W*H*Y Wednesday: The Transition Yellowjacket
Today's featured species is Vespula flavopilosa, the Transition Yellowjacket.
If insects could experience human emotions, V. flavopilosa would probably have an identity crisis. This species (sometimes called a Hybrid Yellowjacket) is so named because it's thought to be a cross between the Eastern and German Yellowjacket, and possibly related to the Common and Western Yellowjacket. Like these other species, Transition Yellowjackets have yellow and black coloration and a stout body, and are roughly 1/2 inch in length.
V. flavopilosa is also occasionally called the "Downy Yellowjacket" or "Yellow-haired Yellowjacket" because of the fine yellow hairs all over its body -- as shown in the top photo on this site.
This species is found in the Northeastern U.S., as illustrated on the map below:
Transition Yellowjackets will scavenge for protein, are attracted to meats and sugary foods, and may be pests around trash cans and picnics. They are less likely to be near human dwellings than other species such as the German Yellowjacket and Eastern Yellowjacket. This species is a stinging hazard if agitated while scavenging or if the nest is disturbed.
Their nests are subterranean, carton-shaped and tan-colored with 500-1,000 workers. Common nest sites are in yards, along roadsides and sometimes within structures.
Good news if you have this species in your back yard: The W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Transition Yellowjackets!
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