Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 2, Issue 5, pp 649–661 | Cite as

The origin and evolution of social life in the Stenogastrinae (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)

  • Stefano Turillazzi


The Stenogastrinae are a subfamily of the Vespidae. The main difference between these and other social wasps (Polistinae and Vespinae) is a jelly-like substance that the Stenogastrinae secrete from the Dufour 's gland and use in many functions of their biology. It is suggested that this substance greatly contributed to the evolution of social life in these wasps by making it possible to nourish the brood with liquid food and store it in the nest, thus favoring also the evolution of the behavioral mechanisms which facilitated interactions between adults. Social organization of the colonies may have been kept at a low level through a basic system of continuous temporary helper replacement, while the evolution of large colonies was restrained, as well as by the poor quality of construction material, low egg-laying capacity and limited production of abdominal substance, imperfect social regulatory mechanisms, and the absence of defensive mechanisms of the colonies against large predators.

Key words

sociality evolution Vespidae Stenogastrinae brood rearing 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefano Turillazzi
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e GeneticaUniversitá di Firenze” and “Centro di Studio per la Faunistica ed Ecologia Tropicali” del CNRFirenzeItaly

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