Saturday, January 28, 2017

ZooWeird 59

A doggerel series about odd or little-known animals.

Oriental hornet. Typically, wasps and hornets are most active during the early morning when they do the majority of their daily activities. However, this is not the case with the oriental hornet that is most active during the middle of the day. This social insect nests underground, and the workers correlate their digging activity with the intensity of sunlight. It turns out there is actually a good reason why these insects love intense sunlight. The species has an outer layer (cuticle) that allows it to harvest solar energy. The yellow parts of the body (in the head and abdomen) contain a pigment called Xanthopterin, which works as a light-harvesting molecule, transforming light into electrical energy. Currently, it is assumed that part of this energy is transformed in a photo-biochemical process which aids the species with energy demanding activities, like flying and digging. The harvested energy appears to also provide enough energy to carry out some metabolic functions, for researchers have found that most of the metabolic activity occurs in the yellow pigment layer. (All animal info from

They gather solar energy,
These wasps, these very clever dudes,
Their gifts denied to you and me.
Thus Mother Nature oft excludes

From one the other’s special gifts—
As if she evens up the score,
Avoiding jealousy and rifts—
Avoiding inter-species’ war!

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