Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 411–417 | Cite as

Colony defensive behavior by the swarm-founding wasp Parachartergus pseudoapicalis: increase on investment predicts the intensity of nest defense

  • E. L. S. BritoEmail author
  • M. Aragão
  • G. M. M. Santos
Research Article


The parental investment (PI) theory predicts that animals that have the ability to care for their offspring should defend them with an optimal intensity to minimize the risks of predation. This study evaluates the stages of development that are more valued and, therefore, are more protected by the colonies of the founding wasp Parachartergus pseudoapicalis. We determined the effects on the colony defense intensity of colony size, adult population, and immature population size for different stages. As predicted by PI theory, we found that defense intensity was related to colony investment in offspring. In addition, we found no association between the number of adults in the colony and the defense intensity, whereas a greater number of immatures in the pupal stage in the colony led to greater defense intensity. Our study highlights the importance of parental care in social insects and the changes in defense behavior present in colonies with different compositions of individuals at different stages.


Predation Parental investment Offspring defense Defensive behavior Aggressiveness Social wasp 



The authors thank the funding source, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq). Emanuelle L. S. Brito and Marcos Aragão received master’s degree fellowship and Gilberto M. M. Santos received productivity fellowship (no. 303976/2016-0) from CNPq. We thank Bocaiúva Alimentos LTDA for providing us the permission to work on their property and for logistical support. We thank Janete Jane Resende for technical assistance and our lab colleagues Felipe Passos and Anna Thiciane Freitas for the great comments and input. We also thank the editor and reviewers for their careful reading on the paper and constructive comments.


