New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1991) 15(2): 167- 170

Weather-Related Differences in Attractiveness of Protein Foods to Vespula Wasps

Research Article
R. J. Harris 1,3
H. Moller 2,4
J. A. V. Tilley 2
  1. Zoology Department, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 1, New Zealand
  2. DSIR Land Resources, Private Bag, Nelson, New Zealand
  3. Present address: Plant Protection Group, MAF Technology, Ruakura Agricultural Centre, Private Bag, Hamilton, New Zealand
  4. Present address: Zoology Department, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand

Low acceptance of protein baits by common (Vespula vulgaris) and German (V. germanica) wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) occurred after rain in honeydew beech forest. This corresponded with a sharp decrease in the proportion of natural protein in the diet of V. vulgaris and V. germanica, and a reduction in the concentration of carbohydrate-rich honeydew in the crops of foraging wasps carrying liquid. The reduction of protein foraging most likely results from a change in the efficiency of foraging wasps at gathering high energy foods such as honeydew after rain, because rain reduces honeydew availability. Workers may therefore take longer to meet their own energy requirements before they can forage for protein to feed developing larvae.