Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 289–305 | Cite as

The Significance of the Vestibular Cell in Trap Nesting Wasps (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae): Does its Presence Reduce Mortality?

  • Josep D. Asís
  • Amparo Benéitez
  • José Tormos
  • Severiano F. Gayubo
  • Miguel A. Martín Tomé

In a study carried out with the trap-nesting solitary wasp Trypoxylon attenuatum (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae) in 2000, we analysed the significance of different nest characteristics, like the vestibular cell and empty intercalary cells, and its role in the reduction of mortality. Analysis of the presence of the vestibular cell suggested that it represents a nest completion structure, whose presence reduces mortality in the initial stages (M1) but does not affect that due to chrysidid parasitoids (MP). The length of such vestibular cell was found to depend mainly on the space between the last provisioned cell and the exterior, pointing to a possible role in the reduction of the remaining space that could be used by other females to establish a nest exterior to the completed one. The empty intercalary cells were smaller than the vestibular cells, did not affect M1 or MP mortality rates in the nest, and exhibited an “aggregated” pattern of occurrence. This suggests that they could be the result of “abnormal” behaviour by the female owning the nest. The total mortality rate decreased with the increase in the number of cells in the nests, also being greater in nests established at low heights above the ground. M1 was lower in the innermost cells, while MP increased towards the interior and in the nests with more cells. The distribution in the nests of cells parasitized by Trichrysis cyanea (the main natural enemy found in the wasp population studied) reflects an “aggregated” pattern, suggesting repeated attacks against certain nests.


vestibular cell intercalary cell mortality Trypoxylon Crabronidae 



The manuscript benefited from helpful comments by three anonymous reviewers. This research was supported by funding from the Consejería de Educación y Cultura, Junta de Castilla y León (Project code: SA38/00B).


