Associative colony foundation in the tropical wasp Belonogaster juncea juncea(Vespidae, Polistinae)
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The development of colony foundations of Belonogaster juncea juncea(Fab.) was studied both in the field (Messa quarter, Yaoundé, Cameroun) and in captivity (University of Florence, Italy). Colonies were first initiated by single females who could be joined by other foundresses (2 to 8) coming, in their great majority, from the same maternal colony as the initial foundress female. The co-foundresses remained faithful to one single colony or joined other colonies originating from the same maternal colony and remained, preferentially, on those with the more advanced immature brood. In most cases the nest starter turned out to be the dominant female and her position was usurped in only four cases. Only 25 % of the haplometrotic foundations reached the post-emergence phase while it was reached by 56.7 % of the associative foundations. Only the latter succeeded in producing sexuals. The division of labour between associated females is similar to that observed in other social wasps with dominant individuals who are seldom absent from the nest, lay eggs and perform abdominal vibrations and subordinate individuals that are active foragers. The possibility of a swarming colony foundation in this species is briefly discussed.
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