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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Yellowjacket Frost

I spotted a yellowjacket in my backyard the other day. It is unusual to see them so late in the year, but this mild fall has kept them going. However, with the recent frost and cool temperature we have probably seen the last of them till next summer.

This is also the time of year when I am editing like a mad man in my office, going through image after image and preparing them for the catalog and my agents. I just opened a folder of images I had nearly forgotten about - yellowjackets.

I find yellowjackets just as annoying as anyone, but one of the cool things about this work is that I have a chance to discover new things about an endless list of fascinating creatures. I think yellowjackets are actually pretty cool looking insects, although it is hard to appreciate this when they are ruining a backyard BBQ. However, it might interest you to know that the common yellowjackets harrasing your picnic are probably german invaders. We have several species of yellowjackets that are native to the Northwest, and they can be aggressive also (none more so that the white-headed wasp).

The photos below were taken near Ochoco Pass. The yellowjackets I encountered there were strangely uninterested in my lunch, and in fact, were nectaring on flowers. They had large, stout bodies, and seemed considerably bigger than the yellowjackets I see in the valley. It gave me a chance to appreciate their bold coloring and sharp design.

By the way, this image was made with a custom high-speed camera and taken at 1/45,000 of a second. No photoshop manipulation was applied.


Will said...

I just can't get over how you truly 'stopped' the action. There is no blur at all with the wings. Pretty incredible.

OregonWild said...

Hey Will,

Thanks. I do believe you are the first comment poster on this blog.
So Thanks!

Michael D

Stephanie Cates said...

These are the most amazing yellowjacket photos I've ever seen. We make the Rescue traps that catch these, girls (these are probably newly fertilized queens ready to overwinter, which is why they are larger than normal yellowjackets). I've posted a link over on my blog.

Jack DeAngelis said...

Your yellowjacket images are stunning! Great work. I believe the photo is either the western yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica) or the German yellowjacket (Vespula germanica). A third species, the common yellowjacket (Vespula vulgaris) is pestiferous in the northwest as well. We have other yellowjacket species but these are the three "scavenger species" that bother us whenever food is exposed outside in late summer.
I've posted some biology information at

Again, your photos are spectacular. If you have the time I'd love to see (or hear about) your camera set-up.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Extension Ento. (ret.)

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Details About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
Husband, Father, Student Of Natural History, Photographer