European Paper Wasp - Polistes dominula


The appearance falls between that of a true social (yellowjacket) wasp and a mason wasp, with males having the hooked antennal tips of mason wasps. However, the behaviour is social with differentiated workers serving a single queen, though queens, workers and males all look remarkably similar in the field.

Identification difficulty

Structures such as outhouses and bridges where it often builds it's nest

When to see it

Most likely to be encountered when nest building (see Life History below).

Life History

Nests are constructed of wood pulp with the hexagonal cells arranged in a round cluster rather than in flat combs, and there is no outer casing to the nest. Nests are often suspended from the ceilings of outhouses and bridges. Workers will defend their nests vigorously. If the queen dies, one of the workers can apparently assume that role (unlike true social wasps). Nest cells are stocked with insect prey of many sorts. Adults will also visit a wide variety of flowers.

UK Status

P. dominula is resident in the Channel Islands but seemingly just a transient visitor on the British mainland where nesting has been reported on a number of occasions but no permanent populations seem to exist.

VC55 Status

There are reports of one or two Polistes dominula nests being noted in Leicestershire and Rutland, but it is a rare visitor to our region. The Magna Park record probably came over with a shipment of goods from Europe.

be our species champion

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map