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Photo#248011
Ves*pula sul*phurea - Pseudomasaris coquilletti - male

Ves*pula sul*phurea - Pseudomasaris coquilletti - Male
Big Rock Creek, Angeles National Forest , Los Angeles County, California, USA
May 6, 2008
Photographed visiting flowers of Phacelia longipes at ~ 5400' in the northeast San Gabriel Mountains.

According to many sources (in particular BugGuide's easy to use Yellowjacket key), if you're west of the Rockies and have a yellow & black patterned yellowjacket with two yellow stripes on top of the thorax, then you have (the relatively uncommon) Ves*pula sul*phurea. However, I have to admit I'm a bit unsure of this with my specimen, due to its poor fit with the diagrams here (e.g the lack of paired black dots on the abdominal terga). I'm posting the only other (eminently frass-worthy:-) image I have of this guy to give a (somewhat!) better view of its abdominal terga. [In my defense, it's a micro-crop of a picture framed for the plant, not the wasp! :-]

Images of this individual: tag all
Ves*pula sul*phurea - Pseudomasaris coquilletti - male Ves*pula sul*phurea - Pseudomasaris coquilletti - male

Revisiting this -
Moved from Pseudomasaris.
I'm now certain this is coquilletti because of the gradually widening antennal segments VI-VII, rather than the more distinct clubs of the other spp. in that area.

Hello Aaron,
Chanced by your post looking for something else - distractions...
Gee, I thought, looks like a Pseudomasaris. If you take a close look at your left photo - lateral view - note the rather long antennae with dark, expanded terminal segments. Only in males are they this long, and I've frequently observed them tucking them in as they go for nectar. This is also how they "sleep" in flowers. Male antennae are very distinct, & vary considerably with the species. Would be good to see more of this wasp for an ID. Also, the terminal antennal segment can't be seen fully, so I'm not sure which sp. this is (possibly coquilletti). I'm certain it is a male.

 
Thanks for confirming...
...my conjecture about the position of the antennae in my photo. Hope I can get good antenna resolution in future photos.

Moved

 
Oops! Thanks Matthias :-)
I guess I slipped up assuming this was a yellowjacket! (Somehow I knew that ID felt ''too easy'' :-)

Now that you've brought it to my attention, I actually notice a lack of pronounced constriction between the thorax and abdomen. (Although, to my eye, some photos on BugGuide posted under yellowjackets don't show a pronounced propodeum constriction.) I guess the main tip for recognizing masarine wasps is the clubbed antennae---and perhaps the habit of holding wings out when at rest? I thought my image didn't show the clubbed antennae, but maybe that long, dark, horizontal blob under the legs/1st metasomal segment is such a club---at the end of antennae that are bent back under the body in my photo. Come to think of it, what would I do with those long antennae if I were trying to squeeze my head into the tight space of a flower to collect food?

At any rate, for me a masarine is even more exciting than an uncommon yellowjacket. I've only read about them before now. Thanks again for the correction!

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