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Dolichovespula arenaria - female

Dolichovespula arenaria - Female
Perry County, Pennsylvania, USA
April 25, 2008
arenaria seems to be the only Vespid that is interested in the gooseberry blossoms. Queens of this species can be observed every year feeding on these blossoms. Not sure why this particular species is attracted to it, but the one year I can recall seeing three arenaria queens at once on the bush. This year I am lucky to see one, though.

Interesting observation
Here in Western Europe too, only Dolichovespula foundresses of the same size (D. saxonica, D. norwegica, D. silvestris) are commonly found nectaring on Ribes sp. blossoms - among Vespinae, since some Paper Wasps also do that occasionnally.
I think Vespula species have too short a labium to have an easy access to the nectaries. As for D. maculata queens, the quantity of nectar available is unlikely to yield enough for their larger mass, and they have other sugar sources, like the sap of Oak trees.

That would explain it
I never thought of the Vespula species not having a long enough face to get into the flowers. It makes sense

Is tree sap a common food for spring queens of D. maculata and V. crabro? I have never been able to find a sap area that attracts them. They don't like the sap from the cherry trees

They visit mainly white Oaks (Quercus sp.)
Namely very large, old trees where more or less fermented sap is oozing through wounds in the trunk. At least, this is true for V. crabro and D. media here in Western Europe. Q. macrocarpa and related white Oaks should be a valuable food source for spring queens of V. crabro and D. maculata in your region. More rarely, willow, alder, birch and beech trees are also attractive.
Indeed, I think one reason why introduced V. crabro did so well in South Eastern United States are the plentiful broadleaved "carolinian" forests.

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