Polistes major major

Polistes major major

''Polistes major major'' is a neotropical eusocial paper wasp subspecies most commonly found on the Hispaniola Island and within Central America. It has been nicknamed "Avispa de caballo", the horse's wasp, in the Dominican Republic.

Recently, an issue with ''P. major major'' was evoked regarding its sting and venom; being larger than native European species, medical treatments in Spain may not be strong enough to counter the stings of the bigger wasps, such as ''P. major major''. Three peptides have been identified from ''P. major major'' venom.
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Appearance

One can recognize ''P. major major'' by its large size in comparison to members of other wasp species, reaching 17 to 22mm in length, carrying a wingspan of up to 45mm. It is primarily yellow with vibrant brown markings and wings. One can further identify members of a ''P. major major'' colony by behaviors specific to a certain rank or class.
A queen will rarely leave the nest and she lays the majority of the eggs within the nest, if not all.
Female workers are foragers, and often leave the nest to hunt for food. The workers engage in malaxation of their captured prey and drop off pieces into the larval cells, so that the growing brood may feed upon the chewed up food. After 4 to 5 days post emergence, drones will usually leave the nest and not return. Males will mark territory and patrol routes with pheromones released from their face and sternal regions.

Distribution

''P. major majors habitat is spread out among Central America. Many specimens have been obtained from various parts of Costa Rica, and are distributed all over Puerto Rico. It is most commonly found in the Dominican Republic, and can be found in other areas upon the Hispaniola Island. The wasp has also been seen in the United States, namely the states of Florida, Georgia, and Arizona. Recently, it has been spotted in Spain.

Behavior

''P. major major'' nestmates will engage in antennations, or tapping with the antennae, and head shakes during the distribution of food amongst themselves. A queen, worker, and drone of the named "Chavez" colony in an experiment had been observed participating in an event of prey distribution, which resulted in the drone taking the bulk of the prey and feeding it to the larvae. The worker and queen both shook their heads when offering food to other wasps. The queen antennated both the worker and drone on the head when her offerings were ignored.

Habitat

''P. major majors habitat is spread out among Central America. Many specimens have been obtained from various parts of Costa Rica, and are distributed all over Puerto Rico. It is most commonly found in the Dominican Republic, and can be found in other areas upon the Hispaniola Island. The wasp has also been seen in the United States, namely the states of Florida, Georgia, and Arizona. Recently, it has been spotted in Spain.

Food

''P. major major'' larvae primarily feed upon caterpillars and treehoppers. Adult wasps can not ingest solid foods, only liquids and those foods that have been grounded up. The adults forage for prey and will return to the nest with the body of their catch. The female workers malaxate the prey, removing liquid from the bolus, and feed the solid remainder to the larvae in their cells. Drones have been found to participate in the same behavior as the workers, malaxating food boli and giving the remains to larvae.

Predators

''P. major major'' and other ''Polistes major'' subspecies are preyed upon by various bird species, namely the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderHymenoptera
FamilyVespidae
GenusPolistes
SpeciesP. major