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Comb cutting inRopalidia plebeiana: a new process of colony fission in social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)


Females of an Australian polistine wasp,Ropalidia plebeiana, often use their mandibles to cut their nest-comb in spring, dividing it into two or more completely independent nests. Prior to the division, each of the major egg layers, often with some subordinates, tended to occupy a different part of a single comb. These females gnawed cells in the intermediate zone between such “territories”, and ultimately divided the comb. Many other females also built new nests near the nest aggregations, but addition of new nests by comb cutting represented 34.8 % of the increase in nest number. This method of colony fission is so far unknown in any eusocial Hymenoptera.

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Yamane, S., Itô, Y. & Spradbery, J.P. Comb cutting inRopalidia plebeiana: a new process of colony fission in social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Ins. Soc 38, 105–110 (1991).

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Key words

  • Hymenoptera
  • social wasps
  • sociotomy
  • behaviour
  • Ropalidia