Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Type: Article
Published: 2024-02-08
Page range: 519-534
Abstract views: 13
PDF downloaded: 0

The paper wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Polistinae) of Sri Lanka recorded from recent investigations

Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences; Faculty of Science; University of Colombo; 94; Kumaratunga Munidasa Mawatha; Colombo 00700; Sri Lanka
Faculty of Computing; Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology; New Kandy Road; Malabe; 10115; Sri Lanka
School of Engineering and Information Technology; Murdoch University; Perth; West Australia
Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences; Faculty of Science; University of Colombo; 94; Kumaratunga Munidasa Mawatha; Colombo 00700; Sri Lanka
Hymenoptera Distribution diversity morphology morphometrics


Paper wasps of subfamily Polistinae Lepeletier have been studied in many countries of the world due to their importance as pest species, predators, model organisms in research and medical significance. Seven species have been well documented in Sri Lanka, of these five species represent genus Ropalidia Guérin-Méneville, and two species genus Polistes Latrielle. However, the species have not been studied systematically for many years and recent records are not available. In the present study investigations for wasps (Vespidae) were conducted in 28 locations of all provinces and climatic zones of the country. Five species of paper wasps were found in 15 of the locations investigated, four in the genus Ropalidia and one in the genus Polistes. Ropalidia marginata Lepeletier was the most abundant and widely distributed species, while the other species had more limited distribution. Polistes (Gyrostoma) olivaceus De Geer, previously recorded from Sri Lanka, was not recorded during the present study. All the species of paper wasps encountered in the present study showed changes in distribution from their historical locations, decline in distributional ranges and occurrence in new locations.



  1. Arévalo, E., Zhu, Y., Carpenter, J.M. & Strassmann, J.E. (2004) The phylogeny of the social wasp subfamily Polistinae: evidence from microsatellite flanking sequences, mitochondrial COI sequence, and morphological characters. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 4, 8. []
  2. Bingham, C.T. (1897) Hymenoptera. Vol. I. Wasps and Bees. Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, London, 579 pp.
  3. Boudinot, B.E. & Fisher, B.L. (2013) A taxonomic revision of the Meranoplus F. Smith of Madagascar (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae) with keys to species and diagnosis of the males. Zootaxa, 3635 (4), 301–339.
  4. Brock, R.E., Cini, A. & Sumner, S. (2021) Ecosystem services provided by aculeate wasps. Biological Reviews, 96, 1645–1675.
  5. Carpenter, J.M. & Nguyen, L.P.T. (2003) Keys to the genera of social wasps of South-East Asia (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Entomological Science, 6, 183–192.
  6. Clemente, M.A., Lange, D., Del-Claro, K., Prezoto, F., Campos, N.R. & Barbosa, B.C. (2012) Flower-visiting social wasps and plants interaction: network pattern and environmental complexity. Psyche, 2012, Article ID 478431.
  7. Csősz, S., Seifert, B., Mikó, I., Boudinot, B.E., Borowiec, M.L., Fisher, B.L., Prebus, M., Puniamoorthy, J., Rakotonirina, J.C., Rasoamanana, N., Schultz, R., Trietsch, C., Ulmer, J.M. & Elek, Z. (2021) Insect morphometry is reproducible under average investigation standards. Ecology and Evolution, 11, 547–559.
  8. Dangalle, C.D. (2018) The forgotten tigers: the arboreal tiger beetles of Sri Lanka. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 46 (3), 241–252.
  9. Dar, S.A., Ansari, M.J., Naggar, Y.A., Hassan, S., Nighat, S., Zehra, S.B., Rashid, R., Hassan, M. & Hussain, B. (2021) Causes and reasons of insect decline and the way forward. In: El-Shafie, H.A.F. (Ed.), Global decline of insects. IntechOpen, London. [published online]
  10. Das, B.P. & Gupta, V.K. (1989) The social wasps of India and the adjacent countries. Oriental Insects Monograph, No. 11 Association for the Study of Oriental Insects, Gainsville, Florida, 292 pp.
  11. da Silva, J.V.N., de Souza, A.S.B., Bertinoti, G.K., Gomes, P.P., de Almeida, J.A.M. & de Souza, M.M. (2021) Social wasps fauna (Vespidae) of semideciduous seasonal forest in southern Brazil. Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies, 9 (1), 47–51.
