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Eastern Yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Eastern Yellowjacket.


 Updated: 3/2/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org



  Eastern Yellowjacket  
Picture of Eastern-Yellowjacket


Eastern Yellowjackets are members of an aggressive hornet family with painful stings and are best given wide berth if spotted.





Eastern Yellowjackets make their nests in the ground. The opening looks like a burrow to a small rodent den and careless footsteps can result in a painful introduction to its residents. Just approaching the entrance can elicit a stinging attack from its ultra-defensive inhabitants. They persist in defending the nest until the threat (human or animal) has left the area. Eastern Yellowjackets have stingers loaded with venom and will continue to sting repeatedly. They do not lost their stinger and die like honeybees. Avoiding nests by mindfully walking through woodlands or sticking to trails is a good way to prevent an encounter with them.

If a nest is near a home, it is likely an Eastern Yellowjacket will wander near sweet beverages and food. They have been known to land on cans of juice or soda/pop and walk inside them to drink unbeknownst to the can's owner. People have been stung on the lip by them after taking a sip and startling the insect inside. Do not physically engage with an Eastern Yellowjacket as it can send an alarm pheromone through the air that signals other Eastern Yellowjackets to join it. Swatting at them further agitates them, so walking away (or running if needed) is advised. Professional exterminators can help safely remove a nest in a backyard. Insecticides designed for them may also be successful, but can be risky to use if they require close proximity for proper application.

Workers, males, and queens of this species have subtle differences in appearance. Males lack the black spots on the abdomen and have more of a yellow/black banded appearance. Queens are mostly yellow and have small black spots that line the sides of the abdomen. A black diamond shape near the 'waist' is visible. Usually, only queens survive the winter, though there have been cases where others survive the season. A queen holds fertilized eggs inside until spring when she forms a small nest and lays them. The queen feeds the first larvae chewed up bits of insects and caterpillars that she catches until these larvae become adults. These new adults then care for any subsequent eggs and construct more of the nest so the queen can focus solely on laying more eggs and building up colony numbers. Adults drink nectar (and sweet beverages) and attack insects to use as food for their young.
Basic Information
Common Name: Eastern Yellowjacket
Scientific Name: Vespula maculifrons
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar


General Identification
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 18mm (0.31in to 0.70in)
Colorwheel Graphic
Identifying Colors: black, yellow
Additional Descriptors: flying, banded,




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Vespidae
Genus: Vespula
Species: maculifrons


Ant, Bee and Wasp Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of both a bee and an ant insect
1
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
2
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
3
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
4
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
5
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.


Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed below as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections below indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico


Territorial Area Map (Visual Reference Guide)
The map below showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Eastern Yellowjacket may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


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