Vespidae — Overview

Hornets, Hornets and Yellowjackets, Paper Wasps, Potter Wasps, and Yellowjackets learn more about names for this taxon

Comprehensive Description

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Vespidae (Vespid Wasps)
These medium to large wasps may be light brown, reddish brown, or black with yellow markings, especially around the face and on the abdomen. At rest, their wings appear pleated. These wasps exhibit varying degrees of sociality. The Polistes spp. (Paper Wasps) construct only small clusters of brood cells from paper (chewed plant material), while Vespula and Dolichovespula spp. (Yellow Jackets and Hornets) construct large spheroid nests from the same kind of material. These wasps bring back a variety of insects back to the nest (with hornets providing regurgitated food to their larvae). They have a reputation of being aggressive around their hives. There is a subfamily of the Vespidae that consists of solitary wasps, which will be discussed next. Eumeninae (Eumenine Wasps): Eumenine wasps are rather stout, medium-sized, brown with cream or yellow markings. They make mud-lined nests in the ground, or make pot-shaped nests from mud on the twigs of shrubs and small trees, or construct nests in wood cavities. Eumenine wasps attack caterpillars of moths, and carry them back to their nests as a food source for their larvae. Some species also prey on beetle grubs in the ground. Eumenine wasps are also frequent visitors of wildflowers.


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