Thermoregulation in the primitively eusocial paper wasp, Polistes dominulus

Abstract

Regulation of wing muscle temperature is important for sustaining flight in many insects, and has been well studied in honeybees. It has been much less well studied in wasps and has never been demonstrated in Polistes paper wasps. We measured thorax, head, and abdomen temperatures of inactive Polistes dominulus workers as they warmed after transfer from 8 to ~25°C ambient temperature, after removal from hibernacula, and after periods of flight in a variable temperature room. Thorax temperature (T th) of non-flying live wasps increased more rapidly than that of dead wasps, and T th of some live wasps reached more than 2°C above ambient temperature (T a), indicating endothermy. Wasps removed from hibernacula had body region temperatures significantly above ambient. The T th of flying wasps was 2.5°C above ambient at T a = 21°C, and at or even below ambient at T a = 40°C. At 40°C head and abdomen temperatures were both more than 2°C below T a, indicating evaporative cooling. We conclude that P. dominulus individuals demonstrate clear, albeit limited, thermoregulatory capacity.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Bartholomew G.A. and Epting R.J. 1975. Allometry of post-flight cooling rates in moths: a comparison with vertebrate homeotherms. J. Exp. Biol. 63: 603–613

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bishop J.A. and Armbruster W.S. 1999. Thermoregulatory abilities of Alaskan bees: effects of size, phylogeny and ecology. Funct. Ecol. 13: 711–724

    Google Scholar 

  3. Coelho J.R. and Ross A.J. 1996. Body temperature and thermoregulation in two species of yellowjackets, Vespula germanica and V. maculifrons. J. Comp. Physiol. B. 166: 68–76

    Google Scholar 

  4. Coelho J.R. 2001. Behavioral and physiological thermoregulation in male cicada killers (Sphecius speciosus) during territorial behavior. J. Therm. Biol. 26: 109–116

    Google Scholar 

  5. Esch H. 1976. Body temperature and flight performance of honeybees in aservo-mechanically controlled wind tunnel. J. Comp. Physiol. 109: 265–277

    Google Scholar 

  6. Field J., Solis C.R., Queller D.C. and Strassmann J.E. 1998. Social and genetic structure of paper wasp cofoundress associations: Tests of reproductive skew models. Am. Nat. 151: 545–563

    Google Scholar 

  7. Franks N.R. 1989. Thermoregulation in army ant bivouacs. Physiol. Entomol. 14: 397–404

    Google Scholar 

  8. Hadley N.F. 1994. Water Relations of Terrestrial Arthropods. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 356 pp

  9. Harrison J.F., Fewell J.H., Anderson K.E. and Loper G.M. 2006. Environmental physiology of the invasion of the Americas by Africanized honeybees. Integr. Comp. Biol. 46: 1110–1122

    Google Scholar 

  10. Harrison J.F. and Hall H.G. 1993. African-European honeybee hybrids have low nonintermediate metabolic capacities. Nature 363: 258–260

    Google Scholar 

  11. Harrison F.F., Nielsen D.I. and Page R.E. 1996. Malate dehydrogenase phenotype, temperature and colony effects on the flight metabolic rate in the honey-bee, Apis mellifera. Funct. Ecol. 10: 81–88

    Google Scholar 

  12. Heinrich B. 1972. Physiology of brood incubation in the bumblebee. Nature 239: 223–225

    Google Scholar 

  13. Heinrich B. 1979. Keeping a cool head: Honeybee thermoregulation. Science 205: 1269–1271

    Google Scholar 

  14. Heinrich B. 1980a. Mechanisms of body-temperature regulation in honeybees, Apis mellifera. I. Regulation of head temperatures. J. Exp. Biol. 85: 61–72

  15. Heinrich B. 1980b. Mechanisms of body-temperature regulation in honeybees, Apis mellifera. II. Regulation of thoracic temperatures at high air temperatures. J. Exp. Biol. 85: 73–87

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

  17. Heinrich B. 1985. The social physiology of temperature regulation in honeybees. In: Experimental Behavioral Ecology and Socio-biology (Hölldobler B. and Lindauer M., Eds), Sunderland, MA: Sinauer, pp 393–406

  18. Heinrich B. 1993. The Hot-Blooded Insects: Strategies and Mechanisms of Thermoregulation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 601 pp

