The Common Wasp (Vespula Vulgaris)

The German Wasp or European Wasp (Vespula Germanica).

The adult winged workers are 10-20 mm long and have a distinctive black and yellow colouration, not to be confused with the Honeybee’s dark brown/pale orange banded colouration. It is important to make the distinction between Wasps and Honey Bees because bees are not considered a pest.

The Queen wasp emerges in mid-April from hibernation looking for a new nest site for a colony, often in loft spaces, sheds, garages, roof eaves and cavity walls. The first brood of 10-20 adult workers (sterile females) will increase to 3,000-5,000 individuals during the summer. The workers can often be heard making a scraping noise in attics as they chew dried wood and mix it with saliva to increase the size of the nest. Wasp nests can make a resonating noise as the workers use their wings to fan air around the nest to regulate its temperature.

Wasps are kept busy during the summer months catching insects to feed the wasp larvae developing in cells inside the nest. The purpose of the nest is to produce new queens for the following year these emerge in late summer. The worker wasps can become a real nuisance when they have no function in the nest and stop catching insects to feed the wasp larvae, swapping to feed on fallen fruit and sweet drinks at barbecues. These sugary foods and drinks replicate a sweet substance produced by the developing larvae.

A wasp nest in the home or business is not only a nuisance, getting stung is painful but multiple stings on the head or around the airways can be very serious. Wasp stings in the throat account for 50% of all fatalities caused by venomous animals. In rare cases a single sting can induce an anaphylactic shock (an extreme allergic reaction to the toxins in the wasp’s venom) which without rapid medical attention via epinephrine (adrenaline) can result in death.

Wasps also have the potential to transmit disease as they visit dustbins, waste depots and dead animals (carrion).