Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 139–147 | Cite as

Hunting behaviour, prey capture and ant avoidance in the tropical social waspPolybia sevicea (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

  • M. Raveret Richter
  • R. L. Jeanne
Research Articles


Polybia sericea (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) prey foraging was studied by following individual foragers as they hunted in the field, by observing how wasps handled prey once they had captured it, and by observing wasps as they returned to the nest with prey. Wasps were most likely to forage for prey between 0700 and 1300 hours and between 1600 and 1700 hours. The prey foraging sequence consisted of the behaviours high flight, search, touch, land, groom, walk, bite and malaxate. Captured small prey were malaxated and carried to the nest. Wasps removed the gut from large prey and dragged the meat up a twig or grass stem. A load of the meat was then bitten off and malaxated; the remainder was cached while the wasp made an orientation flight and returned to the nest. The forager returned within minutes for the remainder of the prey. Experiments demonstrated that caching the prey remains above the ground rather than close to the ground, where the prey are generally captured, reduces the chance that the prey will be found and expropriated by ants.

Key words

Hymenoptera social wasps Polybia prey capture 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Raveret Richter
    • 1
  • R. L. Jeanne
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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