We visited Simon (of asciimation, jet-powered beer-cooler, life-size Bender Beer Brewer, and TARDIS MAME Console Interweb fame) for a gathering over the weekend. And yet, the strangest thing we saw that day was not Simon’s latest project, but rather a very sadistic wasp intent on decapitating the entire cicada population in the back-yard.
The wasp had a well refined strategy:
- Attack care-free chirping cicada in tree
- Force it to the ground, and sting repeatedly to immobilize it
- Once cicada is resonably immobilized, proceed to sever its head
- Fly off with head, leaving grisly remains on table
- Return a few minutes later with a new cicada and repeat process
A step by step photo-essay on cicada head removal is available here.
What possible motivation could the wasp have for removing a cicada’s head? Killing a cicada I could understand, maybe it was invading its territory, or the constant chirping was creating a wasp-like headache. But what would drive it to not only kill the cicada, but then spend the next few minutes removing its head, before flying off with it (which required considerable effort to just get air bourne).
Maybe the wasp needs to eat cicada brains to survive? But even if so, why just not eat the head then and there, next to to the body?
Why would a wasp want to collect cicada heads?