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Dolichovespula maculata (Linnaeus, 1763)
BALDFACED HORNET
Bald-faced hornet; Bald-faced yellowjacket; Vespa maculata americana; Christ

Life   Insecta   Hymenoptera   Vespoidea   Vespidae   Dolichovespula

Dolichovespula maculata
© Copyright Hadel Go 2014 · 9
Dolichovespula maculata

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Dolichovespula maculata
© Copyright Hadel Go 2014 · 9
Dolichovespula maculata
Dolichovespula maculata, Bald-faced Hornet, kills Heterocampa biundata
© John Pickering, 2004-2017 · 5
Dolichovespula maculata, Bald-faced Hornet, kills Heterocampa biundata

Dolichovespula maculata, Bald-faced Hornet, kills Heterocampa biundata
© John Pickering, 2004-2017 · 4
Dolichovespula maculata, Bald-faced Hornet, kills Heterocampa biundata
Dolichovespula maculata, Bald-faced Hornet female
© Copyright Sheryl Pollock 2011 · 3
Dolichovespula maculata, Bald-faced Hornet female

Dolichovespula maculata, queen
© Copyright Gary Alpert, 2005-2008 · 2
Dolichovespula maculata, queen
Dolichovespula maculata
© Copyright Gary Alpert, 2005-2008 · 2
Dolichovespula maculata

Dolichovespula maculata, face
© altered from Miller 1961by Grace Chen · 1
Dolichovespula maculata, face
Dolichovespula maculata, queen abdomen
© altered from Miller 1961by Grace Chen · 1
Dolichovespula maculata, queen abdomen

Dolichovespula maculata, male abdomen
© altered from Miller 1961by Grace Chen · 1
Dolichovespula maculata, male abdomen
Dolichovespula maculata, worker abdomen
© altered from Miller 1961by Grace Chen · 1
Dolichovespula maculata, worker abdomen

Dolichovespula maculata, distribution
© from Akre 1981 · 1
Dolichovespula maculata, distribution
Dolichovespula maculata, distribution
© Miller 1961 · 1
Dolichovespula maculata, distribution

Dolichovespula maculata on nest, bald-faced hornet on nest
© Copyright Gail Starr 2011 · 1
Dolichovespula maculata on nest, bald-faced hornet on nest
Overview
Akre, R.D., A. Greene, J.F. MacDonald, P.J. Landholt, and H.G. Davis. (1981). Yellowjackets of North America, North of Mexico. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. Handbook #552.


