Periodic Reminder

Orange antennae are the fastest way to distinguish European Paper Wasps in the field. Polistes dominula are everywhere, constantly prowling around for prey. I see them in the bushes, the taller grasses, the trees.

An umbrella paper wasp, they make umbrella-like nests. Our other Polistes wasps are rather dark; indeed, the most common native species is the Dark Paper Wasp.

Where the confusion lies is with the ground yellowjackets, which are also yellow and black. These are Vespula species. We have two of these around here: the Eastern Yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons) and the German Yellowjacket (Vespula germanica). They aren’t seen in anywhere the same numbers as the paper wasp above.

Eastern Yellowjackets seem to be more active later into the fall. An underground (and under funerary statue) nest I was passing repeatedly last fall was still buzzing into November, with a few wasps still flying in and out on November 9th with temps in the high 30Fs. This spring I saw an Eastern Yellowjacket queen out and about on April 1st.

2 Responses to “Periodic Reminder”


  1. 1 Donna Evans July 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    Thank you for the thumbnail tutorial!

  2. 2 Paul Lamb July 15, 2020 at 6:07 am

    I was stung by a wasp at my cabin on Sunday. My finger is still a little swollen. (I didn’t take the time to try to identify the species.)


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