Nature 30, 407-408 (28 August 1884) | doi:10.1038/030407f0

Carnivorous Wasps

W. CLEMENT LEY

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IN reply to your correspondent “F. N.,” I would say that, while I do not recollect to have seen wasps, under natural conditions and in the open air, attacking flies, I have frequently seen a wasp, when shut up in a room, or supposing himself to be so (for wasps are very stupid in finding their way out of a room), attack and partially devour the common house-fly. I yesterday witnessed an instance of cannibalism on the part of the wasp. One of my drawing-room windows was closed, and on this seven or eight wasps were engaged in a fruitless struggle against the irritating and inexplicable glass, instead of escaping, as they might have done, through the other windows, which were open, One of them, more languid and weary than the rest, was crawling slowly up and down near the corner of the pane. Some minutes afterwards, looking up from my book, I noticed two of the other wasps engaged in furiously attacking this individual. After a few seconds, one of the opponents, perhaps endowed with higher moral susceptibilities than the other, flew away. The other seized upon the thorax of the now moribund wasp, and, after a few moments, began devouring him. I watched the process for a minute or two, and then the cover of a book put an end to the existence of the cannibal and of his prey.