Discrete dimorphism among castes of the bald-faced hornet Dolichovespula maculata (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in different phases of the colony cycle
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Morphological and physiological caste differences were compared from colonies of Dolichovespula maculata in middle and late phases of the colony cycle. The females showed three patterns of ovarian development and only females classified as queens were inseminated. In both phases, queens were larger than workers for most measures. Discriminant analyses showed high distinction of caste in both phases. We also found highly pronounced qualitative differences: workers had hairs covering the entire body whereas queens had no hair and also some colour differences in the gaster. These results indicate that D. maculata presents pre-imaginal differentiation as seen in other Vespinae, and that size variation occurs from colony to colony such that queens of one colony may be comparable to workers of a different colony although the castes are always distinguishable within colonies.