Common Wasp

Common Wasp ©Mike Snelle

Common wasp

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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.

Top facts


Length: up to 2cm

Conservation status


When to see

April to October


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.

What to look for

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!

Where to find


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.