Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 246–252 | Cite as

Poor Odors, Strength, and Persistence Give Their Rewards to Mutilla europaea Visiting Dangerous Wasp Nests

  • Alessia UboniEmail author
  • M. Cristina Lorenzi


Social insect colonies are attractive for many arthropods. The rare velvet ant, Mutilla europaea, visit colonies of Polistes wasps, but to date it was unclear which resources it targeted therein. Our field observations and bioassays showed that velvet ants visit the colonies of the social wasp Polistes biglumis almost undisturbed and may feed on larval wasp saliva. Chemical insignificance and resistance are the characteristics that allow velvet ants to visit unharmed wasp colonies and gain such a nutritious reward.


Cleptoparasitism M. europaea P. biglumis social insects larval wasp saliva 



We thank all the students that helped with field observations, in particular P. Cocco, V. di Bona, S. Fucini, G. Laganà, G. Marras, L. Matta, M. Mignini, F. Mola, C. Piccaluga, and C. Trucco. We are grateful to two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. This study was supported by M.I.U.R. funding to M.C.L.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e Biologia dei SistemiUniversità di TorinoTorinoItaly
  2. 2.School of Forest Resources and Environmental ScienceMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA

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