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Wasps perform important tasks in nature, but they are a nuisance when having breakfast on the balcony or when eating ice cream outdoors. When it gets dark, they disappear. But wasps sleep?

In a nutshell

  • Wasps (Vespinae) are not entirely nocturnal
  • they sleep in several short periods at night
  • Total sleep time only two to three hours a day
  • Insects fly into the nest in the evening and leave in the morning in daylight
  • Nest is guarded by members of the hive while others sleep

Research: Do wasps sleep?

Barret Klein, a scientist at the University of Arizona, found in laboratory experiments on paper wasps (Polistes flavus) that they can fall into a sleep-like state. The researcher assumed that the insects, like humans and other animals, use sleep to regenerate tissue and replenish energy reserves.
It is now known that wasps return to their nests at dusk. Barret Klein was able to determine that they are more diurnal than nocturnal and follow a day-night rhythm.
Proof of the sleep-like state by:

  • drop in body temperature
  • decrease in metabolism
  • slowing of breathing
  • sinking of the body
  • hanging the antennas

Similar results could also be observed in bees, cockroaches and fruit flies. The researchers assume transferability to other groups of insects.

wake up in case of danger

Wasps are guarded by members of the wasp colony during sleep. Only part of the colony falls into the dormant phase. Nevertheless, the insects can be awakened during sleep. They notice when danger is imminent.
Attention: All wasp species native to Germany are protected. They destroy pests such as mosquitoes or flies and are considered important pollinators.

Special case hornet

The hornet (Vespa crabro), which can be up to four centimeters in size, is one of the native wasp species. Observations have shown that hornet colonies fall into short rest periods at regular intervals of about thirty minutes during the night and early morning. Unlike most other wasp species, in which part of the colony sleeps while other members guard the burrow, all hornets fall into a rigid state together. All hornets stay still for about half a minute and don't move. This standstill, which includes the entire people, is repeated several times.

frequently asked Questions

Does the wasp close its eyes when it is resting?

The wasp cannot close its eyes because it does not have eyelids. She sits relaxed in the burrow, her head and antennae drooping in her sleep.

Do wasps hibernate?

With the exception of young queens, wasp colonies only live for one summer. The queens' pheromone production, which keeps their offspring sterile, decreases towards the end of summer. The offspring born in late summer are fertile. They mate with other wasp colonies. Males die after mating. The young queens overwinter in rotten wood, where they fall into a kind of hibernation. In the spring they create their own wasp colony.

How long does wasp sleep last?

The duration of the sleep-like state is two to three hours a day in all researched wasp species. This sleep duration consists of several short sleep phases during the night. The daily rhythm of the animals includes active phases during the day and several sleep-wake states after the onset of dusk until the early morning hours.

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