|scientific name Vespula squamosa |
common name Southern Yellowjacket
Nearctic species founding in open prairies, grasslands, disturbed boreal forest.
Colonies are annual. Queens choose the nest in June. The colony decline in early November.
The workers and males are black with yellow markings; the queens are orange with black markings (Miller 1961). Queens are the larger specimens, in average their size is 17 mm, workers and males size 13 mm in average. Queen and workers are dimorphic. Head: malar space less than half os long as the penultimate antennal segment; occipital carina incomplete; Mesosoma: conspicuous yellow longitudinal stripes on the mesoscutum; mesopleuron with an elongate yellow spot from pronotal lobe to mid coxa; second cubital cell of forewing equal than third cubital cell. Metasoma: queens with orange fascia expanded to nearly obliterated black markings, leaving only pairs of black spots; males and workers with lateral yellow stripes of the second tergite; male aedeagus robust with distal part bilobed (Buck et al. 2008, Miller 1961, VanDyk 2003).
The Southern Yellowjacket is a social species with annual colonies. In early June the queens looking for nesting places, however, the queens are facultative temporary social parasites and they usurp established young nest of other Vespula species usually V. maculifrons, V. vidua and V. flavopilosa, because, V. squamosa prefers host nests these are meanly subterranean, but aerial nest are common in urban places and they are found in hollow walls. The queens are robust, strong and large and they kill the host queens of the colonies that they take over. Near the 80% of Southern Yellowjacket began by usurpation of V. maculifrons colonies. After killing the host queen, the usurper queen adopts the nest and host workers and these helping to raise the new offspring. When the original host workers died the colony becomes pure with only V. squamosa (Akre et al. 1981, Buck et al. 2008, VanDyk 2003)
This species is common and this is not reported in vulnerability status.
They feed regularly on live prey but they also scavenge on carrion. They are mostly predators of spiders, harvestmen, caterpillars, flies, hemipterans, soft beetles and other bugs. The adults carry their prey or part of them to the nest to feed their larval states. They also feed of flower nectar and other fluids (Akre et al. 1981, Buck 2008, VanDyk 2003).
This species is widely distributed in the southern part of North America and some regions in Centre America. Canada: only found in Ontario. United States: eastern region from New York to Florida. México: Chiapas, Tamaulipas to Michoacán. Guatemala and Honduras (Carpenter & Kojima 1997, Miller 1961, Buck et al. 2008)
Southern Yellowjacket is the most frequent native Vespula that form perennial polygynous colonies in southern places of its range (Akre et al. 1981, VanDyk 2003)
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