Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 265–278 | Cite as

Social behavior and brood decline in reproductive-phase colonies ofBelonogaster petiolata (Degeer) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

  • Malcolm G. Keeping


Colonies ofBelonogaster petiolata in Gauteng (South Africa) produced reproductive offspring (gynes and males) in late January and early February of each nesting season; their appearance was associated with a decline in worker and brood numbers. Brood decline could commence in the presence of a dominant, reproductively active queen, and loss or removal of the queen was not followed directly by cessation of nest growth and brood care. An older worker usually took over the α-position in queenless colonies. Several factors appear to contribute to brood decline and, ultimately, termination of the colony cycle in this species. These include (1) cessation of the supply of solid food to colonies (and particularly their larvae) during the reproductive phase, (2) a decrease in the worker/larva ratio during the latter phase due to the progressive loss of workers, (3) increasing number of gynes and males, and (4) an adult priority over food reception from foragers.

Key words

social behavior colony cycle brood decline social wasp Belonogaster Vespidae 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm G. Keeping
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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