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Social Interactions in the Solitary Wasp Cerceris Simplex (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) by

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The solitary wasp Cerceris simplex exhibits a variety of social interactions. In a nesting aggregation of this species females often abandoned old nests (voluntarily and involuntarily) and attempted to usurp burrows occupied by other females. These attempts were sometimes successful although they often failed forcing the searching female to hunt for still another burrow. Alternatively two or more wasps might provision the same nest for varying periods of time. It may be that nest-stealing behaviour has been, in some cases, a preliminary stage to the evolution of semi-social colonies in the Hymenoptera. This behaviour increases the probability that a female will try to enter and provision an already occupied nest; if the would-be parasite and the original occupant tolerate one another they could enjoy a variety of advantages through mutual occupation of a nest, including a reduction of the incidence of nest usurpation by other conspecifics.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Az., U.S.A.


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