MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Why are wasps attracted to radiator grilles on motor cars?

Date: Wed Nov 8 12:59:12 2000
Posted By: John Carlson, Medical student, MD/PhD (parasitology) , Tulane University, School of Medicine
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 972661429.Gb

Dear John,

Thank you for your question to MadSci Network. You were very observant to notice the behavior of wasps both here and in Spain. Why do wasps fly around car radiator grills?

There are many different kinds of wasps. Some biologists divide wasps into categories which describe how they live with one another. Wasps that live together for more than one generation and help take care of each other and help to raise their sisters and brothers are called social. Wasps that only live with their own children and live by themselves are called solitary.

Social wasps are more dangerous to people than solitary wasps. Most of the females in the nest of social wasps are infertile. This means that they can not have children. Instead, they help take care of the nest, and defend it with their lives if they need to. Social wasps are dangerous because they attach in groups in order to defend their nest. A wasp nest is very important to the group, and they may be very aggressive in defending it.

The wasps you see flying around the car may be attaching your car because they feel the nest has been threatened. They may be seeing the car's heat coming from the radiator, and so believe that it is an animal. (Many insects see heat like a color!) They might be buzzing by the car's radiator to look for a place to sting the animal to chase it away.

They wasps you see buzzing around a car's radiator are probably social wasps trying to defend their nest. They may believe that the car is an animal because of the heat it produces.

Wasps are fascinating for many reasons. I hope you will want to learn more about wasps. Another MAD Scientist named Rob Cruickshank wrote a fantastic essay about the was p life cycle. In his essay he gives many internet links that are great for learning more about wasps.

Thank you for your question!

John Carlson
MAD Scientist

Current Queue | Current Queue for General Biology | General Biology archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on General Biology.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2000. All rights reserved.