Uterus of hornets is the center and the basis of the whole huge family. It is she who gives rise to a new nest: raises it on its own and nourishes its first future assistants. But even after their appearance, the importance of the uterus does not diminish, because it will always be the only source of new individuals in the family.
The hornet of the hornet stands prominently among the whole family in size, but this is just an external difference. The main feature of this unique breeding female in the family is its life cycle, in which there is a lot of interesting and surprising.
On a note
All working individuals in the nest of hornets, as well as other social insects, are females.
As a rule, there is only one uterus in each family of hornets. It is around her that all fast, but finely organized life of the nest is spinning. Only in some species (and sometimes - occasionally) there can be polygyny (from English "poly" - many, "queen" - queen) - a phenomenon when several eggs are deposited in the nest of eggs.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, working individuals of hornets can not reproduce, however, certain species under the influence of environmental conditions can undergo certain hormonal changes. As a result of these failures, individual females are able to lay unfertilized eggs, from which similar workers will be excreted. It is worth noting that, despite its sexual identity and the ability to reproduce, such a female hornet called a uterus can not.
Appearance, features and photos of the horny hornet
Uterus hornet is the largest individual in the family. For example, the main female European hornet reaches a length of 3 cm, while the performance of the working individual is much more modest - only 2 cm. However, these figures are far from the limit: for example, in tropical hornets the uterus can reach a length of 5, 5 cm.
In the photo - the main female hornet in the nest:
But even though the size is quite large, the uterus can easily be confused with the usual working individual: it becomes possible if the main female in the field of vision is alone, is at a distance from the nest and there is simply no one to compare it to when she feeds or collects building material.
As a rule, the Queen of Hornets flies in early spring, when she is compelled herself to collect food for her offspring, or at the end of autumn, after the marriage swarming.
On flowers, trees and in case of accidental falling into living quarters the hornet looks like an ordinary large wasp. The photo below clearly shows that it has a typical aspen waist, characteristic black bandages on the abdomen with a brown base and a brown stain in the form of a horseshoe on the back:
Thus, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the hornet's hornet has the same coloration as all other inhabitants of the nest. That is why, even in spite of the large size, in the conditions of a large accumulation of working individuals, it will not be easy to find their queen.
In the photo - the hornet of the hornet in the center of the family:
It is interesting
On the combination of contrasting colors in coloring, the original principle of visual masking of insects is based. When a predator wants to catch one individual from a large group, the chaotic movement of hundreds of striped bodies creates a disorderly ripple in his eyes, among which it is difficult to single out a specific victim. An excellent example of this principle are zebras, which for this reason have a characteristic striped outfit. Hornets also got color from the peace-loving ancestors-bees, who were forced to defend themselves from predators with all their might.
It should be noted that the hornet's womb is similar to the members of its family not only in coloring - it is also "poisonous" and stings with the same force as the working individual.
Early life of the uterus
The future founder of the new hornet family is born in late August or early September. A month before, her mother, the old womb, was beginning to lay off fertilized eggs, from which fertile females emerged. Simultaneously, the old queen of hornets lays unfertilized eggs, from which the males are hatched.
By the time of the mating period, the family of hornets is already very high: the number of working individuals in it reaches several tens, or even hundreds. And the nest itself at this stage grows to an impressive size. So, for example, the dwelling of an ordinary hornet can reach a length of 70-80 cm and weigh up to 10 kg!
All larvae (including young uterus) are fed exclusively by meat food - other insects. However, even after leaving the pupae, the working individuals can still feed the successors of the genus for some time.
At the time of the appearance of fertile females, the old uterus is already exhausting its potential and practically stops laying eggs. Therefore, it often happens that working hornets drive her out of the nest or even kill her.
In the photo there is an old hornet:
When young females and males in the nest become too many, they fly out of the maternal home, swarm and mate. Males after this die within a few days, and females can still hunt for some time or look for sweet fruits for food. However, with the approach of cold weather, they still find suitable shelter for their wintering: under stones, in cracks in the bark, hollows, and also in nests, in which all the working individuals have already died out.
It is interesting
If the female chooses the already used nest as a shelter for wintering, then it is likely that she will not survive until the end of winter. Usually in the old nests before the onset of cold weather, working hornets live, which do not let the already fled young people go back. But there is another reason for low survival: sometimes in a nest, workers die out due to tick-borne and bacterial infections that do not spare young females hiding here.
