Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Sometimes considered a subspecies of P.fuscatus: Polistes fuscatus aurifer
Explanation of Names
Polistes aurifer de Saussure 1853
aurifer = 'bearer of gold' (pretty much all the lighter markings on this species are yellow/gold)
There are a few quick ways for separating Polistes groups in the United States for photographed specimens.
The Polistes canadensis species-group in the United States all have orange tipped antennae and the 1st abdominal segment noticeably longer than wide (in dorsal view). (in this group are P. annularis, P. canadensis, P. comanchus and P. kaibabensis).
The P. exclamans species-group also has these same characters as the above group (and it contains P. arizonensis, P. bahamensis and P. exclamans) Also could probably be included P. instabilis.
P. aurifer is part of the P. fuscatus species-group, which includes most of the remaining species in the United States (the 1st segment is as long as wide in dorsal view, among a few other characters) (the species here are P. apachus, aurifer, bellicosus, carolina, dorsalis, flavus, fuscatus, metricus and perplexus).
The other various groups have fairly easily identifiable species (such as P. dominula, P. major, P. carnifex).
A western species (BC-CA to AB-MT-w.TX; ne. Mexico) with one adventitious record from Prince Edward Island, Canada; introduced in Hawaii and Society Is.(1)