Species Vespula maculifrons - Eastern Yellowjacket
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Vespoidea (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps and allies)
Family Vespidae (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps)
Subfamily Vespinae (Hornets and Yellowjackets)
Species maculifrons (Eastern Yellowjacket)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Vespula maculifrons (Buysson)
Orig. Comb: Vespa maculifrons Buysson 1905
Explanation of Names
maculifrons = 'with spotted frons' (refers to the typical head marking)
Workers about 8.5-12 mm (smallest at start of colony cycle), males about 12-15 mm, queens up to about 18 mm. This species averages smaller in all castes than its close relative, Vespula flavopilosa.
Workers and males lack free spots on the abdomen. Wide anchor-shaped black marking with narrow base on first abdominal tergite is diagnostic. Queens have free black spots on abdominal tergites, but show the distinctive anchor-shaped marking on T1 rather than the diamond-shaped marking of V. germanica. Xanthic individuals do occur, more commonly in southern part of range, and these can sometimes have yellow marks on the mesoscutum.
one of the most abundant yellowjacket species east of the Great Plains
Forests, meadows and forest edges, including urban and suburban environments. Like in all Vespula
, colonies are normally subterranean, or sometimes at ground level in stumps and fallen logs. In deciduous forest, nest entrances frequently situated under tree roots or adjacent to logs on the ground. Of 40 colonies confirmed as this species in western Pennsylvania, 34 were subterranean, 3 were in exterior walls of buildings, 1 was beneath a tree stump, 1 was in the roots of a fallen tree, and 1 was located in an exposed shale outcropping (B. Coulter, pers. ob.). This total is likely somewhat biased towards natural habitats, as many nests are found in cavities in structures in urban areas.(1)
Annual colonies typically founded by overwintered queens in May-June, and persist into November-December, surviving longer in the South.(1)
Most colonies perish after a single season, but this species occasionally develops polygynous
perennial colonies in the southern portions of its range.(2)
Adults consume nectar and other fluids. Larvae are fed masticated arthropods or scavenged meat by adults.
In spring, mated female (queen) constructs a small comb and nest envelope. The queen frequently brings food to developing larvae until first workers emerge from pupal cases and assume all colony duties except egg-laying. In late summer, workers construct special larger cells to rear new queens Males develop from unfertilized eggs and mate with the new queens, which then leave the natal colony to hibernate among litter, in logs, and in soil. The old colony declines and all remaining individuals (founding queen, males, workers) perish.(3)
This very yellow (xanthic) male wasp has proved difficuilt to ID to species:
It is either an Eastern or Yellow-Haired V. flavopilosa
University of Florida's Featured Creatures
has a lot of info on Vespula species, including a color pattern chart to identify between worker, queen, or male.
|1.||Yellowjackets of America North of Mexico|
Akre, R.D., A. Greene, J.F. MacDonald, P.J. Landolt, and H.G. Davis. 1980. U.S. Department of Agriculture.
|4.||Identification Atlas of the Vespidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata) of the Northeastern Nearctic Region|
Matthias Buck, Stephen A. Marshall, and David K. B. Cheung. 2008. Biological Survey of Canada [Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification].