Snap­shot

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Contents - Kedah, Malaysia

Stun­ning snaps from across the fields of his­tory, na­ture or sci­ence

This is a so­cial wasp be­long­ing to the genus Ropa­lidia, which is com­monly found across south­east Asia. Most in­sects be­long­ing to this genus pro­duce nests by swarm­ing, in a man­ner sim­i­lar to honey­bees – an un­usual be­hav­iour for wasps. How­ever, in this par­tic­u­lar species, a sin­gle mated fe­male starts a nest in much the same way that wasps in the UK do.

“In this photo, the fe­male has con­structed a pa­per nest from wood fi­bres and wa­ter – nat­u­ral pa­pier maché – and in the cells you can see de­vel­op­ing lar­vae. These will turn into adult fe­males that look ex­actly like their mother queen, but in­stead of lay­ing eggs, they will be­come work­ers, ex­pand­ing and de­fend­ing the nest and tend­ing to the eggs and lar­vae,” said en­to­mol­o­gist and BBC pre­sen­ter Adam Hart. “She has re­moved wa­ter from the open nest us­ing her mouth. Wasps, like their rel­a­tives the bees and ants, are scrupu­lous in keep­ing con­di­tions in their nests just right for rear­ing the young.”

Un­like worker wasps in the UK, which re­main more or less ster­ile through­out their lives, Ropa­lidia work­ers have the ca­pac­ity to be­come breed­ing fe­males that can re­place the mother queen if she is lost.

PHOTO: Caters News

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