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W*H*Y Wednesday: The Prairie Yellowjacket

Atropilosa_Prairie_YJ Today's featured species is Vespula atropilosa, also known as the Prairie Yellowjacket. This is one of the common species we have in our back yards here in the Pacific Northwest.

This species has been observed with two different marking patterns on the abdomen, one of which closely resembles the Forest Yellowjacket.  However, the abdominal markings most commonly seen have mostly yellow coloration, thin black bands with center points and black dots.

The Prairie Yellowjacket is found in the highlighted areas in the map below:

Pairie_yellowjacket 

Prairie Yellowjackets are predators of only live prey such as spiders, flies, caterpillars and hemipterans.  They are not known to hunt other wasp, hornet or yellowjacket species.

This species is abundant in prairie and open forest areas, but are also known to nest in lawns, pastures and golf courses.  Most nests are subterranean, but some have been found in wall cavities.  Their nests are typically smaller colonies with less than 500 workers.

Prairie Yellowjackets are not a serious stinging hazard unless the nest is disturbed.  Because they frequently nest in lawns, this species and its nests are more likely to be found near human activity.

Here is more information about the Prairie Yellowjacket.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news if you have this species in your area: The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Prairie Yellowjackets!

January 21, 2009 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink

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