Other Common Names
Bald-faced 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: