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My world has Eusocial Wyverns that live in groups of a thousand or so. They are about the size of rats. They have several castes, similar to ants or naked mole rats. All members of the same cast are the same size. They have a strong bite, sharp teeth, and an stinger at the end of their tail with a breath weapon as a possibility.

The dragons they have to deal with every once in a while are about the size of elephants when they're adults and are assumed to have a breath weapon. The dragons attack the Wyvern nests to eat the equivalent of their larva and possibly a honey-like substance they produce to feed them during the winter.

The eusocial wyvern's goal is to chase off the dragon at the very least regardless of their breath weapon, how would they do so?

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  • $\begingroup$ We're missing some plot details here... do you want them to be able to deal with dragons? Why would they have to fight off dragons? What's in it for the dragons? $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2021 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ Protein rich food source that lives in large groups, not to mention a possible honey substance similar to how bears raid bee hives for the larva and honey. $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2021 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ OK, that's great, please add all relevant details to the question. Presumably if this is a bee-bear relationship, then the answer to this question is "they don't", they just have to survive the attack. $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2021 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ They would likely want to chase off the dragon before any damage could be done to the hive, or at least minimize it (like what bees try to do with bears, with some success depending on the species) hence the question "how would they deal with large Dragons." They don't need to kill the dragon per say (even if they wouldn't mind), just chase it off at the very least. $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2021 at 16:24

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They cook the dragon.

bee ball

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/bizarre-bee-havior-in-the-battle-against-the-giant-hornet-129395782/

Your wyverns are bee analogues. Your dragon is a killer hornet. As the hornet is immune to any sting or bite a bee might have, so too the dragon is immune to the weaponry of the wyvern. The hornet is not vulnerable to individual bees. Together, the bees have an emergent property.

With a two-inch-long body and a 3-inch wingspan, the hornet is enormous – many times larger than the bees. But the honeybees have evolved a unique defense mechanism: When a hornet invades a honeybee hive, as many as 500 bees gang up and form a tight ball around the attacker. The heat from the bees’ vibrating wings and the carbon dioxide they respire proves a deadly combination. In less than an hour, the hornet is dead.

Your wyverns do the same. They cluster around the dragon and shortcircuit their breath weapons to heat up their entire bodies and keep them hot. The dragon is cooked alive. Most of the wyverns involved die too, either in the ball or later.

The hive survives.

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What is the relationship?

Eusociality almost by definition involves a caste system, so I'm not sure if your wyverns meet the technical definition, but that's semantics. However, without a caste system, every individual represents a reproductive unit and has an evolutionary incentive to avoid self destruction unless it is clearly to the benefit of their own gene group. Consider a caste system, or possibly rethink what the relationship between the dragons and the wyverns and humans looks like.

  • Bury their hive underground, with the desirable parts in areas dragons can't reach.
  • Evolve toxins that poison dragons but not wyverns, then exude those into their honey and the eggs(?)/larvae by adding them to the food used to produce honey or the food fed to larvae. This can be the same poison they have in their stingers.
  • Have hostility behaviors where the wyverns constantly snipe at dragons within their territories, poisoning them slowly to discourage the dragon from even being in the general area. Wyverns might seek out dragon nests and kill their young or steal/break eggs to eliminate threats. If dragons are intelligent or organized, this may eventually cause them to develop strategies to get rid of wyverns.
  • Pick climates that are less friendly to dragons. If dragons are in mountains to avoid pesky knights in shining armor, then wyverns live close to people and at low altitudes. This can even be a symbiotic relationship if wyverns help human crops, and the two groups may eventually learn to accommodate each other like humans and bees. Humans might even build wyvern nests to attract wyverns, with secret tunnels into them to allow surreptitious 'honey' collection.
  • If dragons and wyverns are closely related, there may be some exotic relationships that evolve. The larvae may be captured by dragons who want wyvern pets/servants. If so, the wyverns may find themselves domesticated and in a symbiotic relationship with dragons who value their use against humans as well as the 'honey' supply, while the wyverns start treating the dragon like a queen. Conversely, wyverns may steal dragon eggs to raise as protectors, possibly even somehow pithing the dragon to make it less likely to destroy the hive. Perhaps dragons constantly exposed to wyvern toxin develop differently and behave like a different species.
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  • $\begingroup$ All these are nice ideas to think about, all of these sound like fun ideas. I actually just checked out the page on Eusociality (namely the Naked Mole Rat) and by the looks of it their colonies would be more like the Mole Rats (as in there's a queen, with larger members act as soldiers while smaller ones act like workers, with no other morphical differences which I what originally meant, so oops). $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2021 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ The normal bird way of sniping is mobbing: all the local birds descend on a predator that's trying to sleep and harass it. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Jan 28 at 23:42
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Predators Don't Go After High Risk Prey

Even if these wyverns do produce a honey like substance, the dragon would not bother attacking a hive unless it was sure that the risk is minimal. Most animals do not even prey on animals with a high chance of causing minor injury which means that the wyverns CAN'T significantly harm the dragon if you want dragons attacking wyverns over food.

When a dragon attacks a wyvern nest, his scales are too thick for the wyverns to sting through in most places, and those few spots they can get through don't matter much because dragons have evolved alongside wyverns to have a high resistance to wyvern venom. So at most, the wyverns would be a minor irritation to the dragon. Not enough to really drive it off until the dragon is full enough to outweigh the discomfort of being stung.

The good news is that it does not matter that the wyvrens can't beat a dragon BECAUSE they are Eusocial. Eusocial creatures follow r-selection meaning that Wyvern colonies can get decimated by dragons on a regular basis and still recover quickly enough to do well as a species. Instead of victory, the wyverns need only to focus on not getting wiped out. To do this, the wyverns put thier "honey" near the outside of the hive and keep the queen and eggs near the inside. This way when a dragon attacks, it just rips open the outer walls, eats its fill of honey and leaves. It has no interest in eating the Queen or her eggs; so, the wyverns simply rebuild and go on about thier existence.

I would personally revisit your ideas for your other two eusocial creatures and really ask yourself if it make since for them to be dragon killers either. Things the size of elephants tend to follow K-selection meaning that they would not survive as a species if swarms of other creatures keep killing them off. When dealing with r-selection, you also need to ask yourself what is keeping these swarms of creatures from overpopulating. IE: if dragons aren't keeping their numbers in check, what is?

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If the Wyverns are intelligent then you can use human ways of dealing with birds and big animals. One possibility is:

  1. Throw a net on the dragon (Nets can be produced like humans do it. There are some fire resistant materials) and the dragon falls to the ground.
  2. Hit spears from above when the dragon is grounded. Gravity helps with penetration even if the scales of the dragon are tough.

I would generally say that intelligence is the weapon for hunting bigger animals. During stone age humans likely managed to hunt to extiction all mammoths and cave bears.

And it is even more pronounced in mordern time. Just look around. Do you know about any bears in your nearby park/forest? They are (or almost) extinct in Europe. Wolves are forbidden to hunt. Alligators usually do not survive eating human children. And this is not even including modern technology. A dragon appearing in the sky? Will be hit immidiately by an anti-aircraft rocket. A dragon is too tough for an anti-aircraft rocket? Add an anti-tank shell that penetrates 1m of steel.

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