"Marimbondos": a review on the neotropical swarm-founding polistines.


  • Fernando Barbosa Noll Departamento de Zoologia e Botânica, IBILCE, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) - São José do Rio Preto, SP




Social wasps, swarming process, polygyny, colony cycle


Neotropical swarm-founding polistines, the Epiponini, compose a highly social tribe of vespids which displays several complex social characteristics, such as: intricate nest building, polygyny, swarm reproduction, and the absence of morphology caste discontinuities, a trait that would not be expected for a highly eusocial group. The biology of Epiponini will be reviewed, evidencing the scarcity of information for this group and also that not all social insects might fit in traditional theories for the evolution of social behavior.

Author Biography

Fernando Barbosa Noll, Departamento de Zoologia e Botânica, IBILCE, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) - São José do Rio Preto, SP

São José do Rio Preto


Andena, S.R., Noll, F.B., Carpenter, J.M. & Zucchi, R. (2007a). Phylogenetic analysis of the Neotropical Pseudopolybia de Saussure, 1863, with description of the male genitalia of Pseudopolybia vespiceps (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Epiponini). Am. Mus. Novit., 3586:1-1. doi: 10.1206/0003-0082(2007)3586[1:PAOTNP]2.0.CO;2

Andena, S.R., Noll, F. & Carpenter, J,M. (2007b). Phylogenetic analysis of the Neotropical social wasps of the genus Angiopolybia Araujo (1946) (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Epiponini). Zootaxa, 1427:57-64.

Andena, S.R., Carpenter, J.M. & Noll, F.B. (2009a). A phylogenetic analysis of Synoeca De Saussure, 1852, A neotropical genus of social wasps (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Epiponini). J. N. Y. Entomol. Soc., 115:81-89

Andena, S.R., Noll, F.B. & Carpenter, J.M. (2009b). Cladistic analysis of Charterginus Fox, 1898 (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Epiponini). A neotropical genus of social wasps. J. Nat. Hist. 43:1183-1193

Andena, S.R., Carpenter, J.M. & Pickett, K.M. (2009c). Phylogenetic analysis of species of the neotropical social wasp Epipona Latreille, 1802 (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Polistinae, Epiponini). Zookeys, 20:385-398. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.20.79

Andena, S.R. & Carpenter, J.M. (2012). A phylogenetic analysis of the social wasp genus Brachygastra Perty, 1833, and description of a new species (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Epiponini). Am. Mus. Novit., 3753:1-38

Bouwma, A.M., Howard, K.J. & Jeanne, R.L. (2007). Rates of non-legionary ant predation on colonies of a swarm-founding social wasp. Biotropica, 39:719-724

Carpenter, J.M. (1991). Phylogenetic relationships and the origin of social behavior. In: Ross KG and Matthews RW (eds) The social Biology of wasps. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 7-32

Carpenter, J.M. (1993). Biogeographic patterns in the Vespidae (Hymenoptera): Two views of Africa and South America. In: Goldblatt P (ed) Biological Relationships between Africa and South America. Yale University Press, New Haven, pp 139-155

Darwin, C. (1859). Origin of species by means of natural selection. In: The origin of species and the descent of man. The Modern Library, New York, pp 203-207

Evans, H.E. & West-Eberhard, M.J. (1970). The wasps. University Michigan Press, Ann. Arbor, Michigan

Ezenwa, V.O., Peters, J.M., Zhu, Y., Arevalo, E.A., Hastings, M.D., Seppa, P., Zacchi, F., Queller, D.C. & Strassmann, J.E. (1998). Ancient conservation of trinucleotide microsatellite loci in polistine wasps. Mol. Phylogen. Evol., 10:168-177. doi: 10.1006/mpev.1998.0528

Forsyth, A. (1978). Studies on the behavioral ecology of polygynous social wasps. Dissertation, Harvard University

Fukuda, H., Kojima, J. & Jeanne, R.L. (2003a). Colony specific morphological caste differences in an Old World, swarm-founding polistine, Ropalidia romandi (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Entomol. Sci., 6:37-47. doi: 10.1046/j.1343-8786.2003.00002.x

Fukuda, H., Kojima, J., Tsuchida, K. & Saito, F. (2003b). Size-dependent reproductive dominance in foundresses of Ropalidia plebeiana, an Australian paper wasp forming nest aggregations (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Entomol. Sci., 6:217–222. doi: 10.1046/j.1343-8786.2003.00025.x

Gastreich, K.R., Strassmann, J.E. & Queller, D.C. (1993). Determinants of high genetic relatedness in the swarm-founding wasp, Protopolybia exigua. Ethol. Ecol. Evol., 5:529-539

Goodnight, K.F., Strassmann, J.E., Klinger, C.J. & Queller, D.C. (1996). Single mating and its implications for kinship structure in a multiple-queen wasp, Parachartergus colobopterus. Ethol. Ecol. Evol., 8:91-198

Grimaldi, D. & Engel, M.S. (2005). Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Hamilton, W.D. (1964a). The genetical evolution of social behaviour I. J. Theor. Biol., 7:1-16

Hamilton, W.D. (1964b). The genetical evolution of social behaviour I. J. Theor. Biol., 7:17-52

Hamilton, W.D. (1972). Altruism and related phenomena, mainly in the social insects. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst., 3:193-232

Hastings, M.D., Queller, D.C., Eischen, F. & Strassmann, .J.E. (1998). Kin selection, relatedness and worker control of reproduction in a large-colony epiponine wasp, Brachygastra mellifica. Behav. Ecol., 9:573-581.

