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Paper Wasp - Polistes dorsalis - male

Paper Wasp - Polistes dorsalis - Male
Mobile (Dog River), Mobile County, Alabama, USA
September 27, 2008
Looks much like Polistes bellicosus, including the marking on the head. But there are some minor differences to think different species not just variables.

Polistes male (AL)
From this angle it is very hard to tell the difference between P. bellicosus and P. dorsalis. I am more inclined towards dorsalis, especially if the individual was relatively small.

Yellow/Black Thorax
I'll see if I have another angle. The yellow thorax markings on my wasp are bordered by black. Others are bordered with rust body color. Is that yellow/black combination species related?

The character you mention is not diagnostic and varies greatly. What makes me think of dorsalis here is that the abdomen and propodeum are very dark but the head and antennae are very light. Bellicosus with such dark abdomens would also have darker heads and antennae.

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