Duke Insects
Species:
Vespula maculifrons
Common Name:
Yellow Jacket
Order:
Hymenoptera
Family:
Vespidae
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Side view
View of abdomen
Close-up of Yellow Jacket Head
Close-up of Yellow Jacket Head

This wasp, Vespula maculifrons, was found near the Levine Science Research Center. Vespula maculifrons is also known as the Eastern yellow jacket, and is one of the most common wasps in the Eastern United States. Their most distinguishing feature is the yellow and black stripes on their abdomen, in a pattern that differs between the queen, adult males, and adult females. They build nests in the ground or in stumps and logs.  Females of Vespa mate and are fertilized in autumn.  These females overwinter and found colonies the next spring, of which they become the queens.  Her offspring are sterile females that expand the nest and take care of the young.  These wasp are fierce predators that primarily hunt other insects to fed to their larvae in the nest.  They also feed on nectar, which is used as an energy source for flight.

Side view
Side view
View of abdomen
View of abdomen
Posterior end
Posterior end

(1) Buck, M, Marshall SA, and Cheung DKB, Identification Atlas of the Vespidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata) of the Northeastern Nearctic Region. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, vol. 5, (2008). 

(2) Andrews, C, The Lives of Wasps and Bees, (1969) London, Chatto and Windus.

(3) Milne, L.J. and M. Milne, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders, (1980), New York, A.A. Knopf.