Dolichovespula arenaria

Dolichovespula arenaria

''Dolichovespula arenaria'', also known as the common aerial yellowjacket, sandhills hornet, and common yellow hornet, is a species of wasps within the ''Dolichovespula'' genus widely distributed in the North American continent.
Dolichovespula arenaria, Areal Yellow jacket Collected in Coventry, CT, 2 frame panoramic Dolichovespula arenaria,Geotagged,United States

Appearance

''D. arenaria'' can be identified by the medially interrupted or incised apical fasciae of terga 1 and 2. They are yellow in color and can be differentiated by the other yellow-colored wasps, ''D. adulterina'', in its genus by the lack of black markings in the ocular sinus.
In the majority of the population the ocular sinus is yellow, but some melanic males have a black area that reaches the lower margin of sinus. The queen has large black discal spots on terga 4 and 5, and smaller ones on terga 2 and 3.
Males have spots on their basal band on terga 4 and 5. Nest size ranges from 1-6 combs, and are made out of dull grey paper.
Stinger of Dolichovespula arenaria, Areal Yellow jacket 7 Frame 50x panormaic, consisting of over 1700 photos Dolichovespula arenaria,Geotagged,United States

Distribution

The common aerial yellowjacket lives across Canada and the United States. They occur from north central Alaska to as far south as New Mexico and Arizona. ''D. arenaria'' are in fact one of the most common aerial yellowjackets found in eastern North America. D. arenaria lives in arboreal to subterranean habitats. Their nests are made from paper-like material and are usually found in trees and shrubs. In urban settings, their nests are frequently found on buildings.
Face of Dolichovespula arenaria, Areal Yellow jacket 50 X Face Shot Dolichovespula arenaria

Habitat

The common aerial yellowjacket lives across Canada and the United States. They occur from north central Alaska to as far south as New Mexico and Arizona. ''D. arenaria'' are in fact one of the most common aerial yellowjackets found in eastern North America. D. arenaria lives in arboreal to subterranean habitats. Their nests are made from paper-like material and are usually found in trees and shrubs. In urban settings, their nests are frequently found on buildings.

Food

''Dolichovespula arenaria'' workers are known to mostly feed on live arthropods of a wide variety such as grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, spiders, flies, lacewings, and even lady beetles . They also prey on larvae of the fall webworm, as well as young hummingbirds. In general, they are not attracted to protein baits. Occasionally, however, ''Dolichovespula'' may feed on animal carcasses— such feeding has been observed on carcasses of a dog, pig, and snake. They are commonly seen to prey in higher trees .Akre, Roger D., Hal C. Reed, and P. J. Landolt. "Nesting Biology and Behavior of the Blackjacket, Vespula Consobrina." Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society : 373-405. Web. 25 Sept. 2014. .

Predators

The aerial yellow jackets make aerial nests, which are inaccessible to some predators that are active during the winter, such as shrews and ground dwelling rodents, and are vulnerable to other predators, such as squirrels, raccoons and birds.

Defense

In general, it has been observed that smaller colonies are less aggressive than larger ones. There are differing observations of the ''D. arenaria''’s personality, one stating that they are quarrelsome and then other arguing that they are not. But this difference may lie in the fact that the first observation was observing the behavior when approaching a ''D. arenaria'' nest, whereas the other was describing behavior of workers away from their nest individually. Smaller colonies’ colony defense behavior is said to be unpredictable and erratic.Unique to ''D. arenaria'' is the observed spraying of venom out of their sting that has been seen from workers in large colonies. The “spray sting type,” the term given to the venom ejecting mechanism of these wasps, involves the contraction of the venom reservoir muscles. This venom spraying mechanism is said to allow for a greater release of alarm pheromone in the venom. The alarm pheromone is key to elicit the attack behavior of yellowjackets.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderHymenoptera
FamilyVespidae
GenusDolichovespula
SpeciesD. arenaria