Science 3 min read

Study Suggests Wasps Are Capable of Logical Thinking

Capri23auto / Pixabay

Capri23auto / Pixabay

Wasps are one of the deadliest creatures you can encounter.

In a retrospective study of deaths caused by venomous animals in Sweden, researchers noted that wasps killed 19 people within ten years.

The story is the same in the United States. On the Washington Post’s list of “Animals Most Likely To Kill You This Summer,” you’ll find the insect in the company of animals like sharks, alligators, and bears.

Now a recent study suggests that wasps are capable of thinking logically, adding one more reason to be wary of the lethal insects.

While previous studies on honey bees show that they are not capable of logical reasoning, the same may not be said for paper wasps.

But, just how smart are they?

According to a publication in Biology Letters, paper wasps can logically reach a deduction from observation.

Paper Wasps: The Logicians of the Insect World

Knowing if a creature is capable of thinking logically is no easy feat.

The researcher explained that such an organism must understand that “if A is greater than B, and B is greater than C, then A is greater than C.” Although this sounds simple in theory, it’s challenging to prove in practice.

So, how did the researchers prove it, you ask?

For their study, the University of Michigan researchers got the insects acquainted with a color pair. While one of the colors discharged a small electrical zap when the insects came in contact with it, the other was safe to touch.

Within a short while, the wasps were able to differentiate from the safe color and the electrically charged one. To mix things up a bit, the scientists introduced a new pair of colors.

After the insects had learned the new colors, they were intermixed into a new pair, but the wasps were again able to identify the safe color in the new context.

The findings suggests that the insects are not only capable of learning what’s safe, but they could also apply this knowledge when faced with new variables.

Yet, the researchers are reluctant to declare the insect’s use of logic, since it’s not in the way we think of it.

In a statement, an evolutionary biologist with the University of Michigan, Elizabeth Tibbetts said:

“We’re not saying that wasps used logical deduction to solve this problem, but they seem to use known relationships to make inferences about unknown relationships,”

According to the researcher, the insect’s capacity for complex behavior is not strictly determined by its brain size. Instead, it may have been shaped by the social environment that rewards such behavior.

With that said, further research is necessary to understand why paper wasps seem to have this ability while similar insects such as honeybees do not.

Read More: New Study: Eating Nuts in Early Pregnancy Boosts Children’s Intelligence

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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