Wasps aren’t the first critters that usually come to mind when one pictures a prosocial insect, but new research shows that when wasps are good at remembering and identifying other wasps by their facial markings, they are more likely to cooperate with nest tending, which ultimately improves the success of the nests.

 “This is really exciting because it means that there is an advantage to being cooperative,” said  Emily Laub, a recent PhD graduate from the University of Michigan’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology who conducted the research with guidance from her thesis adviser, Elizabeth Tibbetts. “We think that cooperation is something that really matters in human society, and the data from wasps seem to support that idea. There’s a social benefit to this specialized cognitive ability that we happen to share with a tiny insect.”