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Volume 2012, Article ID 585014, 10 pages
Research Article

Cue-Mediated Recruitment in a Swarm-Founding Wasp: Successful Foragers Induce Nestmates to Search Off Nest for a Scented Carbohydrate Resource

Departments of Entomology and Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 546 Russell Labs, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA

Received 26 February 2012; Revised 4 May 2012; Accepted 6 May 2012

Academic Editor: James Charles Nieh

Copyright © 2012 Teresa I. Schueller and Robert L. Jeanne. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The ability of social insect colonies to recruit nestmates to profitable resources increases colony-wide foraging efficiency by providing individuals with information that narrows their search for resources. Here we ask if for the Neotropical swarm-founding wasp Polybia occidentalis naïve nestmates are able to use food-scent cues from rich carbohydrate resources brought to the nest by successful foragers to orient to off nest resources. Foragers were allowed to freely visit a training dish containing a scented sucrose solution. At a second location, in a different direction from the nest, two sucrose-filled dishes were offered, one with the training scent and one with an alternate scent. Naïve foragers preferentially chose the training scent over the alternate scent, indicating that natural rates of resource inflow to the nest are sufficient to induce nestmates to forage at resources with a specific scent. Naïve foragers did not forage more often at the location at which the active foragers were foraging, an indication that directional information is not communicated in this species. The total number of foraging trips made by a colony's foragers was not determined by the size of the foraging force, but rather by the average individual foraging rate for the colony.