  19. Hunt J.H. 2006. Evolution of castes in Polistes. Ann. Zool. Fenn. 43: 407–422

    Google Scholar 

  20. Korb J. 2003. Thermoregulation and ventilation of termite mounds. Naturwissenschaften 90: 212–219

    Google Scholar 

  21. Kovac H. and Stabentheiner A. 1999. Effect of food quality on the body temperature of wasps (Paravespula vulgaris). J. Insect Physiol. 45: 183–190

    Google Scholar 

  22. Liebert A.E., Gamboa G.J., Stamp N.E., Curtis T.R., Monnet K.M., Turillazzi S. and Starks P.T. 2006. Genetics, behavior and ecology of a paper wasp invasion: Polistes dominulus in North America. Ann. Zool. Fenn. 43: 595–624

    Google Scholar 

  23. Mead F., Pratte M. and Gabouriaut D. 1990. Influence of a difference in temperature and day-time conditions on the progression of the society life in Polistes dominulus Christ reared at the laboratory (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Insect. Soc. 37: 236–250

  24. Nonacs P., Liebert A.E. and Starks P.T. 2006. Transactional skew and fitness return models fail to predict patterns of cooperation in wasps. Am. Nat. 167: 467–480

    Google Scholar 

  25. Porter W.P. and Gates D.M. 1969. Thermodynamic equilibria of animals. Ecol. Monogr. 39: 227–244

    Google Scholar 

  26. Reeve H.K., Starks P.T., Peters J.M. and Nonacs P. 2000. Genetic support for the evolutionary theory of reproductive transactions in social wasps. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 267: 75–79

    Google Scholar 

  27. Roberts S.P. and Harrison J.F. 1999. Mechanisms of thermal stability during flight in the honeybee Apis mellifera. J. Exp. Biol. 202: 1523–1533

    Google Scholar 

  28. Staples J.F., Koen E.L. and Laverty T.M. 2004. ‘Futile cycle’ enzymes in the flight muscles of North American bumblebees. J. Exp. Biol. 207: 749–754

    Google Scholar 

  29. Starks P.T., Blackie C.A. and Seeley T.D. 2000. Fever in honeybee colonies. Naturwissenschaften 87: 229–231

    Google Scholar 

  30. Steiner A. 1930. Die Temperaturregulierung im Nest der Feldwespe (Polistes gallica var. biglumis L.). Z. Vgl. Physiol. 11: 461–502

  31. Sumana A. and Starks P.T. 2004. Grooming patterns in the primitively eusocial wasp Polistes dominulus. Ethology 110: 825–833

    Google Scholar 

  32. Surholt B., Greive H., Baal T. and Bertsch A. 1991. Warm-up and substrate cycling in flight muscles of male bumblebees, Bombus terrestris. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 98: 299–303

    Google Scholar 

  33. Weiner S.A., Woods W.A. and Starks P.T. 2009. The energetic costs of stereotyped behavior in the paper wasp, Polistes dominulus. Naturwissenschaften 96: 297–302

    Google Scholar 

  34. West-Eberhard M.J. 2006. Polistine passions. Ann. Zool. Fenn. 43: 387–389

    Google Scholar 

  35. Wilson E.O. 1971. The Insect Societies. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 548 pp

  36. Woods W.A., Heinrich B. and Stevenson R.D. 2005. Honeybee flight metabolic rate: does it depend on air temperature? J. Exp. Biol. 208: 1161–1173

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We thank Jon Harrison for his advice, Robert Stevenson for reviewing a draft of this manuscript and the use of his equipment, and Barry Trimmer for the use of his resources. We would also like to thank Sara Lewis for her assistance with statistics and Ansel Payne for his editing help. Funding was provided by the Tufts University Biology Department, REU site 0649190, the PRAXIS Summer Internship of Smith College, and an Essel Student Fellowship for summer research in neurobiology from Williams College.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to S. A. Weiner.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Weiner, S.A., Upton, C.T., Noble, K. et al. Thermoregulation in the primitively eusocial paper wasp, Polistes dominulus . Insect. Soc. 57, 157–162 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-009-0062-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Hymenoptera
  • Flight
  • Temperature
  • Thermoregulation
  • Hibernation