A familiar insect of British summers, the black and yellow Common Wasp is a frequent visitor to gardens, even building its large nest in cavities in houses. The Common Wasp is social, living in large colonies within a nest built out of 'paper' that is formed by the queen chewing up wood. Inside the nest, sterile workers hatch and take over looking after the new young produced by the queen. At the end of summer, reproductive males and queens develop and leave the nest to mate. The males and previous queen die, and the new females hibernate, ready to emerge next spring and start the cycle again. Common Wasps catch a wide variety of invertebrates, mainly to feed to their larvae; they feed themselves on high-energy substances like nectar, rotten fruit and sugary picnics!
How to identify
There are several related species of social wasp in Britain, which can only be distinguished by their face patterns, getting close to which is not something many of us want to do! The Common Wasp has a black 'anchor' mark on its face. It is also renowned and feared for its sting.
Where to find it
When to find it
How can people help
As well as being good pest controllers in the garden, Common Wasps are also important pollinators. Despite this, they can be a serious pest when nesting in houses. If you find a nest in an inconvenient or dangerous place, call your local council to find out about its safe removal. If it's not in a place that's bothering you, try simply leaving it alone - it'll be empty by autumn and just might help your gardening in the meantime! The Wildlife Trusts regularly work with pest controllers to find the most wildlife-friendly solutions to some of our everyday problems, and also advise people on how best to garden for all kinds of wildlife: visit our Wild About Gardens website to find out more.