Paper Wasps and the Royal Bloodline
Interesting as it may seem, social insects have to bow to their respective queen. Bees do it, ants and termites do it and wasps do it too. Selection of the queen varies among different species. Some ants can actually serve two queens and have to mounds to protect or serve. Termites on the other hand let nature do the choosing. The nest is full so the young reproductive termites fly away to mate and start nests of their own. The ones that survive the flight, mate, and find a home get to be leaders, but once leaving the nest it is do or die.
The Paper Wasp of India seems to be unique according to a recent study. When researchers remove the queen there is no selection process, no grooming of a new queen as happens in bee colonies, no fighting which happens throughout the insect kingdom, the queen elects herself. She just seems to know it’s her turn and she makes sure the others know too, by pecking at them or crushing them. The new queen establishes order by simply taking over.
This happened repeatedly for generation after generation, and in multiple colonies. Every time the queen was removed, another took her place without question. The researchers know that there must be a way that the process is handled but so far the only thing they know for sure is that it’s always an elder that takes over. In virtually every insect colony that has been studied, it’s youth that inherits the throne. In the Paper Wasp colony, it’s the oldest female.
Wouldn’t it be nice if in the human social system the highest rank always went to the oldest one, the one with the wisdom of age and time? We can only dream.
Tempe Termites follow the normal line of termite succession, with new colonies started every time their nest gets too small. Swarming termites set up their new homes in the first viable area available. Termite control specialists are serious about making sure the next termite queen isn’t setting up her throne in your home.
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