W*H*Y Wednesday: the Eastern Yellowjacket
Today's featured species is Vespula maculifrons, or the Eastern Yellowjacket. This species can be distinguished from other yellowjackets by the wide arrow shape at the top of its abdomen. Eastern Yellowjackets carry all the typical yellowjacket physical characteristics, such as a half-inch long stout body, yellow and black coloration, yellow legs and black antennae.
The Eastern Yellowjacket is found in a large section of the U.S. east of the Rockies, as shown in the highlighted portion of the map below:
Eastern Yellowjacket colonies are often found in yards, golf courses, recreational areas and manmade structures. They will scavenge for human food, and therefore are considered "picnic pests".
Eastern Yellowjackets typically build subterranean nests in yards, along roadsides, hardwood forests and creek banks, and in urban areas such as attics and manmade structures. Nests range from 4-12 inches in diameter and are tannish-brown in color, with larger colonies consisting of 3000-5000 workers. Entire colonies -- not just the queen -- can overwinter in warmer climates.
Again, Eastern Yellowjackets are "picnic pests" and can be dangerous if agitated while they are scavenging. They are also a stinging hazard if the nest is disturbed. Since this species is more likely to be found around human activity, Eastern Yellowjackets present more of a stinging hazard than other species.
Good news if you have this species in your backyard: The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Eastern Yellowjackets!
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