(7 July 2017) Paper wasps are eusocial, which is the highest level of organization of animal sociality. But don’t get too impressed, because it’s not nice and dandy all the way! Keep reading….
These wasps gather fibers from dead wood and plant stems, which they mix with saliva, to construct water-resistant nests, like this one outside the chapel of Hilltop.
The eggs of the Queen (bent antennas) are fertilized by a single male (shorter, straight antennas). However, within each colony, there are an average of two Queens, leading to enough genetic diversity, which helps defend against disease. Inbreeding is avoided because males do not reproduce in their native colony, but find a Queen nextdoor.
The Queen lays the eggs in the bottoms of the cells. When the larvae hatch they are fed with chewed up caterpillars collected by the female workers. And the boys? Female paper wasps stuff the males headfirst into empty cells of the nest, trying to keep them from poaching food meant for female larvae. After imprisoning a male, the female worker typically keeps him pent up for up to 6 minutes, by pushing on his defenseless abdomen and threatening to sting; the boys can’t sting.
When the larvae are fully grown, the workers close up the cells with a cap of papery material (see photo). The larvae turn into pupae and some time later new adult wasps emerge. As the weather cools the colony produces male wasps, to mate with the Queens (of nextdoors colony). Those females that survive the colder months begin new colonies in spring.
The stinger of the female wasp is also her sex organ. Male wasps do not sting.
The human society is not that bad, really….
1/100, f/6.3, 53 mm lense. Nothing special.