There are only two species of wasps in Ireland that people mostly notice: the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) and the German Wasp (Vespula germanica). They are very similar in appearance, but the German wasp is slightly bigger.
Queens have similar markings as workers, but they are bigger. It is very easy to differentiate them:
Profile view: The German wasp has a continuous yellow band behind the eye and the Common wasp has a black mark in the middle of it.
View from above: The German wasp abdomen has black bands with separate black dots, but the Common wasp has broader black bands merging with these dots.
The nests of German wasps are more greyish in colour than Common wasp nests, and also they are more likely to be built underground, in an abandoned rat or mouse nest. In Dublin, the nests start to be built as early as the beginning of April. The nests can become very large with up to 10,000 individuals and most of the time only have one entrance.
Both wasps have painful stings, but German wasps are less aggressive than Common wasps. Wasps eat sugary foods and proteins from insects and worms/caterpillars. They are social wasps and the workers spend the first part of their lives feeding the larvae in the nest until they hatch out of the nest and no longer need to be fed by these workers.
Once the worker wasps do not need to feed the young they are “free” and indulge their love for nectar (a sweet substance found in flowers) and this is when they get attracted to our gardens, lured by the wrong signals:
For more details about wasps and how to prevent them check our article on Basic Facts about Wasps and Ways to Get Rid of Them from Your Home
If you notice a wasp nest somewhere in your garden or your house, make sure you keep pets and children away. It is recommended to deal with the nest ASAP as it will only grow bigger during the summer months and the numerous wasps can become a threat to your family and neighbours, especially if they are allergic to stings.
If you need help to deal with wasps, contact The Wasp Specialist who is here to resolve any issues with Common and German wasps:
Call The Wasp Specialist: (01) 452 3680
or fill out the Online Form
Queen wasp coming out of hibernation
Small wasp nest built by a queen only (approx. 1 week)
Queen German wasp building its nest
New wasp nest hanging above a window (Terenure)
Wasp nest started in a birdhouse!