Australian Wildlife

  English Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)

English Wasp | Vespula vulgaris photo
English wasp

Image by Soebe - GNU Free Documentation License.    (view image details)

English Wasp | Vespula vulgaris photo
Vespula vulgaris portrait

Image by Tim Evison - Some rights reserved.    (view image details)


The English Wasp is a social insect with bold black and yellow bands. It is similar in appearance to the related European Wasp (Vespula germanica). You can tell them apart by the pattern on the back - the European Wasp has black dots in the yellow bands but the English Wasp does not have dots. The European Wasp also has three black dots on the face, but the English Wasp does not. None of the Australian native paper wasps has such a striking black and yellow pattern.

Other Names
Common wasp

Adult workers 12mm to 17mm long. Queen wasp to 20mm long.

Adult wasps feed on nectar and sweet fruit. They collect insects including caterpillars to feed to their larvae.

The English Wasp makes a nest is made from chewed wood fibres, mixed with saliva. The nest has open cells and a stalk attaching the nest to the substrate. The nest may be suspended from eaves, rafters, shed roof or other structure. The nest is started by a solitary queen. She builds 20 to 30 cells before initial egg-laying. A spherical nest is built up from layers of cells in a hexagonal pattern. The larvae develop, pupate and emerge as workers that take over foraging and nest maintenance. A large nest may eventually have 5,000 to 10,000 wasps. Colonies usually die off in winter apart from the queen, but in Australia some colonies survive over winter.

In Australia, the English Wasp is found in Victoria, while the European Wasp (V. germanica) is found in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Common Name:English Wasp

Relatives in same Genus
  European Wasp (V. germanica)