Open Access
Translator Disclaimer
1 March 2017 Feeding by the Social Wasp Polybia scutellaris (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) on Syzygium jambos (Myrtaceae) Fruits in Minas Gerais, Brazil
Bruno Pandelo Brügger, Bárbara Monteiro de Castro e Castro, Fábio Prezoto, José Eduardo Serrão, José Cola Zanuncio
Author Affiliations +

Polybia scutellaris (White) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), a eusocial wasp native to South America, is a generalist predator (Tellería 1996; Fernández Corujo et al. 2010) that feeds on many insect species, including pest species (Barros et al. 2015). Workers forage for food resources (proteins, carbohydrates), material for nest building (plant fiber, clay, water) (Jeanne 1996), water for thermoregulation of the colony (Kovac et al. 2009), and nectar for energy (Beggs 2001; Wegner & Jordan 2005). Social wasps can thrive in diverse habitats, including artificial or highly modified environments, such as agricultural areas (De Souza et al. 2012), and their role as a predator can be exploited as a component in pest management programs (Prezoto et al. 2006). However, these insects may also damage fruit, such as jabuticaba (Plinia cauliflora [Mart.] Kausel; Myrtaceae) (De Souza et al. 2010), guava (Psidium guajava L.; Myrtaceae) (Brugger et al. 2011), and mango (Mangifera indica L.; Anacardiaceae) (Barbosa et al. 2014), during foraging, which renders the fruit unsuitable for sale (Brugger et al. 2011). The wasps also are attracted to food and garbage, and forage in sites such as trade fairs, camp grounds, and picnic areas, and, therefore, frequently come into contact with people and represent a risk (Dvořák & Landolt 2006).

The foraging behavior of P. scutellaris on iamb fruit, Syzygium jambos (L.) Alston (Myrtaceae), was recorded in Feb 2016 for 5 d, hourly from 7 AM to 6 PM, on a S. jambos tree in Santo Antônio do Aventureiro, Minas Gerais, Brazil (21.750060°S, 42.800032°W).

Thirty-two foraging P. scutellaris workers were monitored, of which 26 visited ripe ground fall iamb fruits and 6 visited fruit still on the branches. Twenty wasps fed through preexisting damage and 12 pierced the skin of iamb fruits. Each visit to fruits lasted for 18 ± 7 (7-32) s, and visits occurred most often late in the morning (11 AM) and early afternoon (2 PM) (Fig. 1).

Iamb fruit on the soil used by P. scutellaris had preexisting damage and was fermenting (Dvořák & Landolt 2006; Landolt et al. 2014). Ground fall fruits were visited by this wasp due to recruitment and information on available food resources (D'Adamo & Lozada 2014; Sabrina et al. 2014; Santoro et al. 2015).

Temperature, light, and humidity affect social wasp foraging (Nadeau & Stamp 2003; Monceau et al. 2013), and wasp activity observed in this study was more intense in the warmer periods of the day. Diurnal variation in the intensity of activity may be a response to environmental conditions such that the energy costs and duration of foraging are reduced by optimizing body temperature (Kovac et al. 2015; Agrawal & Karsai 2016). Also, damage to iamb fruit by foraging wasps reduces their commercial value, and actions to reduce damage may be required, such as removing wasp colonies during fruiting.

Fig. 1.

Daytime foraging activity of Polybia scutellaris on Syzygium jambos fruits. No data were collected at 1 PM.


We acknowledge Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG) for financial support.


We report on the foraging behavior of Polybia scutellaris (White) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) and the damage it causes to the fruit of Syzygium jambos (L.) Alston (Myrtaceae). Of 32 wasps monitored, 26 visited fruit on the ground and 6 visited fruit on the branches. Foraging was most frequent in late morning and early afternoon.

Key Words: biological control; pre-harvest damage; foraging


Polybia scutellaris (Write) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) preda insetos pragas, porém pode danificar cascas de frutos de Syzygium jambos (L.) Alston (Myrtaceae), tornando-os comercialmente inviáveis. Trinta e dois indivíduos dessa vespa foram observados, 26 visitando frutos amadurecidos no solo e seis naqueles fixos nos galhos. O forrageio de P. scutellaris foi mais frequente no final da manhã e início da tarde.

