Cryptically dimorphic caste differences in a Neotropical, swarm-founding paper wasp genus, Parachartergus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)


Fuki Saito, Natural History Laboratory, Faculty of Science, Ibaraki University, Mito, 310-8512 Japan. Email:


Morphological differences in body shape between females of different reproductive conditions (in terms of insemination and ovarian development) were examined in two species of the Neotropical polistine genus Parachartergus: P. smithii and P. fraternus. The present study shows, for the first time, that non-size-based morphological divergence between queens and workers occurs in Parachartergus, an epiponine genus once believed to have little or no morphological caste differences. In the P. smithii colony examined, queens were significantly larger than workers in five of the eight body parts measured (head width, eye width, genal width, mesosomal length, wing length, first metasomal tergum width, and width and length of the second tergum), but the mean values of wing length and first and second tergum widths were not significantly different between them. The queen : worker size ratios tended to be greater anteriorly and smaller posteriorly, although the size ratio was greatest in second tergum length. Analysis of covariance (ancova) with mesosomal length as covariate showed that queens had proportionally wider heads and narrower first terga than did workers. In the P. fraternus colony, size differences between queens and workers were not significant, and there was little or no difference in shape, but queens had significantly proportionally wider first terga than did workers.