The Queen of the Paper Wasp Polistes jokahamae (Vespidae: Polistinae) Is Not Aggressive but Maintains Her Reproductive Priority

Hideto Yoshimura, Junichi Yamada, Yoshihiro Y Yamada


The behaviors performed on the nest by the foundress queen and workers of the paper wasp Polistes jokahamae were observed in three colonies in the field and one colony in a cage set in the field. Each queen was rarely ranked top in the dominance hierarchy determined by the pairwise dominance–subordinate interactions and did not display more frequent direct aggression toward the top-ranked worker than toward other workers. Furthermore, the queen exhibited aggression less frequently than did the most aggressive workers in all four colonies. The dominance order among the workers was positively correlated with the emergence order, with older workers being more dominant. The queen laid eggs in a dominant or monopolized way; some dominant workers laid eggs in three colonies. These observations suggest that the queen maintained her queen status, including her reproductive priority, using signals rather than aggression. Lateral vibrations (rapidly laterally vibrating the abdomen) and abdominal rubbing (rubbing the abdomen onto the comb) appeared to be candidate signals of the fertility or reproductive potential of the performer. Lateral vibrations were performed only by the queen, and their frequency was positively correlated with the frequency of ovipositing. The queen and some dominant workers performed abdominal rubbing; the frequency was higher for the queen than for any of the dominant workers early in the colony’s development, but not later. Although performers of abdominal rubbing were more likely to lay eggs than non-performers, the frequency of abdominal rubbing was not a predictor of the frequency of ovipositing.


aggression; dominance hierarchy; primitive eusociality; Polistinae; signal; social insect

Full Text:



Bhadra, A., Iyer, P.L., Sumana, A., Deshpande, S.A., Ghosh, S. & Gadagkar, R. (2007). How do workers of the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata detect the presence of their queens? Journal of Theoretical Biology, 246: 574-582. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2007.01.007

Bhadra, A., Mitra, A., Deshpande, S.A., Chandrasekhar, K., Naik, D.G., Hefetz, A. & Gadagkar, R. (2010). Regulation of reproduction in the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata: on the trail of the queen pheromone. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 36: 424-431. doi: 10.1007/s10886-010-9770-x

Bourke, A.F.G. & Franks, N.R. (1995). Social evolution in ants. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 529 p

Bradbury, J.W. & Vehrencamp, S.L. (2011). Principles of animal communication, 2nd edn. Sunderland: Sinauer Associates, 697 p

Brillet, C., Tian-Chansky, S.S. & Conte, Y.L. (1999). Abdominal waggings and variation of their rate of occurrence in the social wasp, Polistes dominulus Christ. I. Quantitative analysis. Journal of Insect Behavior, 12: 665-686. doi: 10.1023/A:1020979720527

Cant, M.A., Llop, J.B. & Field, J. (2006). Individual variation in social aggression and the probability of inheritance: theory and a field test. The American Naturalist, 167: 837-852. doi: 10.1086/503445

Cervo, R. & Lorenzi, M.C. (1996). Behaviour in usurpers and late joiners of Polistes biglumis bimaculatus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Insectes Sociaux, 43: 255-266. doi: 10.1007/BF01242927

Chandrashekara, K. & Gadagkar, R. (1991). Behavioural castes, dominance and division of labour in a primitively eusocial wasp. Ethology, 87: 269-283. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.1991.tb00252.x

Cytel (2012). StatXact 10 user manual. Cambridge: Cytel Inc.

Dapporto, L., Bruschini, C., Cervo, R., Petrocelli, I. & Turillazzi, S. (2010a). Hydrocarbon rank signatures correlate with differential oophagy and dominance behaviour in Polistes dominulus foundresses. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 213: 453-458. doi: 10.1242/jeb.032938

Dapporto, L., Bruschini, C., Cervo, R., Dani, F.R., Jackson, D.E. & Turillazzi, S. (2010b). Timing matters when assessing dominance and chemical signatures in the paper wpsp Polistes dominulus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64: 1363-1365. doi: 10.1007/s00265-010-0984-2

van Doorn, A. & Heringa, J. (1986). The ontogeny of a dominance hierarchy in colonies of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Insectes Sociaux, 33: 3-25. doi: 10.1007/BF02224031

