Thursday, 5 May 2011

Sphex Wasp

Sphex wasps, when they reproduce, paralyse prey and lay their eggs in/on it.  When the eggs hatch the baby wasps have a fresh food source to give them a good start in life.

The mummy wasp digs a hole in the ground (they are commonly known as digger wasps) then goes off and brings back a paralysed grub.  It sets it beside the entrance to the hole and goes into the nest.  It is possible that another wasp has commandeered the hole.  After a quick look around it comes back out and grabs the grub, drags it into the hole, lays its eggs, and leaves (covering the hole entrance).

This seems like reasonable and intelligently foreplanned behaviour.

If, when the wasp goes into the hole, you move the paralysed grub by an inch or two, it comes out, re-locates the grub, moves it back to beside the hole entrance, and then goes back inside the hole.  It looks around then comes out again.  If you have again moved the grub, and continue to do so, the wasp will be caught in an infinite loop of hardwired behaviour.

Are you?

9 comments:

Haven said...

Some days it feels like that. But I can't live like that for long.

I rarely react to something the same way twice. My emotions are too mutable.

Plus I can't be bored. It'd forbidden.

G said...

interesting...

ResCogitans said...

it was difficult to write this without putting purpose into the behaviour; e.g. it was very tempting to write:
lays its eggs in the grub so that they have something to eat when...
it looks around the hole in case another wasp has...

we anthopomorphise (is that a word?) all the time with animals, giving sentient meaning where there may not be any, and the irony is that i view most people as malleable sheeple who go through life on autopilot not really thinking about who they are and why they behave the way they do.

Zhawq said...

A funny coincidence, just this morning I zapped through the channels on TV and happened upon a chidlren's channel, where a kid was narrating a short introduction to the wasps. The visual side was quite beautiful as well.

I think the word is Anthromorphism.

And yes, we do this all the time, because we're animals too. Have you noticed how all life forms have some fundamental traits in common? Physically it is very easy to see, and once we learn about basic neurology we find there're so many commonalities between all the species in almost every way.

"Malleable sheeple"... Indeed. I think this is the first lesson one learns once you've decided to take that small step and shut down the auto-pilot, for as far as this is possible, of course.

It's an ongoing process, and as we grow we keep finding new areas and ways in which we've been going on auto-pilot ourselves.

Every new step is a small death in itself, and in it is new life. This is why destruction and creation are intricately connected, and it is why I see so much beauty in a small vision such as the one you've described in this article.

ResCogitans said...

i do love nature documentaries, some of nature's solutions to problems are ingenious and often end up being mirrored by engineers for technological problems.

"it's an ongoing process"
amen to that. observing yourself is never-ending, let alone observing yourself observing yourself... ;)

we are indeed animals, and as all animal behaviour is shaped by the same force (evolution) we will always use our great powers of pattern recognition (intelligence) to anthropomorphise other animals, whether or not it is justified in reality (as pointed out in this post).
btw. just looked it up. anthropomorphise, with the 'po' in the middle, is correct. ize if you're american. etymology is from the greek 'anthropos' meaning 'human'.

Zhawq said...

Lol, yeah, I forgot the 'po' part. So typical of me (damn dyslexia). So I was right, but I said it wrong. Pfh! :D

"Ob serving yourself is never-ending"

Indeed. Death is in the eye of the beholder. A useful invention, nevertheless!... '^L^,

Kelly said...

That's a good question. Here's how it is with me. The answer is no by reason of certain events changing my outlook at least four times. Each time a life changing event has occurred it bends my behavior. Others have noticed this, too. I have changed according to the environment, too. Nowadays, I'm strong, open and very direct. I was like these traits only half the time. Now it's all the time and I feel like a warrior wishing to taste the blood of his victims. hahahahaha. Funny, but for the most part, pretty damn true. Wish I could afford more therapy. :) Ah well. Those wasps remind me of some humans. You know what I call a predictable human??? A. conformist.

TheNotablePath said...

Auto-pilot...

I wonder what my auto-pilot is. I have no draw to romance, breeding, stability... Just enjoyment seeking.

Am I on auto-pilot at all? Have I ever had one? Is mine simpler for a reason? Or is it simply 'broken'?

ResCogitans said...

i've often wondered if autopilot is simply lack of self awareness. i've wondered if the level of self awareness where you see the basic logical motives of behaviour is due to there being more of a connection between the conscious and the unconscious mind. perhaps in most people the unconscious mind calculates the best strategy and then passes an emotion to the conscious brain that elicits the behaviour. perhaps some high functioning psychopaths have arrived there with flat effect as a side effect of being aware of true motives. perhaps low functioning ones are flat affect but not as self-aware and so are still slaves to their primal instincts...