Taxonomy, distribution and nesting biology of species of the genus Dolichovespula (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)


Michael E. Archer, 17 Elmfield Terrace, Malton Road, York Y031 1EH, England, UK. Email:


The genus Dolichovespula consists provisionally of 18 species. Aerial nest site characteristics have been established for seven species but most of these species show flexibility in their choice of nest sites and two species often nest in shallow subterranean situations. Colony length is usually just over 3 months to approximately 4 months, but at lower latitudes may extend to more than 5 months. Mature colony size is usually approximately 1000 cells with more large cells than small cells. Parasitized colonies have a shorter colony cycle and smaller colonies. During the production of the sexual brood the larva/worker ratio reaches its lowest value of approximately 2.5 larvae per worker. Colonies often have upper mixed combs of small and large cells. Total adult production is usually less than 2000 adults. Colonies of D. arenaria and D. norwegica may specialize in mainly producing males or queens. Variations in mature colony size and production of queens is probably a consequence of the number of workers present, particularly early in the colony cycle.