Scientists have discovered how to tell whether a wasp is angry – by looking at the markings on its head.
Researchers found that wasps with more black spots tend to be more aggressive and ferocious.
The remarkable connection was discovered as part of into an investigation into why some wasps have such patterned faces.
The study involved painting dots on the faces of dead wasps, placing them on tempting sugar cubes and see how other wasps reacted to them…
Dr Elizabeth Tibbetts of the University of Michigan in the US found that living wasps were less willing to land near dead wasps with more spots.
She argues that the insects have learned to be wary of the most highly decorated wasps because they are more aggressive.
Dr Tibbetts said: It’s the animal version of the karate belt.
“Someone with a black belt is better than someone with a yellow belt. It’s a convention we have to signal fighting ability.”
However, she conceded that the only way for a human to tell the difference would be to get very close to a wasp – and therefore be in increased danger of being stung.
The study was reported in the journal Current Biology.