I conduct research in ecology and sociobiology of invertebrates. Ants have been a focus group, and I keep returning to them. A long running project involves chemical defense and communication in red imported fire ants, with an emphasis on examining how queens control workers with pheromones. We are currently expressing venom gland proteins of the queens of this species, and testing their pheromonal and antimicrobial activity in bioassays. The project falls under the broad scope of cooperation and conflict in societies, a theme that I am further exploring by expanding a series of studies on colony foundation, nesting behavior and nest architecture of soil-dwelling ants. These efforts are currently focused on ants of the Llano Estacado and Caprock Escarpment of Texas and New Mexico, and extend into the Rocky Mountains. In the Rockies, I also study social parasitism to address general questions about species interactions. This work involves a subset of a large complex of ants (i.e., Formica spp.) that have been understudied, in part because they are challenging from a taxonomic perspective. As these ants are highly derived, however, they also represent a culmination of social evolution. As a result, their study provide unique insights into why ants have been and continue to be such a dominant taxa of the world.