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This deserves a special post:

International Rock Flipping Day is coming up in a few weeks. September 11, 2011 to be exact.

What is International Rock Flipping Day? It is a blog carnival to celebrate all those critters that live under rocks, as well as the naturalist spirit that drives you to look a little deeper.

How do you participate?

Basically you go outside and look under a rock or two. Record what you see by drawing, painting, taking photographs or recording in your nature journal. (If you live where there might be poisonous creatures under there, like scorpions or snakes, you might want to use gloves and/or a bar to flip the rocks.)

When you are done, carefully return the rock to its original position.

Then blog about what you found. out.

I will have more information about more information about where to send your posts as the date approaches. I believe Wanderin' Weeta will be hosting.

Edit:  Yes, Wanderin' Weeta is hosting and you can get the full scoop now.

My School of Ants kit came in the mail today and I realized I hadn't told you about it yet.

This citizen-science project involves gathering samples of ants from near homes or schoolyards throughout the United States.

To participate you simply need to visit the website School of Ants, sign up, and order an ant sampling kit (the kits are free). Everyone is welcome to give it a try.

The kit will contain three types of vials. The blue-capped vials (they come with cookie bait) are to sample in a yard or other green space. The red-capped vials are for sampling a sidewalk location. If you have any other ants or even other insects, that you would like identified, send them along in the orange-capped vial.

You will need to leave the baited vials on the ground for one hour, open to let the ants crawl in. Then you cap the samples and place the ones with ants in the freezer for at least an hour (I recommend overnight).

You will need to purchase an envelope and postage to mail the samples back, so there will be some cost to you.

The ants you send in will be identified and recorded on a map. It's that simple!

I would love to hear from you if you decide to participate. Let me know what you find.

And if you'd like to find more citizen science projects, try the Citizen Science Network. There is a project finder feature that let's you search by keyword and whether it is family-friendly.

The big news was announced today at Arizona State University:  the Top 10 New Species for 2011.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that scientists discover new species all the time. Some of these newly discovered creatures are pretty large, which makes you wonder how they got overlooked. Take, for example, the huge monitor lizard!

Of course, we are most interested in the spiders and insects on the list.

Right on time for the Spiders in Space project, one of the top 10 is an orb weaving spider with a giant web. Sometimes the webs go across entire streams! How does the spider even do that?

In this video, you can watch one that has caught a dragonfly.

When botanists wanted to know what kind of creature pollinated a rare orchid, they set up a camera to watch. Imagine their surprise when a cricket showed up! Not only was this the first example of a cricket pollinating a plant, the cricket was a new species.

Check out the cricket pollinating the orchid in this video.

The final insect is a jumping cockroach, with back legs enlarged like a cricket's.

Go ahead and investigate the rest of the list on your own. When you are done exploring, come on back and let us know which organism you think is the coolest!