In most species of social insects, the nest is enlarged gradually as the colony grows. Here we call attention to some striking exceptions to this general rule of continuous nest construction. A common pattern among the swarm-founding, eusocial wasp species is explosive nest construction, in which the nest is built rapidly to a large size in the first one to three weeks after colony initiation. Nest size then remains static for weeks or months. We document this pattern of nest growth for the swarm-founding wasp, Polybia occidentalis. Data showing a high percentage of empty cells in pre-emergence-stage nests suggest that a similar pattern holds for some other swarm-founding polistine genera. In contrast, certain other genera seem to follow the continuous construction pattern of the independent founders. We propose five potential factors that could favor a strategy of explosive nest construction: maximization of colony productivity, work-group efficiency, protection of the brood, protection of the swarm adults, and enhancement of reproductive competition. We discuss evidence from both groups of swarm founders that provides circumstantial support for some of these, but not for others.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 77 • No. 4