Communication of Status in the Social Wasp Polistes fuscatus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

Authors

  • H. A. Downing,

    Corresponding author
    1. Dept. of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706
      Dept. of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.
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  • R. L. Jeanne

    Corresponding author
    1. Dept. of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706
      Dept. of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.
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Dept. of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.

Abstract

Communication of status was demonstrated in females of the paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus. Wasps directed more aggression toward subordinates which were similar in status to themselves than toward dominants or low ranked subordinates. Chemical cues originating from both the head and the ovaries communicate status. The hypothesis that lateral vibrations are used by the queen to communicate her dominance to nestmates was not supported by our findings. No correlation was found between the amount of light body coloration and dominance status. Queens that had been tethered and were thus unable to pursue subordinates aggressively still communicated their status but their dominant rank in the colony was often affected.

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