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Eastern Yellowjacket

Eastern Yellowjacket

Vespula maculifrons

(Order: Hymenoptera; Family: Vespidae)

Vespula maculifrons (Photo credit: Vance Cole)

(Colorado: Kiowa County: +38° 30' 23.04", -102° 36' 6.78": 12 September 2011)

Vespula maculifrons. Queen. (From

Adult Diagnosis:  The Eastern Yellowjacket can be identified by its most recognizable feature, the black and yellow lines on their head, thorax, and abdomen.  They have black antennae and their curved body is wider than their head.  The individual species range in size from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch.

Color markings of the v. maculifrons. (From:

Adult Natural History:  The Eastern Yellowjacket can be found living in colonies.  Colonies are made up of: queens, males, and workers.  These colonies only occur during the spring, summer, and fall seasons.  During the winter the queens are the only ones to survive the conditions.  Every spring; each queen starts a new own colony.

In the spring, the females find a location to start their new colony.  In rural areas almost all nests are in the ground.  In uban areas nests are found in artificial cavities.  These urban nests are called paper nests.

Distribution:  This species is found in th Eastern United States and throughout the Great Plains.

Distribution of the v. maculifrons. (From:

Habitat:  Meadows and forest edges.  Builds their nests in the ground in rural areas or in artificial cavities in urban areas.

Diet:  Adults only consume liquid foods; such as nectar from flowers, juices of fruits, or other sweet liquids.  Adults feed the larvae a chewed paste made from other insects as well as carrion.

V. maculifrons feeding on larvae. (copyright Tom Murray From:

Conservation Status:  Stable




Master Beekeeper Program. Bee-Files.

Bug Guide. Species Vespula Maculifrons. Eastern Yellowjacket.

Eastern Yellow Jacket. Vespula maculifrons.


MacDonald, J.F. Mathews, R.W. 1981. Nesting Biology of the Eastern Yellowjacket, Vespula maculifrons. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 54(3) 433-457.

Ross, K.G. 1983. Laboritory Studies of the Mating Biology of the Eastern Yellowjacket, Vespula maculifrons. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 56(4) 523-537.

Submitted by:  Vance Cole, November 2011

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