Get access

German Yellowjacket (Vespula germanica) Foragers Use Odors Inside the Nest to Find Carbohydrate Food Sources


Robert L. Jeanne, Department of Entomology and Zoology, University of Wisconsin, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA. E-mail:


Prior work has shown that yellowjacket waSPS remember food odors and use them as cues when foraging. There is also evidence they have mechanisms to recruit nest mates to highly rewarding food sources, as naïve individuals are more likely to go to food sources with scents similar to those visited by nest mates. We asked whether recruitment requires behavioral stimulation by returning foragers, as in honey bees, or if sampling the food source inside the nest is sufficient. We tested this by eliminating the behavior of returning foragers by inserting a scented sugar solution directly into a Vespula germanica nest. Exiting foragers were given a choice of the test scent and a control scent. WaSPS were more likely to choose the test scent. We conclude that behavioral interactions with returning foragers are not necessary to stimulate nest mates to associate an odor with a food source and search for a resource bearing that odor, and that experience with the scented reward inside the nest is sufficient to achieve this result.