A Good Strategy for Wasps

WASPS – Sit and Waitambience: bird songHeres a program from our archives.This season, in northeastern United States, female paper wasps are setting out in search of places to establish their nests and begin raising their offspring. Most wasps will build their nests from scratch, while others may opt for a less neighborly approach. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Starks: We use the word ‘foundress’ to identify the queen. So what happens is in the fall, a colony will produce males and females. The males will fly off and mate with non-relative females. The females will mate, over-winter as inseminated, come out in the spring, and then start to build a nest. They found a nest and we call them foundresses. Phil Starks is a PhD candidate in the department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. Starks: In the spring, these females will come out and they’ll set up a nest; they’ll found a colony. Also, some of the animals will just hang around and not set up a nest and later come in and adopt an abandoned nest or try to usurp a nest from a foundress. What these wasps do is they don’t initiate nests, but they will adopt nests when they’re abandoned. So we call this a sit and wait strategy. These individuals are conserving energy; they’re not building nests. They’re not foraging. When a nest becomes available they’ll go in and found that nest.Often, that abandoned nest contains the previous resident’s offspring, which are still in their larval stage. So the usurper wasp comes in, eats some of the younger larvae, and leaves some of the older larvae to become workers. The workers end up raising the offspring of the usurper wasp.Weve been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast.Im Jim Metzner and this is thePulse of the Planet.

A Good Strategy for Wasps

Usurpers, foundresses, abandoned nests - welcome to the world of the paper wasp.
Air Date:06/11/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

WASPS - Sit and Waitambience: bird songHeres a program from our archives.This season, in northeastern United States, female paper wasps are setting out in search of places to establish their nests and begin raising their offspring. Most wasps will build their nests from scratch, while others may opt for a less neighborly approach. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Starks: We use the word 'foundress' to identify the queen. So what happens is in the fall, a colony will produce males and females. The males will fly off and mate with non-relative females. The females will mate, over-winter as inseminated, come out in the spring, and then start to build a nest. They found a nest and we call them foundresses. Phil Starks is a PhD candidate in the department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. Starks: In the spring, these females will come out and they'll set up a nest; they'll found a colony. Also, some of the animals will just hang around and not set up a nest and later come in and adopt an abandoned nest or try to usurp a nest from a foundress. What these wasps do is they don't initiate nests, but they will adopt nests when they're abandoned. So we call this a sit and wait strategy. These individuals are conserving energy; they're not building nests. They're not foraging. When a nest becomes available they'll go in and found that nest.Often, that abandoned nest contains the previous resident's offspring, which are still in their larval stage. So the usurper wasp comes in, eats some of the younger larvae, and leaves some of the older larvae to become workers. The workers end up raising the offspring of the usurper wasp.Weve been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast.Im Jim Metzner and this is thePulse of the Planet.