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Species Dolichovespula maculata - Bald-faced Aerial Yellowjacket

Bald-Faced Hornet - Dolichovespula maculata Bald-faced Hornet - Dolichovespula maculata Some species of paper wasp?   - Dolichovespula maculata Wasp Nests - Dolichovespula maculata wasp - Dolichovespula maculata Bald-faced Hornet? - Dolichovespula maculata Bald-faced aerial Yellowjacket - Dolichovespula maculata Bald-faced Hornet worker - Dolichovespula maculata
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
Subfamily Vespinae (Hornets and Yellowjackets)
Genus Dolichovespula (Aerial Yellowjackets)
Species maculata (Bald-faced Aerial Yellowjacket)
Other Common Names
This species has several common names across its range. Older references loosely used the term "hornet" to refer to members of this genus, despite not being members of the genus Vespa (the term is entomologically restricted to the genus). Newer references have abandoned this practice and instead refer to members of this genus more properly as yellowjackets, using the term "aerial yellowjacket" to distinguish them from members of the genus Vespula. As a result of this history, numerous combinations of the two parts of the common name, the group name (e.g. "aerial yellowjacket") and a modifier (e.g. "bald-faced"), exist.

Bald-faced aerial yellowjacket
Bald-faced aerial blackjacket
Bald-faced blackjacket
Bald-faced yellowjacket
Bald-faced hornet
Bald-faced wasp

Aerial blackjacket
Blackjacket (shared with other ivory-marked vespine species, particularly Vespula consobrina)

White-faced aerial yellowjacket
White-faced yellowjacket
White-faced blackjacket
White-faced hornet

White-tailed aerial yellowjacket
White-tailed yellowjacket
White-tailed blackjacket
White-tailed hornet
Explanation of Names
Dolichovespula maculata (Linnaeus, 1763)
Queen: 18-20 mm body length; 15.0-18.0 mm forewing length. Worker: 12-14 mm body length; 11.0-15.0 mm forewing length. Male: 13.5-16.0 mm(1)
A large yellowjacket with black with white markings on the head, thorax, and the apical segments of the abdomen. The first 3 tergites are usually entirely black, though males may have white on the first tergite.(1). Wings smoky. Recognizable as a Dolichovespula by the large gap between the mandible and eye (oculo-malar space).

Variation: Queens and workers may have lateral pale spots on the 3rd abdominal segment, and, rarely, isolated white spots on the 3rd tergite. Males may have a pale band on the posterior end of the 1st tergite and pale stripes on the posterior end of the 3rd. The pale lateral stripe on the pronotum can vary from relatively narrow to broad.

Sexual dimorphism: As with other Vespidae, males have longer 13-segmented antennae and a 7-segmented abdomen while females (queens and workers) have 12-segmented antennae and 6-segmented abdomens. The white patches on the abdomen are on segments 4-7 in males and on segments 4-6 in females. While queens are usually larger than workers and males, there isn't a distinct gap in body length between queens and workers.

Queen (♀♀) Worker (♀) Male (♂)
Throughout North America(2), except the dry Midwest.
Nests above ground in trees, bushes, and other protected places. Nests are large, oval nests (when mature), with entrance low down on the side. However, the beginning nest by the queen is globular with the entrance at the bottom. New nests may have a long entrance tube, which is unique to this species.
Fertilized queens overwinter, workers present from spring through late fall, new queens and males produced late summer to fall. It is possible that colonies are active all year in the deep south.
Adults are omnivores. They commonly take nectar from flowers, eat fruit, and eat other insects and spiders. Adults feed pre-chewed insects to larvae.
Life Cycle
A fertilized queen overwinters and starts a paper enclosed nest in the Spring. As the colony grows, multiple tiers are added, consisting of hexagonal cells. Males appear in the fall.
See Also
D. albida, D. arctica, and Vespula consobrina are other black-and-ivory yellowjackets that can be confused with D. maculata. These other 3 species can be distinguished by the ivory band on tergite 2. Another black-and-ivory species, V. intermedia, has reddish patches on tergites 1-2.

Queen (♀♀) Worker (♀) Male (♂)

Queen (♀♀) Male (♂)

Queen (♀♀) Worker (♀) Male (♂)

Queen (♀♀) Worker (♀) Male (♂)

Spilomyia fusca (Diptera: Syrphidae) is a mimic:
Internet References
Species profile (Painter et al.)
Fact sheet (Jacobs 2015)
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].
2.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.