The predatory behavior of the Neotropical social wasp Polybia rejecta

Abstract : We experimentally studied the predatory behavior of Polybia rejecta (Vespidae, Polistinae, Epiponini) towards 2-88 mm-long insects attracted to a UV light trap. Foragers, which began to hunt at 6:30, selected 4-14 mm-long prey insects. Prey detection by sight by hovering wasps was confirmed using decoys. After the wasps landed and walked along a sinuous path, prey were detected by contact or from a distance (1-3cm). This was followed by seizure, stinging (contrarily to most other known cases), prey manipulation and retrieval. Prey that flew off might be caught in flight. The prey load, representing 30.7% of a forager's weight, was optimized by capturing up to six small prey or two medium-sized prey successively (both of which might be consumed in situ). The foragers cut off the wings of larger prey or cut them into two pieces and returned to gather the second piece. The handling time increased exponentially with the weight of the prey. Partial loading (i.e., retrieving a load much inferior to the maximum possible) was likely related to social facilitation, a form of nest-based recruitment that was demonstrated through the experimental elimination of local enhancement by removing foragers (both mechanisms favor the exploitation of favorable patches).
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Alain Dejean, Hector Rodriguez-Perez, James M. Carpenter, Frédéric Azémar, Bruno Corbara. The predatory behavior of the Neotropical social wasp Polybia rejecta. Behavioural Processes, Elsevier, 2017, 140, pp.161-168. ⟨10.1016/j.beproc.2017.05.011⟩. ⟨hal-01533217⟩

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