Male Reproductive Behavior of the Social Wasp Polistes fascatus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)


Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, U.S.A.

Abstract and Summary

Populations of male Polistes fuscatus simultaneously exhibit two different mate-locating tactics. Some males defend territories in female nesting and hibernation sites. These males frequently do not occupy the same territory each day, and they drag their gasters over perches, which may function to apply a secretion to the perch. Another segment of the population patrols large overlapping areas in female foraging sites. In contrast to territorial males, patrolling males do not rub their gasters on perches, and males seen on more than one day are tenacious to one area. Males in both sites are aggressive to other males and attempt to copulate with females. A laboratory study indicates that large males have an advantage in male-male competition. The mean size of patrollers is smaller than that of territorial males, indicating that patrollers are competitively inferior males. Yet there is considerable size overlap of males between the two sites, suggesting that there is also overlap in the range of probability of mating success between the two sites.