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By Stefano Turillazzi

This e-book represents the end result of the author’s lifetime paintings on a unmarried interesting crew of bugs, the hover wasps, Stenogastrinae. the writer explores the biology of those little-known wasps on the threshold of sociality, featuring an bold survey of rules approximately their evolution and an overview of the present status of arguable concepts.

Following taxonomic and morphological descriptions, the behaviour, colonial dynamics, social communique and particularly the remarkably different nests of wasps are mentioned. in comparison to the better-known species of paper wasps, hornets and yellow jackets, the hover wasps exhibit a number of peculiarities, corresponding to features of immature brood rearing, nest defence and mating platforms. The nest structure most likely provides the main variable suggestions in social wasps and is characterised by means of an mind-blowing point of camouflage, making those bugs an attractive instance of designated variation to wooded area environments.

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46 2 Morphology and Anatomy Recently Baracchi et al. (2010) analysed the mean molecular weight of the a-polar component (from 900 to 3,000 Da) of the venom of ten species belonging to the three genera mentioned above, demonstrating clear interspecific differences and similarities which can be used as tools for the study of chemosystematics and chemical ecology. In another recent paper, Baracchi et al. (2012) demonstrated that the venom and methanol cuticular extracts of females of some species of hover wasps have antimicrobial properties.

1) and, in some cases, bits of silk for nest construction. 3 The Gaster The gaster is formed of the abdominal segments minus the first (propodeum) which is attached to the last segment of the thorax. 1 Morphology and Anatomy of the Adults 35 (metasomal segment 2) is called the “petiole” and in the hover wasps it is as long as all the other segments taken together (5 in the females and 6 in the males). It has a more or less distinct neck (petiolate) in Parischnogaster, Metischnogaster and Anischnogaster while it is not petiolate in the other genera.

At the level of the gaster, the alimentary canal enlarges into the crop and then into the midgut, which can be recognised by its ringed surface. At the end of the ventriculus are inserted various Malpighian tubules; then the hindgut begins which is formed by an enlarged rectum and the anus. The rectum, which is characterised by longitudinal rectal glands in Polistinae and Vespinae, appears smooth in Liostenogaster and Parischnogaster. Comparative studies of the internal anatomy of hover wasps are still lacking but, as far as the alimentary canal is concerned, we can say that it is similar, in its general appearance, to that of other social wasps.

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