Effect of climate on strategies of nest and body temperature regulation in paper wasps, Polistes biglumis and Polistes gallicus

Sci Rep. 2022 Mar 1;12(1):3372. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-07279-0.


Polistes paper wasps are a widespread taxon inhabiting various climates. They build nests in the open without a protective outer layer, which makes them vulnerable to changing temperatures. To better understand the options they have to react to environmental variation and climate change, we here compare the thermoregulatory behavior of Polistes biglumis from cool Alpine climate with Polistes gallicus from warm Mediterranean climate. Behavioral plasticity helps both of them to withstand environmental variation. P. biglumis builds the nests oriented toward east-south-east to gain solar heat of the morning sun. This increases the brood temperature considerably above the ambience, which speeds up brood development. P. gallicus, by contrast, mostly avoids nesting sites with direct insolation, which protects their brood from heat stress on hot days. To keep the brood temperature below 40-42 °C on warm days, the adults of the two species show differential use of their common cooling behaviors. While P. biglumis prefers fanning of cool ambient air onto the nest heated by the sun and additionally cools with water drops, P. gallicus prefers cooling with water drops because fanning of warm ambient air onto a warm nest would not cool it, and restricts fanning to nests heated by the sun.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Nesting Behavior / physiology
  • Temperature
  • Wasps* / physiology
  • Water


  • Water