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Social and antisocial behaviour in parasitic wasps by Dr Ian Hardy

Friday 31 Oct, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Wasps can be a nuisance when they steal our food and drink, but these are the social wasps. There are many more species of beneficial parasitic wasps. In this talk Ian Hardy from the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham will introduce parasitic, or ‘parasitoid’, wasps, of which there are many thousands of species worldwide. He will go on to discuss species in which adult wasps fight each other directly for vital resources and outline what determines which contestant wins. His talk will also consider some very unusual parasitoids that do not fight, but instead several mothers look after broods of offspring communally (termed quasi-sociality). Both fighting and non-fighting wasps tend to produce mainly females in their offspring groups. The reasons for biased sex ratios in fighting wasps are well understood but the sex ratios of quasi-social wasps require explanations that are novel among parasitoids.