The astonishing footage shows just how wasps find their way home.
An amazing new high-speed video shows just how wasps navigate.
The study, published in the journal Current Biology, reconstructs the view from the perspective of sand wasps, according to a Discovery News report.
Essentially, sand wasps take “snapshots” of the landscape around their nest so they can find their way back home later, as the amazing video shows. The wasps look back at their nests from the point of view that they’ll have when they return home so they know what it looks like, basically taking it all in before departing on a journey.
Scientists have long known that wasps and other homing insects use orientation flights to find their way home, but it was unclear exactly how they collected this information. So Professor Jochen Zeil from the Australian National University’s Research School of Biology, co-author of the study, and colleagues decided to use high-speed cameras to record the orientation flight of a female ground-nesting wasp Cerceris astralis, recording both the three-dimensional path of the wasp and what direction the wasp was looking in.
Wasps have compound eyes with low resolution, and researchers used this knowledge and their findings to reconstruct a video of what it looked like for the wasp.
“Our findings tell us how wonderfully autonomous, flexible, and robust wasps are with their ability to know places in the world and shuttle back and forth between them,” Zeil said in a statement. “They share this fundamentally important skill with most animals on earth.”
Making this video turned out to be a lot harder than he thought it was going to be.
“I was especially surprised by how long it took us to find the right way of looking at what the wasps were doing,” he says. “It took us over 10 years!”