Herman, R.A., Queller, D.C., Strassmann, J.E. (2000). The role of queens in colonies of the swarm-founding wasp Parachartergus colobopterus. An. Behav., 59:841-848. doi: 10.1006/anbe.1999.1385

Howard, K.J., Smith, A.R., O’Donnell, S., Jeanne, R.L. (2002). Novel method of swarm emigration by the epiponine wasp, Apoica pallens (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Ethol. Ecol. Evol., 14:365-371. 10.1080/08927014.2002.9522737

Hughes, C.R., Queller, D.C., Negrón-Stomayor, J.A., Strassmann, J.E., Solis, C. & Gastreich, K.R. (1993). The maintenance of high genetic relatedness in multi-queen colonies of social wasps. In: Queen number and sociality in insects. Keller L (ed) Oxford University Press, New York, pp 153-170

Hunt, J.H., Jeanne, R.L. & Keeping, M.G. (1995). Observations on Apoica pallens, a nocturnal neotropical social wasp (Hymenoptera: Vespidae, Polistinae, Epiponini). Insect. Soc., 42(3):223-236

Jeanne, R.L. (1975). The adaptiveness of social wasp nest architecture. Q. Rev. Biol., 50:267-287

Jeanne, R.L. (1979). A latitudinal gradient in rates of ant predation. Ecology, 60:1211-1224

Jeanne, R.L. (1980). Evolution of social behavior in the Vespidae. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 25:371–396

Jeanne, R.L. (1981). Chemical communication during swarm emigration in the social wasp Polybia sericea (Olivier). An. Behav., 29(1):102-113

Jeanne, R.L. (1991). The swarm-founding Polistinae. In: Ross KG, Matthews RW (eds).The social Biology of wasps. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 191-231

Jeanne, R.L. (2003). Social complexity in the Hymenoptera, with special attention to the wasps, In: Kikuchi T, Azuma N, Higashi S (eds). Genes, Behaviors and Evolution of Social Insects, Proceedings of the 14th Congress of the IUSSI, Hokkaido University Press, Sapporo, Japan, pp 81–130.

Mateus, S., Noll, F.B. & Zucchi, R. (2004). Caste Flexibility and Variation according to the Colony Cycle in the swarm-founding Wasps, Parachartergus fraternus (Gribodo)(Hymenoptera; Apidae: Epipoini). J. Kansas Entomol. Soc., 77:470-483.

Mateus, S. (2011). Observations on Forced Colony Emigration in Parachartergus fraternus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Epiponini): New Nest Site Marked with Sprayed Venom. Psyche 2011:1-8. doi:10.1155/2011/157149

Naumann, M.G. (1970). The nesting behavior of Protopolybia pumila (Saussure, 1863) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Panama. Dissertation, University of Kansas

Noll, F.B. & Zucchi, R. (2000). Increasing caste differences related to life cycle progression in some neotropical swarm-founding polygynic wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Epiponini). Ethol. Ecol. Evol., 12(1):43-65. doi: 10.1080/03949370.2000.9728322

Noll, F.B. & Zucchi, R. (2002). Castes and the influence of the colony cycle in swarm-founding polistine wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Epiponini). Insect. Soc., 49:62-74. doi: 10.1007/s00040-002-8281-3

Noll, F.B., Wenzel, J.W. & Zucchi, R. (2004). Evolution of Caste in Neotropical Swarm-Founding Wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Epiponini). Am. Mus. Novit., 3467:1-24. Doi: 10.1206/0003-0082(2004)467<0001:EOCINW>2.0.CO;2

Noll, F.B. & Wenzel, J.W. (2008). Caste in the swarming wasps: “Queenless” societies in highly social insects. Biol. J. Linn. Soc., 93:509-522. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2007.00899.x

Oliveira, O.A.L., Noll, F.B. & Wenzel, J.W. (2010). Foraging Behavior and Colony Cycle of Agelaia vicina (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Epiponini). J. Hymenopt. Res., 9:4-11.

Pikett, K.M. & Wenzel, J.W. (2007). Revision and cladistic analysis of the nocturnal social wasp genus, Apoica Lepeletier (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Polistinae, Epiponini). Am. Mus. Novit., 3562:1-30. doi: 10.1206/0003-0082(2007)397[1:RACAOT]2.0.CO;2

Pickett, K.M. & Carpenter, J.M. (2010). Simultaneous analysis and the origin of eusociality in the Vespidae (Insecta: Hymenoptera). Arthropod Syst. Phylog., 68(1):3-33.