Downing, H.A. & Jeanne, R.L. (1985). Communication of status in the social wasp Polistes fuscatus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 67: 78-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.1985.tb01380.x

Holm, S. (1979). A simple sequentially rejective multiple test procedure. Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, 6: 65-70.

van Hooser, C.V., Gamboa, G.J. & Fishwild, T.G. (2002). The function of abdominal stroking in the paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Ethology Ecology and Evolution, 14: 141-148. doi: 10.1080/08927014.2002.9522752

Ishikawa, Y., Yamada, Y.Y., Matsuura, M., Tsukada, M. & Tsuchida, K. (2010). Dominance hierarchy among workers changes with colony development in Polistes japonicus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) paper wasp colonies with a small number of workers. Insectes Sociaux, 57: 465-475. doi: 10.1007/s00040-010-0106-1

Ishikawa, Y., Yamada, Y.Y., Matsuura, M., Tsukada, M. & Tsuchida, K. (2011). Polistes japonicus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) queens monopolize ovipositing but are not the most active aggressor in dominance-subordinate interactions. Insectes Sociaux, 58: 519-529. doi: 10.1007/s00040-011-0173-y

Jandt, J.M., Tibbets, E.A. & Toth, A.L. (2014). Polistes paper wasps: a model genus for the study of social dominance hierarchies. Insectes Sociaux, 61: 11-27. doi: 10.1007/s00040-013-0328-0

Jeanne, R.L. (2003). Social complexity in the Hymenoptera, with special attention to the wasps. In T. Kikuchi, N. Azuma & S. Higashi (Eds.), Genus, behaviors and evolution of social insects (pp. 81-131). Sapporo: Hokkaido University Press.

Jeanne, R.L. (2009). Vibrational signals in social wasps: a role in caste determination? In J. Gadau & J. Fewell (Eds.) Organization of insect societies: from genome to sociocomplexity (pp. 243-265). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Kasuya, E. (1981). Polygyny in the Japanese paper wasp, Polistes jadwigae (Dalla Torre) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Kontyû, 49: 306-313.

Keller, L. & Nonacs, P. (1993). The role of queen pheromones in social insects: queen control or queen signal? Animal Behaviour, 45: 787-794. doi: 10.1006/anbe.1993.1092

Liebig, J., Monnin, T. & Turillazzi, S. (2005). Direct assessment of queen quality and lack of worker suppression in a paper wasp. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 272: 1339-1344. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2005.3073

Lorenzi, M.C., Cervo, R. & Bagnères, A-G. (2011). Facultative social parasites mark host nests with branched hydrocarbons. Animal Behaviour, 82: 1143-1149. doi: 10.1016/ j.anbehav.2011.08.011

Mitra, A. (2014). Queen pheromone and monopoly of reproduction by the queen in the social wasp Ropalidia marginata. Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy, 80: 1025-1044. doi: 10.16943/ptinsa/2014/v80i5/47971

Mitra, A. & Gadagkar, R. (2011). Can Dufour’s gland compounds honestly signal fertility in the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata? Naturwissenschaften, 98: 157-161. doi: 10.1007/s00114-010-0749-9

Miyano, S. (1991). Worker reproduction and related behavior in orphan colonies of a Japanese paper wasp, Polistes jadwigae (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Journal of Ethology, 9: 135-146. doi: 10.1007/BF02350218

Molina, Y. & O’Donnell, S. (2009). Worker reproductive competition affects division of labor in a primitively social paperwasp (Polistes instabilis). Insectes Sociaux, 56: 14-20. doi: 10.1007/s00040-008-1027-0

Monnin, T. & Peeters, C. (1999). Dominance hierarchy and reproductive conflicts among subordinates in a monogynous queenless ant. Behavioral Ecology, 10: 323-332. doi: 10.1093/beheco/10.3.323

Morimoto, R. (1961). On the dominance order in Polistes wasps. II. Studies on the social Hymenoptera of Japan XIII. Science Bulletin of the Faculty of Agriculture Kyushu University, 19: 1-17 (in Japanese with English summary).

