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  • A wasp is any insect of the narrow-waisted suborder Apocrita of the order Hymenoptera which is neither a bee nor an ant; this excludes the broad-waisted sawflies (Symphyta), which look somewhat like wasps, but are in a separate suborder. 

  • The wasps do not constitute a clade, a complete natural group with a single ancestor.

  • As bees and ants are deeply nested within the wasps, having evolved from wasp ancestors.

  • Wasps that are members of the clade Aculeata can sting their prey.

  • The most commonly known wasps are yellowjackets and hornets.

  • They are eusocial, living together in a nest with an egg-laying queen and non-reproducing workers. 

  • Eusociality is favoured by the unusual haplodiploid system of sex determination in Hymenoptera, as it makes sisters exceptionally closely related to each other. 

  • However, the majority of wasp species are solitary, with each adult female living and breeding independently.

  • Solitary wasps parasitize almost every pest insect, making wasps valuable in horticulture for biological pest control of species such as whitefly in tomatoes and other crops.

Nest building

  • At least one species of wasps have shown an intuitive knowledge of geometry that help construct and correct mistakes while building nests, new research has shown.

  • The yellow paper wasps build nests from paper-like materials made from wood pulp and hardening saliva. 

  • The nests are built by placing hexagonal (six-sided) structures side by side to make a straight structure.

  • The research has found that during the construction process, if a pentagon (five-sided) cell is constructed instead of a hexagon, the wasps will add a heptagon (seven-sided) cell to correct the mistake.

  • Conversely, when a heptagon is added during the construction, the wasps will insert a pentagon.

  • This is done to make sure that the nest, often hanging from walls or trees, is built straight. 

  • If the extra cell is not introduced, the nest will not be stable and end up shaped like a hat or a saddle.

  • These principles have been documented in non-living substances such as graphene or in viral outer coat which is driven by genetics.

  • The fact that these organisms can employ these geometrical rules makes it a behavioural trait. Somewhere, during their evolution, wasps would have learnt to coordinate and rectify the mistake while building the nest.

  • The researchers also noticed that when in close proximity, cells are placed in a particular order so that the angles and the sides of the cells match.

  • However, over long distances, the order is lost and the cells are not symmetrically placed.

  • This study shows the immense computational ability possessed by wasps.

  • They are able to calculate length, angle and use that information to build a geometrical structure.

  • The fact that they are able to measure things and maintain uniformity is an incredible feat for an organism that has a small brain. 



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Wasps UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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