Likely New Species & Subspecies of Social Wasps

Hi all,

Through the course of my studies, I've been able to document a number of observations on iNaturalist that are likely to represent new species or subspecies unknown to science. I have neither the time nor the resources to describe them, so I am compiling them here in the hopes that someone else will be able to.

1 - Vulgaris-Group Vespula in the Sierra Madre Oriental, Mexico

This population of very melanic "Vespula maculifrons" were originally pointed out to me by @caseyborowskijr. It appears to be isolated from the typical color form of V. maculifrons by the Rio Grande river valley. This population is likely to be a new species, or a new subspecies of Vespula maculifrons (or possibly Vespula akrei). I tried to write a species description for this population in 2018 but it was rejected because I was unable to gather any genetic data. I know there are specimens of this population at the Cornell University Insect Collection. I have stacked dorsal, lateral, and anterior photos if anyone wants them. They appear on page 94 of my wasp book under the name Vespula maculifrons.
Workers + Nest (COAH) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/12098028 @arturoc
Workers + Nest (COAH) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/4926227 @arturoc
Queen (NL) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/12849173 @ignacio_a_rodriguez
Worker (NL) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/27358874 @aztekium
Worker (NL) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/6388561 @ignacio_a_rodriguez
Worker (NL) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/11354313 @ignacio_a_rodriguez
Worker (NL) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/4103176 @panza_rayada
Worker (NL) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/10350676 @elsahdzrdz
Worker (QRO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/51815817 @idlegrraphics
Worker (VER) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/9227903 @camamed
Worker (VER) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/8991909 @camamed

2 - Vulgaris-Group Vespula in the Southeastern Rockies, USA

This population of very xanthic "Vespula alascensis" queens were originally pointed out to me by @caseyborowskijr and @jacobsonbob. Most V. alascensis queens have much less yellow on T2. As far as we know, the workers and males of this population look identical to typical V. alascensis. This population is likely to be a new color form or maybe a new subspecies of Vespula alascensis.
Queen (WY) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/56432317 @go_outside
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/50193062 @bobw75
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/49979817 @mlodinow
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/43510346 @bug_eric
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/27651784 @asaraha
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/24196087 @bug_eric
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/23528573 @heidi_eaton
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/23409418 @ceuthophilus
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/12947100 @blazeclaw
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/7223682 @andrewcore
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/7054216 @mlodinow
Queen (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/3326043 @bug_eric
Queen (NM) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/104721995 @tomkennedy
Queen (NM) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/3265648 @briannsmithnz
Queen (AZ) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/26359947 @mccreedy

3 - Polistes (Aphanilopterus) in South Andros, Bahamas

This population of reddish Polistes (subgenus Aphanilopterus) is only known from a single iNaturalist observation, but its coloration is distinct from every other known Polistes in the literature. It is likely a new species endemic to Andros Island and a sister taxon to Polistes bahamensis. Andros Island is critically undersampled, so I wouldn't be surprised if there were several new species of Polistes hidden within its mangrove forests.
Female - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/26069919 @readingbrainbow

4 - Polistes (Fuscopolistes) in Central and Eastern Mexico

This is a population of red Polistes (subgenus Fuscopolistes) in eastern and central Mexico. It likely represents either a new population of Polistes carolina or a new species. Or, there may be several different species mixed together. It's difficult to tell from photos. However, there are no documented red Fuscopolistes from central or eastern Mexico.
Female (COAH) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/51436774 @jesusnc25
Female (SLP) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/10195236 @bodofzt
Female (SLP) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/10280481 @bodofzt
Male (HGO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/31519388 @cris-tzabcan
Female (HGO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/29398488 @carmengalindo
Female (HGO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/15536557 @edgarsrmzc19
Female (AGS) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/61060050 @najera_tutor
Female (AGS) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/32245406 @najera_tutor

5 - Mischocyttarus (Phi) in Central Mexico

This is a population of red Mischocyttarus (subgenus Phi) in central Mexico. There are no other species that look like this. It likely represents a new species endemic to the southern Mexican plateau.
Female (SLP) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/50047161 @luisstevens
Male (JAL) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/18806614 @ehecatlheloderm

6 - Polistes (Palisotius) in Central Mexico

This is a population of red Polistes (subgenus Palisotius) in central Mexico. It likely represents a new subspecies of Polistes major, or a significant range extension of Polistes major castaneicolor (which is known from Arizona and Sonora).
Male (GTO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/55540783 @eric1133
Male (MICH) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/23820908 @alejandromijangosbetanzos
Male (MEX) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/116210032 @ehecatlheloderm
...and possibly these as well:
Female (MICH) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/18591912 @ekdelval
Females + Nest (MICH) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/24076539 @adidjimenez
Females + Nest (JAL) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/35329836 @tecmm_lagos