  12. de Oliveira, I.M., Loeck, A.E., Garcia, F.R.M. & Botton, M. (2019) Faunal analysis and injuries characterization of Polistinae (Hymenoptera, Vespidae) in Niagara Rosada vineyards in Bento Goncalves, Rio Grande Do Sul State, Brazil. Bioscience Journal, 35 (4), 1220–1226.
  13. De Souza, A.R., Venâncio, D.F.A., Zanuncio, J.C. & Prezoto, F. (2011) Sampling methods for assessing social wasps species diversity in a Eucalyptus plantation. Journal of Economic Entomology, 104 (3), 1120–1123.
  14. Dias, R.K.S., Guénard, B., Akbar, S.A., Economo, E.P., Udayakantha, W.S. & Wachkoo, A.A. (2020) The ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of Sri Lanka: a taxonomic research summary and updated checklist. ZooKeys, 967, 1–142.
  15. Gawas, S.M., Kumar, P.G., Pannure, A., Gupta, A. & Carpenter, J.M. (2020) An annotated distributional checklist of Vespidae (Hymenoptera: Vespoidea) of India. Zootaxa, 4784 (1), 1–87.
  16. Harrison, R.D. (2003) Fig wasp dispersal and the stability of a keystone plant resource in Borneo. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 270 (Supplement 1), 270S76–S79.
  17. Hastings, J.M., Holliday, C.W. & Coelho, J.R. (2008) Body size relationship between Sphecius speciosus (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae) and their prey: prey size determines wasp size. Florida Entomologist, 91 (4), 657–663.
  18. Hayashih, Y., Hirata, H., Watanabe, M., Yoshida, N., Yokoyama, T., Murayama, Y., Sugiyama, K., Arima, M., Fukushima, Y., Fukuda, T. & Ishii, Y. (2014) Epidemiologic investigation of hornet and paper wasp stings in forest workers and electrical facility field workers in Japan. Allergology International, 63 (1), 21–26.
  19. Kardile, S.P. & Gadagkar, R. (2005) Observations on the natural history and behaviour of the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia cyathiformis (Fab.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 102 (3), 265–273.
  20. Karunaratne, W.A.I.P. & Edirisinghe, J.P. (2012) The taxonomy and conservation status of the bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) in Sri Lanka. In: Weerakoon, D.K. & Wijesundara, S. (Eds.), The National Red List 2012 of Sri Lanka; Conservation Status of the Flora and Fauna. Ministry of Environment, Colombo, pp. 20–25.
  21. Khan, K., Rasool, M. & Zahid, M. (2018) Taxonomic study of polistinae species (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) of Dir, Pakistan. Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies, 6 (2), 791–794.
  22. Khoobdel, M., Tavassoli, M., Salari, M. & Firozi, F. (2014) The stinging apidae and vespidae (Hymenoptera: Apocrita) in Iranian islands, Queshm, Abu-Musa, Great Tunb and Lesser Tunb on the Persian Gulf. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 4 (1), 258–262.
  23. Kojima, J. & Carpenter, J.M. (1997) Catalog of species in the Polistine tribe Ropalidiini (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). American Museum Novitates, 3199, 1–96.
  24. Kojima, J., Lambert, K., Nguyen, L.T.P. & Saito, F. (2007) Taxonomic notes on the paper wasps of the genus Ropalidia in the Indian subcontinent (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Entomological Science, 10, 373–393.
  25. Kularatne, K., Kannangare, T., Jayasena, A., Jayasekera, A. Waduge, R., Weerakoon, K. & Kularatne, S.A.M. (2014) Fatal acute pulmonary oedema and acute renal failure following multiple wasp/ hornet (Vespa affinis) stings in Sri Lanka: two case reports. Journal of Medical Case Reports, 8, 188. []
  26. Kumar, P.G. & Sharma, G. (2015) Taxonomic studies on vespid wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespoidea: Vespidae) of Chhattisgarh, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 7 (14), 8096–8127.
  27. Li, T. & Carpenter, J.M. (2019) Descriptions of eight new species of the genus Parancistrocerus Bequaert (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Eumeninae), with a key to the oriental species. Zootaxa, 4551 (3), 251–274.
  28. Liebert, A.E., Gamboa, G.J., Stamp, N.E., Curtis, T.R., Monnet, K.M., Turillazzi, S. & Starks, P.T. (2006) Genetics, behavior, and ecology of a paper wasp invasion: Polistes dominulus in North America. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 43, 595–624.
  29. Nguyen, L.T.P., Kojima, J., Saito, F. & Carpenter, J.M. (2006) Vespidae (Hymenoptera) of Vietnam 3: Synoptic key to Vietnamese species of the polistine genus Ropalidia, with notes on taxonomy and distribution. Entomological Science, 9, 93–107.
