Colonial Dynamics

  • Stefano Turillazzi


Colony cycles are influenced by several biotic and a-biotic environmental factors (climate in general, predators, parasites, pathogens, availability of prey and nesting sites). Nests can be founded by a single female or in association, and colony development can be determined by individual life histories which can, in turn, be influenced by contingent ecological, physiological or social factors. In any case, the choice of individuals can follow a three-step process, which determines their decision to leave or to stay on the natal colony, renounce or not direct reproduction and furnish or not alloparental care. Regulatory mechanisms of structured societies include the onset of dominance hierarchies which in most hover wasps are of the gerontocratic type. The main characteristics of these hierarchies in those species most studied are reported, as well as the possible factors influencing rank determination.


Ovarian Development Dominance Hierarchy Social Wasp Dominant Female Subordinate Female 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Baracchi D, Hashim R, Teseo S, Turillazzi S (2009) Basic social biology and nest architecture of Liostenogaster topographica Turillazzi 1999 (Hymenoptera Stenogastrinae). Trop Zool 22:15–25Google Scholar
  2. Baracchi D, Petrocelli I, Cusseau G, Pizzocaro L, Teseo S, Turillazzi S (2012) Facial markings in the hover wasps: quality signals and familiar recognition cues in two species of Stenogastrinae. Anim Behav in pressGoogle Scholar
  3. Barthélémy C (2008) A provisional guide to the social vespids of Hong Kong (Hymenoptera Vespidae). On line:
  4. Barthélémy C (2009) Notes on biology and nests of a hover wasp, Eustenogaster nigra (Vespidae: Stenogastrinae), in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Entomol Bull 1:27–31Google Scholar
  5. Bolton A, Sumner S, Shreeves G, Casiraghi M, Field J (2006) Colony genetic structure in a facultatively eusocial hover wasp. Behav Ecol 17:873–880CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bongiovanni V (1998) L’architettura del nido ed il materiale da costruzione nelle vespe Stenogastrinae (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Msc thesis, Università di Firenze, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  7. Bridge CAL (2005) Rank and inheritance in a facultatively eusocial hover wasp. PhD Thesis, University College London, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Bridge C, Field J (2007) Queuing for dominance: gerontocracy and queue-jumping in the hover wasp Liostenogaster flavolineata. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 61:1253–1259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cant MA, Field JP (2001) Helping effort and future fitness in cooperative animal societies. Proc R Soc B 268:1959–1964PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cant MA, Field JP (2005) Helping effort in a dominance hierarchy. Behav Ecol 16:708–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cervo R, Dapporto L, Beani L, Strassmann JE, Turillazzi S (2008) On status badges and quality signals in the paper wasp Polistes dominulus: body size, facial colour patterns and hierarchical rank. Proc R Soc B 275:1189–1196PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coster-Longman (1998) Ecological factors in the agglomeration and evolution of sociality in the Stenogastrinae (Hymenoptera Vespidae). PhD thesis, Università di Firenze, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  13. Coster-Longman C, Turillazzi S (1998) Leaving the nest and related behavioural strategies in a captive population of Parischnogaster mellyi (Stenogastrinae, Vespidae, Hymenoptera). Insect Soc Life 2:37–44Google Scholar
  14. Coster-Longman C, Landi M, Turillazzi S (2002) The role of passive defense (selfish herd and dilution effect) in the gregarious nesting of Liostenogaster wasps (Vespidae Hymenoptera Stenogastrinae). J Insect Behav 15:331–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cronin AL, Field J (2007) Rank and colony defense against conspecifics in a facultatively eusocial hover wasp. Behav Ecol 18:331–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cronin AL, Bridge C, Field J (2010) Climatic correlates of temporal demographic variation in the tropical hover wasp Liostenogaster flavolineata. Insect Soc 58:23–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fanelli D, Boomsma JJ, Turillazzi S (2005) Multiple reproductive strategies in a tropical hover wasp. