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W*H*Y Wednesday: Aerial Yellowjackets

Today we move on from paper wasps and hornets to yellowjackets, and we start with Dolichovespula arenaria, the Aerial Yellowjacket.

022 Like most yellowjacket species, Aerial Yellowjackets have the typical stout bodies with yellow and black coloration.  They have been observed by our RESCUE!® field scientists as having even more plump abdomens than what is common to yellowjackets.  This species measures about a half inch long.

Aerial Yellowjackets are found in the West, Upper Midwest and Northeast United States, as illustrated in the highlighted portion of the map below:


Aerial Yellowjackets are not typically "picnic pests", but they may be attracted to sugary foods such as fruit and soft drinks. They also have been known to follow humans around, though not with the intent to sting. This species will forage for only live prey such as grasshoppers, leafhoppers, tree crickets, flies and spiders.

Aerial Yellowjacket nests are usually constructed above ground. They are commonly found on structures such as houses, sheds and garages, and also in the tops of trees. Their nests look similar to the nests of Bald-faced Hornets.

We have two photos of Aerial Yellowjacket nests which we personally encountered about six years ago. The first one was built inside the wall void of a pool house and spilled out as it grew late in the season:


And this one was under the eave of a two-story residence:


Stings are most common when Aerial Yellowjackets build nests on human structures (as above), or when hidden nests are accidentally disturbed.

WHYTR_200dpi Good news for those who have this species in their backyard: the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets will catch Aerial Yellowjackets!

November 26, 2008 in Entomology, Science, WHY Trap, Yellowjackets | Permalink


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