Duration of Protopolybia exigua exigua (de Saussure) nests and related aspects as influenced by phorid fly infestation (vespidae, polistinae, epiponini)

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The main characteristics of 55 nests of Protopolybia exigua exigua were periodically evaluated in Ribeirão Preto, southeastern Brazil. Although the queens' life-span can eventually reach one year, nests barely thrive for six months because most of them are periodically invaded by the scavenger phorid fly, Megaselia aff. picta. Under heavy infestation the adult wasp population partially closes the nest entrance, migrates and constructs a new nest in the neighborhood. Afterwards the old-nest's entrance can be completely closed by the wasps which results in blocking the parasitoid flies inside. In the tropics, predation by ants is considered the main selective pressure which shaped most of the bionomic characteristics of Polistinae wasps. It is suggested that Megaselia can easily overcome the usual wasps defensive tactics just because they are so specialized against ants. Aerial raids, fast erratic-jerking movements, rapid and efficient oviposition behavior, etc. can eventually turn Megaselia into a very important enemy of some social wasps.



Absconding behavior, Megaselia, Phoridae, Polistinae, Protopolybia

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Sociobiology, v. 28, n. 1, p. 121-129, 1996.