Impacts of introduced common wasps (Vespula vulgaris) on experimentally placed mealworms in a New Zealand beech forest

Abstract

An introduced social wasp Vespula vulgaris may compete with native birds for honeydew and invertebrates in New Zealand forests. Experimentally hidden mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) persisted longer at two sites following wasp poisoning that at two sites where wasps were not poisoned. Mealworms persisted longer in the morning than in the afternoon within all study sites. An unusually low mealworm removal rate during a morning trial before wasp poisoning heavily influences the results of this experiment but we have no ecological reason to ignore it. Wasps may therefore be having a heavy impact on invertebrate abundance on very short time scales (within a day following dawn emergence). They may also remove cached food items that would otherwise be retrieved by the South Island robin (Petroica australis australis) during cold or dark feeding conditions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Andrewartha HG (1961) Introduction to the study of animal populations. Methuen, London

    Google Scholar 

  2. Atkinson IAE (1989) Introduced animals and extinctions. In: Western D, Pearl M (eds) Conservation for the twenty-first century. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 54–69

    Google Scholar 

  3. Beggs JR, Wilson PR (1991) The kaka Nestor meridionalis, a New Zealand parrot endangered by introduced wasps and mammals. Biol Conserv 56: 23–38

    Google Scholar 

  4. Crozier LR (1981) Beech honeydew: forest produce. NZ J For 26: 200–209

    Google Scholar 

  5. Dobzhansky T, Wright S (1943) Genetics of natural populations. X. Dispersion rates in Drosophilia pseudoobscura. Genetics 28: 304–340

    Google Scholar 

  6. Flack JAD (1973) Robin research—a progress report. Wildlife—a review 4: 28–36

    Google Scholar 

  7. Gibson F (1978) Ecological aspects of the time budget of the American avocet. Am Midl Nat 99: 66–82

    Google Scholar 

  8. Harris JR (1991) Diet of the Vespula vulgaris and V. germanica in honeydew beech forest of the South Island, New Zealand. NZ J Zool 18: 159–169

    Google Scholar 

  9. Harris JR, Thomas CD, Moller H (1991) The influence of habitat use and foraging on the replacement of one introduced wasp species by another in New Zealand. Ecol Entomol 16: 441–448

    Google Scholar 

  10. Moeed A, Fitzgerald BM (1982) Foods of insectivorous birds in forest of the Orongorongo Valley, Wellington, New Zealand. NZ J Zool 9: 391–403

    Google Scholar 

  11. Moller H, Tilley JAV (1989) Beech honeydew: seasonal variation and use by wasps, honey bees and other insects. NZ J Zool 16: 289–302

    Google Scholar 

  12. Moller H, Tilley JAV, Thomas BW, Gaze PD (1991) Effects of introduced social wasps on the standing crop of honeydew in New Zealand beech forests. NZ J Zool 18: 171–179

    Google Scholar 

  13. Morales CF (1991) Margarodidae (Insecta: Hemiptera) fauna of New Zealand. DSIR Plant Protection, No. 21, pp 123

  14. Morton ML (1967) Diurnal feeding patterns in white-crowned sparrows, Zonotricha leucophrys gambelii. Condor 69: 491–512

    Google Scholar 

  15. Powlesland RG (1980) Food-storing behaviour of the South Island robin. Mauri Ora 8: 11–20

    Google Scholar 

  16. Powlesland RG (1981a) Comparison of time-budgets for mainland and Outer Chetwode Island populations of adult male South Island robins. NZ J Ecol 4: 98–105

    Google Scholar 

  17. Powlesland RG (1981b) The foraging behaviour of the South Island robin. Notornis 28: 89–102

    Google Scholar 

  18. Sandlant GR, Moller H (1989) Abundance of common and German wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in the honeydew beech forests of New Zealand in 1987. NZ J Zool 16: 333–343

    Google Scholar 

  19. Soule ME (1990) The onslaught of alien species and other challenges in the coming decades. Conserv Biol 4: 233–239

    Google Scholar 

  20. Spurr EB (1991) Reduction of wasp (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) populations by poison baiting: experimental use of sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) in canned sardine. NZ J Zool 18: 215–222

    Google Scholar 

  21. Thomas CD, Moller H, Toft RJ, Tilley JAV, Harris R (1989) The impact of Vespula wasps on native insects and birds: second year research report. DSIR Ecology Division Report No. 25, pp 44

  22. Thomas CD, Moller H, Plunkett GM, Harris RJ (1990) The prevalence of introduced Vespula vulgaris wasps in a New Zealand beech forest community. NZ J Zool 13: 63–72

    Google Scholar 

  23. Townes H (1972) A light-weight Malaise trap. Entomol News 83: 239–247

    Google Scholar 

  24. Verbeek NAM (1972) Daily and annual time budget of the yellowbilled magpie. Auk 89: 567–582

    Google Scholar 

  25. Verner J (1965) Time budget of the male long-billed marsh wren during the breeding season. Condor 67: 125–139

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kirsty Barr.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Barr, K., Moller, H., Christmas, E. et al. Impacts of introduced common wasps (Vespula vulgaris) on experimentally placed mealworms in a New Zealand beech forest. Oecologia 105, 266–270 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00328556

Download citation

Key words

  • Vespula vulgaris
  • Petroica australis australis
  • Ecological impact
  • Cached food
  • Competition