Aerial yellowjacket Dolichovespula arenaria Fig 913f

Workers are 11-13 mm long and black with yellow markings; the yellow genal band behind the eye is continuous, but sometimes deeply notched. The yellow band on gaster segment 1 and 2 is interrupted medially. Nests may be in shrubs or bushes, and in the tops of trees, but this species will readily nest on structures. Nests may be in the ground, and workers excavate the surrounding soil to expand the nest. Nests are initiated from April to June, colonies usually peak in mid-summer, and the nest declines by September-October. Variations occur with geographic region, and from year to year. In southern California, nest construction begins in March and many colonies are in decline by June and July; in mid-Atlantic states, colonies may be mature and producing reproductives by early July. Mature nest size is variable by region and year, and ranges from 644 to 4290 cells, and there may be as many as seven combs. Workers usually forage for only live prey, which includes grasshoppers, tree crickets, caterpillars, flies, and spiders. They usually do not scavenge for protein, but they are attracted to sugar in late summer. Foraging for flies may result in workers hovering around the head of people and large animals. Nests are often constructed on structures, and workers in large colonies can be a threat to people. This species is one of the most common yellowjackets in North America; it occurs from north-central Alaska to Arizona and New Mexico to northeastern and mid-Atlantic seaboard states.

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