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Abstract

The main characteristics of invasion of a Polistes dominulus Christ colony by a female of Sulcopolistes sulcifer Zimmermann can be summarized as follows: the parasite is usually attacked by Polistes while still approaching the nest. The parasite fights all opponents on the ground, both foundresses and workers, some of which can be very aggressive even off the nest. Others succumb to the parasite immediately on the very first encounter. Sulcopolistes' strategy is to fight one adversary at a time and then return rapidly to the nest. In this way it is easier for her to defeat the hosts one after another, and to usurp nests with a high number of workers. While fighting on the ground the parasite never used its sting, but tried to bite the legs off its victims. The alpha foundress is the one which attacks the parasite most aggressively, which in turn is particularly aggressive towards her. Beta females on bigynic and gamma females on trigynic foundations are less aggressive than their nestmates of higher hierarchical status. After nest conquest, dominance activity of the parasite increases, and she offers drops of liquid to nest occupants during encounters. When not interacting with the hosts, Sulcopolistes performs an intense nest inspection and carefully strokes the nest surface and internal parts of some cells with her abdominal sterna.