Wasps are not exactly anyone's favorite animals since just about everyone has been stung by one at one time or another. We go out of our way to remove their nests and set up traps to kill them on an annual basis. A few years ago a biology student at the University of Florence in Italy, Mattia Menchetti, chose a captive group of paper wasps to perform a simple, yet spectacular, experiment.
Paper wasps collect the fibers from dead wood and mix it with their saliva to create nests in which to lay their larvae. Properties in their saliva make the nests both water proof and ant repellent to protect their brood. The resulting nest generally appears brown or gray and of a papery material. Unlike their cousins, yellow jackets and hornets, paper wasps are gentle and will only attack if they or their nests are threatened. Paper wasps are beneficial bugs for gardeners and eat garden pests such as caterpillars and flies.
Menchetti provided his European paper wasps with colored paper instead of wood and let them take a crack at building a nest. The result was astounding. The nest kept the colors of the paper and took on a rather technicolor kaleidoscope of colors as the little artists worked away. Their astonishing builds have been making the rounds of the internet ever since.
While this experiment was conducted in captivity, similar results have occurred in nature due to human intrusion. Beekeepers in France were astounded to discover that their bees were producing blue and green honey. Upon investigation it was discovered that the hapless bees were collecting sugar from the discarded shells of M&Ms at a nearby waste disposal plant. What a curious change happenstance!
You can check in on what other activities Menchetti has been involved in by clicking here.
Images via Bored Panda
"Solitary Polistes fuscatus wasp putting the finishing touches on her rainbow nest. Constructed using different color construction paper each day. 25 August 2014. "