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Species Dolichovespula arctica - Parasitic Aerial Yellowjacket

D. adulterina in a D. arenaria nest - Dolichovespula arctica - female Parasitic Yellowjacket or Blackjacket? - Dolichovespula arctica - male Gathering_2008 - Dolichovespula arctica - male Vespula consobrina or Dolichovespula adulterina - Dolichovespula arctica - male Vespid - Dolichovespula arctica - male Dolichovespula maculata male? - Dolichovespula arctica - female Blackjacket possibly on an everlasting - Dolichovespula arctica - male Genus Dolichovespula  - Dolichovespula arctica - female
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)
Genus Dolichovespula (Aerial Yellowjackets)
Species arctica (Parasitic Aerial Yellowjacket)
Other Common Names
Parasitic Yellowjacket
Parasitic Hornet
Parasitic Blackjacket
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Reinstated from synonymy with the Palaearctic D. adulterina in(1)
Explanation of Names
Dolichovespula arctica (Rohwer 1916)
Queens 18 mm; males 15 mm
transcontinental in the north, LB-AK south to GA, AZ, & CA; absent for much of the Midwest(1)
Life Cycle
A parasite of D. arenaria and D. norvegicoides and thus has no worker caste, the larvae being reared by the host workers
Similar Species
The Parasitic Yellowjacket is one of 5 black and white/pale yellow Yellowjackets. One of these, the Baldfaced Hornet, has an entirely black 2nd tergite and thus can be readily separated from the Parasitic (Fig H - queens, Baldfaced, Parasitic, Blackjacket)). Another 2, Dolichovespula albida and Vespula intermedia have reddish patches laterally on the tergites. Reddish patches are absent in the Parasitic. The species most easily confused with the Parasitic is the Blackjacket.
Parasitic (D. arctica) vs Blackjacket (V. consobrina)
In the Parasitic the pale posterior bands are almost interrupted in the midline by extensions from the black anterior bands whereas in the Blackjacket there is no such extension (Figs H. I). Also, the Blackjacket queens have pure black antennae, in Parasitic queens the 1st antennal segment is extensively yellow (Fig J). In both queens and males there is a big difference in the width of the oculo-malar gap between the 2 species: wide in Parasitic (it's in the genus Dolichovespula) and narrow in the Blackjacket (a Vespula).
Parasitic (D. arctica) vs Arctic (D. albida)
Richard Vernier supplied the following comments to separate queens of Northerns (=Parasitic) and Whites (=Arctic):
- the small black space between the two white spots on the temple (upper) and the gena (lower) (Figs D, E), smaller than the lower white spot separates queen Northerns from queen Whites. A D. albida queen would have a distinctly larger black interspace, larger than the lower white spot (just like the D. norvegicoides also in this guide). Moreover, this lower white spot is often very small or even lacking in D. albida.
- the extension of the white on the pronotum, particularly along the front carina (Fig C), also separates queen Northerns from queen Whites. D. albida queens would have only a straight, linear stripe, just like D. norvegicoides except the white color.
Also note the thickness of the genae and the incomplete, limited to the lower part, black stripe on the clypeus (Fig B). D. albida has one identical to D. norvegicoides, i.e. complete.
The patterns on the urotergites, especially the first almost lacking white and the diverging lateral lobes on the second, are also typical for D. arctica (Figs A, C, E). In this respect too, D. albida much more resembles D. norvegicoides.
Mr Vernier commented on the difference between the males: albida has the head and thorax covered with denser, longer and all black hairs, less white on the legs, and a reddish tinge at least on the femora.
Internet References
Species page (as D. adulterina)(2)
Works Cited
1.The Vespinae of North America (Vespidae, Hymenoptera)
L.S. Kimsey and J.M. Carpenter. 2012. Journal of Hymenoptera Research Vol. 28: 37–65.
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].