Thursday, January 12, 2006


I met a friend from Madison for lunch today, and we spoke about wasps. He studies them - he spends hours in an arboretum in Madison watching them go about their business. While I vaguely knew that wasps were social creatures (feeding the young is a collective job, for e.g.), I didn't know much else. Until today. By way of explaining his dissertation project, my friend went regaled me with many a wonderful wasp tale.

The one I found most interesting concerns reproduction. Apparently, wasps in Madison flutter their wings to create a vibration around the nest, which in turn influences the wasps in their larval state. Vibrations influence some hormonal changes, which then have an impact on the way the larva develops into a wasp. This is his hypothesis, by the way.

And what do wasps in other parts of the world do? Well, there is wasp colony at the Indian Institute of Science here in Bangalore. Wasps here bang their heads against the nest which also results in vibrations (of a different frequency). Fascinating, no?


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