Parapolybia indica


Common name(s): This group is sometimes collectively known as the "lesser paper wasps"

This is the largest species of Parapolybia, and is easily distinguished from the other two species locally. It is usually in the range of 17 to 22 mm total length. It is overall a dark yellow-brown, with some lighter yellow at the sides of the thorax.

Parapolybia indica is part of a group of nine species, some of which were formerly classified as subspecies of this species. A recent study ( Saito-Morooka, F, Nguyen, L.T.P. & Kojima, J-I. 2015: Review of the paper wasps of the Parapolybia indica species-group (Hymenoptera: Vespidae, Polistinae) in eastern parts of Asia. Zootaxa 3947 (2): 215235. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.3947.2.5) has proven their validity as separate and distinct species, and also described four species new to science. The species in Hong Kong is true Parapolybia indica. Besides that, another species of this group, Parapolybia crocea, has been recorded from Hong Kong. The only known specimen was collected in 1964 from Tai Po Kau, which is a forest reserve today and home to some of the most mature forest in Hong Kong. I presume that this species is today either restricted to such forest habitat or locally extinct.

Parapolybia indica is very common in Hong Kong, although it is not as frequently found within truly urban environments. However, it appears to be the most common species in the countryside.

The nest of Parapolybia indica is generally the same size as that of Parapolybia varia and Parapolybia nodosa. However, at the same size, there are fewer individuals, possibly because of the slightly larger size of adults and consequently, larger cells in the nest. The nest is usually leaf-shaped, and proportionally broader in shape than that of Parapolybia varia. It is not commonly found nesting in truly urban areas like the other two species. This is fortunate, because this species is also more defensive than the other two species. However, it will nest in and around rural village houses in the countryside, and thus poses a risk to people living in such areas. However, if one is aware of the presence of the nest, it is still perfectly possible to coexist in harmony with them.

Parapolybia indica is otherwise very similar to Parapolybia varia and Parapolybia nodosa in most other aspects. It preys on a wide variety of insects and is also a common scavenger on carcasses of animals.


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