mating yellow jackets?
Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 10:10 AM
At first, I thought this cluster was chowing down on some hapless insect, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, does it?
Not more than half a mile away, while walking the dog, we wandered too close to a nest and Jester got his butt stung by another one — I guess it’s just that time of year!
Since you had our email address from before our site migration, you did not submit this letter with the new form that requires that a location be provided for identification purposes. We wish you had included your location in your letter. We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide any information on this mating frenzy of Yellowjackets.
oops, sorry. We’re located in Southwest Michigan, just about a mile from the Lake Michigan.
October 7, 2008
Yes, these are male “southern yellowjackets,” Vespula squamosa, mobbing a new queen. This species is somewhat unique in that it is a facultative (as opposed to “obligatory”) social parasite of other yellowjackets. In the spring, if nesting sites are scarce, a queen southern yellowjacket may attack the queen of another species and kill her. The workers of the host species then raise the offspring of the southern queen. Most colonies of the host species have small numbers of workers when this happens, and it may not happen with a high degree of frequency.