How does a colony of Apoica flavissima (Hymenoptera: Vespidae, Epiponini) maintain a constant temperature?

Authors


Sôichi Yamane, Biological Laboratory, Faculty of Education, Ibaraki University, Mito, 310-8512 Japan. Email: yamaneso@mx.ibaraki.ac.jp

Abstract

The thermal characteristics of a colony of Apoica flavissima, an epiponine wasp, were examined. The nest, with a diameter of slightly less than 30 cm, was built on a twig of an orange tree. The temperature of the roof surface fluctuated greatly, ranging between 19.1 and 41.5°C. However, the temperature in the central cell was kept constant at around 27°C throughout a day. Although heavy rain pelted the nest roof in the morning, the central cell maintained temperatures higher than 25°C. On the contrary, after all immature and adult wasps were removed the temperature in the nest fluctuated considerably. The presence of immature individuals and adult wasps densely covering the under surface of the comb seemed to function as an effective insulator. The smaller temperature fluctuation in the central cell than on the roof surface, when the nest was in the empty state, suggests that the thick spongy tissue of the roof made from curled plant leaf hairs serves as an insulator to prevent the conduction of solar heat into the cells and the outward flow of heat generated in cells, especially at night.

Ancillary