Species Dolichovespula maculata - Bald-faced Aerial Yellowjacket
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 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 (i.e. "aerial yellowjacket") and a modifier (i.e. "bald-faced"), exist.
Bald-faced aerial yellowjacket
Bald-faced aerial blackjacket
Blackjacket (shared with other ivory-marked vespine species, particularly Vespula consobrina)
White-faced aerial yellowjacket
White-tailed aerial yellowjacket
Explanation of Names
Dolichovespula maculata (Linnaeus 1763)
workers 12-14 mm, queens 18-20 mm(1)
Black with white markings on the head, thorax, and the last few segments of the abdomen (male with white on the first abdominal segment)(1)
. Wings smoky.
A large black and white yellowjacket with brown eyes (A). The 1st 3 terga are usually entirely black (J, N). Recognizable as a Dolichovespula by the large gap between the mandible and eye (oculo-malar space) (B)
Variation: Queens (C) and workers (D) may have lateral pale spots on the 3rd abdominal segment, and, rarely, isolated white spots on the 3rd tergite (Fig. E). Males may have a pale band on the posterior end of the 1st tergite and pale stripes on the posterior end of the 3rd (F)
The pale lateral stripe on the pronotum of the thorax can vary from relatively narrow (G) to broad (H, H1).
Sexual dimorphism: Males have long antennae with 13 segments; females (queens and workers), 12. Males have a 7-segmented abdomen with white patches on segments 4-7. Female abdomen is 6-segmented with white dorsal patches on 4-6 (I). Queens are larger than workers and males (J).
Queens: A, C, E, H, H1
Workers: D, G, and
Males: B, F, and
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 (K). However, the beginning nest by the queen is globular with the entrance at the bottom (L).
Fertilized queens overwinter, workers present from spring through late fall, new queens and males produced late summer/fall. It is possible that colonies are active all year in the deep south.
Adults are common on flowers (1)
(D-G, I) and take nectar; adults feed pre-chewed insects to larvae(2)
. Also are carnivorous and eat fruit:
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.
Similar species: D. albida, D. arctica, and Vespula consobrina are basically black and white and can be confused with D. maculata; in the latter, tergite 2 is all black (N), while in the other 3 spp. there is a pale apical band.
(Diptera: Syrphidae) is a mimic:
(Painter et al.
|3.||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].