Subject:  Bald-faced Hornet or Blackjacket?
Geographic location of the bug:  Andover, NJ
Date: 06/23/2018
Time: 06:13 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this robust looking hornet at the edge of the woods on our property a couple of days ago.  It doesn’t look quite right for a bald-faced hornet to me, although several have insisted that it is one.  I think it looks better for a Blackjacket, which would also be a new species for me.
Can you give me some wisdom?
How you want your letter signed:  Deborah Bifulco

Parasitic Yellowjacket

Dear Deborah,
We always enjoy your submissions.  Quite frankly, we do not know how to easily tell the difference between a Bald Faced Hornet and a Blackjacket, but we are working on getting you an answer.  Our gut instinct is that this is a Bald Faced Hornet.  We have contacted Eric Eaton for assistance.

Parasitic Yellowjacket

Eric Eaton Responds
Oh, wow, this is neither Bald-faced Hornet nor Blackjacket.  It is a social parasite of the Aerial Yellowjacket.  It is called the Parasitic Yellowjacket, Dolichovespula arctica.  Always a great find!  They are not that common.
and my own blog post:
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

Hi again Deborah,
BugGuide also indicates:  “The species most easily confused with the Parasitic is the Blackjacket.”  Eric Eaton’s blog posting is very informative, including the statement that the Parasitic Yellowjacket “has no worker caste like the Aerial Yellowjacket, only reproductive females, and males.”

Well, how cool!!  I am so glad I sent this to you.  I just didn’t think it was a bald-faced, but would never have come up with this identification without your and Eric’s help.  Thank you!

Location: Andover, New Jersey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *