eastern yellowjacket

(Vespula maculifrons)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

eastern yellowjacket

NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common and abundant

Flight/Season

May to November

Habitat

 

Size

Total Length: ½ to

         
          Photo by Bill Reynolds

Identification

This 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.

 
Similar
Species

 


Larval Food

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

 
Adult Food

Plant nectar and the juices of ripe fruit.

 
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.

 
Behavior

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


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 24, 29.


Comments

 


Taxonomy

Order:

Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)

 

Suborder:

Apocrita (wasps, ants and bees)

 

No Rank:

Aculeata

 

Superfamily:

Vespoidea (vespoid wasps)

 

Family:

Vespidae (wasps)

 

Subfamily:

Vespinae (hornets and yellowjackets)

 

Genus:

Vespula

 

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.

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.

     
     

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

   
Share your sighting of this insect.

Bill Reynolds
10/16/2014

 

 

eastern yellowjacket


     
     
 

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings

   

 


 

 

Binoculars

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2017 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.