A novel interference behaviour: invasive wasps remove ants from resources and drop them from a height

Julien Grangier, Philip J. Lester

Abstract

This study reports a novel form of interference behaviour between the invasive wasp Vespula vulgaris and the New Zealand native ant Prolasius advenus. By videotaping interactions at bait stations, we found that wasps commonly remove ant competitors from food resources by picking up the workers in their mandibles, flying backward and dropping them unharmed some distance from the food. Both the frequency and the efficiency of the wasp behaviour significantly increased with the abundance of ant competitors. Ant removals were the most common interference events initiated by wasps when ants were numerous, while intraspecific conflicts among wasps were prominent when few ants were present. The ‘ant-dropping’ behaviour emphasizes how asymmetry in body sizes between competitors can lead to a pronounced form of interference, related to asymmetric locomotion modes.

  • Received February 12, 2011.
  • Accepted March 11, 2011.
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