  1. Abraham, R. (1982). Zur Biologie von Trypoxylon attenuatum Smith, 1851 und T. figulus (Linnaeus, 1758) (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). Entomol. Mitt. 114: 137–147.Google Scholar
  2. Antropov, A. V. (2001). Tribe des Trypoxylini. In Bitsch, J. (coord), Hyménoptères Sphecidae d'Europe Occidentale (Vol. 3, Faune de France 86). Fédération Française des Sociétés des Sciences Naturelles, Paris, pp. 347–384.Google Scholar
  3. Asís, J. D., Gayubo, S. F., and Tormos, J. (1994). Biological observations on Trypoxylon attenuatum and description of its mature larva and its natural enemy Trichrysis cyanea (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae, Chrysididae). J. Kansas Entomol. Soc. 67: 199–207.Google Scholar
  4. Assis, J. M. F., and Camillo, E. (1997). Diversidade, sazonalidade e aspectos biologicos de vespas solitarias (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae, Vespidae) em ninhos armadilhas na Região de Ituiutaba, MG. An. Soc. Entomol. Bras. 26: 335–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bohart, R. M., and Menke, A. S. (1976). Sphecid Wasps of the World. A Generic Revision. University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  6. Camillo, E. (2005). Nesting biology of four Tetrapedia species in trap-nests (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Tetrapediini). Rev. Biol. Trop. 53: 175–186.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Camillo, E., Garófalo, C. A., Muccillo, G., and Serrano, J. C. (1993). Biological observations on Trypoxylon (Trypargilum) lactitarse saussure in Southeastern Brazil (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae). Rev. Bras.Entomol. 37: 769–778.Google Scholar
  8. Camillo, E., Garófalo, C. A., and Serrano, J. C. (1994). Observaçoes sobre a biologia de Trypoxylon (Trypargilum) rogenhoferi Kohl (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). An. Soc. Entomol. Bras. 23: 299–310.Google Scholar
  9. Coville, R. E. (1982). Wasps of the Genus Trypoxylon Subgenus Trypargilum in North America (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  10. Coville, R. E., and Coville, P. L. (1980). Nesting biology and male behavior of Trypoxylon (Trypargilum) tenoctitlan in Costa Rica (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 73: 110–119.Google Scholar
  11. Coville, R. E., and Griswold, C. (1983). Nesting biology of Trypoxylon xanthandrum in Costa Rica with observations on its spider prey (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae; Araneae: Senoculidae). J. Kans. Entomol. Soc. 56: 205–216.Google Scholar
  12. Coville, R. E., and Griswold, C. (1984). Biology of Trypoxylon (Trypargilum) superbum (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae), a spider-hunting wasp with extended guarding on the brood by males. J. Kans. Entomol. Soc. 57: 365–376.Google Scholar
  13. Danks, H. V. (1970). Biology of some stem-nesting aculeate Hymenoptera. Trans. R. entomol. Soc. Lond. 122: 323–395.Google Scholar
  14. Danks, H. V. (1971). Populations and nesting-sites of some aculeate Hymenoptera nesting in Rubus. J. Anim. Ecol. 40: 63–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Evans, H. E., and O'Neill, K. M. (1988). The Natural History and Behavior of North American Beewolves. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca.Google Scholar
  16. Evans, H. E., and West Eberhard, M. J. (1970). The Wasps. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
  17. Freeman, P. (1938). Notes on the nesting of five species of solitary wasps (Hymenoptera, Sphecoidea). Proc. R. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 13: 1–6.Google Scholar
  18. Fye, R. E. (1972). The effect of forest disturbances on populations of wasps and bees in Northwestern Ontario (Hymenoptera: Aculeata). Can. Entomol. 104: 1623–1633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. García, M. V. B., and Adis, J. (1995). Comportamento de nidificação de Trypoxylon (Trypargilum) rogenhoferi Kohl (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae) em una floresta inundável de várzea na Amazônia Central. Amazoniana 18: 259–282.Google Scholar
  20. Grandi, G. (1961). Studi di un Entomologo sugli Imenotteri superiori. Boll. Ist. Entomol. (Bologna) 25: 1–659.Google Scholar
  21. Hamm, A. H., and Richards, O. W. (1930). The biology of the british fossorial wasps of the families Mellinidae, Gorytidae, Philanthidae, Oxybelidae and Trypoxylonidae. Trans. Entomol. Soc. Lond. 78: 95–131.Google Scholar
  22. Hook, A. W., and Matthews, R. W. (1980). Nesting biology of Oxybelus sericeus with a discussion of nest guarding by male sphecid wasps (Hymenoptera). Psyche 87: 21–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jayasingh, D. B., and Taffe, C. A. (1982). The biology of the eumenid mud-wasp Pachodynerus nasidens in trapnests. Ecol. Entomol. 7: 283–289.Google Scholar
  24. Krombein, K. V. (1967). Trap-nesting Wasps and Bees. Life History and Associates. Smithsonian Press, Washington.Google Scholar
  25. Malyshev, S. I. (1936). The nesting habits of solitary bees. Eos 11: 201–309.Google Scholar
  26. Matthews, R. W. (2000). Nesting biology of the stem-nesting wasp Psenulus interstitialis Cameron (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae: Pemphredoninae) on Magnetic Island, Queensland. Austr. J. Entomol. 39: 25–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Oku, S., and Nishida, T. (2001). Presence of single-sex broods under local mate competition in Trypoxylon malaisei (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae): adaptation or maladaptation? Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 94: 550–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rosenheim, J. A. (1987). Host location and nest exploitation by the cleptoparasitic wasp Argochrysis armilla: The role of learning (Hymenoptera: Chrysididae). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 21: 401–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rosenheim, J. A. (1989). Behaviorally mediated spatial and temporal refuges from a cleptoparasite, Argochrysis armilla (Hymenoptera: Chrysididae), attacking a ground-nesting wasp, Ammophila dysmica (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 25: 335–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rosenheim, J. A. (1990). Density-dependent parasitism and the evolution of aggregated nesting in the solitary Hymenoptera. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 83: 277–286.Google Scholar
  31. Rust, R. W. (1986). Biology of Osmia (Osmia) ribifloris Cockerell (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). J. Kans. Entomol. Soc. 59: 89–94.Google Scholar
  32. Sears, A. L. W., Smiley, J. T., Hilker, M., Müller, F., and Rank, N. E. (2001). Nesting behavior and prey use in two geographycally separated populations of the specialist wasp Symmorphus cristatus (Vespidae: Eumeninae). Amer. Mid. Nat. 145: 233–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Seidelmann, K. (1999). The function of the vestibulum in nests of a solitary stem-nesting bee, Osmia rufa (L.). Apidologie 30: 19–29.Google Scholar
  34. Spofford, M. G., Kurczewski, F. E., and Peckham, D. J. (1986). Cleptoparasitism of Tachysphex terminatus (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) by three species of Miltogrammini (Diptera: Sarcophagidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 79: 350–358.Google Scholar
  35. Strohm, E., Laurien-Kehnen, C., and Bordon, S. (2001). Escape from parasitism: Spatial and temporal strategies of a sphecid wasp against a specialised cuckoo wasp. Oecologia 129: 50–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tepedino, V. J., McDonald, L. L., and Rothwell, R. (1979). Defense against parasitization in mud-nesting Hymenoptera: Can empty cells increase net reproductive output? Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 6: 99–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tormos, J., Asís, J. D., Gayubo, S. F., Calvo, J., and Martín, M. A. (2005). Ecology of crabronid wasps found in trap nests from Spain (Hymenoptera: Spheciformes). Fla. Entomol. 88: 278–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vieira de Jesús, B. M., and Garófalo, C. A. (2000). Nesting behaviour of Centris (Heterocentris) analis (Fabricius) in southeastern Brazil (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Centridini). Apidologie 31: 503–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Weaving, A. J. S. (1995). A comparison of nesting success and nesting habits in some Afrotropical aculeate wasps, with particular reference to nest parasites (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae, Eumenidae). Ann. Cape Prov. Mus. Nat. Hist. 19: 181–224.Google Scholar
  40. Willmer, P. (1985). Size effects and hygrothermal balance and foraging patterns of a sphecid wasp, Cerceris arenaria. Ecol. Entomol. 10: 469–479.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josep D. Asís
    • 1
    • 2
  • Amparo Benéitez
    • 1
  • José Tormos
    • 1
  • Severiano F. Gayubo
    • 1
  • Miguel A. Martín Tomé
    • 1
  1. 1.Área de ZoologíaFacultad de Biología, Universidad de SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  2. 2.Área de ZoologíaFacultad de Biología, Universidad de SalamancaSalamancaSpain

Personalised recommendations