and hadn't decided about the next steps (discard, or analyze more specific nutrients?).

My future roommates have declared the freezer in California to be "a lawless, raging arctic chaos full of yetis, wampas and Imperial AT-ATs."

So. It's finally time to dry the samples, four years after the experiment. Unfortunately, my home oven is too warm. Temperatures above ~60 degrees Celsius (~140 degrees F) will trigger the Maillard reaction, converting carbohydrates into those toasty caramelized compounds that make so many foods so delicious and flavorful.

The good news is that it turns out we actually have drying ovens in the lab here. It feels slightly ridiculous to cart in the samples when I have less than a week left of work here, but on the other hand I could still potentially learn a lot from analyzing their protein, carbohydrate, lipid, and fungus content. And who doesn't enjoy bicycling around with a trailer-ful of leafcutter ant carcasses, anyway?



( 2 remarks — Remark )
Nov. 17th, 2015 07:43 pm (UTC)
*imagines Imperial walkers swarmed by myriads of caramel leafcutter ants*
Nov. 17th, 2015 10:11 pm (UTC)
I had thought that people were only interested in eating leafcutter ant queens, which are larger and higher in fat than workers. But apparently that isn't the case after all.

There actually wasn't enough room in the drying oven to dry everything, so the fungus samples are first.
( 2 remarks — Remark )

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