Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 291–301 | Cite as

Caste and sex differences in cold-hardiness in the social wasps,Polistes annularis andP. exclamans (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

  • J. E. Strassmann
  • R. E. LeeJr
  • R. R. Rojas
  • J. G. Baust
Article

Summary

Elevated fructose, glucose and trehalose levels were found inPolistes exclamans andP. annularis after exposure to cold. Glycerol was found only after extensive exposure to cold or in mid-winter. InP. exclamans mean supercooling points (SCP) decreased to a low of −12.9° C in February. InP. annularis SCP were never below −6.8° C in the field, but laboratory acclimation at +5° C resulted in SCP of −10.7° C. Freezing was lethal to adultPolistes under all circumstances.

Workers and future queens were separated on the basis of the appearance of their fat bodies. ForP. exclamans, only 17 % of the future queens died during 15 days at +5° C (N=29) while 76 % of the workers died during identical cold exposure (N=45). The surviving future queens had elevated cryoprotectant levels consisting mainly of fructose in their hemolymph, while the few workers that survived did not. These experiments indicate that there are physiological differences between workers and future queens inPolistes collected in autumn and that fat body appearance determined using non-invasive techniques is a reliable indicator of caste. Males were similar to future queens in their response to cold indicating that autumn mating activity may extend into winter.

La résistance au froid en fonction de la caste et du sexe chez les guêpes socialesPolistes annularis etP. exclamans (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

Resume

Des taux élevés de fructose, de glucose et de tréhalose ont été mesurés chezPolistes exclamans etP. annularis après traitement par le froid. Par contre la présence de glycérol n'a été détectée qu'après un traitement prolongé au froid ou pendant le milieu de l'hiver. En février, le point de surgélation chezP. exclamans était descendu à −12,9° C, tandis que chezP. annularis une température de −10,7° C a été relevée après acclimatation au laboratoire à une température de 5° C et jamais moins de −6,8° C dans l'habitat naturel. En toutes circonstances, la congélation s'est révélée léthale chez lesPolistes adultes.

Les ouvrières et les fondatrices-filles furent séparées en se basant sur l'aspect de leur corps graisseux. ChezP. exclamans, seulement 17 % (N=29) des fondatrices-filles et 76 % (N=45) des ouvrières moururent après une incubation à +5° C pendant 15 jours. Les fondatrices-filles survivantes avaient, dans leur hémolymphe, un taux élevé de fructose, qui joue donc un rôle antigel. Ces expériences démontrent qu'il existe une différence entre les ouvrières et les fondatrices-filles récoltées en automne et que l'aspect de leur corps graisseux vu à travers sa membrane est un indice de caste sûr. La réaction au froid des mâles était la même que celle des fondatrices-filles, indiquant ainsi que leur activité reproductrice de l'automne peut se prolonger en hiver.

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Copyright information

© Masson 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. E. Strassmann
    • 1
  • R. E. LeeJr
    • 2
  • R. R. Rojas
    • 3
  • J. G. Baust
    • 3
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentRice UniversityHouston
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyMiami University HamiltonHamilton
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of HoustonHouston

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