You may start to feel sloth-like when the sun slips away during the winter months, but this little hornet actually derives energy (not just motivation) from sunlight, using its exoskeleton’s nanostructures and pigments.
Researchers first noticed something odd about the Oriental hornet in the early 1990s: Instead of being lazy-bums during the bright midday hours like other wasps, the Oriental hornet was extremely active.
Ishay found that shining light on the hornets—live, anesthetized or even dead—could produce voltage differences of several hundred millivolts across their hard exoskeletons, which suggested that the cuticle material making up the exoskeletons was effectively an organic semiconductor converting light into electricity. Indeed, Ishay even found that shining ultraviolet light on an anesthetized hornet would wake it up faster, as though the light were recharging the insect.
Think you’re having a rough day? Try being a wasp larva, destined never to fully develop, but instead to sacrifice yourself to save your luckier siblings. Welcome to the twisted world of the wasp Copidosoma floridanum, a species whose bizarro reproductive strategies were recently elucidated in research out of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.
A female wasp will lay her one or two eggs inside of the egg of a caterpillar known as a cabbage looper, according to New Scientist:
“One egg might not sound so bad, but [this wasp egg] is no ordinary egg. It is polyembryonic, meaning that the single embryo cell at its heart can repeatedly clone itself. As a result, just one egg can produce up to 2000 offspring.”