Raymond Mendez, the "original insect wrangler" who tamed 25,000 roaches, and trained moths to attack on command for the movie "Silence of the Lambs," headlines the Southwest's first Social Insect Science EXPO on Feb. 20 at the Desert Botanical Garden.
Designed for inquiring minds and families, the EXPO brings together some of the top scientists from Arizona State University, their favorite critters and the public. Attendees will be able to peer inside bee colonies and rub elbows-to-antennae with leaf-cutter, harvester and trap-jaw ants. Mendez, founder of Work as Play, which develops exhibits for zoos and museums, will bring his live ant and naked mole-rat colonies to share, in addition to speaking about his work in science, film and television, design and advertising.
"Ray is a creative genius and a naturalist. He combines his artistic vision with a close knowledge of and feel for biology," says Tate Holbrook, EXPO host and ant investigator in the laboratory of ASU Professor Jennifer Fewell. Holbrook and his fellow EXPO hosts Dani Moore, Rebecca Clark, Clint Penick, Rick Overson and Adrian Smith are all doctoral students at ASU. They met Mendez in Portal, Ariz., in connection with the California Academy of Science's Ant Course held at the American Museum of Natural History's Southwestern Research Station, where Mendez also contributes as a research field associate.
The EXPO ant-venture begins at 6 p.m., with Mendez's talk at 7:30 p.m. The events will be held in the garden's Dorrance Auditorium. Entrance to the garden and events are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Seating for the talk is limited and filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The EXPO is being sponsored by ASU's School of Life Sciences in connection with the conference "Social Biomimicry: insect societies and human design" being held on ASU's Tempe campus Feb. 18-20.
"Mendez's eclectic and inventive interests are in perfe
Arizona State University