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 58:190–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fanelli D, Boomsma JJ, Turillazzi S (2008) Subordinate wasps are more aggressive in colonies with low reproductive skew. Anim Behav 75:879–886CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Field J (2008) The ecology and evolution of helping in hover wasps (Hymenoptera: Stenogastrinae). In: Korb J, Heinze J (eds) Ecology of social evolution. Springer, Heidelberg, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  20. Field J, Foster W (1999) Helping behaviour in facultatively eusocial hover wasps: an experimental test of the subfertility hypothesis. Anim Behav 57:633–636PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Field J, Foster W, Shreeves G, Sumner S (1998) Ecological constraints on independent nesting in facultatively eusocial hover wasps. Proc R Soc B 265:973–977CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Field J, Shreeves G, Sumner S (1999) Group size, queuing and helping decisions in facultatively eusocial hover wasps. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 45:378–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Field JP, Shreeves G, Sumner S, Casiraghi M (2000) Insurance-based advantage to helpers in a tropical hover wasp. Nature 404:869–871PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Field J, Cronin A, Bridge C (2006) Future fitness and helping in social queues. Nature 441:214–217PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Francescato E, Massolo A, Landi M, Gerace L, Hashim RB, Turillazzi S (2002) Colony membership, division of labour and genetic relatedness among females of colonies of Eustenogaster fraterna (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Stenogastrinae). J Insect Behavior 15:153–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gadagkar R (1990) Evolution of eusociality: the advantage of assured fitness returns. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B 329:17–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gamboa GJ, Wacker TL, Duffy KG, Dobson SW, Fishwild TG (1992) Defence against intraspecific usurpation by paper wasp cofoundresses (Polistes fuscatus, Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Can J Zool 70:2369–2372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gerace L (1993) Caratteristiche della popolazione coloniale e descrizione del nido di Eustenogaster fraterna (Bingham) (Hymenoptera Vespidae). MSc thesis, Università di Firenze, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  29. Hansell MH (1981) Nest construction in the subsocial wasp Parischnogaster mellyi (Saussure) (Stenogastrinae Hymenoptera). Insect Soc 28:208–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hansell MH (1982) Brood development in the subsocial wasp Parischnogaster mellyi (Saussure) (Stenogastrinae Hymenoptera). Insect Soc 29:3–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hansell MH (1983) Social behaviour and colony size in the wasp Parischnogaster mellyi (Saussure), Stenogastrinae (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Proc Konin Neder Akad Wetens Ser C 86:167–178Google Scholar
  32. Hansell MH (1986) Colony biology of the stenogastrine wasp Holischnogaster gracilipes (Van der Vecht) on Mount Kinabalu. Entomol Mon Mag 122:31–36Google Scholar
  33. Hansell MH (1987) Elements of eusociality in colonies of Eustenogaster calyptodoma (Sakagami & Yoshikawa) (Stenogastrinae, Vespidae). Anim Behav 35:131–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hansell MH, Samuel C, Furtado JI (1982) Liostenogaster flavolineata: social life in the small colonies of an Asian tropical wasp. In: Breed MD, Michener CD, Evans HE (eds) the Biology of Social Insects. Westview Press, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  35. Helms Cahan S, Blumstein DT, Sundström L, Liebig J, Griffin A (2002) Social trajectories and the evolution of social behavior. Oikos 96:206–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Iwata K (1967) Report of the fundamental research on the biological control of insect pests in Thailand. II. The report on the bionomics of Aculeate wasps bionomics of subsocial wasps of Stenogastrinae (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Nat Life SEA 5:259–293Google Scholar
  37. Jeanne RL (1979) A latitudinal gradient in rates of ant predation. Ecology 60:1211–1224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Krombein KV (1991) Biosystematic studies of Ceylonese wasps. XIX: Natural History Notes in Several Families (Hymenoptera, Eumenidae, Vespidae, Pompilidae, Crabronidae). Smithsonian Contrib Zool 515:1–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Landi M, Queller DC, Turillazzi S, Strassmann JE (2003) Low relatedness and frequent queen turnover in the stenogastrine wasp Eustenogaster fraterna favor the life insurance over the haplodiploid hypothesis for the origin of eusociality. Insect Soc 50:262–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Matsuura M, Yamane SK (1990) Biology of the vespine wasps. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nonacs P (1991) Alloparental care and eusocial evolution: the limits of Queller's head-start advantage. Oikos 61:122–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ohgushi R, Sakagami SF, Yamane S (1990) Nest architecture of the stenogastrine wasps: diversity and evolution (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). A comparative review. In: Sakagami SF, Ohgushi R, Roubik DW (eds) Natural history of social wasps and bees in equatorial Sumatra. Hokkaido University Press, SapporoGoogle Scholar
