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Ordering and topological defects in social wasps’ nests 
Published in Nature Publishing Group

Social insects have evolved a variety of architectural formations. Bees and wasps are well known for their ability to achieve compact structures by building hexagonal cells. Polistes wattii, an open nesting paper wasp species, builds planar hexagonal structures. Here, using the pair correlation function approach, we show that their nests exhibit short-range hexagonal order (no long-range order) akin to amorphous materials. Hexagonal orientational order was well preserved globally. We also show the presence of topological defects such as dislocations (pentagon-heptagon disclination pairs) and Stone-Wales quadrupoles, and discuss how these defects were organised in the nest, thereby restoring order. Furthermore, we suggest the possible role of such defects in shaping nesting architectures of other social insect species.

About the journal
JournalScientific Reports
PublisherNature Publishing Group
Open AccessYes