The larvae of the wasps differ from the adult insects in approximately the same way as the caterpillars differ from the butterflies. And the reason for this - the so-called complete transformation, characteristic of all wasps and their relatives: ants, bees, bumblebees, riders. While the adult is a mobile, quite aggressive and strong insect, the wasp larva, on the contrary, is inactive and unable to feed and take care of itself.
Such a state of things is beneficial from an ecological point of view: adult wasps and their larvae feed on different foods and thus occupy different positions in food chains. So nature has taken care that adult wasps and their offspring do not compete with each other for food and most fully use food resources in the territories where they live.
It is interesting
The difference in diets at different stages of development has reached the point that the larvae of many of them can not at all digest vegetarian food - in their digestive tract there are no enzymes capable of splitting it.
Larvae of different types of wasps differ from each other much less than they do with adults of their species. Although due to the difference in size between the individual species, the larvae may also look like David and Goliath when compared.
An interesting photo - a giant Asian hornet eats larvae of paper wasps:
And now let's look at the larvae of the os closer (especially in real life this can be very unsafe).
Appearance, size and color of larvae
The larvae of most species of os look the same, and the differences in their appearance are mostly only in size.
The larva has a thick, round body in cross section, on which several segments can be clearly seen. And she does not look like a slender adult insect with a thin waist. Legs in the larva are usually reduced, and it can crawl, only wriggling (as a rule, future predators at this stage of their development do not need any distant movements at all).
In the photo - 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 greater than that of slender parents:
The larvae of most os have a white or light yellow color. Due to the fact that adult insects protect offspring and hide it in well-disguised nests, their larvae do not need patronizing coloring.
In the photo there is a larva of an earthen wasp , eating a spider paralyzed by the mother:
The head of the wasp larva is so small that it can hardly be seen at the front end of the trunk. In fact, most of the head is occupied by the jaws, allowing you to eat at least a soft, but still chewing animal food.
What do larvae feed on?
Strange as it may seem, but for all their sluggishness, the wasps are insectivorous, although they do not hunt on their own, but eat only those insects they are brought to by adults. The difference in the methods of feeding in different species is mainly whether the larvae feed on themselves, or whether they are fed.
The feeding of the brood is carried out by public wasps:
- European and Asian hornets;
- wasps-polibians in the USA.
They larvae almost do not move the body at all, and can only rotate their heads looking out of the honeycomb.
Adult wasps of these species eat 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 gruel mass.
It is interesting
The larvae of the social wasps do not excrete excrement, accumulating them in their bodies until they hatch from the pupa. After the young wasp leaves the cell, the workers clean out everything that the "heiress" left.
In the photo - the head of the wasp larva with a strong increase:
In most single wasps, the female prepares for the larvae a small nest in the form of a mink in the ground or a small paper shelter attached to a vertical surface. In this chamber the female brings a paralyzed but not killed by the poison insect and lays an egg on it. The wasp hatcher hatching from the egg slowly eats the insect, and begins to do this from those organs, the loss of which does not lead to the instant death of the victim.
In some of these wasps, the female once sacrifices, lays an egg and clogs the mink. In others, the adult may from time to time visit the nest and bring in additional insects.
It is interesting
List of creatures with which wasps can feed their brood, is extremely large. Public species in this respect are universal - they catch almost any caterpillars, butterflies, cockroaches, larvae of other insects, molluscs, slugs, bees, spiders and bedbugs, and large hornets - even small lizards and mice. Single wasps are more narrowly specialized: some species hunt only for spiders, others only for bugs or larvae of beetles.
There are also primitive wasps, which do not suit nests for their larvae. These include, for example, scoliosis - one of the largest wasps in the world.
An adult female scoliosis digs in the ground near the roots of plants in search of larvae of beetles. Finding a victim, she paralyzes her and lays an egg on her. After this, the predator flies away in search of new prey. The larva feeds where her food was left to lie.
Meanwhile, there are parasites among the wasps. For example, some types of wasps lay eggs directly on living insects, and larvae after hatching penetrate the body of the victim and slowly eat it from the inside alive. Sooner or later the victim dies.
It is noteworthy that wasps-Germans parasitize on the larvae of other wasps, usually public, making their way into their nest and laying eggs in the honeycomb.
Development and transformation into adult insects
Due to a fairly wide and thick body, the larvae of the wasps do not fall out of the honeycomb, whose neck looks down. The insect literally clogs the honeycomb, and after leaving the pupa, the young wasp simply straightens the body and quietly leaves its cradle.
It is interesting
Initially, a wasp sticks an egg to the wall of a honeycomb, and the larva, until it becomes fat, is held here due to this glue. When its weight becomes too large, it already has a wide enough waist to not fall out of the cell.
The photo shows honeycombs, from which the heads of the larvae protrude:
The development of larvae of the wasps proceeds fairly quickly. For example, with abundant feeding, the larva of European hornets undergoes five larval stages with four molts in just 12-14 days, after which she herself surrounds the silk cocoon and pupates. After about another two weeks, an adult insect appears from the pupa.
Larval wasps as food reservoirs for adult insects
It is interesting that in a hungry time, adult wasps belonging to collective species can use larvae as food sources (more precisely, nutrient fluids released by them).
With each feeding, the adult passes the larva to the chewed food, and she responds by salivating the breadwinner herself. Even if the adult wasp did not bring food, the larva will still share her secret. This phenomenon is called trophallaxis, and is a way to maintain the viability of an entire colony of insects during periods of prolonged rain or cold snap in the north.
The photo shows how the adult wasp feeds the larvae:
Finally, the larvae themselves are of gastronomic interest for many animals. Birds (for example, beetles) willingly abduct larvae from beginners to build nests. Bears and cannibals are also happy to destroy such nests.
And in Japan there is a traditional dish of dzibatino, which is a larva of wasps, cooked with sugar and soy sauce.
In the difficult war years, it was the insects that enabled many Japanese people not to die of hunger.