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Yellow Jacket - queen - Vespula squamosa - female

Yellow Jacket - queen - Vespula squamosa - Female
Fort Bragg, Cumberland County, North Carolina, USA
January 3, 2004
I had this possible ID'd as a Cicada Killer Wasp from the What's That Bug site. I just don't feel like that's what this is, but I don't know. I found this wasp when I turned over a chopped piece of wood. The wasp was sitting in this hole (about as deep as the wasp - no deeper).

Southern Yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa) queen
Mrs Nendick-Mason did a correct ID, for this picture shows a V. squamosa queen.
But as this one is seen from face and very close, it looks really formidable - even though it was probably terrified by the photographer! It is noteworthy to compare this photograph with nr #8024, taken by Richard Leung, who shows a worker of this species. In the Southern Yellowjacket, both female castes differ strikingly, not only in overall pattern, but in facial pattern too.
That's why they where described under two different names in the nineteenth century, workers and males having been named "Vespa diabolica" (Vespula didn't yet exist) at first.
By the way, I apologize for having so grossly misspelled Lynette's family name in a previous comment, about V. maculifrons.

Yellow jacket queen
You disturbed a hibernating yellow jacket queen, Vespula sp. She'll probably go back to sleep, so no worries:-)

wasps under logs
So, what are the odds of uncovering wasps when rolling logs for pictures? I am a little allergic to wasps (yellow jackets in particular) I carry an allergy kit, but it would be nice to know how often wasps are under logs. I must admit, my log rolling days slowed down considerably after taking this picture. Also, I find it interesting when I take pictures around the two main plants where the bees are just swarming....see and that even though there may be 10 or more species of bee there at a time, they all get along and none of them has ever come after me.

Hibernating wasps
Only the queens of vespid wasps hibernate, and they are usually in such a state of torpor that they are physically unable to "come after" anybody. Virtually all other wasps use their sting principally to paralyze their prey, and must be under considerable duress before they will sting in self-defense.

I agree
- your queen is just like this one I uncovered under a rock last spring. I took lots of pictures and she just sat around vibrating her wings crossly. On the other hand, I've had my share of yellow jacket stings. I'd worry more about accidentally watering down their nest hole in the summer, if I were you - talk about provoking!

nest hole?
I've had enough stings as well, but usually from grabbing a bee accidentally or disturbing a nest once in the bushes and once in a bird house. Do they make nests in the ground?

I don't know what species it was that I disturbed a few years ago, but this page says it's common for yellowjackets to build their nests in underground cavities. The one I flooded by mistake was at the base of a shrub(in Ohio). Several irate wasps chased me and stung me five or six times. However, I worked in that garden many times after that and had no further encounters.

Very interesting
From the info in the article it sounds like I encountered the bald-faced hornet...and not the yellowjacket. Thanks for that info.

Don't let it put you off bug-hunting!
I've been enjoying your posts. Moving this one to Guide.

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