eastern yellowjacket

(Vespula maculifrons)

Conservation Status
eastern yellowjacket
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Eastern yellowjacket is a medium-sized, predatory, social wasp. In eastern North America it is the most common yellowjacket. Adults are ½ to long. The stout body is slightly wider than the head.

There are two large compound eyes, one on each side of the head; and three small simple eyes (ocelli) at the top of the head between the compound eyes. The distance between the rear ocellus and the hind margin of the upper surface of the head (vertex) is no more than the diameter of one ocellus. The gap between the jaw (mandible) and the compound eye is narrow, no more than the diameter of one ocellus. The upper (dorsal) space between the compound eyes is entirely black—there is no yellow “eye loop”. There is a yellow band behind the compound eye. It is continuous to the mandible, not interrupted, not narrowed or notched in the middle. The face of the worker is yellow one black spot at the top, one in the center, and two smaller black spots below the center spot. On the face of the queen the top and center spots are joined into a single prominent spot. The face of the male has no spots.

The dorsal surface of the thorax (pronotum) is black with no stripes down the middle. A yellow band at the leading edge of the pronotum is interrupted at the apex (nearest to the head).

The antennae are long and black.

The abdomen of the female has six segments, while that of the male has seven segments. The upper plate (tergum) of each abdominal segment is yellow with black markings. The first tergum has a anchor-shaped basal mark that is at least twice as wide as long and a yellow hind (posterior) margin that is continuous, not broken by black in the middle. On workers and males there are no isolated black spots on tergum 2 through 5. The queen has isolated black spots on tergum 2 through 5 but also has the distinctive anchor-shaped mark on tergum 1.

The legs are yellow.

The wings are smoky and clear.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: ½ to

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

 

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Early May through October (CCESR)

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Workers aggressively defend the nest. They are able to sting multiple times but the barbed stinger sometimes becomes detached in the victim.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

In the spring a queen emerges from hibernation. In early summer she builds an embryonic nest. The papery nest is constructed from wood fibers, plant fibers, cocoon silk, and artificial fibers such as paper, chewed and cemented with saliva. It is usually built underground but may also be built in an stump or attic. It begins as a thin pedicel, a papery disk, and a few hexagonal cells. The queen deposits a single egg into each cell. When the eggs hatch she feeds the young and continues building cells and laying eggs. These first young become workers and take over the care of new young and the expansion of the nest. In late summer the queen begins producing males and new queens. Nest size peaks in August or September. In Minnesota the nests do not survive the winter. Old queens, males, and workers are killed by cold weather in the fall. New queens mate in the fall and then hibernate.

 
     
 

Larva Food

 
 

Pre-chewed fragments of caterpillars, other soft-bodied insects, and occasionally carrion.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Plant nectar and the juices of ripe fruit.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 27, 29, 30, 82.

 
  1/21/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common and abundant

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)  
 

Suborder

Apocrita (wasps, ants and bees)  
 

Infraorder

Aculeata (ants, bees and stinging wasps)  
 

Superfamily

Vespoidea (vespoid wasps)  
 

Family

Vespidae (hornets, paper wasps, potter wasps, and allies)  
 

Subfamily

Vespinae (hornets and yellowjackets)  
 

Genus

Vespula (ground yellowjackets)  
  Subgenus Paravespula  
       
 

 

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

eastern yellowjacket

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Ocellus

Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.

 

Pronotum

The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.

 

Tergum

The upper (dorsal), hardened plate on a segment of the thorax or abdomen of an arthropod. Plural: terga.

 

Vertex

The upper surface of an insect’s head.

 

 

 

 

 

       
Visitor Photos
   
Share your photo of this insect.
 

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

       
Alfredo Colon
       
  eastern yellowjacket   eastern yellowjacket
       
  eastern yellowjacket   eastern yellowjacket
       
  eastern yellowjacket    
       
Bill Reynolds
       
  eastern yellowjacket   eastern yellowjacket
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   
       
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Eastern Yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons)
Bill Keim
 
  Eastern Yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons)  
     
  Vespula maculifrons
Allen Chartier
 
  Vespula maculifrons  

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
       
Share your video of this insect.
   

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.

       
       
Other Videos
 
  Eastern Yellowjacket (Vespidae: Vespula maculifrons) Close-up
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Sep 17, 2011

Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (17 September 2011). Thank you to 'Vespula vulgaris' (@Bugguide.net) for confirming the identity of this specimen!

   
       
  vespula maculifrons
summer101
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 15, 2012

Eastern Yellow Jacket Feeding

   
       
  YELLOW JACKET HORNET VESPULA Maculifrons is the correct name
SWIMMER FISH
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 28, 2008

i was cutting the grass and got stung 20 times.

YELLOW JACKET NEST LIVE VESPULA Maculifrons STING FIRST AID TRAP

   
       
  Eastern Yellowjackets (Vespula maculifrons)
Andy Wehrle
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Sep 6, 2008

*High quality version is available*

A nest of eastern yellowjackets is in the soil between some of the rocks in a short vertical rock wall in our yard. These are closely related to the German yellowjacket (V. germanica) and the aerial yellowjacket (Dolichovespula arenaria).

In one scene you can see a yellow-striped caterpillar working on a leaf nearby, he blends right into the neighborhood (probably for his own safety!).

   
       
  SRxthwHcBN4
opannefrank
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 13, 2010

A large underground nest belonging to Eastern Yellowjackets is disturbed by a garden hose. The wasps retaliate by swarming the camera, stinging the cameraman and generally having a bad attitude.

Also, this did not kill the wasps or cause them to relocate. The next day I poured moth crystals (crushed up moth balls) around the opening of the hive. Within a day or two the wasps had vacated the nest. To my knowledge the crystals didn't kill them (no corpses) just provided a strong deterrent.

So, if you're like me and rather not kill these important (yet fucking aggressive and down right nasty) insects, that is a method you can try.

In my old age of 24 I've become a bit of a tree hugging liberal softie, I'm afraid.

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
Visitor Sightings
   
Report a sighting of this insect.
This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.

Alfredo Colon
8/29/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

eastern yellowjacket


Alfredo Colon
8/15/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

eastern yellowjacket


Bill Reynolds
10/16/2014

 

 

eastern yellowjacket


     
     
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
         

 

 

 

Binoculars


Created 7/27/2017

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2021 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.