The wintering phase is absent in tropical hornets: these females immediately start new nests after pairing. But they sometimes return to their own family, initiating the expulsion of the old uterus, and begin to rule the already developed nest.
Wintering is the most difficult stage
During wintering, all processes in the body of a young female slow down, so it spends the most economical energy stored over the fall. Nevertheless, a significant number of females die at this stage from frosts and predators - insectivorous mammals and birds.
The most protected are those hornets of the hornet, which winter in trees under large layers of bark: birds can not always penetrate them, and other insect hunters are not so much at this time.
In the photo - the hornet of the hornet during the wintering in the crevice between the logs:
Establishment of a new family
In the spring, with the onset of heat, the young female awakens from the winter torpor and for a few days actively eats to restore strength.
The basis of its diet during this period is made up of other insects, and sometimes - thawing out from under the snow berries and fruits.
At the same time, the future queen is looking for a convenient place to place the nest: it can be just a strong branch, and a hollow, a crack in the rock or hole in the sandy slope. The uterus gathers a soft young bark from branches of trees, chews on it and builds the first honeycomb, which immediately lays eggs.
In parallel, the young womb continues to create a new nest of hornets, building on the primary structure. The dwelling of insects thanks to only the forces of one uterus-founder can sometimes reach a size of half a soccer ball.
When the first larvae are removed from eggs, the uterus catches insects for them and feeds its future assistants. When the first working individuals appear, the queen of hornets practically ceases to fly, all its activity is reduced only to the laying of eggs. Insect workers take on all the responsibilities of procuring food for the larvae and uterus, caring for them, as well as building new honeycombs.
It is interesting
Among all 23 species of hornets there is one, cardinally different from their relatives - a black hornet. His females exhibit the so-called nest parasitism: they do not build nests and do not feed the first larvae. Throughout the spring, the females simply feed carelessly, and at the beginning of summer they find a family of common hornets, penetrate into their nest, kill the uterus and, disguising themselves as pheromones, impersonate it. Of course, such a "trick" is very dangerous, because workers can kill the newcomer even before she gets to their uterus. However, such a seizure of power often happens nevertheless successfully, and the workers take care of the new queen as diligently as they took care of the previous one. Of course, new eggs will be released from the eggs laid by her - black hornets, which will gradually replace the old hosts of the nest.
Queen of Hornets
In the nest, the uterus of the hornet is indeed a real queen. Around her there lives the whole family: she is fed, her eggs are picked up and neatly carried around the honeycombs, she is protected until the last in case of an attack on the hive. The uterus, in turn, provides a constant increase in the population in the nest, saving each day several dozen eggs.
The connection of the uterus to the working hornets occurs through chemical odor signals. If something happens to her, in a few seconds all the hornets that are in the nest know about it.
As already mentioned above, at the height of the family's power (for European hornets - around August), the uterus begins to lay off fertilized eggs, from which hormones can develop males and males capable of breeding. This stage is of great importance for each type of hornet, but for any single womb it means the approach of her death ...
The old age and decline of the Horn Empire
Starting to lay eggs, from which males and fertile females will be excreted, the uterus practically loses its egg-laying potential. For several weeks she will continue to provide the nest with her offspring, but the number of eggs will decrease inexorably. And in a short time the queen will completely stop the production of eggs.
By this time, the life resources of the uterus are depleted: it grows old, barely creeps, loses a part of the hairs on the body. Working individuals practically cease to feed it, and they themselves become very few.
After the departure of young insects from the nest, mites and other parasites of hornets often begin to multiply, from which the uterus often dies. But even if there is no infection in the hive, all the remaining working individuals and the old queen will die when frost comes.
Thus, the life of almost every hornet of the hornet consists of several main stages:
- exit from the larva;
- wintering (tropical species do not have this stage due to climatic conditions);
- construction of the first hundred of the future nest (the exception is the black hornet) and the laying of the first larvae;
- providing the family with offspring (including - and capable of reproduction by females and males);
Nevertheless, not everything is so sad: somewhere around the nest, young, strong and fertilized females are already finding themselves winter quarters, which in the spring will begin the cycle anew, continuing with their incessant labor to write the history of the species.