Platt, T.G., Queller, D.C. & Strassmann, J.E. (2004). Aggression and worker control of caste fate in a multiple-queen wasp, Parachartergus colobopterus. An. Behav., 67:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2003.01.005

Queller, D.C., Hughes, C.R. & Strassmann, J.E. (1988). Genetic relatedness in colonies of tropical wasps with multiple queen. Science, 242:1155-1157.

Queller, D.C., Negrón-Stomayor, H.C.R. & Strassmann, J.E. (1993). Queen number and genetic relatedness in a neotropical wasp, Polybia occidentalis. Behav. Ecol., 4:7-13.

Raveret-Richter, M. (2000). Social wasp (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) foraging behavior. Ann. Rev. Entomol., 45:121-150

Richards, O.W. (1971). The biology of the social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Biol. Rev., 46:483-528.

Richards, O.W. (1978). The social wasps of the Americas excluding the Vespinae. British Museum (Natural History), London

Richards, O.W. & Richards, M.J. (1951). Observations on the social wasps of South America (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Trans. R. Entomol. Soc. Lond., 102:1-170.

Simões, D. (1977). Etologia e diferenciação de casta em algumas vespas sociais (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Dissertation, USP, Ribeirão Preto

Sonnentag, P.J. & Jeanne, R.L. (2009). Initiation of absconding-swarm emigration in the social wasp Polybia occidentalis. J. Insect Sci., 9(11): 1-11. doi: 10.1673/031.009.1101

Strassmann, J.E., Queller, D.C., Solis, C.R. & Hughes, C.R. (1991). Relatedness and queen number in the neotropical wasp, Parachartergus colobopterus. An. Behav., 42:461-470.

Strassmann, J.E., Gastreich, K.R., Queller, D.C. & Hughes, C.R. (1992) Demographic and genetic evidence for cyclical changes in queen number in a neotropical wasp, Polybia emaciata. Am. Nat., 140:363-372.

Strassmann, J.E., Solis, C.R., Hughes, C.R., Goodnight, K.F. & Queller, D.C. (1997) Colony life history and demography of a swarm founding social wasp. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 40:71-77.

Strassmann, J.E., Goodnight, K.F., Klinger, C.J. & Queller, D.C. (1998). The genetic structure of swarms and the timing of their production in the queen cycles of neotropical wasps. Mol. Ecol., 7:709-718.

Strassmann, J.E., Sullender, B.W. & Queller, D.C. (2002). Caste totipotency and conflict in a large-colony social insect. Proc. R. Soc. L. Series B, 269:263-270.

Wenzel, J.W. (1993). Application of the biogenetic law to behavioral ontogeny: a test using nest architecture in paper wasps. J. Evol. Biol., 6:229-247.

Wenzel, J.W. (1998). A Generic key to the nests of hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps Worldwide (Vespidae: Vespinae, Polistinae). Am. Mus. Nov., 3224:1-39.

Wenzel, J.W. & Carpenter, J.M. (1994). Comparing methods: adaptive traits and tests of adaptation. In: Eggleton P, Vane-Wright R (eds) Phylogenetics and Ecology. Academic Press, London, pp 79-101

Wenzel, J.W. & Noll, F.B. (2006). Dados comportamentais na era da genômica [Behavioral data in the era of genomics]. Etology, 8:63-69.

West-Eberhard, M.J. (1969). The social biology of Polistinae wasps. Misc Publ Mus Zool 140:1-101

West-Eberhard, M.J. (1978). Temporary queens in Metapolybia wasps: non-reproductive helpers without altruism? Science, 200:441-443.

West-Eberhard, M.J. (1981). Intragroup selection and the evolution of insect societies. In: Natural selection and social behavior Alexander RD, Tinkle DW (eds) Chiron Press, New York, pp 3-17

West-Eberhard, M.J. (1982). The nature and evolution of swarming in tropical social wasps (Vespidae, Polistinae, Polybiini). In: Social Insects in the Tropics. Jaisson P (ed) Université de Paris-Nord, Paris, France, 1:97-128

West-Eberhard, M.J. (1990). The genetic and social structure of polygynous social wasp colonies (vespidae: Polistinae). In: Social insects and the environment. Veeresh GK, Mallik D, Viraktamath CS (eds) Oxford and IBH, New Delhi, pp 254-255

West-Eberhard, M.J. (2003). Developmental plasticity and evolution. Oxford University Press, New York.

Wheeler, D.E. (1991). The developmental basis of worker castes polymorphism in ants. Am Nat 138:1218-1238

Wilson, E.O. (1971).. The insect societies. Belknap Press. Harvard. University. Press. Cambridge, pp 548




How to Cite

Noll, F. B. (2013). &quot;Marimbondos&quot;: a review on the neotropical swarm-founding polistines. Sociobiology, 60(4), 347–353. https://doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v60i4.347-353




Most read articles by the same author(s)