CHINA – Researchers discovered a new type of spider wasp in China’s Gutianshan National Nature Reserve that is absolutely terrifying. Called bone-house wasps, these insects build nests using the dead bodies of ants.
Apparently, the ants are not used for food. Instead, their sole purpose is to frighten off intruders. It serves as a way to protect the wasp’s young, the researchers think.
“Our discovery gives a striking example of the fascinating strategies of offspring protection that have evolved in animals, particularly in insects,” said Michael Staab, a biologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany.
The ants give the wasp colony the smell of a huge ant colony, which will make predators wary. The wasps pile the bodies into an outer chamber of their nest, allowing for the scent of the ant corpses to be closest to the outside world.
Although wasps will often leave paralyzed insects in the nest for newly-born babies to eat, it is not thought to be the case with these ant bodies.
“We don’t know of any similar behaviour in the animal kingdom, where dead bodies of another species are used to protect the offspring,” noted Michael Ohl, a biologist and entomologist at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.
The study was published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.