Akre, R.D., A. Greene, J.F. MacDonald, P.J. Landholt, and H.G. Davis. (1981). Yellowjackets
of North America, North of Mexico. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. Handbook
Dolichovespula arctica is distributed throughout the Boreal Region of North America, occurring from Alaska to Arizona and across to the eastern seaboard (fig. 35). Investigations of its biology have been limited (Taylor, 1939; Wheeler and Taylor, 1921), although recent studies have begun to reveal more about its complex behavior
1975; Greene et al, 1977). 1978; Jeanne, 1977) D: arctica is an obligatory social parasite in colonies of D. arenaria (Greene et al., 1976) and D. norvegicoides (R.E. Wagner, Univ. Calif., Riverside; cited by Yamane, 1975), relying on host workers to raise its own offspring. A D. arctica queen invades a host nest early in the season before workers have emerged (Evans, 1975). Although it may be attacked vigorously by the foundress queen at first (fig. 36d), the parasite becomes established as a nestmate within a day (Greene et al., 1978; Jeanne, 1977). The D. arctica queen may be highly aggressive and dominant in most interactions with its hosts, yet it feeds host larvae as well as its own and even participates in limited cell construction.
The parasite queen kills the host queen before much of her worker production is completed, shortening the lifespan of the colony and reducing the size of the mature nest relative to that of unparasitized colonies. It is still unknown how the D. arctica’s occupation of a colony usually terminates. In one chronologued colony, antagonism between parasite and host workers gradually increased after the queen’s death, culminating in the slaughter of many workers by the larger, better-armored parasite; however, it is likely that this D. arctica was finally killed by the workers (Greene et al., 1978). Although a host colony produces no new queens, the D. arctica apparently cannot prevent the host workers’ ovaries from developing, and some may start ovipositing during the final days of the parasite’s occupation. Additional large numbers of unfertilized eggs may be oviposited by workers following the parasite’s death, and a sufficient degree of colony cohesion may be maintained in some cases to rear a substantial brood of host male offspring to adulthood (Greene et al., 1976; 1978).
Reprinted with permission from: Miller, C.D.F. 1961 Taxonomy and Distribution of Nearctic Vespula. The Canadian Entomologist Supplement 22.
Color.—Black with white markings. In the Cordilleran region of North America the pale markings on some specimens are yellowish and well developed.
Structure.—Malar space more than half as long as the penultimate antennal segment (Fig. 2); occipital carina poorly defined or lacking; anterior truncate margin of clypeus of female much projecting, with prominent raised lateral angle only the apical flagellar segment of male with a tyloide; digitus of male genitalia not extending beyond apex of aedeagus (Fig. 21).
Abdominal Color Patterns.—as in Figs. 59, 62.
Facial Color Pattern.—as in Fig. 81.
This species is transcontinentally distributed throughout the Boreal region of North America where it is an obligatory parasite of V. arenaria.
This species though relatively stable produces a variant which is more common in the western and southwestern part of its range. The variant is recognized by a widening and yellowing of the white markings. Bequaert speculated that this entity was the species Vespula adulterina (Buysson) which is Palearctic. Since there is no geographic connection between the two populations, the recognition of them as the same species is hypothetical.
Ecological Notes.—This species does not construct its own nest. The queen
enters the nest of V. arenaria, reputedly destroys its queen and lays her own eggs
which are reared by workers of the host. It does not produce a neuter form.
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