In this study, we explore how an invasive social wasp, Vespula germanica (F.), deals with contextual changes while searching for a food source that is no longer available. Four experiments were conducted to evaluate the effect of different degrees of context modification on wasp behavior. Learning sessions consisted of a variable number of feeding trials during which an individual wasp fed from a landmark array made up of a feeder surrounded by four cylinders of the same color. The food and cylinders were subsequently removed from the training site, and this learned landmark array was modified in such a way that information relating to color and/or location of the resulting feeding arrays varied from that previously learned. The results indicate that the color most recently associated with food is prioritized over a formerly learned color, and this pattern is also maintained when wasps have learned the alternative color during a higher number of feeding experiences. This highlights the high plasticity with which V. germanica responds to unpredictable contextual changes while foraging.
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