Social paper wasp (Agelaia pallipes) predates songbird nestling

Sjoerd Frankhuizen, Leonardo Esteves Lopes, Filipe C.R. Cunha*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The social paper wasp Agelaia pallipes is known to eat carrion and scavenge on vertebrates. There are few records of wasps predating vertebrates, including an attack on an adult hummingbird and the predation of bird nestlings. During a project monitoring reproductive behaviour of a neotropical songbird, the Lined Seedeater Sporophila lineola in south-eastern Brazil, we recorded the predation of a four-day-old nestling by a social paper wasp. In the video, the adult female bird attempted to visit the nest prior to the predation. The male could be seen with its crest feathers erect after a wasp left the nest, when the nestling was presumably already dead. When we arrived at the nest to remove the camera, we found the nestling dead, and did not observe the parents in the vicinity. We also registered two other dead nestlings in a different nest with similar wounds. However, the conclusive cause of death of those nestlings is unknown. Nest predation is a major selective pressure in birds, and insects are rarely assumed to play a notable role in this process. Further research is needed to better understand the nature of the relationship between wasps and birds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1006
Issue number10
Early online date13 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Agelaia pallipes
  • insect predator
  • nest predation
  • Sporophila lineola


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