Some wasps have evolved to recognize and remember faces

A team of researchers at Cornell University recently published a new paper titled "Evolutionary dynamics of recent selection on cognitive abilities." But that's a mouthful that kind of buries the lede, which is the fact that Northern paper wasps are apparently much smarter than we had previously realized. From the abstract (emphasis added):

Cognitive abilities can vary dramatically among species. […] Here, we investigate recent selection related to cognition in the paper wasp Polistes fuscatus—a wasp that has uniquely evolved visual individual recognition abilities. We generate high quality de novo genome assemblies and population genomic resources for multiple species of paper wasps and use a population genomic framework to interrogate the probable mode and tempo of cognitive evolution. Recent, strong, hard selective sweeps in P. fuscatus contain loci annotated with functions in long-term memory formation, mushroom body development, and visual processing, traits which have recently evolved in association with individual recognition. […] These data provide unprecedented insight into some of the processes by which cognition evolves.

On the surface, this might sound terrifying. But according to the researchers, these wasps have only thus far evolved to recognize each other, rather than That Human Kid Who Keeps Coming Back And Messing With Their Nest. As Michael Sheehan, professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell, and senior author on the paper, told Phys.org, "The really surprising conclusion here is that the most intense selection pressures in the recent history of these wasps has not been dealing with climate, catching food or parasites but getting better at dealing with each other. Read the rest

Wasp nest fills car

Used car for sale! Only 10,000 careful owners: "You need to call yourself an exterminator, dude."

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8-ft wasp nest found in barn

Phillips Pest Control out of Alabama reports that this is the largest yellowjacket nest they've ever had to deal with.

I treat the nest with Permethrin. You will see the incredible size of the nest and the massive numbers of yellowjackets. Within a couple days after the treatment all yellowjackets were dead.

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Man invents wasp vacuum and ends up with box of wasps

Today in "I don't know what I expected": former Blackberry engineer and YouTuber Matthais Wandel's ingenious but doom-laden wasp vacuum.

Tell you what, Happy Mutants, if you like this and fancy a light, uplifting read, be sure to grab Iain Banks' debut novel The Wasp Factory. Read the rest

Mousetrap Monday guy traps wasps for a change

Shawn Woods is known for his informative videos demonstrating every imaginable kind of mousetrap, but this time, he goes after yellowjacket wasps. Read the rest

Wasp nest found in attic

As seen in this photo, taken by Pest Professionals of Northampton, England, there was a wasp nest in the attic of house in Pipewell.

Pest controller Gary Wilkinson, of Northamptonshire pest controllers Pest Professionals, who found the nest, said: "It's an impressive wasp nest alright - much bigger than a barrel. Normally we get called in at the first sign of wasps causing a problem to people. This community has been allowed to go about its business undisturbed for a whole summer season. Although you wouldn't want it in your own loft, you have to say it's a very impressive and in its own way a very beautiful thing." Carcasses of hundreds of dead wasps found next to the nest indicate that the colony was created by the common wasp (Vespula Vulgaris).

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