Home > Papers from 2017 > The homing of social wasps

The homing of social wasps

As I have mentioned previously on here, we don’t get many wasp papers. However, here is one such paper. It shows that social wasps develop a strong visual familiarity with their surroundings. These surroundings are visually dense, and so this suggests a rich visual memory.

Abstract: We captured foragers of the tropical social wasp Ropalidia marginata from their nests and displaced them at different distances and directions. Wasps displaced within their probable foraging grounds returned to their nests on the day of release although they oriented randomly upon release; however, wasps fed before release returned sooner, displaying nest-ward orientation. When displaced to places far from their nests, thus expected to be unfamiliar, only a third returned on the day of release showing nest-ward orientation; others oriented randomly and either returned on subsequent days or never. When contained within mosquito- net tents since eclosion and later released to places close to their nests (but unfamiliar), even fed wasps oriented randomly, and only older wasps returned, taking longer time. Thus, contrary to insects inhabiting less-featured landscapes, R. marginata foragers appear to have thorough familiarity with their foraging grounds that enables them to orient and home efficiently after passive displacement. Their initial orientation is, however, determined by an interaction of the information acquired from surrounding landscape and their physiological motivation. With age, they develop skills to home from unfamiliar places. Homing behaviour in insects appears to be in influenced by evolutionarily conserved mechanisms and the landscape in which they have evolved.

Mandal, S., Brahma, A., & Gadagkar, R. (2017). Homing in a tropical social wasp: role of spatial familiarity, motivation and age. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 1-13.

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Categories: Papers from 2017
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