Wasps smarter than previously thought

A study conducted byUniversity of Michigan biologist Elizabeth Tibbetts, found that paper wasps can determine which opponents are the weakest by watching them fight with another wasp. According to the study, “fighter” wasps were placed in a small container while two “bystander” wasps observed the pair through clear plastic partitions. The scientists found that bystander wasps were more aggressive when paired with an individual that was the victim of lots of aggression in a previous bout, as well as individuals who initiated little aggression in the previous fight.

Wasp cleans up, brood, Naturepark Spessart, Bavaria

 

The research also illustrated that the wasps can recall what they saw for a long time. This study shows a few interesting points. First, small brains, which were previously thought to be less intelligent, are not necessarily so. Also that wasps are capable of a rather complex thought process that includes analyzing what they saw,  remembering it, that they recognize and can categorize individuals.

If wasps can do this, imagine what other animals are capable of? How should that affect our training methods for our pets and other animals? How does human interference affect wildlife?

Animal related injuries account for over 1 billion dollars of health care

What may be surprising to many people is that most of the injuries are due to non-venomous insect and spider bites, about 40%. Dog bites only accounted for about 25% of the injuries. About 13% were caused by hornet, wasp and bee stings.

The dollar amount does not include doctor’s fees, outpatient charges, lost productivity, and rehabilitation.

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Over half of the costs associated with animal injuries included dog bites, non-venomous insect and spider bites, and bites from venomous snakes and lizards.

Death due to injuries is rare, only .02% with the highest rate of death due to rat bites, with venomous snake/lizard a close second and third was by dogs.

People over the age of 85 were six times more likely to be admitted to hospital and 27 times more likely to die after their injury.

It seems that while people are careful around dogs and other animals, they should be more aware of the reptiles and insects that they may encounter. This is especially true of ticks that carry several diseases that can make a human or animal seriously ill or even bring about their death.

Bees can do math!

Researchers have designed a test that proves bees can do basic math.

Since scientists have known that bees understand the concept of zero, they wanted to determine if bees could perform the basic math functions of adding and subtracting. Their tests have shown that bees can do this.

This is very important because solving math problems requires the use of both long- and short-term memory and the complex mental management of numbers.

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The team from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia taught the bees to recognize colors that represent addition and subtraction. Once the bees were taught the meaning of the colors, they were able to use the colors to solve math addition and subtraction problems. While this level of math may seem simple to us, it really involves complex thought processes.

In past studies, beekeepers claimed that they did not get stung by their bees (at least not too much) because the bees understood that they meant no harm and were friendly to the keepers. If bees can perform mathematical functions it is certainly reasonable that they could understand their relationship to bee keepers.

What is amazing is that the tiny bee brain can do this. As we discover more ways to communicate with animals and insects, it will open a whole new world and understanding of our animal and insect friends.

The only barrier we have to fully understanding other creatures is the barrier of language. How amazing this finding is because it shows us how much we have yet to learn.