Picnics are great in theory, but in practice they always seem to be ruined by insects. While eating food outdoors we often encounter mosquitoes, flies, gnats, bees and most alarming of all, wasps. Wasps tend to evoke fright in people, and this is understandable given the fact that wasps can sting their victims multiple times. When encountering a wasp or two while outdoors, most people can successfully evade the flying insects without sustaining stings. However, for some reason, wasps always seem to show up when we are eating outside. Picnics are out of the question, as anybody who has ever tried having a picnic knows that stinging insects, like wasps, will arrive and rain on the parade. So why do wasps always show up during picnics? Do they crave the food that we are eating? As it turns out, the answer to this question is “yes” wasps do want our food, and when they find it, they call upon other wasps to join in on the effort to consume our picnic food. However, the method that wasps use to signal other wasps when food is located has never been understood by scientists, until now.


When wasps locate food, they indulge in a seemingly bizarre behavior that involves drumming their abdomens. This behavior is known as “gastral drumming” and up until recently, researchers assumed that this drumming occured when wasps became hungry. This behavior has been known to science for five full decades.


The true meaning of this drumming behavior was largely discovered by Dr. Tyler, an assistant professor at LaGuardia Community College in New York. Not only did Dr. Tyler learn that this behavior attracts other wasps, but he also discovered that wasps will make different rhythmic drumming sounds in accordance with the quality of food that they find. Dr. Tyler believes that this drumming could constitute an advanced wasp language that may be used to communicate various types of information among wasps.


Do you believe that wasps, and all social insects resort to some form of communication that scientists have yet to study and understand?



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