tw:wasps

npr.org
Congress Approves Arlington Cemetery Burials For Female WWII Pilots
The legislation would allow the remains of women who served as Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, in the 1940s to be buried in the veterans cemetery.

The WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) flew noncombat and training missions for the US during WW2, but were not afforded honors such as burials in military cemeteries – until now.

They flew over 60 million miles, in every type of military aircraft. They suffered 38 losses. Their members included trailblazers like previously-covered Maggie Gee (who, undeterred by how difficult this was, went on to become a nuclear physicist).

Congratulations, ladies.

If you give wasps colored paper, they make rainbow nests. Captive wasps at The University of Florence built themselves a psychedelic house after biology student Mattia Menchetti gradually introduced them to a colorful variety of paper materials. Source Source 2 Source 3

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Today the Department of Phenomenal Papercraft delves into the world of entomological artwork. Paper wasps gather fibers from dead wood and plant stems and mix them with their saliva to create a gray or brown papery material which they use to construct their water-resistant nests. When Italian biological science student Mattia Menchetti provided a captive colony of European paper wasps with colored paper, the insects created awesomely colorful nests.

“He started by feeding his captive wasps yellow paper, and then gradually began introducing more shades. The insects soon created a technicolor home for their larvae. In addition to making for some unusual eye candy, the nest is sturdy as well. A protein in the saliva of European paper wasps is so effective in making their nests waterproof that it’s been used by scientists for a biodegradable drone.”

Visit Mattia Menchetti’s website to check out more of his research projects.

[via mental_floss]

Let’s hear it for the bees! Or should we say Hymenoptera? That’s the order depicted here by illustrator Mary Wellman in the 1905 book American Insects by Vernon L. Kellogg. Find it in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, alongside thousands of other digitized biodiversity literature from across the globe.

Hymenoptera include saw-flies, gall-flies, ichneumons, wasps, bees, and ants, many of which are clearly some very important pollinators. It’s National Pollinator Week from June 20-26, 2016. 

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Hero!

I Want To Marry James Haskell. He Is An Advocate For Ending Homophobia. Hackers Does Not Shy Away From His Support Of LGBT Rights And Human Rights In General.

Thank You…You Are A True Sports Stud!

As An American, I Must Ask…Where Are The American Athletes In Professional Sports In The USA (NFL, NBA, NHL, And MLB), Who Take Similar Stands? Why Do We Not See Them On The Cover Of Major LGBT Publications, Talking About Like Issues?

Well?

Wasps did not evolve in the last 40 years since we invented popsicles and Diet Coke. They have been here for millions of years eating invertebrates, mainly caterpillars, aphids and other things gardeners hate. They are predators, on the whole. Many of them really like to eat spiders too (which means that you are a massive hypocrite if you moan about both spiders and wasps - this is like moaning about high taxes and the lack of good libraries). Many species of wasp also pollinate flowers, but when do ever hear about that? Bees are furry and disappearing from the wild and people hate the thought of this. But no one cares about wasps – even though they helped shape modern civilization (it was through wasps and their nests that humankind eventually invented paper, apparently). So there.

How workers can become queens

A honey bee’s fate is decided at birth. The larvae develop to become a queen or a worker. If you’re born a queen, you get to rule the hive.

But other insects are more flexible.

For example, paper wasps and dinosaur ants are able to switch role from worker to queen at any point in their life - and new research uncovers the basis of this flexibility.

Researchers from the University of Bristol, the Babraham Institute and the Centre for Genomic Regulation analysed individual wasp and ant brains from queens and workers of both species to see whether caste differences could be explained by variations in how the genome is ‘read’ and regulated.

In the paper wasps as seen in the video above, the queen is identifiable by behaviours such as shaking the abdomen and aggression to exert dominance.

By looking at the genetic makeup of the insects, the researchers were able to determine what genetic influences were controlling behaviour.

They found very little difference between roles, which was surprising given that hundreds of genes are involved in determining the differences between queens and workers in the honeybee.

This suggests that there is no single master gene determining the role of these wasps and ants.

So you don’t have to be born a queen after all…

Read more

Video: Solenn Patalano

Maggie Gee (1923-2013)

Art by Kivitasku (tumblr, society6)

When the US entered World War II, Maggie left her studies at UC Berkeley to work as a drafter at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard.  While working at the shipyard, Maggie learned of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, which organized civilian female pilots to fly military aircraft in the US.  In 1943, Maggie and two of her friends took a temporary leave of absence from their jobs to learn to fly.  For $800, the three women spent six months training under civilian flight educators in Nevada.  At the end of the their training, they applied to the WASP program and returned to work at Mare Island.

Eight percent of WASP applicants were accepted into the training program.   Both Maggie and her white friend Jean made the cut.  (The third friend, a Filipino-American woman named Mary was rejected for poor eyesight). The two women arrived at Avenger Field in Texas in February 1944.  Jean, like half of all WASP trainees, washed out, but Maggie successfully completed the program.  She was the second and final Chinese-American woman to join the WASP program.  

After graduation, Maggie was sent to Las Vegas Army Air Field where she served as a tow target pilot until the the program was deactivated on December 20, 1944.  She then returned to Berkeley where she completed a graduate degree in physics and worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Maggie was active in Democratic politics, serving on the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, the board of of the Berkeley Democratic Club, the California Democratic Party Executive Board, and Asian Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus.

In 2010, Maggie and the other surviving WASP pilots received the Congressional Gold medal.

Maggie’s 2013 obituary in The San Francisco Chronicle ended with the following request: “If you would like to honor Maggie, be sure to vote in every election for the rest of your life, always participate in public life, support your community and enjoy every moment that you can. In lieu of flowers, Maggie asked that donations be made to Planned Parenthood of Alameda County…”