Respiration patterns of resting wasps (Vespula sp.)

J Insect Physiol. 2013 Apr;59(4):475-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2013.01.012. Epub 2013 Feb 9.


We investigated the respiration patterns of wasps (Vespula sp.) in their viable temperature range (2.9-42.4°C) by measuring CO2 production and locomotor and endothermic activity. Wasps showed cycles of an interburst-burst type at low ambient temperatures (Ta<5°C) or typical discontinuous gas exchange patterns with closed, flutter and open phases. At high Ta of >31°C, CO2 emission became cyclic. With rising Ta they enhanced CO2-emission primarily by an exponential increase in respiration frequency, from 2.6 mHz at 4.7°C to 74 mHz at 39.7°C. In the same range of Ta CO2 release per cycle decreased from 38.9 to 26.4 μl g(-1)cycle(-1). A comparison of wasps with other insects showed that they are among the insects with a low respiratory frequency at a given resting metabolic rate (RMR), and a relatively flat increase of respiratory frequency with RMR. CO2 emission was always accompanied by abdominal respiration movements in all open phases and in 71.4% of the flutter phases, often accompanied by body movements. Results suggest that resting wasps gain their highly efficient gas exchange to a considerable extent via the length and type of respiration movements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism*
  • Infrared Rays
  • Motor Activity
  • Respiration
  • Species Specificity
  • Temperature
  • Videotape Recording
  • Wasps / physiology*


  • Carbon Dioxide