Nesting Biology of Microstigmus thripoctenus Richards, with a Study on Nest Recognition (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae)

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In a study carried out on Microstigmus thripoctenus on Barro Colorado Island (Republic of Panama) between March and May 1998, 29 active nests were located. The nests contained between one and seven cells, with one (female) to six (three females and three males) adults. Using simple manipulations in which wasps were offered a choice between experimentally emptied “foreign” nests and their own nest when the adults were away, it was observed that returning adults were able to recognize their own nest. Foreign nests were always rejected by females coming from nests with a single adult, whereas individuals from nests with several adults in five of seven cases did accept the foreign nests, continuing their normal activities in them, without destroying their contents. Adopted foreign nests were inspected at a higher rate following adoption. Nests containing several adults tended to remain longer on leaves supporting them, and their external surfaces were inspected more frequently and longer than those of nests containing only one occupant. Nests are not associated with any particular plant and were found attached to leaves of 19 species of understory plants.

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