Wasps, those buzzing insects with a fearsome reputation, are an integral part of the natural ecosystem. Did you know that over 7,000 wasp species live in the UK, comprising various solitary and social species? The most common wasps you’ll encounter are the Vespula vulgaris and the Vespula germanica (German wasp). Each has distinct characteristics but share the same attraction to human environments.
Numerous species of wasps thrive, each with its unique characteristics and habits. In this article, we embark on an exciting journey to discover the diverse types of wasps found in the UK, shedding light on their biology, behaviour, and ecological significance to the role they play.
Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris):
One of the most well-known wasps in the UK, the common wasp, can be identified by its distinctive black and yellow striped abdomen. They are social wasps, building their nests in various locations such as trees, shrubs, or even underground. These nests can grow rapidly and house large populations. Common wasps play an essential role in controlling other insect populations, making them beneficial despite their unwelcome reputation at picnics.
German Wasp (Vespula germanica):
Similar in appearance to the common wasp, the German wasp exhibits a yellow and black striped abdomen. These wasps are known for their aggressive behaviour, particularly towards the end of summer. German wasps construct their nests in similar locations as common wasps, often causing problems when they nest near human habitation. Despite their nuisance value, they also provide ecological benefits by preying on other insects.
Hornet (Vespa crabro):
Hornets, the largest of the UK’s wasps, have a striking appearance with their orange-brown and black coloration. Although feared by many due to their size, hornets are less aggressive compared to other wasp species. They primarily prey on insects and are particularly skilled at capturing bees, which they use as a protein source for their colonies. Hornet nests are typically built in hollow trees or bushes.
Tree Wasp (Dolichovespula sylvestris):
Tree wasps, commonly referred to as yellowjackets, are smaller wasps with distinctive black and yellow markings. As their name suggests, they often build their nests in trees, though they can also be found in bushes and even attics. Tree wasps are relatively less aggressive but can become defensive if their nests are disturbed. They play an essential role in pollination and are known to consume a wide range of insects.
Red Wasp (Vespula rufa):
The red wasp, also known as the red hornet, is one of the largest social wasps found in the UK. They have a reddish-brown coloration with yellow markings. Red wasps are particularly beneficial in controlling agricultural pests, making them important allies in the farming community. Their nests are constructed underground, often in abandoned rodent burrows or in hollows of trees.
Exploring the different types of wasps in the UK reveals the remarkable diversity of these insects and their crucial ecological roles. Despite their notorious reputation, wasps serve as valuable predators, helping to maintain balance in the ecosystem by controlling other insect populations. While encounters with wasps can be unsettling, it is essential to appreciate their importance and coexist with them peacefully. By understanding these fascinating creatures, we can foster a deeper respect for the remarkable variety of life around us.
How to deal with a wasp problem If you have a wasp problem, don’t panic. Keep a safe distance and call Vergo to ensure a safe and effective removal process. Following our top tips can help keep your home or business wasp-free. Remember, wasps can be dangerous – if in doubt contact us.