Thermal characterization of social vespid silk

Diana Golodnitsky, Avi Ulus, Jacob S. Ishay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we try to establish a link between the microclimate in the wasp nest and the structure and thermal stability of vespid silk. We suggest that there are at least two types of water that is absorbed by the silk of Oriental hornets, namely, surface water and intrinsic structural water. The release of both types of water was found to be reversible. The enthalpy values of the endothermic peaks associated with the release of water from different silk samples do not differ substantially and are in the range of 106 to 130 J g -1 for the Vespa orientalis male larvae silk (sample #1), Paravespula germanica (yellowjacket) worker larvae silk (#3) and Vespa orientalis nest envelope(#4). For the Vespa orientalis worker larvae silk (sample #2), however, it is twice as large (228 J g -1). This is in agreement with the increased total amount of absorbed water. The silk studied has a fibrilar structure with interconnecting surfaces overlying entire regions. It is assumed that the initial water loss stems from water evaporation from the coat of the fibers - a daily occurrence in the hornets' nest. Heating to above 70°C may result in structural changes in the silk core.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


  • Thermal characterization
  • Vespid silk


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