Strategies of thermoregulation and foraging in two vespid wasps,Dolichovespula maculata andVespula vulgaris


D. maculata, the white-faced hornet, stabilized (regulated) thoracic temperature (T Th) over wide ranges of ambient temperature (T a), whileV. vulgaris, the common yellowjacket, regulatedT Th poorly. The hornets also maintained a higherT Th than the wasps, sometimes heating 38°C aboveT a. Attacking individuals of both species had higherT Th than those either leaving or returning to the nest from foraging. The hornets, who are primarily hunters of live prey, showed peak activity near dawn, and they were as active atT a=2°C as at 20°C. Being able to regulate theirT Th and fly at the lowT a should enhance their ability to capture small insects that are usually torpid at theseT a. The yellowjacket wasps, on the other hand, who are scavengers as well as hunters, did not leave the nest at 2°C; their activity decreased greatly with decreasingT a. Differences in the foraging technique of the two vespids may be related to their different abilities to thermoregulate.

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Heinrich, B. Strategies of thermoregulation and foraging in two vespid wasps,Dolichovespula maculata andVespula vulgaris . J Comp Physiol B 154, 175–180 (1984).

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  • Ambient Temperature
  • Human Physiology
  • Peak Activity
  • Small Insect
  • Live Prey