Paper wasps are widely distributed in Europe. They live in the warm Mediterranean, and in the harsh Alpine climate. Some species are very careful in their choice of nesting sites to ensure a proper development of the brood. We investigated microclimate conditions at the nests of three species (P. dominula, P. gallicus, P. biglumis) from differing climates, in order to characterize environmental conditions and conduct energetic calculations for an entire breeding season. The mean ambient nest temperature differed significantly in the Mediterranean, temperate, and Alpine habitats, but in all habitats it was about 2 to 3 °C above the standard meteorological data. The energetic calculations of adult wasps' standard and active metabolic rate, based on respiratory measurements, differed significantly, depending on the measured ambient temperatures or the wasps' body temperatures. P. gallicus from the warm Mediterranean climate exhibited the highest energetic costs, whereas P. biglumis from the harsh Alpine climate had the lowest costs. Energetic costs of P. dominula from the temperate climate were somewhat lower than those in the Mediterranean species, but clearly higher than those in the Alpine species. Temperature increase due to climate change may have a severe impact on the wasps' survival as energetic costs increase.
Keywords: Polistes sp.; climate; energetics; temperature.