Babysitting wasps that support extended families could help solve riddle of altruism, scientists say

Workers fly to nearby nests to help out needy neighbours, writes Tom Embury-Dennis

Paper wasps are models for understanding the evolution of altruism
Paper wasps are models for understanding the evolution of altruism

Wasps help their poorer extended families by babysitting at nearby nests, biologists have observed in a discovery that may help solve the riddle of altruism in nature.

By closely watching 20,000 baby paper wasps and their carers on colonies around the Panama Canal, the research team showed that workers became less useful as the number of wasps in a colony rises, due to all the extra help.

Workers on larger colonies will as a result fly to their more needy neighbours’ nests.

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