Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 7–13 | Cite as

The effect of juvenile hormone on temporal polyethism in the paper wasp Polistes dominulus

  • J. R. Shorter
  • E. A. TibbettsEmail author
Research article


Juvenile hormone (JH) has an important role in the behavior of eusocial Hymenoptera. Previous work has shown that JH influences aggression and dominance behavior in primitive eusocial insects that lack discrete queen and worker castes (e.g. Bombus bees and Polistes wasps). In contrast, JH is one of the factors that mediates temporal polyethism among workers in advanced eusocial insects that have reproductive castes (e.g. Apis bees and Polybiawasps). Therefore, initial observations suggest that JH may have different roles in primitive and advanced eusocial taxa. Here, we use detailed behavioral observations of marked individuals to test whether JH influences temporal polyethism in the primitive eusocial wasp Polistes dominulus. First, we show that workers in P. dominulus have an age-related division of labor, as workers switch from nest work to foraging as they mature. Then, we show that application of JH accelerates the onset of foraging behavior.Workers treated with JH start foraging at a younger age than control workers. Therefore, JH mediates temporal polyethism in the primitively eusocial insect Polistes dominulus.


Division of labor juvenile hormone colony organization behavioral physiology 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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