Dolichovespula maculata, the baldfaced “hornet,” is an atypically large, black and white yellowjacket, which is probably the most widely distributed member of the Nearctic Vespinae. It occurs throughout the Canadian, Transition, Upper Sonoran, and Upper Austral Zones, and extends into the Lower Austral Zone (fig. 39). It has been collected virtually in every State and Canadian Province, from north-central Alaska to central Florida and the “Big Thicket” of southeastern Texas. D. maculata queens first become active in April and May in southeastern Washington with nests usually established in late May or early June. Reproductives are produced in late July and August, and colonies enter decline in August or September. In the mid-Atlantic States, nest construction begins as early as late April. Nests are usually situated in vegetation, from shrubs or vines at ground level to 20 m or higher in trees. They may also be built on rock overhangs, electric power poles, houses, sheds, or other manmade structures (fig. 40 b,d). Nearly all are constructed in exposed locations, although Greene et al. (1976) mentioned literature reporting one subterranean nest and one inside a hollow tree. Since D. maculata is a large wasp, its nests can sometimes attain impressive dimensions, with diameters of 35 cm and lengths of more than 60 cm (fig. 40h); however, much of the nest bulk is made up of thick, multilayered envelope, and the cells comprising the combs, although larger than those constructed by any other yellowjacket, are comparatively few in number. The most populous colonies construct 3,500 cells in five combs, but the majority of nests contain less than 2,000 cells in three or four combs. Peak worker population is typically 100 to 400, although one Maryland nest collected in mid-September contained 636 workers. Nest associates of D. maculata have not been studied in detail. The ichneumonid Sphecophaga vesparum burra often occurs in low densities, and many of the incidental arthropods found with D. arenaria also have been collected in D. maculata nests. In Georgia and North Carolina, cockroaches (Parcoblatta sp.) are found in some nests. Recent investigations in Maryland suggest that a small chalcid wasp feeding on the brood may be important in limiting size and number of colonies in spring and early summer. D. maculata workers occasionally scavenge for protein (Greene et al., 1976; Payne and Mason, 197!), but most forage only for live prey. Flies are commonly taken, and, in some areas, other yellowjackets are an important prey item (Howell, 1973). One nest collected in Maryland contained the gasters of 44 V. maculifrons, 9 V. squamosa, 1 V. flavopilosa, and 1 honey bee, Apis mellifera L. The particulate detritus in this nest had a yellowish tone due to the extreme abundance of discarded yellowjacket parts and bits of integument. D. maculata workers are powerful, agile wasps and occasionally attack relatively large insects such as cicadas. There is even a report of an attack on an adult hummingbird (Grant, 1959), although this is undoubtedly an unusual occurrence. Although there are several papers on various aspects of the behavior of D. maculata (Balduf, 1954; Gibo et al., 1974a,b, 1977; Rau, 1929), a comprehensive sociobiological study of this species has only recently begun. Preliminary results indicate its behavior may be quite different from that reported for D. arenaria. D. maculata has adapted to nesting in human population centers throughout its range, and can sometimes be found well within the boundaries of large cities. Its imposing size is often sufficient to alarm people, but its aggressiveness fortunately does not match its appearance. Although, as with any yellowjacket, accidental jostling of a nest or pressing on an individual will result in stings, our experience has been that workers are usually not as sensitive to disturbance around the nest as some of the other, smaller species. Furthermore, it has a tendency to nest fairly high in trees (more so than any other Nearctic wasp), reducing the likelihood of contact between humans and many colonies. The baldfaced “hornet” is often mentioned in introductory field biology guides, as much for its conspicuous architecture as its striking appearance, and is one of the handful of insects commonly recognized by laypersons. Its abandoned nests are displayed in almost every park nature center and sometimes hang as ornaments in homes. Unless a colony is located in close proximity to human activity, this species should not be regarded as a pest but rather as a colorful and beneficial part of the American insect fauna.



Reprinted with permission from: Miller, C.D.F. 1961 Taxonomy and Distribution of Nearctic Vespula. The Canadian Entomologist Supplement 22.


Diagnostic characters
Color.—Black with white markings. Structure.—Malar space more than half as long as the penultimate antennal segment (Fig. 2); lower half of the sides of the pronotum and propodeum transversely striate; male genitalia as in Fig. 22. Abdominal Color Patterns.—as in Figs. 66, 67, 68. Facial Color Pattern.—as in Fig. 84.

This Nearctic species is more widespread and as common as V. arenaria. It occurs throughout the whole of the Canadian, Transition, Upper Sonoran and Upper Austral zones and in the east extends well into the Lower Austral zone.

Discussion
This is, from the writer’s experience, the most stable species of Vespula in North America. It is very common, very widely distributed and yet produces very few variants. Those observed by the author are different from the typical form in that the white markings become very wide and almost dominate the black background color of this species. The writer has seen very few of these specimens and all have been from the south eastern part of the species range. Ecological Notes.—The nest of this species is aerial.

Names
Scientific source:

Links to other sites
Bald-Faced Hornet Information, Harvard University

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FamilyScientific name @ source (records)
Asteraceae  Ericameria nauseosa @ UCRC_ENT (3)
Ericaceae  Vaccinium @ I_HHGA (1)
Notodontidae  Heterocampa biundata @ I_JP (34)

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Dolichovespula maculata
Dolichovespula maculata
Baldfaced Hornet
ID: 0000 0000 0404 1155 [detail]
Bruce Marlin
© 2004 Cirrus Digital Imaging

Dolichovespula maculata
Dolichovespula maculata
Baldfaced Hornet
ID: 1111 1111 2222 1733 [detail]
© 2008 Joyce Gross

Dolichovespula maculata
Dolichovespula maculata
Baldfaced Hornet
ID: 1111 1111 2222 1734 [detail]
© 2008 Joyce Gross

Dolichovespula maculata
Dolichovespula maculata
Baldfaced Hornet
ID: 0000 0000 0711 0383 [detail]
© 2011 John White

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