, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 315-330

Foraging and spatial dispersion in protein-scavenging workers ofVespula germanica andV. maculifrons (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

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A series of experiments on the discovery of meat bait by scavenging workers ofV. germanica andV. maculifrons showed that workers oriented to meats by visual cues and olfactory cues. Scavening workers ofV. germanica andV. maculifrons responded positively to the sight of conspecifics at meat baits; i.e., meat with (confined) wasps received more visits than meat without wasps. This attraction to conspecific workers on meat baits provides evidence of local enhancement, in that the presence of conspecifics at meat bait directs other wasps to a particular spatial locality. Local enhancement by yellowjackets foraging for meat may contribute to the clumped distribution of worker populations noted in studies of workers captured in meat-baited traps. We hypothesize that local enhancement of foraging is a ubiquitous behavior in species of theV. vulgaris species group and may be one attribute explaining their ecological success.