Wasps: Mom doesn’t like you best

One reason wasps get along so well—with each other, that is—may be that each female in a nest that they have jointly established shows no favoritism toward her own larvae, say Texas researchers.

When several females lay eggs in the same nest, “there is great potential for conflict,” comment J.E. Strassmann and her colleagues at Rice University in Houston in the June Naturwissenschaften. Yet, in general, tranquility reigns in nests of Polistes carolina, despite multiple egg layers.

The researchers checked DNA in eight of these nests to figure out which larvae belonged to which mom. The team also analyzed 26 hours of videotapes that showed 2,093 occasions of larvae getting fed. Combing these observations for patterns, the researchers found no favoritism.

Susan Milius is the life sciences writer, covering organismal biology and evolution, and has a special passion for plants, fungi and invertebrates. She studied biology and English literature.