Palavras Chave: controle biológico; dano pré-colheita; forrageio

References Cited


Agrawal D, Karsai I. 2016. The mechanisms of water exchange: the regulatory roles of multiple interactions in social wasps. PLoS One 11: e0145560. Google Scholar


Barbosa BC, Paschoalini MF, Prezoto F. 2014. Temporal activity patterns and foraging behavior by social wasps (Hymenoptera, Polistinae) on fruits of Mangifera indica L. (Anacardiaceae). Sociobiology 61: 239–242. Google Scholar


Barros EC, Bacci L, Picanco MC, Martins JC, Rosado JF, Silva GA. 2015. Physiological selectivity and activity reduction of insecticides by rainfall to predatory wasps of Tuta absoluta. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part B 50: 45–54. Google Scholar


Beggs J. 2001. The ecological consequences of social wasps (Vespula spp.) invading an ecosystem that has an abundant carbohydrate resource. Biological Conservation 99: 17–28. Google Scholar


Brugger BP, Araújo LSS, De Souza AR, Prezoto F. 2011. Social wasps (Synoeca cyanea) damaging Psidium sp. (Myrtaceae) fruits in Minas Gerais State, Brazil. Sociobiology 57: 533–535. Google Scholar


D'Adamo P, Lozada M. 2014. How context modification can favor the release of past experience in Vespula germanica wasps, enabling the detection of a novel food site. Journal of Insect Behavior 27: 395–402. Google Scholar


De Souza AR, Venâncio DFA, Prezoto F. 2010. Social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Polistinae) damaging fruits of Myrciaria sp. (Myrtaceae). Sociobiology 55: 297–299. Google Scholar


De Souza AR, Venâncio DFA, Prezoto F, Zanuncio JC. 2012. Social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) nesting in eucalyptus plantations in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Florida Entomologist 95: 1000–1002. Google Scholar


Dvořák L, Landolt PJ. 2006. Social wasps trapped in the Czech Republic with syrup and fermented fruit and comparison with similar studies (Hymenoptera Vespidae). Bulletin of Insectology 59: 115–120. Google Scholar


Fernández Corujo VL, Alicia Basilio, M, Galati BG. 2010. Pollen content accumulated in nests of Polybia scutellaris (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Grana 49: 308–313. Google Scholar


Jeanne RL. 1996. Regulation of nest construction behaviour in Polybia occidentalis. Animal Behaviour 52: 473–488. Google Scholar


Kovac H, Stabentheiner A, Schmaranzer S. 2009. Thermoregulation of water foraging wasps (Vespula vulgaris and Polistes dominulus). Journal of Insect Physiology 55: 959–966. Google Scholar


Kovac H, Stabentheiner A, Brodschneider R. 2015. What do foraging wasps optimize in a variable environment, energy investment or body temperature? Journal of Comparative Physiology A 201: 1043–1052. Google Scholar


Landolt PJ, Cha DH, Werle CT, Adamczyk JJ, Meagher RL, Gilbride RL, Clepper TS, Reed HC, Teal PEA, Sampson BJ. 2014. Polistes spp. (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) orientation to wine and vinegar. Florida Entomologist 97: 1620–1630. Google Scholar


Monceau K, Maher N, Bonnard O, Thiéry D. 2013. Predation pressure dynamics study of the recently introduced honeybee killer Vespa velutina: learning from the enemy. Apidologie 44: 209–221. Google Scholar


Nadeau H, Stamp N. 2003. Effect of prey quantity and temperature on nest demography of social wasps. Ecological Entomology 28: 328–339. Google Scholar


Prezoto F, Santos-Prezoto HH, Machado VL, Zanuncio JC. 2006. Prey captured and used in Polistes versicolor (Olivier) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) nourishment. Neotropical Entomology 35: 707–709. Google Scholar


Sabrina M, D'Adamo P, Lozada M. 2014. The influence of past experience on wasp choice related to foraging behavior. Insect Science 21: 759–764. Google Scholar


Santoro D, Hartley S, Suckling DM, Lester PJ. 2015. Nest-based information transfer and foraging activation in the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris). Insectes Sociaux 62: 207–217. Google Scholar


Tellería MC. 1996. Plant resources foraged by Polybia scutellaris (Hym. Vespidae) in the Argentine pampas. Grana 35: 302–307. Google Scholar


Wegner GS, Jordan KK. 2005. Comparison of three liquid lures for trapping social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 98: 664–666. Google Scholar
Bruno Pandelo Brügger, Bárbara Monteiro de Castro e Castro, Fábio Prezoto, José Eduardo Serrão, and José Cola Zanuncio "Feeding by the Social Wasp Polybia scutellaris (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) on Syzygium jambos (Myrtaceae) Fruits in Minas Gerais, Brazil," Florida Entomologist 100(1), 172-173, (1 March 2017).
Published: 1 March 2017

Get copyright permission
Back to Top