  30. Noll, F.B., da Silva, M., Soleman, R.A., Lopes, R.B., Grandinete, Y.C., Almeida, E.A.B., Wenzel, J.W. & Carpenter, J.M. (2021) Marimbondos: systematics, biogeography, and evolution of social behaviour of neotropical swarm-founding wasps (Hyenoptera: Vespidae: Epiponini). Cladistics, 37, 423–441.
  31. Pagirathi, M., Hemachandra, K.S. & Sirisena, U.G.A.I. (2015) The diversity of bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) of home gardens of Batticaloe District, Sri Lanka. Proceedings of the International Research Symposium of the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, 26–27 January 2016, 101–107.
  32. Patil, S. & Naik, D.J. (2020) Morphometric studies of sphecid wasps of Karnataka, India. Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies, 8 (4), 615–618.
  33. Pham, P.H. (2014) Hibernation on the nest of the paper wasp, Polistes (Gyrostoma) olivaceus (De Geer) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Biological Forum—An International Journal, 6 (1), 116–119.
  34. Pham, P.H. (2015) Biological observations on a paper wasp Polistes (Gyrostoma) olivaceus De Geer (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Vietnam. EuroAsian Entomological Journal, 14 (6), 532–542.
  35. Rafi, M.A., Carpenter, J.M., Quasim, M., Shehzad, A., Zia, A., Khan, M.R., Mastoi, M.I., Naz, F., Ilyas, M., Shah, M. & Bhatti, A.R. (2017) The vespid fauna of Pakistan. Zootaxa, 4362 (1), 1–28.
  36. Ruwanpathirana, P. & Priyankara, D. (2022) Clinical manifestations of wasp stings: a case report and a review of literature. Tropical Medicine and Health, 50, 82.
  37. Sadler, E.A., Pitts, J.P. & Wilson, J.S. (2018) Stinging wasps (Hymenoptera: Aculeata), which species have the longest sting? PeerJ, 6, e4743.
  38. Senanayake, S.M.H.M.K. & Senarathna, K.N. (2019) Fatal case of wasp stinging. Sri Lanka Journal of Forensic Medicine, Science & Law, 10 (2), 32–36.
  39. Somavilla, A. & Carpenter, J.M. (2021) Key to the genera of social wasps (Polistinae) occurring in neotropics. In: Prezoto, F., Nascimento, F.S., Barbosa, B.C. & Somavilla, A. (Eds.), Neotropical Social Wasps. Springer, Cham, pp. 327–336.
  40. Tan, J.L., Achterberg, K.V. & Chen, X.X. (2014) Pictorial key to species of the genus Ropalidia Guérin-Méneville, 1831 (Hymenoptera, Vespidae) from China, with description of one new species. ZooKeys, 391, 1–35.
  41. Ueno, T. (2015) The paper wasp Polistes olivaceus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) as an important predator of beet armyworm in Vietnam. Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, 4 (2), 54–57.
  42. Unnikrishnan, S. & Gadagkar, R. (2023) The evolution of eusociality: insights from comparing two indian paper wasp species. Indian Journal of Entomology.
  43. Wijerathne, B.T.B., Rathnayake, G.K. & Agampodi, S.B. (2014) Hornet stings presenting to a primary care hospital in Anuradhapura district, Sri Lanka. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, 25 (1), 122–126.
  44. Wijesekara, A. & Wijesinghe, D.P. (2003) History of insect collection and a review of insect diversity in Sri Lanka. Ceylon Journal of Science (Biological Sciences), 31, 43–59.
  45. Wijesooriya, M.M., Jayalath, M.G., Perera, S.J. & Samanmali, C. (2022) The odonate fauna (Insecta: Odonata) of Belihuloya, southern intermediate zone of Sri Lanka: A preliminary assessment and conservation implications. Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity, 15, 311–328.
  46. Witharana, E.W.R.A., Wijesinghe, S.K.J., Pradeepa, K.S.M., Karunaratne, W.A.I.P. & Jayasinghe, S. (2015) Bee and wasp stings in Deniyaya; a series of 322 cases. Ceylon Medical Journal, 60, 5–9.
  47. Yoon, K.A., Kim, K., Kim, W.J., Bang, W.Y., Ahn, N.H., Bae, C.H., Yeo, J.H. & Lee, S.H. (2020) Characterization of venom components and their phylogenetic properties in some aculeate bumblebees and wasps. Toxins, 12 (1), 47.