  1. Akre RD, Reed HC (1984) Vespine defense. In: Hermann HR (ed) Defensive mechanisms in social insects. Praeger, New York, pp 59–94Google Scholar
  2. Andersson M, Wiklund CG, Rundgren H (1980) Parental defence of offspring: a model and an example. Anim Behav 28:536–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barash DP (1975) Evolutionary aspects of parental behavior: distraction behavior of the alpine accentor. Wilson Bull 87:367–373Google Scholar
  4. Beshers SN, Fewell JH (2001) Models of division of labor in social insects. Annu Rev Entomol 46:413–440. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bichara-Filho CC, Santos GMM, Cruz JD, Pereira LCO, Gobbi N (2006) Colony defensive behavior by the social wasp Polybia (Trichothorax) sericea (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Sociobiology 48:1–6Google Scholar
  6. Bruschini C, Cervo R, Turillazzi S (2005) Defensive responses to visual and vibrational stimulations in colonies of the social wasp Polistes dominulus. Ethol Ecol Evol 17(4):319–326. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cooper M (2000) A new species of Parachartergus R. von Ihering (Hym., Vespidae, Polistinae) with a key to the members of the fulgidipennis group and notes. Entomol Mon Mag 136:121–126Google Scholar
  8. Downing HA (1991) The function and evolution of exocrine glands. In: Ross KG, Matthews RW (eds) The social biology of wasps. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 540–569Google Scholar
  9. Edwards R (1980) Social wasps: their biology and control. Rentokil, East GrinsteadGoogle Scholar
  10. Fisher RA (1930) The genetical theory of natural selection. Clarendon, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gottfried BM (1979) Anti-predator aggression in birds nesting in old field habitats: an experimental analysis. Condor 81:251–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Greig-Smith PW (1980) Parental investment in nest defence by Stonechats (Saxicola torquata). Anim Behav 28:604–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hepburn HR, Radloff SE (1998) Honeybees of Africa. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jeanne RL (1970) Chemical defense of brood by a social wasp. Science 168:1465–1466CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Jeanne RL (1975) The adaptiveness of nest architecture. Q Rev Biol 50:267–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jeanne RL (1982) Evidence for an alarm substance in Polistes canadensis. Experientia 38:329–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jeanne RL, Nordheim EV (1996) Productivity in a social wasp: per capita output increases with swarm size. Behav Ecol 7:43–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jeanne RL, Williams NM, Yandell BS (1992) Age polyethism and defense in a tropical social wasp (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). J Insect Behav 5:211–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Judd TM (1998) Defensive behavior of colonies of the paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus, against vertebrate predators over the colony cycle. Insectes Soc 45:197–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Knight RL, Temple SA (1986) Why does intensity of avian nest defense increase during the nesting cycle? Auk 103:318–327Google Scholar
  21. Letourneau DK, Choe JC (1987) Homopteran attendance by wasps and ants: the stochastic nature of interactions. Psyche 94:81–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. London KB, Jeanne RL (2003) Effects of colony size and stage of development on defense response by the swarm-founding wasp Polybia occidentalis. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54:539–546. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Macalintal EA, Starr CK (1996) Comparative morphology of the stinger in the social wasp genus Ropalidia (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Mem Entomol Soc Wash 17:108–115Google Scholar
  24. MacArthur RH, Pianka ER (1966) On optimal use of a patchy environment. Am Nat 100:603–609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Manzoli-Palma MF, Gobbi N (1994) Defesa da colônia na vespa social Polybia paulista (Ihering) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Anais da Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil 23(2):291–298Google Scholar
  26. Marques OM (1996) Vespas sociais (Hymenoptera, Vespidae): características e importância em agroecossistemas. Insecta 5(2):18–39Google Scholar
  27. Marques OM, Carvalho CAL, Costa JM (1993) Levantamento das espécies de vespas sociais (Hymenoptera, Vespidae) no município de Cruz das Almas-Estado da Bahia. Insecta 2:1–9Google Scholar
  28. Maschwitz UWJ, Kloft W (1971) Morphology and function of the venom apparatus of insects–bees, wasps, ants, and carterpillars. In: Bücherl EE (ed) Venomous animals and their venoms. Academic Press, New York, pp 1–60Google Scholar
  29. Matsuura M, Yamane S (1990) Biology of the vespine wasps. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McCann S, Moeri O, Jones T, Gries G (2014) Black-throated antshrike preys on nests of social paper wasps in central French Guiana. Rev Bras Ornitolog 22:300–302Google Scholar
  31. Montgomerie RD, Weatherhead PJ (1988) Risks and rewards of nest defence by parent birds. Q Rev Biol 63:167–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Møller AP, Nielsen JT (2014) Parental defense of offspring and life history of a long-lived raptor. Behav Ecol 25:1505–1512. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Oster GF, Wilson EO (1978) Caste and ecology in social insects. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  34. Overal WL, Simões D, Gobbi N (1981) Colony defense and sting autotomy in Polybia rejecta (F.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia São Paulo 25(1):41–47Google Scholar
  35. Pyke GH (1984) Optimal foraging theory: a critical review. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 15:523–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. R Development Core Team (2017) R: a language and environmental for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. ISBN:3-900051-07-0. Accessed 5 Apr 2017
  37. Redmond LJ, Murphy MT, Dolan AC, Sexton K (2009) Parental investment theory and nest defense by eastern kingbirds. Wilson J Ornithol 121:1–11. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Richards OW (1978) The social wasps of the Americas, excluding the Vespinae. British Museum of Natural History, LondonGoogle Scholar
  39. Richards OW, Richards MJ (1951) Observations on the social wasps of South America (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Trans R Entomol Soc Lond 102:1–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Santos GMM, Cruz JD, Marques OM, Gobbi N (2009) Diversidade de vespas sociais (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) em áreas de Cerrado na Bahia. Neotrop Entomol 38:317–320. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Santos GMM, Santana-Reis VPG, Resende JJ, De Marco P, Bichara-Filho CC (2000) Flying capacity of swarm-founding wasp Polybia occidentalis occidentalis Olivier, 1971 (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Rev Bras Zoociên 2:33–39Google Scholar
  42. Schmidt JO (1990) Hymenopteran venoms: striving toward the ultimate defense against vertebrates. In: Evans DL, Schmidt JO (eds) Insect defenses adaptive mechanisms and strategies of prey and predators. SUNY Press, Albany, pp 387–419Google Scholar
  43. Schneider SS, McNally LC (1992) Colony defense in the African honey bee in Africa (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Environ Entomol 21:1362–1370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Seal JN (2002) Does Polistes instabilis de Saussure (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) investment predict nest defense? J Kans Entomol Soc 75:335–338Google Scholar
  45. Spradbery JP (1973) Wasps: an account of the biology and natural history of solitary and social wasps. Univ. Washington Press, SeattleGoogle Scholar
  46. Starr CK (1985) Enabling mechanisms in the origin of sociality in the Hymenoptera—the sting’s the thing. Ann Entomol Soc Am 78:836–840CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Starr CK (1990) Holding the fort: colony defense in some primitively social wasps. In: Evans DL, Schmidt JO (eds) Insect defenses. State University of New York Press, Albany, pp 421–462Google Scholar
  48. Stort AC (1974) Genetic study of aggressiveness of two subspecies of Apis mellifera in Brazil. I—some tests to measure aggressiveness. J Appl Res 13:33–38Google Scholar
  49. Strassmann JE, Hughes CR, Queller DC (1990) Colony defense in the social wasps, Parachartergus colobopterus. Biotropica 22:324–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tofilski A (2006) Influence of caste polyethism on longevity social insect colonies. J Theor Biol 238:527–531. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Togni OC, Giannotti E (2007) Nest defense behavior against the attack of ants in colonies of pre-emergent Mischocyttarus cerberus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Sociobiology 50(2):1–20Google Scholar
  52. Trivers RL (1972) Parental investment and sexual selection. In: Campbell BG (ed) Sexual selection and the descent of man 1871–1971. Aldine, Chicago, pp 136–179Google Scholar
  53. Wenzel JW (1998) A generic key to the nests of hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps worldwide (Vespidade: Vespinae, Polistinae). Am Mus Novit 3224:1–39Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Laboratório de EntomologiaUniversidade Estadual de Feira de SantanaFeira de SantanaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Museu de Zoologia, Divisão de EntomologiaUniversidade Estadual de Feira de SantanaFeira de SantanaBrazil

Personalised recommendations