Vespula vulgaris (Common Wasp)
Our most familiar social wasp, a species capable of exploiting a tremendous variety of habitats including highly urbanised settings. The anchor-shaped mark on the face of queens and most workers permits separation from all other social wasps except V. rufa, which has rather different abdominal markings. The facial markings of males are usually much reduced and not reliable.

Some variation exists in the extent of yellow on the abdomen, especially in males and workers, and some of these can resemble some individuals of V. germanica. The male genitalia and facial pattern of the workers will help confirm. V. germanica also tends to have the yellow humeral stripe broadened in the middle (parallel-sided in vulgaris). Also beware the superficial similarity of some Dolichovespula saxonica individuals (a long-faced wasp).

Nesting occurs in cavities of many sorts, including old rodent or rabbit holes that have been enlarged, and a variety of cavities associated with buildings. Queens typically emerge in March and feed on spring blossoms such as sallows, Blackthorn and Wild Cherry. Males appear in autumn and are usually found feeding on Ivy flowers or swarming around shrubs and hedges.

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