Differentiating between various species of yellowjackets

Where is a good place to look to find out how to identify varios species of yellowjackets? (I’m specifically looking to know how to differentiate between german and eastern, the two most common species here in Brooklyn.)

I only know one species of those, but from comparing them, check the longer shape of triangle abdominal spot as well as more elogated spots on metathorax in Eastern yellowjacket.

Also found this.

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This is for the entire subfamily Vespinae, or all yellowjackets, but it has both eastern and german

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You can also check out the field guide The Social Wasps of North America which was written by an iNatter, Chris Alice Kratzer. Many of the illustrations are also based on iNat photos. Check out the iNat blog post about the book and author.


As well as abdomen pattern, at least in Europe it’s a good idea to take a picture from the front showing the “face” of the insect.

Another possibility is the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification – there’s an article on the Vespidae from eastern Canada that works fine for New York, also written by an iNatter. Here’s the link: https://cjai.biologicalsurvey.ca/articles/bmc-05/

Thank you for these great resources!

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