Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Photo#30040
Parasitic Yellowjacket - Dolichovespula arctica - male

Parasitic Yellowjacket - Dolichovespula arctica - Male
Dixville, Coos County, New Hampshire, USA
August 29, 2005
I don't think it matches up with the Bald-faced Hornet, Northern Yellowjacket, or the Blackjacket. If I'm right, the only one left is Dolichovespula albida. Since I've never seen a picture of the 4th species mentioned, I could use some help to let me know what this wasp is. Thanks.

Images of this individual: tag all
Parasitic Yellowjacket - Dolichovespula arctica - male Parasitic Yellowjacket - Dolichovespula arctica - male

Northern Yellowjacket male - Dolichovespula arctica
You were quite right by exlcuding the Bald-faced Hornet and the Blackjacket, but wrong to exclude the Northern. The differences with photographs already available on this Guide, which all represent "queens" (there are no workers in this cuckoo species) are due to sexual dimorphism.
A Dolichovespula albida male would be very like this one, but would have a still darker whitish pattern, with head and thorax covered by denser, longer and all black hairs. Also, there would be less white on the legs, with a reddish tinge at least on the femora.
In fact this boreal, hudsonian species does exist in the Appalachian region, but very rarely encountered, most occurences coming from the Canadian side of the border. Its strongholds are in Nothern Labrador, Norhtwestern territories and Alaska.
On the other hand, despite its name, the cuckoo species is fairly widespread in Southern Canada and New England, especially at middle altitudes, where fir trees are dominant. The possibility that this one male come form a D. norvegicoides, rather from a D. arenaria colony, seems probable given the number of males of the first species you "captured" last week. But maybe it was not at the same place?

 
Northern Yellowjacket
That's a great explanation on which one this was, and how to identify D.albida. Sounds like the chances are slim of me coming up with the albida, but who knows.
This one was seen about 70 miles away from the D. norvegicoides that I recently photographed, and it was an overcast day, with little activity on flowers, so this was the only one I saw that day.
Thanks for the detailed and fast response, Richard.