As the scourge of picnics and bane of beer gardens, wasps have long been among the most maligned creatures in Britain.
Now scientists have shown that there is method to their menace. Wasps are the first insects to exhibit a type of deductive reasoning, which for centuries was believed to be a hallmark of human intelligence. Moreover, they do so to get ahead socially.
Transitive inference is a form of reasoning that involves using known relationships to infer unknown relationships. For instance, if A is bigger than B and B is bigger than C, humans can deduce that A is bigger than C. So can some monkeys, birds and fish, but attempts to find such talents in insects had been fruitless.