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Never underestimate a wasp -- study shows they're smarter than we thought

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posted on May, 8 2019 @ 08:20 PM
Never underestimate a wasp -- new study shows they're smarter than we thought

A New Study out of the University of Michigan found that wasps can use a form of logical reasoning to infer unknown relationships from known relationships, according to a press release.

Essentially this means they can work out that if is X is greater than Y, and Y is greater than Z, X is greater than Z -- an ability that was thought to be a key human trait for thousands of years. Scientists have shown that vertebrate animals such as birds, monkeys and fish also have this ability, known as transitive inference (TI).
Elizabeth Tibbetts, an evolutionary biologist at the University, has found the first evidence of TI in an invertebrate animal -- namely the paper wasp.

A previous study investigated TI in honeybees, which failed the test, with their small nervous system thought to be a possible explanation.

Paper wasps have a similar-sized nervous system to honeybees, and both insects have brains about the same size as a grain of rice.

However paper wasps show more complex social behaviors.

Tibbetts was intrigued to discover whether these behaviors had any bearing on TI, and investigated by training wasps to discriminate between different pairs of colors.

She found the wasps quickly and accurately learned the pairs, and were later able to use what they had learned to organize a hierarchy of colors when confronted with new pairs of colors.

"This study adds to a growing body of evidence that the miniature nervous systems of insects do not limit sophisticated behaviors," Tibbetts said in the release.

"We're not saying that wasps used logical deduction to solve this problem, but they seem to use known relationships to make inferences about unknown relationships."

This means they can build and manipulate an implicit hierarchy, helping them to live in the colony.

"Our findings suggest that the capacity for complex behavior may be shaped by the social environment in which behaviors are beneficial, rather than being strictly limited by brain size," said Tibbetts, who has been researching wasp behavior for 20 years.
"The paper wasps in the study are more flexible than many wasps (or indeed honey bees) in their ability to transition from being workers to queens, so dominance hierarchies are important to these paper wasps as the workers can become the queens, whereas a worker honey bee can never become a queen."

The next step is to study how wasps use TI in social interactions, including figuring out their relative strength without fighting a rival. For example:

" If a wasp saw Jane win a fight with Lisa and that wasp had previously won a fight with Jane, the wasp could infer that she could probably beat Lisa," said Tibbetts, who added that other animals use TI in this way during social interactions.
Tibbetts also showed that paper wasps can recognize variations in facial markings and are more aggressive toward wasps with unfamiliar markings.

Another piece of her research found that the insects use memories of previous social interactions with other wasps to determine their behavior, relying on surprisingly long memories..

The full results of the research are published in the journal Bio logy Letters

Link To News Article: CNN

edit on 5/8/2019 by LtFluffyCakes96 because: Clean up

edit on 5/8/2019 by LtFluffyCakes96 because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 8 2019 @ 08:32 PM
Interesting. But why can I walk by a nest, not even knowing it's there a dozen times without getting stung, then on that one day when I'm not holding my mouth correctly get lit up like a hell bound Christmas tree that's going out of both ends if you know what I mean?


edit on 8-5-2019 by Gumerk because: Clarification

posted on May, 8 2019 @ 08:50 PM
I believe it. I deathly allergic to wasps. I swear yellow jackets have some sort of APB out on me as those lil bastards will not leave me alone.

posted on May, 8 2019 @ 09:08 PM
edit on 8-5-2019 by mekhanics because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 9 2019 @ 12:30 AM
a reply to: LtFluffyCakes96

Nothing more exciting than climbing up the side of a 2 story house and finding wasp nests under the eve yikes!

Whether they have some basic thought process or are just mindless kamikazes--don't feck with them, plain and simple.

Well done on bringing a competent thread to ATS. Very refreshing these days!

posted on May, 9 2019 @ 03:15 AM
Nice! 👍🏻 Thanks for posting.

They're still not smart enough to dodge my jabs or right cross though* 🥊 😉

*Only applies to 3 wasps or less
edit on 9-5-2019 by FinallyAwake because: Needed disclaimer

edit on 9-5-2019 by FinallyAwake because: My thumb can't spell

posted on May, 9 2019 @ 05:53 AM
a reply to: FinallyAwake


posted on May, 9 2019 @ 06:11 AM
a reply to: Gumerk

I've only ever been stung once.... I stepped on the poor thing. Its been my experience that if you leave them alone they leave you alone.
We had a swarm last year when we removed a long dead tree from the back of our property. They were under it.
Even then no one got stung. We all just ran until they calmed down. They did keep returning to the spot but their home was in the chipper.
edit on 592019 by Sillyolme because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 9 2019 @ 06:13 AM
a reply to: LtFluffyCakes96

Possibly smarter then our current team of scientists,who can't think nor reason for themselves,the truth is not in them because they don't get paid for the truth

posted on May, 9 2019 @ 06:13 AM
a reply to: NarcolepticBuddha

They love the underside of my porch roof. Every year we have to knock the nests down.
I love that wasp killer spray that shoots twenty five feet. They fall right out of the sky.

posted on May, 9 2019 @ 09:29 AM
I buy wasp and hornet killer by the case.


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