Homing abilities of the tropical primitively eusocial paper wasp Ropalidia marginata

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2015 Aug;201(8):795-802. doi: 10.1007/s00359-015-1019-2. Epub 2015 Jun 7.


Compared to our extensive knowledge about the navigation and homing abilities of ants and bees, we know rather little about these phenomena in social wasps. Here, we report the homing abilities of the tropical primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata and the factors that affect their homing success. To determine from how far these wasps can return to their nests, we transported foragers blindfold and released them at gradually increasing distances from their nests in four cardinal directions. Their homing success was determined by checking their presence on their nests on three consecutive nights. All foragers (56 individuals, 115 releases) returned back from an area of 0.73 ± 0.25 km(2) on the day of release (minimal homing area), whereas 83.8 % of the foragers (217 individuals, 420 releases) returned when we enlarged the area of release to 6.22 ± 0.66 km(2) around their nests (maximal homing area). Of 66 releases, no wasps returned from beyond the maximal homing area. The minimal homing area might be familiar to the foragers because they probably routinely forage in this area and the maximal homing area represents the maximum distances from which the wasps are capable of returning to their nests, with or without familiarity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Flight, Animal
  • Homing Behavior*
  • Time Factors
  • Wasps*