Bone-House Wasp Uses Bodies of Dead Ants to Make Its Nest

Posted on July 7, 2014

Bone-house wasp nest

Scientists led by Michael Staab from University of Freiburg, Germany have discovered a new species of spider-hunting wasp in South-East China. The wasp species, Deuteragenia ossarium, incorporates the bodies of dead ants into its nests. Some of the ant parts found in the wasp nests are pictured below.

Ant body parts used to make bone-house wasp nest

The "ossarium" portion of the wasp's name comes from the word ossuary, which is a box or chest used to hold bones. The female lays eggs next to a captured spider in a vestibular cell in the nest. She then fills up an outer vestibular cells with dead ant parts. The researchers say the dead ants offer protection for the nest and make them less vulnerable to the wasp's natural enemies. The dead ants used for the nests are usually P. astuta, which the researchers say is an aggressive species with a powerful sting. The scent of the aggressive ant species may ward off some predators.

The wasps are black colored and the females are larger than the males. The females have a body length of about 8.9 to 15.2 mm and the males have a body length of 6.6 to 9.8 mm.

Bone-house wasp

A research paper on the Bone-house wasp is published here in PLoS One.

Photos: Staab et al/PLoS One

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