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A Unique Wasp Eats Spiders and Stack Up Corpses of Stinging Ants

Maybe bone-house wasps listen to too much Slayer.


Image credit: PLOS ONE.

Have you heard of the bone-house wasp before? It is amazing that this newly-found Chinese wasp species shows no fear of spiders; instead it is capable of killing spiders with a sting and storing the arachnids as food for its eggs.

Being different from other wasps eating spiders in the family Pompilidae, such new species also kill ants and then stores them at the front of its larvae-filled nest. According to the article describing the newly discovered wasp, which is published in the journal PLOS ONE, these wasps prefer to choose an aggressive, large-bodied, and common species with a powerful sting.

As for the reason of it, scientists think that it is the formic acid inside the ants that might prevent the wasp’s predators from attacking them. This idea is not a new one, because various kinds of animals also intend to avoid the attacks from their predators by using the defensive chemical in the ants. In most cases, such “anting” behavior could be seen among birds. However, it is rare to observe an organism hoarding ant corpses and storing them as a warning.

This new species is named as Deuteragenia ossarium, meaning “receptacle for the bones or ashes of the dead.” So it is the exact description of these bone-house wasps.

Journal reference: Staab, Michael, et al. “A Unique Nest-Protection Strategy in a New Species of Spider Wasp.” PloS one 9.7 (2014): e101592.