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20th August 2018

WASP – Vespa Vulgaris

The common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) is a familiar and much feared social insect. They are quite large insects, with an obvious ‘waist’ between the thorax and abdomen. They have bright yellow and black bands along the body, two pairs of wings and fairly long, robust antennae. The sting is located at the tip of the abdomen. The queens (reproductive females) are larger than workers (non-reproductive females).

Common wasp description.

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Class Insecta
Order Hymenoptera
Family Vespidae
Genus Vespula

The common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) is a familiar and much feared social insect. They are quite large insects, with an obvious ‘waist’ between the thorax and abdomen. They have bright yellow and black bands along the body, two pairs of wings and fairly long, robust antennae. The sting is located at the tip of the abdomen. The queens (reproductive females) are larger than workers (non-reproductive females).

 Size.

Average length: 2 cm

Related species.

  • Asian Hornet  (Vespa Velutina)
  • Caterpillar hunting wasp  (Delta Dimidiatipenne)
  • Hornet  (Vespa Crabro)

The common wasp usually forms large colonies below ground, but occasionally nests may be made in wall cavities, hollow trees and attics. Queens emerge from hibernation during the spring, and they search for a suitable location in which to start a new colony. She then begins to build the nest with chewed up wood pulp, which dries to make a papery substance. A few eggs are laid, which develop into non-reproductive workers. These workers eventually take over the care of the nest, and the queen’s life is then devoted solely to egg laying. At the end of autumn a number of eggs develop into new queens and males, which leave the nest and mate. The new queens seek out suitable places in which to hibernate, and the males and the old colony (including the old queen) die. Widespread and common throughout Britain, the common wasp has been introduced to many areas outside of its natural range, and is a serious pest in Australia and New Zealand. The common wasp is common and widespread. The common wasp is not threatened. No conservation plans are required for the common wasp.

Common wasp conservation.

No conservation plans are required for the common wasp.

Common wasp threats.

The common wasp is not threatened.

Common wasp status.

The common wasp is common and widespread.

Common wasp range.

The developing larvae are fed on insects which the workers bring back to the nest. Few people are aware of the role the common wasp plays in keeping the populations of many insect pests under control. The adults require high-energy sugary foods such as nectar and fruit; they also feed on a sugary substance exuded by the larvae. The main reason that wasps are so feared is their sting, which can be quite painful, and can be used more than once, unlike those of bees. The sting has evolved from a modified ovipositor a structure used in egg-laying, and so only workers (which are all females) are able to sting.

Common wasp biology.

The common wasp usually forms large colonies below ground, but occasionally nests may be made in wall cavities, hollow trees and attics. Queens emerge from hibernation during the spring, and they search for a suitable location in which to start a new colony. She then begins to build the nest with chewed up wood pulp, which dries to make a papery substance. A few eggs are laid, which develop into non-reproductive workers. These workers eventually take over the care of the nest, and the queen’s life is then devoted solely to egg laying. At the end of autumn a number of eggs develop into new queens and males, which leave the nest and mate. The new queens seek out suitable places in which to hibernate, and the males and the old colony (including the old queen) die.

The developing larvae are fed on insects which the workers bring back to the nest. Few people are aware of the role the common wasp plays in keeping the populations of many insect pests under control. The adults require high-energy sugary foods such as nectar and fruit; they also feed on a sugary substance exuded by the larvae. The main reason that wasps are so feared is their sting, which can be quite painful, and can be used more than once, unlike those of bees that is used only once. The sting has evolved from a modified ovipositor, a structure used in egg-laying, and so only workers (which are all females) are able to sting.