7 - Polistes (Aphanilopterus) in Baja California Sur, Mexico

This population of dark Polistes (subgenus Aphanilopterus) is only known from a single iNaturalist observation, but its coloration is distinct from every other known Polistes in the literature. It is likely to be a new color form or subspecies of Polistes lineonotus. This color form appears on page 160 of my wasp book under the name Polistes lineonotus.
Female - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/36446215 @donnamiller

8 - Polistes (Aphanilopterus) in Southern Mexico

This is a population of dark Polistes (subgenus Aphanilopterus) in south-central Mexico. It is darker than Polistes canadensis and it has darker markings on its antennae than Polistes franciscanus. It likely represents a new species (or a subspecies of Polistes canadensis) endemic to the region.
Female (OAX) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/94674811 @jared-near
Female (GRO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/105791506 @zihuadean
Female (GRO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/64822668 @elielziga

9 - Polistes (Aphanilopterus) in Central America

This is a population of dark Polistes (subgenus Aphanilopterus) with white wing tips from the Sierra Madre of southern Mexico and Central America. They mimic the warning color pattern Parachartergus wasps. One Neotropical species, Polistes apicalis, can have white wing tips in parts of its range in South America. However, Polistes apicalis never has white wings in northern South America or Central America. The location of this population makes it likely to represent a new species. This population was originally pointed out to me by @matthias22.
Females + Nest (OAX) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/15309118 @d_b
Females + Nest (El Salvador) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/63589754 @cugel

10 - Polistes (Aphanilopterus) in Guatemala

This is a population of red-and-black Polistes (subgenus Fuscopolistes) from central Guatemala. They superficially resemble Polistes metricus from the eastern USA, but they are geographically isolated and their habitat is completely different. This population likely represents a new species endemic to Guatemala.
Female (GT) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/104607429 @henryzulu
Male - (GT) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/88696108 @saban-sequen
Female - (GT) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/66444964 @gpasch
Female - (GT) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/84492664 @juanitoescamilla

11 - Polistes (Aphanilopterus) from Costa Rica to Colombia

This is a population of red-and-black Polistes (subgenus Aphanilopterus) with bright yellow spots on the propodeum found from Costa Rica to Colombia. Its coloration is distinct from every other known Polistes in the literature, and it likely represents a new species as a sister taxon to Polistes versicolor.
Female (CR) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/104538251 @bernalarce
Female (PA) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/85582460 @kentvanvuren
Female (PA) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/59195952 @ocm
Female (CO) - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/66482299 @luisfranciscomadrin

@matthias22 @pedro3111 @jonathan142 @jfmantis @susanna_h @caseyborowskijr @benjamin189 @ineeley @aliandbrice @barthelemy @villu @johnascher @raycama @brandonh

Please let me know if you discover anything new about these populations, or if you describe any of them as new species!

Yours in Wasps,
Chris Alice Kratzer

P.S. I forgot what day it was. This is not an April Fool's prank.

Posted by humanbyweight humanbyweight, April 01, 2022 18:26

Comments

Really cool, @humanbyweight! Thanks for tagging me! Here is one more new species that I believe @matthias22 is working on:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/109663368

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/106050027

Posted by aliandbrice 8 months ago (Flag)

@aliandbrice ooh, very cool!

Posted by humanbyweight 8 months ago (Flag)

Thanks, I am working on a couple of things but they aren't ready to roll out yet.

Posted by matthias22 8 months ago (Flag)

@matthias22 No rush! We're excited to read about your new discoveries whenever you're able to publish.

Posted by humanbyweight 8 months ago (Flag)

Yes, @matthias22, keep us posted on iNat! And thank you for all the work you do!

Posted by aliandbrice 8 months ago (Flag)

@humanbyweight wow really cool!! thank you so much for tagging me, it's an honor!! I would be happy to help, I believe there are indeed many new species of social wasps not yet described

Posted by pedro3111 8 months ago (Flag)

Hola Chris!, this is an amazing compilation, I will keep my eyes open for any of this in my area.

Have a nice weekend!

Carlos

Posted by aztekium 8 months ago (Flag)

Thank you @humanbyweight.

Posted by luisstevens 8 months ago (Flag)

This is the best thing—thanks so much @humanbyweight. I’m a big wasp fan and I think you’ve ID’s some of my incredibly blurry photos! Many thanks for that and your patience. Can’t wait to get your book.

Posted by lizch 6 months ago (Flag)

Cool! Not an expert, always happy to contribute with my observations and keep learning - thanks to @humanbyweight and iNat, I keep checking for wasps wherever I go!

Posted by gpasch about 1 month ago (Flag)

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