Insect Identification logo
Icon of a spider
Icon of a beetle insect
Icon of a butterfly
Icon of a bee
Icon of the Bugfinder utility

Southern Yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa)


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

 Updated: 8/24/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The large, aggressive Southern Yellowjacket dominates its territory and takes over ones it likes better, even from humans.



Notorious for its aggressive nature and tendency to sting, Southern Yellowjackets are best given wide berth and left alone. Though they do not make honey, they guard nests with ferocity. They can, and do, sting multiple times without dying. Because nests are in or near the ground, stinging incidents commonly result from unknowingly stepping on or near nests. Alarm pheromones are sent through the air and nests are emptied in response to a perceived threat outside of it. If a nest or colony is found in areas where people pass (i.e. backyards, parks, trails, etc.), professional exterminators should be employed to remove them. Attempting to remove a Southern Yellowjacket nest without the proper protection and equipment could be quite painful for anyone in the vicinity.

One queen establishes a colony in the spring. She emerges from overwintering and either builds a burrow in the ground, moves into established hollows or building cracks, or she enters the nest of a weaker Yellowjacket species, killing its queen and commandeering the workers on her behalf. After feeding on insects and carrion, she lays eggs that will become workers for her. Nests are expanded by these workers using saliva and vegetation, and many combs are built into the colony in short time. Once workers handle the day-to-day tasks, the queen focuses solely on laying eggs. Active during the summer, most colonies see a decline in numbers and activity by Thanksgiving as the cooler weather sets in. All individuals in the colony die in winter except queens, which are inseminated before autumn is over in preparation for the next year. Some warmer areas of Florida see activity year round.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Vespidae
          Genus: Vespula
            Species: squamosa
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Vespula squamosa
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 9mm to 16mm (0.35in to 0.62in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow, black
Descriptors: banded, striped, aggressive, stinging, dangerous, flying
Territorial Map
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


Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
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
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 above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections 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.




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.