In social wasp colonies there are usually three castes: the egg-laying queens (one or more per colony), the workers, or sexually undeveloped females, and the drones, or males. Social wasps build nests of a coarse, papery material, prepared by masticating wood fiber. The eggs are deposited in the compartments, or cells, of the nest, where they develop into larvae and then pupae, emerging as adults. Adult social wasps feed chiefly on nectar and plant sap but feed the larvae with masticated animal food. In temperate regions a colony lasts a single season, the drones and workers dying in the fall. The mated queens take shelter during the winter and in spring lay eggs and start new colonies. In the tropics colonies continue indefinitely, dividing when they grow very large. The paper wasps (Polistes), of nearly worldwide distribution, usually hang their nests, consisting of a single comb (layer of cells), from eaves, branches, or other shelters. The hornets and yellow jackets (Vespa), found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, build a large, round nest of many combs, covered with a paper sheath; in some species this nest is built underground.
Among the solitary wasps, each species usually favors a particular type of prey. The female seals a single egg in a nest provided with paralyzed prey on which the developing larva feeds. In many species the nest is in a burrow or small hole dug by the female. The jug-shaped nests of the potter, or mason, wasps (Eumenes) of Europe and North America are made of mud and fastened to plants. Often seen under bridges and eaves are the "organ-pipe" nests of the mud-dauber wasps (Sceliphron), consisting of long, narrow, adjacent cells of mud. Other solitary wasps are the tarantula hawks (Pepsis) and cicada killers (Sphecus) of the SW United States, which hunt prey much larger than themselves.
Some wasps are parasitic. The cuckoo wasps (family Chrysididae), of worldwide distribution, are brilliantly colored wasps that lay their eggs in other wasps' nests. The ichneumon flies are wasps that lay their eggs in the larvae of other insects. The gall wasps (see gall) lay eggs in plant tissues. Wasps that prey on harmful insects have been introduced in various regions to control these pests.
The name wasp is sometimes restricted to the so-called true wasps, members of the superfamilies Vespoidae and Sphecoidae. Wasps are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Hymenoptera.
Any of more than 20,000, usually winged, insect species in the order Hymenoptera. The abdomen is attached to the thorax by a slender petiole, or “waist,” and the female's abdomen has a formidable stinger. Most species are solitary; about 1,000 species are highly social; and some may be either social or solitary. Adults feed primarily on nectar. Most solitary wasps nest in tunnels in the ground and feed larvae with paralyzed insects or spiders. The paperlike nest of social wasps (family Vespidae) consists of chewed plant material mixed with saliva and arranged in adjacent hexagonal cells. The female lays one egg in each cell and provisions it with a macerated caterpillar. Successive generations may enlarge the nest and care for the young.
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WASP-1b is an extrasolar planet orbiting the star WASP-1 located over 1000 light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. The planet's mass and radius indicate that it is a gas giant with a similar bulk composition to Jupiter. Unlike Jupiter, but similar to many other planets detected around other stars, WASP-1b is located very close to its star, and belongs to the class of planets known as hot Jupiters. In recognition of the regional support given to the project on La Palma, the discoverers gave the planet the alternative designation Garafia-1.