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Document Type

Peer-Review Article

Abstract

Polistes dominulus (Christ), an old world paper wasp, was introduced into the eastern United States in the 1970s and has been rapidly spreading westward. Recently, it has displaced the native Polistes fuscatus (F.) in at least some areas of Michigan. In order to understand why P. dominulus has been so successful, several behavioral attributes were compared between P. dominulus and P. fuscatus at a Michigan field site that contained colonies of both species nest- ing semi-naturally in plywood nestboxes.

Preworker colonies of P. dominulus had a significantly greater tendency to store nectar (and had significantly higher proportions of cells with nectar) than preworker colonies of P. fuscatus. This finding may explain the higher survivorship of P. dominulus foundresses reported in a previous study. P. dominulus also had a significantly greater tendency to build vertical nests and had significantly more pedicels per comb and per cell than P. fuscatus. These findings suggest that compared to P. fuscatus, P. dominulus may have more flexibility in the positioning of its combs and, because of a possibly stronger attachment of the comb to a substrate, may be less susceptible to bird predation. The higher winter survivorship reported for P. fuscatus over P. dominulus in a previous study does not appear to be due to differences in the proportions of gynes stranded on their nests late in the fall. Finally, behavioral evidence from videography was consistent with previous reports that P. dominulus is not replacing P. fuscatus through direct agonistic interactions.

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Entomology Commons

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