Original paper

Influence of Visual and Olfactory Cues on the Foraging Behavior of the Paper Wasp Mischocyttarus flavitarsis (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

[Einfluß visueller und olfaktorischer Auslöser auf das Futtersuche-Verhalten der Wegwespen-Art Mischocyttarus flavitarsis Hymenoptera]

McPheron, L. J; Mills, N. J

Entomologia Generalis Volume 30 Number 2 (2007), p. 105 - 118

38 references

published: Sep 4, 2007

DOI: 10.1127/entom.gen/30/2007/105

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP146003002001, Price: 15.40 €

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The role of olfactory and visual cues used during foraging behavior was examined for the social paper wasp, Mischocyttarus flavitarsis (Saussure 1854). Since wasps are generalist predators searching for herbivorous insects, the cues used during foraging can be derived from the insects, the plants the insects are feeding on, or a combination of the two. Foraging wasps were given a series of choice tests with control plants and treatment plants with olfactory and visual cues derived from either the prey or the plant. Plants with olfactory cues from caterpillar feeding damage and caterpillar regurgitant elicited significantly more visits per wasp, more time hovering, and a higher percentage of landings than control plants. Visual cues, such as caterpillar dummies were not attractive to foraging wasps using any of the three indices of behavior. Frass was found to be used as a short-range cue, as it only affected the percentage of landings. From these results, it is concluded that olfactory cues are more important in directing the foraging behavior of M flavitarsis, and that these cues originate primarily from plants damaged by caterpillar feeding activity. Unlike previous studies on foraging behavior in other social wasps, visual cues were found to be negligible in their effect on foraging. In addition, since the majority of cues in this study were attractive at two different levels of searching (mean number of visits per wasp and percentage of wasps landing), it is concluded that olfactory cues play a significant role in both short-range and long-range location of prey.


Mischocyttarus flavitarsis (Saussure 1854)caterpillar feeding damagefrassgeneralistpredatorsplant volatilessearching behaviorsocial waspsvision