Document Type


Publication Date



publisher PDF

Publication Title

Annales Zoologici Fennici


wasps, paper wasps, wasp behavior, insects, insect behavior, entomology

Subject Categories

Biology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology


Studies of social insect invasions to date have focused primarily on highly eusocial insects such as ants and yellowjacket wasps. Yet insect societies without fixed, morphological caste systems may be particularly good invaders due to their behavioral flexibility, as demonstrated by the recent invasion of the European paper wasp Polistes dominulus into North America. Here we provide a review of this ongoing invasion in terms of (1) population genetic variation in P. dominulus, and (2) comparative behavior and ecology of P. dominulus vs. the native P. fuscatus. We present new genetic evidence supporting the occurrence of multiple independent introductions of P. dominulus into the USA, confirming previous results demonstrating relatively high genetic variation in introduced populations. We also present behavioral and demographic evidence suggesting that P. dominulus is displacing the native P. fuscatus in at least part of its range, most likely due to the superior productivity and survivorship of P. dominulus colonies. We review data from comparative studies where the two species are sympatric and discuss possible mechanisms contributing to the differences between them. Finally, we discuss the ecological impacts of this invasion and the role of P. dominulus as a model organism for invasion biology.