Newly hatched wasps. Panal de Luna, Central American Paper Wasp (Apoica pallens)
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Newly hatched wasps. Panal de Luna

These are called Panal de Luna, Central American Paper Wasp (Apoica pallens). They're nocturnal and during the day are very calm.

The Central American Paper Wasp (Apoica pallens) is a nocturnal eusocial wasp (family Vespidae). It is famous for its swarm based emigration behavior, and is native to the lowlands of central and northern South America. This species has developed special night vision adaptations to facilitate their night-time swarming and forging behavior and has important medicinal properties.

Folk medicine is prominent in various areas of Central America. The incorporation of insects into folk remedies is common, and specific insects serve distinct purposes. Medicinal insects are the focus of certain healing methods targeted to treat ailments, serving as drug resources that come from nature. The nests of Apoica pallens, in particular, is known to be significant in the practices of Pankarare Indians and also the rural people of Brazil. Nests of these wasps are burned and the smoke released is inhaled in order to heal stroke. Furthermore, when the presence of evil is suspected in an Indianís life, they must bath in this smoke of the burning nest as treatment. In Matinha dos Pretos, pieces of the nest can also be boiled in water to make a tea that serves as treatment for asthma.

Apoica pallens has been found to collect various arthropods including flies, caterpillars, and beetles. It also collects pollen and nectar from banana blossoms. In addition, this species practices brood cannibalism, where the adults will eat some of the brood if their own nutritional needs are not met. Generally, several adults will divide up a single larva. In addition, adults will exchange food via trophallaxis.

Photograph by Silas Kent

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