Castes and the influence of the colony cycle in swarm-founding polistine wasps (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Epiponini)
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In neotropical swarm-founding wasps, caste differences can be arranged along a spectrum ranging from taxa in which queens and workers are externally similar, to others with fairly distinct caste attributes. In this study, queen-worker differences progressively increase during colony development in Protopolybia exigua and Chartergus globiventris. In Apoica flavissima, morphological caste differences are clearly pre-imaginally determined and have no variation in different phases of the colony cycle. Non-inseminated layers are abundant in P. exigua during the whole colony cycle, restricted to some phases in C. globiventris, and completely absent in A. flavissima. Based on these reported traits plus data from the literature, social regulation in epiponine castes can be morphologically and reproductively fixed, morphologically fixed but reproductively inducible depending the colony cycle, reproductively inducible throughout colony cycle, or reproductively inducible throughout colony cycle only in some periods.
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