Via Matthew Cobb and Ed Yong, here are a handful of (dead) queens of the Japanese hornet, Vespa mandarina, the largest wasp in the world. In a previous post on this species, I described how they attack and completely destroy bee colonies by decapitating the workers, and how the bees defend themselves by surrounding the wasp scouts, cooking the wasps to death by vibrating their bodies to generate heat. Both the wasps’ predation and the bees’ defense are impressive adaptations, ones that I used to begin the chapter on natural selection in Why Evolution is True. If you haven’t read my earlier post, do so, as it includes two amazing videos showing a wasp raid on a bee colony and the “bee ball” defense.
The photo was taken by Addicted2Hymenoptera :), who apparently bought these queens from a commercial outfit, insectsale.com. (I don’t recommend buying such stuff.)
Look at the size of those things! Their stings kill several dozen Asians every year. (Of course it’s the workers, not the queens, who do most of the stinging.)