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Species Vespula squamosa - Southern Yellowjacket

Jellow Jacket Nest with Worker - Vespula squamosa Male Southern Yellowjacket? - Vespula squamosa - male Southern Yellowjacket - Vespula squamosa Squamosa nest - Vespula squamosa Squamosa nest - Vespula squamosa Black and yellow wasp on persimmon - Vespula squamosa Vespula sp, ID please - Vespula squamosa - female V.  maculifrons or squamosa maybe? - Vespula squamosa
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 Vespula (Ground Yellowjackets)
Species squamosa (Southern Yellowjacket)
Explanation of Names
Vespula squamosa (Drury 1773)
Forewing: worker 9.5–11.0 mm, ♀ 15.0–16.5 mm, ♂ ~12.5 mm
Distinctive; all castes possess conspicuous yellow longitudinal stripes on the mesoscutum, a trait shared with the closely-related allopatric V. sulphurea but no species within its range. The queens and workers are dimorphic. Workers and males have similar abdominal patterns, with no free spots and an unusual pair of lateral yellow stripes through the black basal band of the second tergite. Queens are quite large for a yellowjacket, with orange fascia on the abdomen expanded to nearly obliterate the dark markings.(1)(2)
e. US to Honduras. The most southerly Vespula species(3)(4)
A colony found in southwestern Pennsylvania was subterranean in a large open grassy field (B. Coulter, pers. ob.). This species has a propensity to build (or usurp) nests in disturbed habitats.(1)
Emerges in spring later than its frequent host, Vespula maculifrons, so that there are numerous young colonies available for usurpation. In the southeastern US, it typically appears about a month after maculifrons, and the colonies tend to decline in November in most of the range (earlier than maculifrons).(1) This species is the most frequent native Vespula to form perennial polygynous colonies in the southernmost portions of its range.
Life Cycle
Queens are facultative temporary social parasites, and frequently usurp established young nests of other yellowjacket species, usually V. maculifrons. There are also records of this species utilizing V. vidua and V. flavopilosa(5) as hosts. The queens are extremely large and robust for a yellowjacket, a trait which surely helps them to overpower and kill the host queens of the colonies they usurp. A study in Georgia found that about 80% of V. squamosa colonies began by usurpation of a V. maculifrons colony.(1) Facultative temporary social parasitism means that the species may parasitize other species, but is still capable of founding its own colonies, and it retains a worker caste. After killing the host queen, the squamosa adopts the nest and host workers, who raise her offspring. The colony eventually becomes pure squamosa as the original host workers die off.
Print References
Tissot A.N., Robinson F.A. (1954) Some unusual insect nests. Fla. Entomol. 37: 73-92. Full text
Internet References
Works Cited
1.Yellowjackets of America North of Mexico
Akre, R.D., A. Greene, J.F. MacDonald, P.J. Landolt, and H.G. Davis. 1980. U.S. Department of Agriculture.
2.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].
3.Checklist of the species of the subfamily Vespinae (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Vespidae)
Carpenter, James M., and Jun-ichi Kojima. 1997. Nat. Hist. Bulletin of Ibaraki Univ. 1:51-92.
4.First Records From Hondurus of a Yellowjacket Wasp, Vespula squamosa (Drury) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Vespinae)
Hunt, James H., Ronald D. Cave, and Gerardo D. Borjas. 2001. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 74:118-119.
5.Nesting Biology of the Yellowjacket, Vespula flavopilosa (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)
MacDonald, J. F., R. W. Matthews, and R. S. Jacobson. 1980. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 53:448-458.