  43. Pardi L (1946) Ricerche sui Polistini VII. La “dominazione” ed il ciclo ovarico annuale di Polistes gallicus (L.). Boll Ist Entom Univ Bologna 15:25–84Google Scholar
  44. Queller DC (1989) The evolution of eusociality: reproductive head starts of workers. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 86:3224–3226PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Queller DC (1996) The origin and maintenance of eusociality: the advantage of extended parental care. In: Turillazzi S, West-Eberhard MJ (eds) Natural history and the evolution of paper wasps. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  46. Reeve HK (1991) Polistes. In: Ross KG, Matthews RW (eds) The social biology of wasps. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  47. Röseler PF, Röseler I, Strambi A (1980) The activity of corpora allata in dominant and subordinated females of the wasp Polistes gallicus. Insect Soc 27:97–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Saito F, Nguyen LPT, Carpenter JM, Kojima J (2006) A new Eustenogaster species (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Stenogastrinae), the first hover wasp known to overwinter on the nest. Am Mus Novit 3534:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Saito F, Nguyen LPT, Kojima J (2009) Colony cycle of a “temperate” hover wasp, Eustenogaster nigra, with special reference to overwintering of males in an enveloped nest together with virgin females (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Stenogastrinae). Insect Soc 56:49–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sakagami SF, Yamane S (1990) A behavior inventory of the females of two stenogastrine wasps Parischnogaster mellyi and Liostenogaster vechti (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). In: Sakagami SF, Ohgushi R, Roubik DW (eds) Natural history of social wasps and bees in equatorial Sumatra. Hokkaido University Press, SapporoGoogle Scholar
  51. Samuel C (1987) Factors affecting colony size in the stenogastrine wasp Liostenogaster flavolineata. PhD thesis, University of Malaya, Kuala LumpurGoogle Scholar
  52. Shreeves GE, Field JP (2002) Group size and direct fitness in social queues. Am Naturalist 159:81–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Spradbery JP (1975) The biology of Stenogaster concinna Van der Vecht with comments on the phylogeny of Stenogastrinae (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). J Aust Entomol Soc 14:309–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Spradbery JP (1989) The nesting of Anischnogaster iridipennis (Smith) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in New Guinea. J Aust Entomol Soc 28:225–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stacey PB, Ligon JD (1991) The benefits of philopatry hypothesis for the evolution of cooperative breeding: habitat variance and group size effects. Am Nat 137:831–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Strassmann JE, Meyer DC (1983) Gerontocracy in the social wasp, Polistes exclamans. Anim Behav 31:421–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Strassmann JE, Queller DC (1989) Ecological determinants of social evolution. In: Breed MD, Page RE (eds) The genetics of social evolution. Westview, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  58. Strassmann J, Hughes CR, Turillazzi S, Solis CR, Queller DC (1994) Genetic relatedness and incipient eusociality in stenogastrine wasps. Anim Behav 48:813–821CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sumner S (1999) Conflicts over reproduction in facultatively eusocial hover wasps. PhD thesis, University College London, UKGoogle Scholar
  60. Sumner S, Field J (2001) Highly polymorphic microsatellite loci in the facultatively eusocial hover wasp, Liostenogaster flavolineata and cross-species amplification. Mol Ecol Notes 1:229–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sumner S, Casiraghi M, Foster W, Field J (2002) High reproductive skew in tropical hover wasps. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:179–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tibbetts EA (2002) Visual signals of individual identity in the wasp Polistes fuscatus. