Nesting ecology and colony survival of two invasive Polistes wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in New Zealand.
We examined the abundance, nesting ecology, and colony survival of two invasive species of paper wasp, Polistes dominula Christ (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) and Polistes chinensis Pérez (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), within their invaded range in New Zealand. The more recent invader, P. dominula, exhibited a strong habitat preference, reaching the highest abundances within suburban areas with an average of 87.4 wasps per 1,000 m2. Coastal habitats were also found to be suitable environments for P. dominula, although wasp abundance in these areas was comparatively lower than suburban sites at 26.5 wasps per 1,000 m2. Although P. chinensis were observed to build more nests in coastal habitats, this was not reflected in the abundance of adult wasps in these areas. Nests of P. dominula were larger and more productive, likely a result of the multiple founding and earlier emergence of workers compared to P. chinensis. Both species exhibited significant differences in nest survival, with P. dominula observed to have a higher colony survival rate, particularly in suburban habitats where this species utilized man-made substrates as nesting sites. Neither species nested within forest sites and translocated nests of P. dominula failed to thrive within forest habitats. Findings of this research suggest that P. dominula will not pose a threat to species inhabiting forested areas. Instead, biodiversity managers should focus their efforts on suburban and coastal environments as native species in these areas will require the greatest protection.