The rise of the wasps

For around a month the Large Yellow Underwing has been the commonest species in my moth trap – their numbers are now diminishing and the commonest species now is the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris).

Common wasps seem to be everywhere at the moment

common-wasp-2And by the morning they all seem to have been attracted by the light and are in my moth trap.

The ‘anchor’ mark on the face of this wasp is one of the key identification features of Vespula vulgaris

Greedy wasps meet their fate

Wasps are so intent on eating jam that they don’t take their personal safety into account. Yesterday they were feeding on a couple of little pots of jam before the rain came …… the pots then filled up with water and dozens of them drowned whilst still eating the jam. They should be nominated for the Darwin Awards! As a result I managed to collect a few dead specimens to get some better pictures of the German Wasp which I photographed a few days ago and also found some individuals of the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris).

Common wasp1This is the face of a common wasp worker – the black face mark is shaped like an anchor

Common wasp2This is the body pattern – note four yellow spots on the thorax (chest) and the large downward facing triangle on the abdomen along with 3 pairs of black spots – a common species.

German wasp3Here is the German Wasp – three black dots – one larger – two small

German wasp2This also is a German Wasp – they can be quite variable – black line and two black dots

German wasp1The body of the German wasp – 4 yellow marks on the thorax (two are a bit hidden in this picture), a narrower downward facing triangle and the black dots.

I will see if I can find a red wasp and a Saxon wasp as the year unfolds for comparison (and a full set) – I think it is going to be a ‘good’ wasp year……

Queen wasp at Parke in the winter!

We had an unexpected visitor in our office yesterday at Parke in Bovey Tracey – a Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris. It just appeared out of nowhere and started buzzing around the office – I expect our log boiler had produced enough heat to wake her up as she is a queen wasp. Surprising as there were very few wasps around last year.

Wasp1I caught her in my butterfly net and then put her in this specimen tube



Wasp2 In this picture you can see the distinct black spade like marking on the front of the face which distinguishes his species from other types of wasp

Eristalis tenaxJust before Christmas we had a drone hoverfly in the office Eristalis tenax – this is a photo of the same species which I took outside in July  – it is a honeybee mimic

I also heard a report of two red admiral butterflies in our Widecombe Shop over Christmas too – all signs of our mild winter.

Just for the record – I let the wasp go and she flew off towards our Walled Garden.