Murakami, A.S.N. & Shima, S.N. (2010). Regulation of social hierarchy over time in colonies of the primitive eusocial wasp Mischocyttarus (Monocyttarus) cassununga. Von Ihering, 1903 (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 83: 163-171. doi: 10.2317/JKES0712.04.1

Pardi, L. (1948). Dominance order in Polistes wasp. Physiological Zoölogy, 21: 1-13.

Peeters, C. & Liebig, J. (2009). Fertility signaling as general mechanism of regulating reproductive division of labor in ants. In J. Gadau & J. Fewell (Eds.), Organization of insect societies, from genome to socio-complexity (pp. 220-242). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Premnath, S., Chandrashekara, K., Chandran, S. & Gadagkar, R. (1990). Constructing dominance hierarchies in a primitively eusocial wasp. In Social insects and the environment (pp. 80). Proceeding of the 11th international congress of IUSSI, Bangalore, India, August, 1990. New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Co.

R Foundation (2017). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. Available at

Reeve, H.K. (1991). Polistes. In K.G. Ross & R.W. Matthews (Eds.), The social biology of wasps (pp. 99-148). London: Comstock Publicating Associates, A division of Cornell University Press.

Röseler, P-F. (1991). Reproductive competition during colony establishment. In K.G. Ross & R.W. Matthews (Eds.), The Social Biology of Wasps (pp. 309–335). London: Comstock Publishing Associates, A division of Cornell University Press.

Saigo, T. & Tsuchida, K. (2004). Queen and worker policing in monogynous and monandrous colonies of a primitively eusocial wasp. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 271: S509-S512. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2004.0238

Savoyard, J.L., Gamboa, G.J., Cummings, D.L.D. & Foster, R.L. (1998). The communicative meaning of body ocillations in the social wasp, Polistes fuscatus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae).Insectes Sociaux, 45: 215-230. doi: 10.1007/s000400050082

Shakarad, M. & Gadagkar, R. (1995). Colony founding in the primitively eusocial wasp, Ropalidia marginata (Lep.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Ecological Entomology, 20: 273-282. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.1995.tb00457.x

Strassmann, J.E. (2001). The rarity of multiple mating by females in the social Hymenoptera. Insectes Sociaux, 48: 1-13. doi: 10.1007/PL00001737

Strassmann, J.E. & Meyer, D.C. (1983). Gerontocracy in the social wasp, Polistes exclamans. Animal Behaviour, 31: 431-438. doi: 10.1016/S0003-3472(83)80063-3

Sumana, A. & Gadagkar, R. (2003). Ropalidia marginata – a primitively eusocial wasp society headed by behaviourally non-dominant queens. Current Science, 84: 1464-1468.

Tibbetts, E.A. & Izzo, A. (2010). Social punishment of dishonest signalers caused by mismatch between signal and behavior. Current Biology, 20: 1637-1640. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.07.042

Tibbetts, E.A. & Lindsay, R. (2008). Visual signals of status and rival assessment in Polistes dominulus paper wasps. Biology Letters, 4: 237-239. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0048

Tibbetts, E.A., Mettler, A. & Stephanie, L. (2010). Matual assessment via visual status signals in Polistes dominulus wasps. Biology Letters, 6: 10-13. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0420

Tsuji, K. & Tsuji, N. (2005). Why is dominance hierarchy age- related in social insects? the relative longevity hypothesis. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 58: 517-526. doi: 10.10 07/s00265-005-0929-3

Wilson, E.O. (1971). The insect societies. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 562 p

Wyatt, T.D. (2014). Pheromones reproduction in social groups: control or cooperative signaling? In T.D. Wyatt (Auth), Pheromones and animal behavior: chemical signals and signatures, 2nd edn (pp. 133-148). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Yamasaki, K. & Tsuchida, K. (2014). Orphaning does not affect the colony productivity of the primitively eusocial wasp Polistes snelleni. Insectes Sociaux, 61: 133-140. doi: 10.1007/s00040-013-0336-0

Yoshimura, H. & Yamada, Y.Y. (2018). The first brood emerges smaller, lighter, and with lower lipid stores in the paper wasp Polistes jokahamae (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Insectes Sociaux, 65: 473-481. doi: 10.1007/s00040-018-0636-5



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JCR Impact Factor 2018: 0.604