The last of the yellowjackets?

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On Friday, while walking to work I found this male wasp, cold and still on the pavement. This was a male western yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica, and he was in rough shape. Even here in Vancouver, wintry weather comes this time of year, and we have had freezing nights for almost a week.

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Males are easy to recognize, as they have long, 13 segmented antennae, and a long gaster with 7 apparent segments. Females have 6 segments on the gaster, and 12-segmented antennae. 

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With the freezing weather we have had, this male was not really able to fly, so he was cooperative for some photos.

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I have seen male yellowjackets later in the year than this, usually when their nest is within a heated home.

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Further south, western yellowjackets have year-round colonies, with multiple queens, but here in Canada they generally conform to the single-foundress colony mode, with a single queen starting a colony in the spring, and dying off in the winter after producing males and new queens.

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After this session, I found a nice sunstruck patch of moss, and laid down some honey (which I keep in a vial for ant photography) and let him have a last meal in the sun before the cold of night came to end his life.

 

 

 

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