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Wasps build charnel houses

Nature volume 511, page 129 (10 July 2014) | Download Citation


A newly described species of wasp protects its nest with the corpses of dead ants.

Michael Staab of the University of Freiburg in Germany and his colleagues placed artificial nests for solitary wasps in the Zhejiang region of China. Of the 829 nests they later collected, 73 had an outer chamber filled with dead ants, as well as several inner chambers containing a paralysed spider for each wasp larva to feed on. This new species (Deuteragenia ossarium sp. nov.) seemed less vulnerable to parasites than wasps using similar but ant-less nests. The authors suggest this 'bone-house wasp' uses the ants as a nest-protection strategy.

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