University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Mystery Bug Answers

Mystery Picture #3

Mystery Picture #3

Mystery Picture 3

NOVICE: The Yellowjacket

This insect, commonly seen during the summer and fall, is a Yellowjacket (Vespula). These wasps build nests of papery material consisting of chewed-up leaves and wood. In temperate regions, the queen is the only member of the colony to overwinter. In the spring, she starts a new colony. She builds a small nest, usually only one to two inches in diameter with one tier of cells. The queen's first brood, which is raised in the small nest, will emerge as workers. The workers assume the duties of the colony, expanding the nest, so that the queen's sole function is to lay eggs in the newly formed cells. As the number of workers produced increases, the nest is enlarged and by the end of the summer the nest may be as large as a foot in diameter. The nests can be found underground in old rodent burrows, in rock walls or in building walls.

For more information on yellowjackets, see ENTFACT 620 - Controlling Wasps, Hornets, and Yellowjackets.

EXPERT: The Hag Moth Caterpillar

This creature, resembling a dried leaf, is actually the caterpillar of the Hag Moth (Phobetron pithecium). It feeds on the underside of leaves of apple, ash, birch, chestnut, dogwood, hickory, oak, persimmon, willow and other woody plants. This species is found mainly in the eastern United States from Maine to Florida and west to Nebraska, Arkansas and Mississippi. The adult moth has a wing span of two to three centimeters, but it is not commonly seen. The male has translucent wings. The female has yellow and brown front wings with smokey black hind wings.

To read more about stinging caterpillars, see ENTFACT 003 - Stinging Caterpillars.

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