(Vespula vulgaris)

The common wasp can be found in both the UK and Europe. As social insects, they form nests made of chewed wood in areas such as soil banks, wall crevices, roofs and trees. Although known to spread diseases, the wasp is most notorious for its nuisance value. This is especially problematic in late summer, when larval rearing is reduced; in their search for sweet substances the flies become a significant annoyance for domestic premises, bakeries, greengrocers and factories producing confectionery goods. Additionally, common wasps are known for their ability to inflict stings – a behaviour that increases in the late summer months as the insects become more irritable due to the colder weather and ingestion of over-ripe fruit.

Life cycle:

Complete metamorphosis

Egg Around mid-April, the queen wasp creates an initial ‘cell’ in which she lays 10-20 eggs. Once hatched, this brood of workers inherit the task of enlarging the cell and providing food for subsequent eggs. By late summer, the wasps nest will contain between 3,000-5,000 eggs and measure up to 30 cm across. 
Larva  The larvae appear as legless grubs that exist within the cells. They are fed by the workers, which supply chewed insects and spiders for the larvae to feed on.
Pupa  The pupae is the final stage before metamorphosis into the adult; this process takes around two weeks within the cell.
Adult  The common wasp is around 10-20 mm in size. It has a noticeable ‘wasp waist’ and a highly distinctive yellow-and-black coloured banding. The queen wasp is notably larger.


The queen wasp arises from hibernation to create a nest made from chewed bark and dried timber mixed with saliva. These are often found in soil banks, roof spaces, wall cavities and trees. Nests can become very large, and colonies last only one season.

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BPCA (2015) The British Pest Manual: A reference manual for the management of environmental health pests and pests of the food industry, 2015 edn., Derby: BPCA.