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Paper wasp worker still alive after eight months


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This spring, I decided to keep a paper wasp queen with a little tiny nest indoors in a plastic tank with some cardboard. She hatched some larvae, and I fed her caterpillars to chew up and feed to her grubs. When I went away for a week, she died- along with all the grubs except five that pupated. They hatched into four workers and a male. Four of them died around October and November, but not the smallest worker! It's march and she's still hanging on! It would make sense if she was a young queen, but why on earth does a sterile worker who lives only to feed grubs live months and months after the grubs are gone? Is it normal for wasps to live this long?

http://s1299.photobucket.com/user/Salmonsaladsandwich.t/photo/

I'm not entirely sure if she's polistes Metricus or Annularis. If anyone knows, let me know.

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I don't think P. metricus has that yellow band on the abdomen. We had about 900 Polistes in the lab this semester. Mostly metricus, exclamans and carolina. We haven't counted how the number of queens made it through hibernation. I'm not totally sure why some survive and some don't. Some of the seem to be pretty tough. I think we still had males and workers that went into hibernation with the queens.

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Oh, your right... Turns out a picture of p. annularis is actually what pops up when you search for metricus, and I thought that the original queen wasn't reddish enough to be annularis. I guess maybe the workers survive because polistes are fairly primitive social wasps that haven't quite evolved the worker caste to the level you see in hornets and yellow jackets where the workers are much smaller and shorter lived?

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