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For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Family Vespidae - Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps

Brown wasps on Lacebark Elm Red Wasp - Polistes 114431 - Ancistrocerus Dolichovespula arenaria? - Dolichovespula arenaria Polistes sp.? - Polistes fuscatus - female WAsp - Dolichovespula maculata Zethus spinipes? - Zethus spinipes paper wasps - Polistes
Classification
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)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
The Subfamily Polybiinae has recently been merged with the Subfamily Polistinae, with some of the tribes rearranged
Numbers
300 North American species in 35 genera.
Identification
Legs of normal length, not as long as those of the Pompilidae.
Wings folded longitudinally at rest; first discoidal cell of FW greater than half the wing length (longer than pompilids).
Inner margin of eye usually notched.
Pronotum extending back to the tegulae, the pronotum thus appearing triangular when viewed from the side and horseshoe-shaped when viewed from above.

(Good description of family characteristics in discussion here.)
Life Cycle
Nests are usually stocked with caterpillars.
Remarks
Six subfamilies: Vespinae and Polistinae are social, the remainder subfamilies are solitary.
The social vespids can be distinguished from the nonsocial forms by the presence of a cutting or chewing surface near the apex of the mandible rather than along the inner margin.
Print References
Borror et al. An Introduction to the Study of Insects (1)
Works Cited
1.Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects
Norman F. Johnson, Charles A. Triplehorn. 2004. Brooks Cole.
2.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].