Galapagos Species Checklist

Polistes versicolor (Oliver, 1791)

Yellow paper wasp

Wasp Nest (Polistes versicolor (Oliver, 1791)), Muro de las Lagrimas, Isabela, Galapagos. Photo: Frank Bungartz, CDF, 2008.
Wasp Nest (Polistes versicolor (Oliver, 1791)), Muro de las Lagrimas, Isabela, Galapagos. Photo: Frank Bungartz, CDF, 2008.

The predatory, stinging paper wasp is characterized by yellow transparent wings with a black body and yellow bands on the thorax and abdomen. It is a social wasp, and builds hanging paper nests that can hold tens to thousands of individuals along with multiple queens.

A predatory stinging insect distinguished by yellow transparent wings and black and yellow bands on the abdomen. It is social, building hanging paper nests that can hold 10s-1000s of individuals and many queens.

Taxonomy

Domain
Eukaryota

Kingdom
Animalia

Phylum
Arthropoda

Class
Insecta

Order
Hymenoptera

Suborder
Apocrita

Superfamily
Vespoidea

Family
Vespidae

Genus
Polistes

Species
versicolor

Taxon category: Accepted

Ecology

Feeding type: Polyphagous

The yellow paper wasp competes for food with native vertebrates such as finches by feeding on insect larva, mainly Lepidoptera (as cited in Foottit & Adler, 2009), at a rate of 17-154g per ha per day (Langor & Sweeney 2009) along with consuming fruits and flowers.

Trophic role: Omnivorous

Reproduction mode: Exclusively sexual

Distribution origin: South America

Introduction

Introduction route: Accidentally introduced

Invasion risk score: Extreme risk

Impact in Galapagos: Estimated to prey on 17-154 grams of insect per hectare per day, competing with insectivorous birds for food. In inhabited areas it often builds its nest on house rafters and inflicts a painful sting to humans if disturbed. It also pollinates plants.

Impact elsewhere: This species is a voracious predator of invertebrates, especially butterflies and moths. It is often used as a natural predator to reduced agricultural pests.

Control History in Galapagos: The municipality carries out some nest removal in inhabited areas. The National Park Service also uses traps. Traps can be made at home, and simply consist of a yellow receptacle filled with water and detergent. The wasps are attracted to the yellow color and then drown in the slippery water.

Year of first record: 1988

Distribution

Distribution map of specimen collection localities or observation records for this species in our collections database.

Distribution: Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Isabela, Floreana, Santiago, originally from South America.

References

  • Peck, S.B. Heraty, J., Landry, B. & Sinclair, B.J. (1998) Introduced insect fauna of an oceanic archipelago: The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. Am. Entomol. 44: 218-237.
  • Causton, C.E. Sevilla, C. (2008) Latest Records of Introduced Invertebrates in Galapagos and Measures to control them. Galapagos Report 2006-2007, CDF, GNP and INGALA, Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, Ecuador, p. 142-145.
  • Peck, S.B. (1994) Aerial dispersal of insects between and to islands in the Galápagos archipelago, Ecuador. Annls. Entomol. Soc. Am. 87(2): 218-224.
  • Roque-Albelo, L. Causton, C. (1999) El niño and introduced insects in the galápagos islands: different dispersal strategies, similar effects. Noticias de Galápagos 60: 30-36.
  • Peck, S.B. (1996) Origin and development of an insect fauna on a remote archipelago: The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. In: Keast A., Miller S.E. (eds.): The origin and evolution of Pacific Island biotas, New Guinea to eastern Polynesia: patterns and processes. SPB Academic Publishing, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, p. 91-122.
  • Peck, S.B. (1994) Sea-surface (Pleuston) transport of insects between islands in the Galápagos archipelago, Ecuador. Annls. Entomol. Soc. Am. 87(5): 576-582.
  • Abedrabbo, S. (1991) Nueva Avispa Introducida en las Islas. Carta Informativa 31: 4.
  • McMullen, C.K. (2011) Pollination of the heterostylos Galápagos native, Cordia lutea (Boraginaceae) Plant Syst Evol (2012) 298:569-579
  • Foottit, R.G. Adler, P.H. (2009) Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society, John Wiley & Sons. pp. 494.
  • Langlor, D.W. Sweeney, J. (2009) Ecological Impacts of Non-Native Invertebrates and Fungi on Terrestrial Ecosystems Springer. 66 pp.

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Chaussée de la Hulpe 177 Bte 20 (rez) - 1170, Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

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