The comparative biology of two sympatric paper wasps in Michigan, the native Polistes fuscatus and the invasive Polistes dominulus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)
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The biology of the invasive Polistes dominulus and the native P. fuscatus was compared at a field site in Rochester, Michigan over a two-year period. Colonies nesting semi-naturally in plywood nestboxes were studied using videography, extensive surveys, and colony-specific marking of gynes.
Both single- and multiple-foundress colonies of P. dominulus were significantly more productive than comparable colonies of P. fuscatus. The disparity in productivity was significantly more pronounced in single-foundress colonies than in multiple-foundress colonies. P. dominulus had significantly shorter larval and pupal development times than P. fuscatus, which allowed P. dominulus to produce its first workers about a week earlier than P. fuscatus. P. dominulus had a number of additional advantages over P. fuscatus that contributed to its productivity including (1) significantly less parasitism by Strepsiptera, (2) significantly greater probability of renesting after predation by raccoons, (3) significantly lower usurpation pressures, and (4) possibly longer foraging days . The recovery of colony-marked foundresses indicated that gynes of P. dominulus suffered significantly greater mortality than gynes of P. fuscatus during winter diapause and that foundresses of both species were equally, strongly philopatric.
P. dominulus is likely replacing P. fuscatus in many areas of southeastern Michigan via indirect or exploitative competition. The two species may be competing for nest sites.
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