Neotropical Swarm-Founding Wasps (Vespidae: Polistinae: Epiponini) Accept Expelled Queens in Case of Queen Loss
Keywords:queen selection, behavior, flexibility, queen elimination
AbstractIn the Epiponini, queen number declines through colony cycle, because
some queens are expelled from colonies. Here we demonstrate
that Epiponini wasps may accept expelled queens in situations of
queenlessness. One colony of Protopolybia exigua was observed at the
University of São Paulo in Brazil; and another of Metapolybia docilis was
observed at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. Queen removal
tests were performed to study workers’ acceptance of expelled queens
and queens from other colonies. In P. exigua, the experimental queen
elimination caused a change in the workers’ behavior, ranging from
aggressive expulsion of non-selected queens to re-acceptance. In M.
docilis workers were willing to accept queens from other colonies after
queen elimination. Our results indicate that because of a decrease in
workers aggressiveness during the colony cycle, workers may accept
expelled queens (even foreign ones, in experimental situations) in order
to ensure colony survival.
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