Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula maculifrons)

 

Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula maculifrons)

The Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula maculifrons) is in the Wasp Family (Vespidae) and order Hymenoptera. "Vespa" is Latin for "wasp." The species name is from the Latin for "spot." They grow to about ⅝ inch (1.6 centimeters). There are three individuals in this species. The queen is the largest followed by the males and then the workers. Like other insects in this order, they have very narrow waists between the thorax and the abdomen. The head, thorax and abdomen of an Eastern Yellow Jacket are black and yellow. The antenna are all black, which distinguishes the Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula maculifrons) from the Western Yellow Jacket (Vespula pennsylvanica) whose first antenna segment is yellow.

Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula maculifrons)

Yellow Jacket adults eat nectar but the adults capture, kill and pre-chew other insects as food for larvae. They destroy many insects that eat plants or are a nuisance. They usually build nests in the ground producing a hole in the ground as seen in the following photograph. However, they may build paper nests in urban areas. 

Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula maculifrons)

The following photograph shows a Yellow Jacket entering the nest shown above. This nest was located on the north shore of French Hill Pond in 2010.

Eastern Yellow Jacket (Vespula maculifrons)

Only the female Yellow Jackets survive the winter. Come spring, the females will build a new nest, usually in a different location. Eastern Yellow Jackets (Vespula maculifrons) will sting when they feel threatened. Unlike many other wasps and bees, they do not die after stinging and may sting repeatedly. They can be a nuisance at picnic where they are attracted by sweet liquids. A nest can be destroyed by covering it with a transparent bowl, which will starve the colony.

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