Subject: Stinging Insect
Location: Black River Falls, WI
July 13, 2012 2:39 pm
What is this? I want to say yellow jacket, but I haven’t seen a nest or anything that would help identify it. I appologize for it being dead and slightly squashed. It did sting my daughter after my son got stung by a different one. We were outside for not even 5 minutes, just kicking a ball around when my son suddenly screamed get it off of me. I did try to find it on your site, but I was having issues finding an exact pattern match.
Signature: Dani

Widow Yellowjacket

Hi Dani,
We agree that this is a Yellowjacket, but we cannot be certain of the species.  The facial markings look similar to the Common Aerial Yellowjacket,
Dolichovespula arenaria, that is pictured on BugGuide, but we would rather have someone with more experience with Yellowjackets provide a definitive species identification.  We would also note that perhaps the most similar looking species is the Widow Yellowjacket, Vespula vidua, also represented on Bugguide.  Like other social wasps, Yellowjackets will defend a nest.  If both of your children were stung, there is a good chance that there is a nest nearby.  The nest of the Common Aerial Yellowjacket is usually above ground, often in trees, while the nest of the Widow Yellowjacket is often subterranean.

Widow Yellowjacket

was alot easier to find one that matched exact with the names.
It looks exactly like these ones.  If I can find the nest, I’ll be sure to take some good photos for you.  It doesn’t look like you have many.
are they generally aggressive?  we really weren’t making a whole lot of noise.

We are happy to hear that in your opinion, the Yellowjackets are Widow Yellowjackets, a name BugGuide indicates is a result of the greater black areas in this species:  .  It is our experience that Yellowjackets are often curious about people, especially during picnics when there are trash cans nearby with fatty or sweet foods.  We have not had personal contact near a nest, but it is our understanding that they can be very aggressive if they feel the nest is being threatened.  I think the answer will be very clear to you when you discover where the nest is.  You should avoid the area.  The colony will die out with the frost and cold weather, and only new queens will survive to create a new colony elsewhere.  Some species of Yellowjackets in warmer climates have a nest that will last for several years instead of being an annual community.

Location: Wisconsin

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