Video: Wasps Come With Their Own Power Tools

Nadia is a news intern at Science.

Wasps don’t need to go to the hardware store for a power drill; they’ve got their own. The female parasitic fig wasp (Apocryta westwoodi grandi) can bore deep into tough, unripe figs (as seen in the video above) with a tail-shaped appendage that’s thinner than a single strand of human hair. Fascinated by the piercing strength of the instrument, scientists analyzed its shape and composition. They found that the tip of the appendage looks much like an actual drill bit with teeth that are bolstered by a hint of metal to help cut into the woody fruit. These prongs, which are enriched with zinc, are nearly as strong as the cement dentists use to glue in prosthetic teeth. The finding, published online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology, could help the research team design a miniature device that mimics the wasp’s own unique drilling tool. Sadly, as the video shows, the insect’s power tool is no use against an ant’s deadly pincers.

(Video credit: Laksminath Kundanati and Namrata Gundiah)

Posted in Biology, Plants & Animals