Common Wasp

Common Wasp ©Mike Snelle

Common wasp

Scientific name: Vespula vulgaris
Wasps are well-known, and unfortunately not very well-loved! But give these black and yellow guys a chance, as they are important pollinators and pest controllers.

Species information

Statistics

Length: up to 2cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to October

About

Despite their unfortunate reputation, wasps are actually important pollinators and pest controllers. They live in large groups in gaps in houses and roofs and live in nests built of ‘paper’, which is formed by the queen chewing up wood! They feed on high energy food like nectar, rotten fruit and sugary picnics, whilst their young are fed on small insects.

How to identify

The Common wasp has a black-and yellow-striped body, with an obvious 'waist' between the thorax and abdomen. It has a characteristic black 'anchor' mark on its face. There are several species of social wasp in the UK that can only be distinguished by their face patterns - if you fancy getting that close!

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

The related Median wasp, Dolichovespula media, is a recent colonist from Europe. It is larger than our native Common wasp, with yellow spots on its red-tinged thorax, and wider black stripes on its abdomen. It builds smaller, hanging nests in trees and bushes.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work with pest controllers to find the most wildlife-friendly solutions to some of our everyday problems. Indeed, many of our often-overlooked insects are important pollinators for all kinds of plants, including those which we rely on like fruit trees. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.