Vespidae

This queen Eastern Yellowjacket, Vespula maculifrons, is recognizable by the “free spots” on her abdomen segments. That, and the thickness of her abdomen. The workers and males of the species lack the spots.
A female European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula, a native of Eurasia now quite wide-spread in North America.

Both of these wasps were all over the leaves of a magnolia in a Massachusetts yard, as were a few other Hymenoptera and Diptera species. This tree had a bad Magnolia scale infestation last year, and I suspect the returning little devils have left their honeydew on the leaves.

The terms “wasp,” “hornet,” and “yellowjacket” are commonly interchangeable, which obviously makes for some confusion. “Wasp” is the encompassing name for all the non-bee and non-ant members of the order Hymenoptera, so hornets and yellowjackets are all wasps. Most of the wasps are small and parasitical, like the legions of gall wasps. The big social and solitary species of wasps, the ones that scare picnickers, are the ones we label hornets and yellowjackets. In my experience, all the yellow and black ones get called yellowjackets, regardless. When in doubt, stick to binomial names. All my wasps.

1 Response to “Vespidae”


  1. 1 lolasanrose June 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    here i am again. good stuff.


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