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 German yellowjacket (Vespula germanica)

German yellowjacket | Vespula germanica photo
German wasp (Vespula germanica) on a fallen apple
Photograph by Ernie. License: Public Domain.  (view image details)

German yellowjacket | Vespula germanica photo
worker (female) with a length (head to abdomen) of about 14 mm.
Photograph by Ernie. License: Public Domain.  (view image details)

German yellowjacket | Vespula germanica photo
wasp queen (Vespula germanica)
Photograph by Soebe. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

The German yellowjacket is an introduced pest wasp with bold black and yellow bands. The black bands have arrow-shaped black markings down the centre of the abdomen, and there are pairs of small black spots on the yellow bands. The wings are long and transparent, the antennae are black and the legs are mostly yellow. They are a pest both for their ability to defend their nest aggressively and sting repeatedly, although they have some beneficial value as a predator of some pest insects. The German yellowjacket is similar in appearance to the related Common yellowjacket (Vespula vulgaris). You can tell them apart by the pattern on the back - the German yellowjacket has black dots in the yellow bands but the Common yellowjacket does not have dots. The German yellowjacket also has three black dots on the face, but the Common yellowjacket does not.

Other Names
German wasp, European wasp

Length: workers 12mm - 15mm; queen to about 18mm.

often found near human settlement, in city and suburban areas as well as rural farm buildings.

Adult workers wasps feed on sweet substances such as fruit and sugary secretions from sucking insects. They feed larvae in the nest with other insects and spiders, or pieces of meat from dead animals.

German yellowjackets are social insects forming large colonies. Most of the wasps die in winter, but the queen hibernates and establish a new colony the next season. The first young become workers for the new colony. They build a paper nest from saliva mixed with chewed wood fibres. The nest can grow to 20cm in diameter, sometimes much larger. In North America the nest is usually hidden in structures such roof or wall cavities, or holes in walls, and sometimes underground. Nests may contain several thousand wasps.

German yellowjackets are an introduced wasp native to Europe, North Africa and temperate Asia. It is found throughout most of the north eastern United States, the Pacific north west of the United States and California. Also found in Canada.

Common Name:German yellowjacket

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

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