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Western Yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica)


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




The worst guest at an outdoor food event, the Western Yellowjacket is infamous for its painful stings.



 Updated: 1/14/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Attracted to sugars in beverages and desserts, the Western Yellowjacket makes itself the worst kind of pest during cookouts and outdoor gatherings. Females have stingers and they are not afraid to use them. This species aggressively defends its nest, and exterminators can remove one from areas where people may come into contact with it. Under no circumstances should a nest be disturbed. They are often built on or near the ground.

Western Yellowjackets have black eyes that are surrounded with yellow. Each segment of the yellow abdomen has a central black spade or diamond-shaped mark that is flanked by a black spot at the top. Legs are yellow. As with any type of yellowjacket, keep a wide berth and do not provoke it.


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Pest insect icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon
Insect stinger icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Vespidae [ View More ]
          Genus: Vespula [ View More ]
            Species: pensylvanica
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Descriptors
Scientific Name: Vespula pensylvanica
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 15mm (0.31in to 0.59in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow
Descriptors: stinging; hornet; flying; nest; pest
Relative Size Comparison
Lo: 8mm | Hi: 15mm
Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
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.
Territorial Map
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
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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


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, & Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.