Mattia Menchetti

Scientist Gives Wasps Colored Paper And They Make Incredible Rainbow Nests

Humans have a love-hate relationship with the insect world. There are some bugs we like because they're cute or helpful in obvious ways, but usually we're prone to finding them gross nuisances.

Often, even the hated insects have something special to share, though.

Mattia Menchetti is a Research Assistant at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona.

Instagram | @mattiamenchetti

He wanted people to see how even nuisances like wasps and their nests can be beautiful and so he performed an experiment.

Paper wasps are known for their honeycomb nests made with cellulose and their saliva.

Cellulose is an organic polymer found abundantly in nature, notably in wood.

Instagram | @mattiamenchetti

It's what makes paper paper and it's what gives the paper wasps their name. In the wild, the wasps find bits of discarded paper or wood fiber, chewing it into pulp, and then use it as the material to create their nests.

The nests are already lovely in their symmetry, but Menchetti wanted to see if he could turn them into natural art.

Notula Zoologica

He began by catching some wasps and enclosing them in a space with plenty of food and a bunch of yellow construction paper. As the nest grew, he added other colors for them to chose from.

Eventually, the nest became a comb of incredible rainbow colors.

Notula Zoologica

I love how you can see the sections where he gave them different colors. It's a cool way to visualize the actual building process of the nest.

In the end, the wasps had built a very glam home for themselves.

Notula Zoologica

And as you can see in some of the cavities on the right hand side, a new generation was getting ready to add to the colony. Clearly, the construction paper lived up to its name, giving them a durable, beautiful building material.

h/t: Mattia Menchetti

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