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Long live the wasp: Adult longevity in captive colonies of the eusocial paper wasp Polistes canadensis (L.)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere848
Issue number3
DatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


Insects have been used as an exemplary model in studying longevity, from extrinsic mortality pressures to intrinsic senescence. In the highly eusocial insects, great degrees of variation in lifespan exist between morphological castes in relation to extreme divisions of labour, but of particular interest are the primitively eusocial insects. These species represent the ancestral beginnings of eusociality, in which castes are flexible and based on behaviour rather than morphology. Here we present data on the longevity of the primitively eusocial Neotropical paper wasp P. canadensis, in a captive setting removed of environmental hazards. Captive Polistes canadensis had an average lifespan of 193 ± 10.5 days; although this average is shorter than most bee and ant queens, one individual lived for 506 days in the lab-longer than most recorded wasps and bees. Natal colony variation in longevity does exist between P. canadensis colonies, possibly due to nutritional and genetic factors. This study provides a foundation for future investigations on the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic factors on longevity in primitively eusocial insects, as well as the relationship with natal group and cohort size.

    Research areas

  • Caste, Eusocial, Hymenoptera, Laboratory, Lifespan



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