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Insects and other arthropods

Social wasps and hornets

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Description

Social wasps are insects with extremely narrow waists between the thorax and abdomen. Workers have a stinger at the tip of the abdomen.

There are two subfamilies of social wasps in Quebec. Vespinae, or hornets, are black with yellow or yellowish-white markings on the abdomen, head or thorax. Paper wasps, or Polistinae, are brown, with long legs.

Life cycle

The colony is founded by a queen that was fertilized the previous year and overwintered in a shelter. She begins building the nest and cares for the first larvae hatched from her eggs. Once they reach adulthood, they become the first generation of workers. They continue building the nest and care for the queen and new larvae.

Social wasps make their colonies in paper nests or underground nests. Some can house thousands of insects.

Males (drones) are produced in late summer. They mate with the future queens to allow them to form new colonies in the following year. In our climate, only the fertilized queens manage to survive the winter. The workers and males die when temperatures plummet.

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