Open Access
Translator Disclaimer
11 April 2019 Protopolybia Exigua (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) Nesting on Citrus Grandis (Rutaceae)
Bruno Pandelo Brügger, Antonio José Vinha Zanuncio, Carlos Frederico Wilcken, Marcus Alvarenga Soares, José Cola Zanuncio
Author Affiliations +

Social wasps are predators. Two nests of Protopolybia exigua (Saussure) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) were collected on pomelo (Citrus grandis [L.]) (Rutaceae) leaves, 1 active and another abandoned. The colonies of P. exigua were located under pomelo leaves, providing protection against adverse environmental conditions. The active nest had 12 pedicels, 600 brood cells, and 15 adult wasps. The knowledge of nesting habits of wasps in agroecosystems favors the management of these insects for biological control.

Protopolybia exigua (Saussure) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) has been reported in Brazil from the states of Acre, Amazonas, Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Pará, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo (Richards 1978). Social wasps are predators (Donovan 2003; De Souza et al. 2012) that feed on insects, mainly defoliating Lepidoptera (Richter 2000). They contribute to insect population reduction, and represent an important natural enemy group for biological control (Prezoto & Braga 2013). In addition, these insects are used in environmental impact assessment and evaluation of forest conservation (Dos Santos et al. 2016; Brügger et al. 2011, 2017). Although known from native (forest) environments, this species is not well known in cultivated agroecosystems. The objective of this communication is to report the first case of nesting of P. exigua on citrus plants.

Two nests were collected with an entomological net in Divinópolis, Minas Gerais State, Brazil (20.149904°S, 44.895827°W) on pomelo (Citrus grandis [L.]) (Rutaceae) in Jul of 2017. One of the P. exigua nests found under pomelo leaves (Fig. 1) was active and another was aban-doned. These insects were killed in ether vapor and preserved in 70% ethanol for identification. The numbers of pedicels, brood, and adults in the colony were determined.

Fig. 1.

Protopolybia exigua (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) nest under Citrus grandis (Rutaceae) leaf.


The active colony of P. exigua had 12 pedicels, 600 brood cells, and 15 adult wasps. The number of pedicels, brood, and adults of this wasp in this colony were higher than those of this wasp collected in Pedregulho (southeastern Brazil), which was a younger nest, possessing 1 pedicel and 307 brood cells with 46 eggs, 28 workers, 37 intermediaries, and 30 queens (Noll et al. 1996). The high cell count but low numbers of active wasps in the P. exigua nest in this study indicate a declining stage. The life expectancy of queens of this wasp is up to 1 yr, but their nests are abandoned after about 6 mo due to the invasion by parasitoids of P. exigua wasp larvae, as reported for Pachysomoides sp. (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae), and Megaselia scalaris (Loew) (Diptera: Phoridae) in nests of Mischocyttarus cassununga (von Ihering) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) (Soares et al. 2006). In addition, the study was conducted in a cold, dry season, when foraging activity of P. exigua is lower, and few nests of this species are active (Ribeiro-Júnior et al. 2006).

The pedicel number of the P. exigua colony is common for the genus Protopolybia, whose species build nests supported by a central pedicel or several smaller ones (Wenzel 1998). The nests of these wasps are found underneath or between leaves, in the first case with a fragile and whitish wrapping, and in the second, supported by 1 leaf and several others glued to each other by oral secretion, functioning as an envelope (Somavilla et al. 2012).

The identification of nesting habits of social wasps in agroecosystems can be used to justify transferring or maintaining their colonies for biological control; moreover, there were no previous reports of P. exigua nesting on C. grandis plants.

We express our thanks to the Brazilian agencies “Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES/PELD), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG),” and “Programa Cooperativo sobre Proteção Florestal/ PROTEF” of the “Instituto de Pesquisas e Estudos Florestais/IPEF” for scholarships and financial support. We also are grateful to Andressa Vinha Zanuncio of the “Universidade Federal de São João Del Rey” for providing the nests studied.

References Cited


Brügger BP, Araújo LSS, De Souza AR, Prezoto F. 2011. Social wasps (Synoeca cyanea) damaging Psidium sp. (Myrtaceae) fruits in Minas Gerais State, Brazil. Sociobiology 57: 533–535. Google Scholar


Brügger BP, Castro BMC, Prezoto F, Serrão JE, Zanuncio JC. 2017. Feeding by the social wasp Polybia scutellaris (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) on Syzygium jambos (Myrtaceae) fruits in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Florida Entomologist 100: 172–173. Google Scholar


De Souza AR, Venâncio DFA, Prezoto F, Zanuncio JC. 2012. Social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) nesting in eucalyptus plantations in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Florida Entomologist 95: 1000–1002. Google Scholar


Donovan BJ. 2003. Potential manageable exploitation of social wasps, Vespula spp. (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), as generalist predators of insect pests. International Journal of Pest Management 49: 281–285. Google Scholar


Dos Santos EF, Noll FB, Brandão CRF. 2016. Structural organization of the social paper wasp (Hymenoptera: Polistinae) assemblage along a latitudinal gradient in the Atlantic Rainforest: correlating fauna partitioning to biodiversity centers. Journal of Insect Conservation 20: 597–609. Google Scholar


Noll FB, Mateus S, Zucchi R. 1996. Morphological caste differences in Neotropical swarm-founding Polistinae wasps. V - Protopolybia exigua exigua (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Journal of the New York Entomological Society 104: 62–69. Google Scholar


Prezoto F, Braga N. 2013. Predation of Zaprinus indianus (Diptera: Drosophilidae) by the social wasp Synoeca cyanea (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Florida Entomologist 96: 670–672. Google Scholar


Ribeiro-Júnior C, Guimaraes DL, Elisei T, Prezoto F. 2006. Foraging activity rhythm of the Neotropical swarm-founding wasp Protopolybia exigua (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Epiponini) in different seasons of the year. Sociobiology 47: 115–123. Google Scholar


Richards OW. 1978. The Social Wasps of the Americas, Excluding the Vespinae. British Museum (Natural History), London. London, United Kingdom. Google Scholar


Richter M. 2000. Social wasp (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) foraging behavior. Annual Review of Entomology 45: 121–150. Google Scholar


Soares MA, Gutierrez CT, Zanuncio JC, Bellini LL, Prezotto F, Serrão JE. 2006. Pachysomoides sp. (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae: Cryptinae) and Megaselia scalaris (Diptera: Phoridae) parasitoids of Mischocyttarus cassununga (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Viçosa, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. Sociobiology 48: 673–680. Google Scholar


Somavilla A, Oliveira MLD, Silveira OT. 2012. Identification guide for nests of social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Polistinae) in reserva Ducke, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 56: 405–414. Google Scholar


Wenzel JW. 1998. A generic key to the nests of hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps worldwide (Vespidae: Vespinae, Polistinae). American Museum Novitates 3224: 1–39. Google Scholar
Bruno Pandelo Brügger, Antonio José Vinha Zanuncio, Carlos Frederico Wilcken, Marcus Alvarenga Soares, and José Cola Zanuncio "Protopolybia Exigua (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) Nesting on Citrus Grandis (Rutaceae)," Florida Entomologist 102(1), 262-263, (11 April 2019).
Published: 11 April 2019

biological control
Get copyright permission
Back to Top