Reuse of old nests by the European paper wasp Polistes dominula (Hymenoptera Vespidae).


Similarly to the majority of social insects the nest represents for paper wasps an important component of the colony life and it is intimately linked to its social organization. When, in spring, future foundresses emerge from hibernacula they can choose between building a new nest and reusing an old one. Refurbishing the old nest in order to prepare it for a new breeding season cycle has already been observed in few species of paper wasps. In the present study we found that although the majority of Polistes dominula foundresses prefer to start new colonies early in the spring, an eight percent of nests were reused in our population. We speculate that reusing old nests might allow foundresses to save energy and gain time, but in turn it might also impose additional costs such as the risk of incurring in a higher pathogen pressure. Our data shows that the habits of reusing old nest is widespread in P. dominula but further experiments are required to test both these hypotheses and to clarify pros and cons of reusing old nests in this Polistes paper wasp species.


Nesting behaviour; Hymenoptera; Colony cycle; Social insects; Pathogens

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