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Species Vespula alascensis - Alaska Yellowjacket

A wasp to ID if anyone can help. - Vespula alascensis Queen - Vespula alascensis - female Yellowjacket? - Vespula alascensis Yellow Jacket 7 - Vespula alascensis Vespula maculifrons hive? - Vespula alascensis Vespidae ? - Vespula alascensis - male Vespidae: Vespula alascensis? - Vespula alascensis - female Ground nest in our backyard. Are those yellow jackets? - Vespula alascensis
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)
Subfamily Vespinae (Hornets and Yellowjackets)
Genus Vespula (Ground Yellowjackets)
Species alascensis (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).
Identification
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)
Range
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 Species-ID.net
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].