Question re wasps/bees
I wonder if you can help with this request for identification. You can reply direct to Gillian but I’d be interested in the answer too. Nice site!
Hello Dr. Robertson,
My name is Gillian Little and Duncan Sinclair has recommended you to me so that I can ask your assistance in identifying the attached photos taken recently in the rain forest in Panama. My daughter and I just happened upon them while digging up ants/fungus for her research. I would be delighted if you could tell me anything about them. I certainly have never seen anything like them before. In fact, we went back a few days later to find them still in the same configuration.
Hi Gillian and Mel,
What an interesting grouping of Social Wasps. What interesting coloration and what an interesting shape. The classic wasp-waist and the elongated abdomen are distinctive. We have never seen anything quite like this before. We suspect perhaps this configuration has something to do with the formation of a new colony and the protection of the queen, but maybe not. We are eager to begin our web research to see if we can uncover any information. We got instant gratification. Just typing in “wasps Panama” and doing a google search lead us to the very first site called Photo Gallery of Eusocial Paper Wasp Genera and Research run by Sean O’Donnell which identified this as “Apoica pallens. Wasps in this genus are unique in the Neotropics because they are nocturnal. In the day, the workers cluster on the nest surface, effectively forming an envelope over the brood with their bodies.” A subsequent Google search of the name Apoica pallens turned up a paper written by O’Donnell along with tree collaborators.