solar-powered hornets


The oriental hornet, Vespa orientalis, is more active during the day, and tends to become even more active as the temperature rises. And scientists have discovered the reason: the hornets are solar-powered. It turns out that the distinct yellow stripe on the hornet's abdomen is actually full of tiny protrusions that gather sunlight and harness it for energy.

The insect also features a special pigment, called xanthopterin, that helps with the process. Xanthopterin works as a light-harvesting molecule transforming light into electrical energy. Wasps and hornets tend to be more active during the morning, and this research explains why the oriental hornet is different: it stays out during the day because there's more sun. 
- Andrew Webster.

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