W*H*Y Wednesday: The Blackjacket
When is a yellowjacket not a yellow jacket? When it's a Blackjacket! Today's featured species, Vespula consobrina, falls under the "yellowjacket" category but is commonly known as a Blackjacket.
Unique to most species of yellowjackets, Blackjackets have a black and white coloration. The queens are often confused with Bald-faced Hornets due to their larger size and similar coloration. The difference is that Blackjackets have a white band across the upper abdomen. Workers of this species can also be distinguished from the Bald-faced Hornet by their smaller size. As with other yellowjacket species, its stout body measures roughly one-half inch in length.
Blackjackets are primarily located in more heavily forested areas. Adults are attracted to sugary secretions and collect protein for the larvae. Blackjackets are predators of live prey like spiders and phalangids ("Daddy Longlegs"). Colonies last for one year.
The highlighted portion of the map below shows where Blackjackets are found in the U.S.
Blackjacket nests are typically in subterranean rodent burrows, but they also may be found in logs or rock cavities and buildings. Their colony size is small -- usually less than 100 workers.
Aggressiveness is often dependent on colony size, with larger colonies being more easily agitated. Blackjackets are not usually in contact with humans, so there is less possibility of stinging incidents... although they have reportedly been a problem for loggers.
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