Journal Article

How Does an Invasive Social Wasp Deal with Changing Contextual Cues While Foraging?

M. Lozada and P. D'Adamo

in Environmental Entomology

Published on behalf of Entomological Society of America

Volume 38, issue 3, pages 803-808
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0046-225X
Published online August 2014 | e-ISSN: 1938-2936 | DOI:
How Does an Invasive Social Wasp Deal with Changing Contextual Cues While Foraging?

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In this study, we explore how an invasive social wasp, Vespula germanica (F.), deals with contextual changes while searching for a food source that is no longer available. Four experiments were conducted to evaluate the effect of different degrees of context modification on wasp behavior. Learning sessions consisted of a variable number of feeding trials during which an individual wasp fed from a landmark array made up of a feeder surrounded by four cylinders of the same color. The food and cylinders were subsequently removed from the training site, and this learned landmark array was modified in such a way that information relating to color and/or location of the resulting feeding arrays varied from that previously learned. The results indicate that the color most recently associated with food is prioritized over a formerly learned color, and this pattern is also maintained when wasps have learned the alternative color during a higher number of feeding experiences. This highlights the high plasticity with which V. germanica responds to unpredictable contextual changes while foraging.

Keywords: social wasps; learning; memory; plasticity

Journal Article.  3774 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Entomology

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