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Forever Young

“I get depressed from time to time. If it is not working, or an experiment fails, or controls didn't develop on their own, there has to be a scientific explanation for every failure. And that keeps you going. It is stimulating, I enjoy it.”

Dr Philip Spradbery studies one of nature’s most brutal creatures, European wasps.

In the wasp community, the queen is the most evil of them all, turning on her own to destroy their reproduction. She is so bad she could anchor a season of Game of Thrones.

The queen secretes a chemical through the tip of her abdomen and paints it on the papier mache-like wasp combs.

Worker wasps pick this chemical up with their antennae. It gets inside their brain and prevents them from producing a juvenile hormone which in turn prevents them from developing their ovaries. They are left sterile. The queen does this so the other wasps will work in the colony, foraging, nest building, caring for the brood and forming a terrifying defensive line against intruders.

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> Read Forever Young full article on Canberra Times website