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 Southern yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa)




Southern yellowjacket | Vespula squamosa photo
Face of a Southern Yellowjacket Queen (Vespula squamosa).

Photograph by Opo Terser. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

SOUTHERN YELLOWJACKET FACTS

Description
The Southern yellowjacket is a social insect and a pest in urban and suburban areas. Males and workers are black and yellow with prominent black bands on the abdomen; the queen is much larger and has a distinctive orange abdomen with only a few thin black bands. This species has a distinctive pair yellow stripes along the thorax. The nest is usually built underground but may nest in building structures such as wall cavities. It may take over the nest of other species of yellowjackets particularly V. maculifrons. The Southern yellowjacket is a pest due to its scavenging around food sources, and also because defending worker wasps can swarm and sting multiple times when the nest is disturbed. The colony can be very large with up to a few thousand wasps. Unlike most other Vespula species, the whole colony can survive the winter due to its warm climate distribution.

Size
workers are about 13mm, queen about 22mm

Environment
found in suburban and urban areas, parks and gardens

Food
Southern yellowjackets feeds on nectar, and also scavenges for food including sugary food and fruit scraps and can be a pest around garbage.

Breeding
colonies are started by a single queen. The queen wasp lays her eggs in the nest in a series of horizontal combs where they hatch into grub-like larvae. The larvae grow within the nest and are fed nectar and insects and other arthropods, until they pupate. After about 30 days they emerge from the pupae as adult wasps.

Range
Vespula squamosa is found in the eastern United States from Iowa to Texas, across to the east coast from New York to Florida. Its range extends south into Mexico and Central America.

Classification
Class:Insecta
Order:Hymenoptera
Family:Vespidae
Genus:Vespula
Species:squamosa
Common Name:Southern yellowjacket


Relatives in same Genus
  Forest yellowjacket (V. acadica)
  Prairie yellowjacket (V. atropilosa)
  German yellowjacket (V. germanica)
  Eastern yellowjacket (V. maculifrons)
  Western yellowjacket (V. pensylvanica)