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:1423–1428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tibbetts EA, Dale J (2004) A socially enforced signal of quality in a paper wasp. Nature 432:218–222PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tibbetts EA, Mettler A, Levy S (2010) Mutual assessment via visual status signals in Polistes dominulus wasps. Biol Lett 6:10–13PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Turillazzi S (1985a) Colonial cycle of Parischnogaster nigricans serrei (Du Buysson) in West Java (Hym. Stenogastrinae). Insect Soc 32:43–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Turillazzi S (1985b) Associative nest foundation in the wasp: Parischnogaster alternata. Naturwissenschaften 72:100–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Turillazzi S (1986) Colony composition and social behaviour of Parischnogaster alternata Sakagami (Hymenoptera Stenogastrinae). Monit Zool Ital 20:333–347Google Scholar
  68. Turillazzi S (1988) Social biology of Parischnogaster jacobsoni (Du Buysson) (Hymenoptera, Stenogastrinae). Insect Soc 35:133–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Turillazzi S (1989) The origin and evolution of social life in the Stenogastrinae (Hymenoptera Vespidae). J Insect Behav 2:649–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Turillazzi S (1990a) Social biology of Liostenogaster vechti Turillazzi 1988 (Hymenoptera Stenogastrinae). Trop Zool 3:68–87Google Scholar
  71. Turillazzi S (1990b) Notes on the biology, social behaviour and nest architecture of Metischnogaster drewseni (Saussure) (Hymenoptera Stenogastrinae). Boll Zool 57:331–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Turillazzi S (1990c) Socialità ed architettura del nido nelle vespe Stenogastrinae (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Atti Acc Naz Ital Entomol Rendiconti XXXVIII:1–24Google Scholar
  73. Turillazzi S, Carfi S (1996) Adults and nest of Liostenogaster pardii n.sp. (Hymenoptera Stenogastrinae). Trop Zool 9:19–30Google Scholar
  74. Turillazzi S, Francescato E (1989) Observation on the behaviour of male stenogastrine wasps (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Stenogastrinae). Actes Coll Insect Soc 5:181–187Google Scholar
  75. Turillazzi S, Gerace L (1992) Size and characteristics of colonies of Eustenogaster fraterna (Hymenoptera Vespidae Stenogastrinae). Ethol Ecol Evol (Special Issue) 2:65–67Google Scholar
  76. Turillazzi S, Hansell MH (1991) Biology and social behaviour of three species of Anischnogaster (Vespidae, Stenogastrinae) in Papua New Guinea. Insect Soc 38:423–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Turillazzi S, Pardi L (1982) Social behavior of Parischnogaster nigricans serrei (Du Buysson) (Hymenoptera Stenogastrinae) in Java. Ann Entomol Soc Am 75:657–664Google Scholar
  78. Turillazzi S, Marino Piccioli MT, Hervatin L, Pardi L (1982) Reproductive capacity of single foundress and associate foundress females of P. gallicus (Hymenoptera Vespidae). Monit Zool Ital 16:75–88Google Scholar
  79. Turillazzi S, Cervo R, Cavallari I (1990) Invasion of the nest of Polistes dominulus by the social parasite Sulcopolistes sulcifer (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Ethology 84:47–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Turillazzi S, Cervo R, Dani FR (1997) Intra- and inter-specific relationships in a cluster of Stenogastrine wasp colonies (Hymenoptera; Vespidae). Ethol Ecol Evol 9:385–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. van der Vecht J (1977) Studies of oriental Stenogastrinae (Hymenoptera: Vespoidea). Tijdschr Entomol 120:55–75Google Scholar
  82. West-Eberhard MJ (1978) Polygyny and the evolution of social behavior in wasps. J Kansas Entomol Soc 51:832–856Google Scholar
  83. Williams FX (1928) Studies in tropical wasps their hosts and associates (with descriptions of new species). Bull Exp Sta Hawaii Sugar Planters' Assoc Entomol 19:1–179Google Scholar
  84. Yamane S, Sakagami S, Ohgushi R (1983) Multiple behavioral options in a primitively social wasp, Parischnogaster mellyi. Insect Soc 30:412–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Yamane S, Sakagami S, Ohgushi R (1990) Social behavior in the stenogastrine wasp Parischnogaster mellyi (Hymenoptera Vespidae). In: Sakagami SF, Ohgushi R, Roubik DW (eds) Natural history of social wasps and bees in equatorial Sumatra. Hokkaido University Press, SapporoGoogle Scholar
  86. Yoshikawa K, Ohgushi R, Sakagami SF (1969) Preliminary report on entomology of the Osaka City University 5th Scientific Expedition to Southeast Asia 1966. With description of two new genera of stenogasterine [sic] wasps by J. van der Vecht. Nat Lif SEA 6:153–182Google Scholar
  87. Zanette LRS, Field J (2009) Cues, concessions and inheritance: dominance hierarchies in the paper wasp Polistes dominulus. Behav Ecol 20:773–780CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefano Turillazzi
    • 1
  1. 1.Dep of Evolutionary Biology “L. Pardi”Università degli Studi di FirenzeFirenzeItaly

Personalised recommendations