Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Biology (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Joshua Gibson


Polygyny, or the formation of colonies with multiple cooperating queens, has been observed in a variety of social Hymenoptera and likely exists as a convergent evolutionary strategy. Polygyne cooperation has been observed in several Vespula sp. and is correlated with a perennial social strategy. This perennial-polygyne behavior has been observed most commonly within the tropical and subtropical regions of the invasive Vespula pensylvanica and V. germanica, and rarely within their native temperate ranges. This phenomenon has been relatively undocumented within the tropical portions the V. squamosa native range, despite it being observed in their temperate ranges several times. We observed polygyny in seven out of eight colonies of V. squamosa at a Santiago Apoala site in Oaxaca, Mexico. Our findings suggest that polygyny in these Vespula species is not solely the product of a genetic or population bottleneck resulting from introduction, but rather some undetermined environmental effects.