Data for the manuscript from Transitive inference in Polistes paper wasps

Transitive inference (TI) is a form of logical reasoning that involves using known relationships to infer unknown relationships (A > B; B > C; then A > C). TI has been found in a wide range of vertebrates but not in insects. Here, we test whether Polistes dominula and Polistes metricus paper wasps can solve a TI problem. Wasps were trained to discriminate between five elements in series (A0B-, B0C-, C0D-, D0E-), then tested on novel, untrained pairs (B versus D). Consistent with TI, wasps chose B more frequently than D. Wasps organized the trained stimuli into an implicit hierarchy and used TI to choose between untrained pairs. Species that form social hierarchies like Polistes may be predisposed to spontaneously organize information along a common underlying dimension. This work contributes to a growing body of evidence that the miniature nervous system of insects does not limit sophisticated behaviours.