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Species Vespula alascensis - American Yellowjacket

Vespula Vulgaris nest (Common yellowjacket) - Vespula alascensis Vespula 9.02.09 01a - Vespula alascensis Yellow Jacket - Dolichovespula norvegicoides - Male? - Vespula alascensis - male Western Yellow Jacket? - Vespula alascensis Yellowjacket Queen - Vespula alascensis - female Downy Yellowjacket? - Vespula alascensis - female yellowjacket - Vespula alascensis Vespula alascensis? - Vespula alascensis
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
Family Vespidae (Hornets, Yellowjackets; Paper, Potter, Mason, and Pollen Wasps; and Allies)
Subfamily Vespinae (Hornets and Yellowjackets)
Genus Vespula (Ground Yellowjackets)
Species alascensis (American Yellowjacket)
Other Common Names
North American Yellowjacket
Alaska Yellowjacket
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
This species used to be kept in synonymy with Vespula vulgaris (Linnaeus, 1758). However, V. vulgaris is restricted to the Palaearctic region (accidentally introduced to Australia and New Zealand). The confusion was recently rectified by Carpenter & Glare (2010). They showed that Vespula alascensis differs from V. vulgaris by the male genitalia, and some not so reliable colour characters (V. vulgaris often has yellow spots on the propodeum, V. alascensis [almost] never does). Genetically, V. alascensis is more similar to V. flavopilosa than to V. vulgaris.
Explanation of Names
V. alascensis was described by Packard (1870).
Key to eastern Nearctic Vespula species in the Identification Atlas of the Vespidae of the Northeastern Nearctic Region. (1)
Key to Nearctic Vespinae genera in the Identification Atlas of the Vespidae of the Northeastern Nearctic Region. (1)

Queen (♀♀) Worker (♀) Male (♂)
Nearctic- Canada, northern and western U.S., central Mexico
Life Cycle
Generally ground nesting.
Print References
Carpenter, J.M. & Glare T.R. 2010. Misidentification of Vespula alascensis as V. vulgaris in North America (Hymenoptera: Vespidae; Vespinae). American Museum Novitates 3690: 7 pp. Available online
Kimsey, L.S. & Carpenter, J.M. (2012): The Vespinae of North America (Vespidae, Hymenoptera). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 28: 37–65; doi: 10.3897/JHR.28.3514.
Internet References
Species page in
Works Cited
1.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].