Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wasps Carrying Ants Away From Food

What's a wasp to do when ants are ruining its picnic? Pick the little pests up and airdrop them out of the way, according to a new study.

That's the strategy of the common yellow jacket wasp when competing with ants for food, researchers report today (March 29) in the Journal of the Royal Society Biology Letters.

The wasp, also known as Vespula vulgaris, is native to the Northern Hemisphere, but has invaded temperate areas in the Southern Hemisphere, including New Zealand, where the drag-and-drop behavior was observed.

This is the first time wasps have been seen physically relocating ants in an attempt to compete for food, said study author Julien Grangier, a postdoctoral fellow at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. The unexpected flight, which leaves ants confused but usually unharmed, also reveals the invasive wasps' cleverness, Grangier said. Read more.

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