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Details about the larvae of wasps and the characteristics of their life cycle

We get acquainted with babies of wasps - their larvae, having their own unique and very interesting life cycle ...

Wasp larvae differ from adult insects in much the same way as caterpillars differ from butterflies. And the reason for this is the so-called complete transformation, characteristic of all wasps and their relatives: ants, bees, bumblebees, and horsemen. While the adult is a mobile, rather aggressive and strong insect, the wasp larva, on the contrary, is inactive and unable to feed and care for itself.

The photo shows an adult paper wasp.

In cells of honeycombs larvae of wasps are visible at an early stage of development.

This situation is beneficial from an environmental point of view: adult wasps and their larvae feed on different food and thus occupy a different position in food chains. So nature has taken care that adult wasps and their offspring do not compete with each other for food and make the most complete use of food resources in the territories where they live.

It is interesting

The difference in rations of wasps at different stages of development has reached the pointthat the larvae of many of them cannot digest plant foods at all - there are no enzymes in their digestive tract that can break it down.

Larvae of different species of wasps differ from each other much less than they differ from adults of their own species. Although due to the difference in size between the individual species, the larvae, too, may look like David and Goliath when comparing.

Interesting photo - giant asian hornet eats paper wasp larvae:

The photo shows a large Asiatic hornet eating the wasp larvae right in their nest.

And now let's take a closer look at the larvae of wasps (especially since in real life it is very unsafe to do this).


The appearance, size and color of the larvae of wasps

The larvae of most species of wasps look the same, and the differences in their appearance are mainly only in size.

The larva has a thick, rounded body in cross section, on which several segments are clearly visible. And she does not look like a slender adult insect with a thin waist. The feet of the larvae are usually reduced, and it can crawl only by wriggling (as a rule, future predators at this stage of their development do not need any distant movements at all).

In this photo, you can trace the cycle of transformation of the wasp larvae into an adult insect.

In the photo - the larvae of the common wasp (paper), already ready for pupation. Their length is now slightly less than the length of an adult insect, but the thickness of the body is much more than that of slender parents:

Larvae of the common paper wasp in the nest.

The larvae of most wasps are white or light yellow. Due to the fact that adult insects guard the offspring and hide it in well-disguised nests, the larvae do not need patronizing coloring.

In the photo - the larva earthen waspeating a paralyzed spider mother:

The larvae of some species feed on the body of a paralyzed insect.

The head of a wasp larva is so small that it can hardly be seen at the front end of the body. In fact, most of the head is occupied by the jaws, which allow eating, though soft, but still chewing on animal food.


What feeds the larvae of wasps

Strange as it may seem, but with all their slowness the wasp larvae are insectivorous, although they do not hunt on their own, but feed only on the insects that the adult individuals bring to them. The difference in feeding methods in different species is mainly in whether the larvae feed on themselves or are fed.

Public wasps are feeding the brood:

  • paper;
  • European and Asian hornets;
  • polybine wasps in the USA.

They have almost no larvae moving the body at all, and can only rotate their head, looking out of the honeycomb.

This is how a wasp larva looks at a late stage of its development - it only needs to move its head, taking food.

Adult wasps of these species feed on the nectar of flowers, sweet juices of berries and fruits, but for the younger generation they catch insects, chew them and feed them in the form of a pasty mass.

Adult wasps bring larvae food directly into the nest.

It is interesting

The larvae of social wasps do not secrete excrement, accumulating them in their bodies until the hatching of the pupa. After the young wasp leaves the honeycomb, the working individuals clean out all that the "heiress" has left.

The photo shows the head of a wasp larva with a high magnification:

Head of wasp larvae at different stages of development.

In most single wasps, the female prepares a small nest in the form of a mink in the ground or a small paper cover attached to a vertical surface for the larvae. The female brings a paralyzed but not killed by poison insect into this chamber and lays an egg on it. The larva of a wasp hatching from an egg slowly eats an insect, and begins to do this from those organs whose loss does not lead to the instant death of the victim.

In some such wasps, the female once sacrifices, lays an egg and clogs the mink.In others, an adult can occasionally visit the nest and bring additional insects into it.

It is interesting

The list of creatures with which wasps can feed their brood is extremely long. In this respect, social species are universal - they catch almost any caterpillars, butterflies, cockroaches, larvae of other insects, mollusks, slugs, bees, spiders and bedbugs, and large hornets even small lizards and little mice. Single wasps are more specialized: some of their species prey only on spiders, others exclusively on bugs or larvae of beetles.

There are also primitive wasps that do not make nests for their larvae. These include, for example, Scoli - one of the largest wasps in the world.

The large wasp Scole (pictured) does not make nests for its larvae.

An adult female of scolia digs in the ground near the roots of plants in search of larvae of beetles. Having found the victim, she paralyzes her and lays an egg on her. After that, the predator flies away in search of new prey. The larva feeds where its food remains.

Meanwhile, there are among the wasps and parasites. For example, some species of wasp lay eggs directly on live insects, and after hatching, the larvae penetrate into the body of the prey and slowly eat it alive from the inside.Sooner or later, the victim dies.

The photo shows an example of parasitizing the larvae of one species of wasp on another insect.

It is noteworthy that German wasps parasitize on the larvae of other wasps, usually public, making their way to their nest and laying eggs in honeycombs.


Development and transformation into adult insects

Due to the rather wide and thick body, the larvae of wasps do not fall out from the honeycomb, the neck of which looks down. The insect literally clogs the honeycomb, and after it leaves the pupa, the young wasp just straightens the body and quietly leaves its cradle.

It is interesting

Initially, the wasp glues the egg to the wall of the honeycomb, and the larva, until it thickens, is held here precisely by this glue. When her weight becomes too large, she already has a wide enough waist so as not to fall out of the cell.

The photo shows the honeycombs from which the heads of the larvae stick out:

The larvae of wasps in the cells of the nest.

The development of wasp larvae proceeds fairly quickly. For example, with abundant feeding, the larva of European hornets goes through five larval stages with four molts in just 12-14 days, after which it itself draws a silk cocoon around itself and pupates. After about two more weeks, an adult insect appears from the pupa.


Wasp larvae as food reservoirs for adult insects

Interestingly, in starvation time, adult wasps belonging to collective species can use larvae as food sources (more precisely, the nutrient fluids they release).

At each feeding, an adult specimen passes the chewed food to the larva, and in response it releases saliva, which is fed by the breadwinner. Even if the adult wasp did not bring food, the larva would still share a secret with it. This phenomenon is called trophallaxis, and is a way to maintain the viability of a whole colony of insects during periods of prolonged rains or cold snaps in the north.

The photo shows how the adult wasp feeds the larvae:

The adult wasp flew up to the nest for feeding the larvae.

And this is how the process of feeding the larvae looks like ...

Finally, the wasp larvae themselves are of gastronomic interest for many animals. Birds (for example, bee-eaters) willingly abduct larvae from nests that begin to build. Bears and honey badgers also gladly destroy such nests.

And in Japan, there is a traditional dish Dzibatinoko, representing the larvae of wasps, cooked with sugar and soy sauce.

In some countries, properly prepared wasp larvae are a popular dish.

In the difficult war years, it was insects that allowed many Japanese not to die of hunger.


Accidental hornet's nest: video shot close up, thick moving larvae are visible


The female wasp is engaged in the arrangement of the young nest and cares for the larvae.


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